A newsletter of the Department of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Health Authority. 

We will celebrate our successes and learn from each other for the betterment of our students, our patients and our community. 


  • A Message from the Provincial Head 
  • Welcome to new faculty
  • Laframboise recognized for service to education
  • Regina looking for instructors
  • TRC and healthcare
  • Physician wellness
  • Research update and info
  • Researcher profiles – Dr. Sharyle Fowler
  • Celebrating our success


Change is a constant, and we are preparing for big changes at our department office. After thirty-one years of service to the Department of Medicine, Helen Chapple, our Finance and Admin Manager, has decided it is time to shift her focus to other things, like her grandchildren and her cabin. Helen has handed in her resignation and will be leaving at the end of December.

We will also be seeing less of Lesley Reynolds who will be moving over to a half-time position as Subspecialty Program Admin Assistant on November 16th.  Lesley has been here almost as long as Helen and has been the first point of contact in the head office for the past four years. Being able to tap into their institutional knowledge has made my job easier, and I want to thank both Helen and Lesley for all they have done.

If you are at RUH and have a moment, please feel free to come to the department main office area to say “goodbye” to Helen and “see you around” to Lesley. They both spend long hours at their desks and may welcome a break.

Change is also here with the arrival of new faculty.  Below you will find a list of faculty members who joined our department in the past several months. Welcome to you all.

Please take a moment to read our newsletter where you will find a celebration of your colleagues’ successes, and encouragement to consider physician wellness.

As always, stay safe, take care of yourself, and know that your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Dr. Haissam Haddad
Provincial Head – Dept of Medicine


Welcome to new Department of Medicine faculty who recently joined the team.

  • Angelica Lang – CCHSA – Saskatoon – July 2021
  • Joseph Dimitry – GIM – Saskatoon – July 2021
  • Matthew Skeldon – GIM – Saskatoon – August 2021
  • Fatima Pirani – GIM – Saskatoon – October 2021
  • Ambreen Khan – Rheumatology – Saskatoon – May 2021
  • Vanessa Rininsland – Rheumatology – Saskatoon – July 2021
  • Sarah Oberholtzer – Rheumatology – Saskatoon – August 2021
  • Zachary Wolfmueller – Rheumatology – Saskatoon – August 2021
  • Omoniyi Henry Akinpeloye – GIM – Regina – July 2021
  • Mowad Benguzzi – GIM – Regina – July 2021
  • Calvin Tsui – GIM – Regina – August 2021
  • Alia Daoud – Respirology – Regina – August 2021


 Dr. Laframboise

Dr. Karen Laframboise was recognized by the USask College of Medicine as the Program Director of the Year for the 2020-21 academic year. The award was presented at the annual PGME Celebration Night held virtually on October 15.

In the award presentation, Dr. Laframboise was noted for her skills as a clinician and as a strong, caring mentor who exemplifies professionalism while holding residents to high standards. Under her leadership, the core internal medicine residency program evolved into the strong, nationally renowned residency program it is today.

The award is presented to the program director who demonstrates Innovation in residency education, sustained impact on the quality of residency education, positive measurable outcomes, effective leadership and mentorship within the residency program and a strong track record for promoting ethics, reflection and humanism in residency education.

Dr. Laframboise led the Core Internal Medicine Program for seven years. In July she handed over the reins to Dr. Jessie Baptiste. 


The Department of Medicine was well-represented amongst the winners at the annual PGME Celebration Night.  

Dr. Gupta  Congratulations to Dr. Anmol Gupta – PGY3 – Regina, one of two winners of the CanMED Health Advocate Award. The chief administrative resident in Regina, Dr. Gupta’s noted achievements include his upcoming research project on the impact of delays in discharge prescriptions for patients in smaller, more remote communities, and his efforts in establishing mobility and mortality rounds where residents and staff can review challenging cases and discuss solutions to systemic issues in the local health system.

Dr. Odeshi  Congratulations to Dr. Oluwatosin Odeshi – PGY3 – Regina, for being recognized with the CanMED Professionalism Award. Dr. Odeshi is the first Regina-based Dermatology resident. She was noted for her mentorship, leadership and advocacy efforts. Along with her ongoing research on the severity of skin disease of Indigenous patients in rural and remote communities, she created and provided the inaugural Skin of Colour Lecture at the University of Saskatchewan for the dermatology module – a starting point to diversify medical education.

The winners were announced from the USask College of Medicine Resident Research Day which was held virtually on June 21. The top poster award in the Clinical category as selected by academic adjudicators went to Dr. Samuel Harder. Second place in the same category went to Dr. Yasaman Torabi and Dr. Sanji Ali. In the What Works category, Dr. William Kennedy was awarded the 2nd place prize.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Dr. HarderDrs, Torabi and AliDr, Kennedy


Starting in August 2022, the College of Medicine will offer the full MD program at the Regina campus.

The Regina campus faculty and staff are preparing for the first cohort of Year 1 medical students. There are many teaching opportunities in the topics of communication skills, physical exam skills, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and more.

If you are interested in teaching and would like more information, please contact Dr. Jackie Kraushaar (jacqueline.kraushaar@usask.ca) or Dr. Helen Chang (woodrabbit@sasktel.net).   For more details on the program expansion, please see the press release.


As part of the University of Saskatchewan’s observation of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,

Dr. Alexandra King (GIM – Saskatoon) joined with colleagues from the College of Medicine to present a webinar about implementing the TRC Calls to Action related to health care.

orange shirt day   Department of Medicine Main Office and Admin staff are joined by Drs. Penz, Sanche and Haddad on Orange Shirt Day, 2021. 





counter with snacks

A new fund has been established to provide financial assistance for wellness-related activities for Internal Medicine residents completing clinical rotations at the University of Saskatchewan.
Priorities include:
  1. Snacks/Coffee/Tea for the Resident Lounge
  2. Meals for the Resident’s on Call: December 25th and January 1st
  3. Purchases or upgrades of existing lounge furniture or appliances
  4. Additional enhancements to the resident lounge or resident wellness as needed. 
Contact Lindsay Doig or Helen Chapple if you are interested in making a donation to support our residents. The university will issue charitable receipts for all donations.  

RESERCH UPDATE – Submitted by Dr. Josh Lawson, Director – Research  

As we move into the academic year, we would like to take the opportunity to welcome you back and update you on some of the activities of the department. First, we would like to thank everyone for your dedication to the health and safety of our province in your clinical and research activities as we continue to navigate the pandemic. Over the past year and a half, many of us have had our research activities affected and the processes to conduct research have changed over time. We will continue to update you about the steps required by the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Health Authority to conduct research.

Moving into the new year, we have a number of research activities on which we will be working. On October 1, 2021 we had our first lunch and learn of the year. At this session, we provided an overview of some of the resources available within the Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, and beyond (Clinical Research Support Unit and Clinical Trials Support Unit). Our aim is to provide one lunch and learn session per month focused on topics relevant to conducting research in the Department. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to forward your ideas to us.

On June 9, 2021 we had our annual faculty research day. This was held along with some resident research presentations. The number of presenters and attendees was very impressive and we look forward to our research day in 2022. Tentatively, the faculty research day will be held June 3, 2022.

Please remember that there are several research grant deadlines approaching in the next few months (e.g. RUHF). We encourage you to start looking ahead to these and planning for future projects. In addition, if you are looking into research opportunities or would like to speak with someone about moving into research or advancing your program, please contact Dr. Ozlem Sari (ozlem.sari@usask.ca), the DOM Research Facilitator.

Best of luck in all of your research activities!


  • A new DoM Research Sharepoint site is up and being populated with information specifically for DoM members. You will need your USask NSID to access.   We are still building the site, but it already includes a recording of a grant writing workshop from Spring 2021 focussing on how to get funding from the DoM, College of Medicine Research Awards (ComRAD), RUH Foundation and Sask Health Research Foundation (SHRF).
  • Thank you to the judges and participants of the PGY2/3 Research Poster presentation held via WebEx on Wednesday, October 13 and Tuesday, October 19. The winners will be announced shortly.
  • Several Department of Medicine members have been profiled by the College of Medicine’s Researchers Under the Scope podcast series.
    • Episode: Dr. Michael Levin and the race to reverse MS neurodegeneration 
      (September 20, 2021)
    • Episode 27: Dr. Alex Wong – In a war zone – Dr. Wong looks back at the covid-19 pandemic
      (so far) (June 3, 2021)
    • Episode 18: Dr. Erika Penz – The burden of lung disease and lightening it (January 18, 2021)


We are a large department with faculty spread throughout the province. To put faces to names and get to know each other a little bit better, we are happy to present abrief profiles of a very active researcher in our department. Click on the links to read more about Dr. Sharyle Fowler  - Associate Professor, Division of Gastroenterology in Saskatoon. 


USask College of Medicine's Spirit of the College Award

Dr. AsiniwasisCongratulations to Dr. Rachel Asiniwasis 
(Dermatology – Regina) who received the USask College of Medicine's Spirit of the College Award at the 2021 Highlights in Medicine Conference and Reunion held virtually on August 27. In her nomination, Asiniwasis was noted for her keen interest in caring for people, demonstrated through remote clinics, private practice, research, and inspiring students at all levels. Among her contributions, Asiniwasis and her team have expanded to service several remote northern Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan.

waniska Centre launch
Congratulations to Dr. Alexandra King, Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness, (GIM- Saskatoon) for her role in the creation of the waniska Centre for HIV, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and sexually transmitted blood-borne illness (STBBI). The centre was launched on National Indigenous People’s Day in June.  Read more about the centre’s community-led research goals.


Dr. John Gjevre (Respirology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine – Saskatoon) is the Vice President of the Saskatchewan Medicine Association (SMA) and Dr. Patrick Duffy (GIM – Regina) is on the SMA Board of Directors.   Thank you both for this important contribution to the medical community. 


Grand Rounds
If you missed any Grand Rounds from the past year, you can find a recorded version on the Department of Medicine website with a link at the top righthand side of the homepage. Go to www.medicine/usask.ca/medicine.


  • A Message from the Provincial Head
  • Promotions 
  • New Program Directors 
  • Education Update - CaRMS Success - Dr. Rahul Mainra
  • Dept to Medicine Diversity Corner - Dr. Nassrein Hussein
  • Research Update – Dr. Josh Lawson
  • Researcher Profiles – Dr. Erika Penze and Dr. Michael Prystajecky
  • Celebrating our Success
  • Reminders

Welcome to the Dept. of Medicine Newsletter  

For the academic community, June marks the end of the year as another cohort of learners moves through to the next stage of their education or on to the start of their careers. For those of you directly involved in teaching or in supervising students’ and residents' research, I want to thank you for rising to the challenge and providing our medical students and residents with the knowledge, tools, and skills they will need to succeed.

For those who had no direct interaction with students, I thank you for demonstrating your professionalism and commitment throughout these difficult 15 months. To the admin staff who juggled remote work to get faculty and students to the right place at the right time, a big thank you. I look forward to seeing all of you back on campus.

I encourage everyone to find an opportunity to relax and recharge at some point this summer.
Dr. Haissam Haddad
Provincial Head


Congratulations to the Dept. of Medicine faculty who will receive promotions effective July 1, 2021. 
  • Dr. Rahul Mainra – Nephrology – promoted to Professor
  • Dr. Sharyl Fowler – Gastroenterology & Hepatology – promoted to Associate Professor
  • Dr. Gary Hunter – Neurology – promoted to Associated Professor
  • Dr. Shaqil Peermohamed – Infectious Diseases – promoted to Associated Professor
  • Dr. Alex Wong – Infectious Diseases (Regina) – promoted to Associate Professor

Your contributions to the University and the province are greatly appreciated.

New Program Directors  

As of July 1

  • Cardiology:  Dr. Stephan Wardell
  • Internal Medicine (Core):  Dr. Jessie Baptiste
  • General Internal Medicine:  Dr. Alia Teja

Many thanks to Dr. Kelly Coverett (Cardiology), Dr. Karen Laframboise (Core IM), and Dr. Baptiste (GIM)  for excellent work in leading these programs over the past many years.

Education Update - CaRMS Success for Dept. of Medicine

submitted by Dr. Rahul Mainra - DoM Director of Undergraduate Medical Education

The percentage of Year 4 students choosing IM continues to trend upwards. Dr. Mainra breaks down the numbers and provides information about Year 3 clerks and Year 2 clinical skills activities. Read more.

Department of Medicine Diversity Corner

- submitted by Dr. Nassrein Hussein, EDI Committee Chair

The Department of Medicine EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Committee hosted Dr. Sean Polreis who gave an eye-opening presentation on unconscious bias during May 5, 2021 Grand Rounds.

Stay tuned for more EDI presentations and workshops being offered throughout the year. In the meantime, for anyone interested in more reading surrounding EDI in medicine, see the EDI Committee Page for articles about dismantling systemic anti-Black racism, implications of systemic racism on Indigenous peoples, and addressing gender inequality. 

Research Update

- submitted by Dr. Josh Lawson, DoM Director of Research

It’s been a busy time for research with Faculty Research Day on June 9, PGY1 Resident Research Days in mid-May and an excellent grant writing workshop focussing on DoM, CoMRAD, RUH  Foundation and SHRF funding programs. Read more.

Getting to Know You

We are a large department with faculty spread throughout the province. To put faces to names and get to know each other a little bit better, we are happy to present two more brief profiles of active researchers in our department.

Click on the links to read more about Dr. Erika Penz, a self-described "burdenologist" from the Division of Respirology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in Saskatoon, and Dr. Michael Prystajecky from GIM in Saskatoon, whose research is focussed on perioperative medicine. 

If you are interested in sharing some of your thoughts for the Getting to Know You section, please contact our Communications Officer Susan Burton

Celebrating our Success

Federal Funding to tackle MS
Congratulations to Dr. Michael Levin, Sask MS Clinical Research Chair, for being awarded $250,000 over two years from the New Frontiers in Research Funding program. Read more.

National Recognition
Congratulations to Dr. Alex Wong – Infectious Diseases (Regina), for winning a 2021 CAHR-CANFAR Excellence in Research Award. The award is from the Canadian Association for HIV Research and is meant to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Canadian researchers in HIV/AIDS research.

Research Support
Congratulations to Dr. Rachel Asiniwasis – Dermatology (Regina) and Dr. Stephen Lee – Infectious Diseases (Regina) for being selected for the 2021-23 Clinical Research Support Program (CRSP). The CRSP is a partnership between the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the College of Medicine – Regina campus, intended to assist new clinician-researchers in establishing a track record that can strengthen their future funding applications.

Community Involvement
Congratulations Dr. Andrea Lavoie – Cardiology (Regina) for being named a finalist for the Regina YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in the health care hero category. The award recognizes leadership and community contributions.


Recorded Grand Rounds 
If you missed any Grand Rounds from the past year, you can find a recorded version on the Department of Medicine website with a link at the top righthand side of the homepage

Annual Report Prep
Please let your Division Head know of any outstanding success in the past academic year so we can include the information in our next annual report. 


  • A Message from the Provincial Head
  • 2019/2020 Annual Report
  • Welcome to New Faculty and Staff
  • Research Update – from Dr. Josh Lawson
  • Research Success
  • Researcher Profiles – Dr. Stephen Lee and Dr. Debra Morgan
  • UGME During the Time of COVID-19 – from Dr. Rahul Mainra
  • Educator Profile – Dr. Gudrun Caspar-Bell
  • Podcast Participation
  • Grand Rounds Reminder

From the Provincial Head, Dept. of Medicine

March 11, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of Covid-19 being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Our lives have not been the same since.

Throughout this challenging year we, as a department, have demonstrated our mission of advancing patient care by providing innovative education, research and clinical services. We have lived our vision of inspiring hope for Saskatchewan patients.

Thank you all for your dedication, commitment and resiliency. And while the pandemic is not over, I want to look to the future. As the vaccine rollout continues, we will be considering lessons learned that can inform or alter how we teach, provide care and conduct research in the future.

There have been many changes since I took on the leadership of this department in April 2016, including a wide variety of new clinical innovations, a new province-wide administrative structure and perhaps most dramatically, the recruitment of 75 new faculty members throughout the province.

If we want to continue our journey of continuous improvement, we need feedback and new ideas. In mid-April, external reviewers will be visiting to see first-hand how we communicate, how we teach and learn, how we support and conduct research and how we provide quality care for our patients.

Our response to the Covid-19 pandemic shows that we can change rapidly to meet changing needs. This review will provide a more considered examination of changing needs. It will be a jumping-off point for discussions with the College of Medicine and the Saskatchewan Health Authority and will assist us in the development of our next 5-year strategic plan later this year. 

Please take a few moments to read the contents of this month’s newsletter so we can get to know each other a little better and build a stronger team.

Dr. H Haddad

 Dr.  Haissam Haddad, Provincial Head




The 2019/2020 Annual Report is available online for viewing. You can find it in the Celebrating Success section of our website. (www.medicine.usask.ca/medicine)

Our Annual Reports are meant to highlight the achievements of our department members and provide a glimpse into what we do. We are already thinking about next year’s annual report so please share your successes by sending them to our communications officer at susan.burton@usask.ca


Two familiar faces joined the Department of Medicine faculty in January 2021.
Dr. Stacy Lok (below left) and Dr. Ingrid Wirth (not shown), completed their residency at USask.
Dr. Lok is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Respirology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in Saskatoon. Dr. Wirth is an Assistant Professor in the Respirology Division in Regina.

 Dr. Lok Dr. Stacy Lok                                                          Tracy Lee  Tracy Lee

Welcome to Tracy Lee (above right), a new Clerical Assistant helping Lesley Reynolds keep the Department on track. You may already recognize her name as has taken over responsibilities for sending out the DoM weekly rounds schedule and the CT On-Call Roster. Tracy is looking forward to meeting everyone when we are regularly back in our offices on the 3rd floor of RUH. 

Jenelle Butler joined the admin team in late January and immediately jumped into her role organizing the activities with CaRMS. Jenelle is filling in for Jennifer who is on leave.

RESEARCH UPDATE submitted by Dr. Josh Lawson - Director, Research

Research in the Department of Medicine has been progressing despite many activities being paused by COVID. As a reminder, if you wish to start new research activities or restart activities that were previously paused, you may need to submit an application to the University of Saskatchewan’s “Request for campus/field activity or access.” It will then be reviewed by a committee in the College of Medicine from a COVID health and safety perspective. If you are hired by USask or your research project has USask Research Ethics Board approval and you cannot complete the project entirely remotely, you will have to go through this review process. Please email Josh Lawson if you have questions. Remember, because of this approval process, it may take longer to start your research as the approvals may be paused depending on the state of COVID in the province.

There are several other activities happening with regard to research over the next few months: 

  • We continue with our monthly research lunch and learns. We have had four of these since September and all have been very interesting. Topics have included Research Resources in the DOM, RUHF/SHRF funding opportunities, Quality Improvement, and SHA ethical and operational approvals. Please look for emails about upcoming sessions. Everyone is welcome!
  • We look forward to having a DOM faculty research day this spring after having to cancel it last year. It will be an opportunity to see a number of research projects led by DoM faculty. We anticipate that this event will be held virtually. Additional information will follow. 
  • As always, if you are looking into research opportunities or would like to speak with someone about moving into research or advancing your program, please contact Dr. Ozlem Sari, our DoM Research Facilitator.

Best of luck in all of your research activities! JL


We would love to hear about your research grant successes so we can share the good news with the entire department. Here are two recently announced grants from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF). 

Congratulations to Dr. Eric Sy and Dr. Stephen Lee along with their co-principal investigators who were awarded an SHRF Impact Grant for their project: Evaluation of the effect of a virtual intensive care unit follow-up clinic on patient outcomes among ICU survivors that have been discharged home (Vi-DISH).
Dr. Sabira Valiani and co-principal investigators received an SHRF Innovation Grant for their project: Connect-ICU: Using technology to facilitate patient and family-centred care, enhance communication, and build relationships between patients, their loved ones, and the healthcare team in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Congratulations to Dr. Terra Arnason from the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism for her recent participation in Research Canada’s national celebration of 100 years of insulin. Dr. Arnason was one of twenty invited speakers who provided an update on the current state of diabetes research for Parliamentarians and heads of  Diabetes Canada and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Thank you Dr. Arnason for representing the USask Department of Medicine on a national stage.  

Congratulations to Dr. Alex Wong, Infectious Diseases – Regina, for a December 2020 publication in the Lancet.
We are capturing publications from DoM members through Pub Med alerts, but we may be missing some. Please send in your recent publications to susan.burton@usask.ca for posting on the research page of the Department of Medicine website. We want to showcase the wide range of high-quality research being carried out by members of the department.


Using a question and answer format we get to know about Dr. Stephen Lee, Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases - Regina 

 Dr LeeMy Background: 
I was born and raised in the Prairies and did my medical school at the University of Alberta after 3 years of work in the neurosciences. My residency in Internal Medicine was also at the University of Alberta. Needing a bit of a change, I then completed a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at McMaster University. After spending a year doing locums (including here in Saskatchewan) and travelling around the world, I settled into my current position with the University of Saskatchewan to be closer to home. I'm currently also pursuing a Master of Science in Health and Clinical Informatics through Oregon Health and Science University.

Areas of Research and Big Moments in Research:
Spending time with researchers at the forefront of evidence-based medicine at McMaster got me thinking about the underlying principles of how we practice medicine. I discovered a concept called precision medicine which seeks to create treatments applicable to specific individuals rather than patient populations.

The widespread use of precision medicine relies on the field of medical informatics and data science. With widespread internet and computer use, massive volumes of health data are now available for computation. For instance, while traditional research methodologies often rely on flawed surveillance systems for novel medical associations or even human intuition, the field of data science can simply look at the data with a "big picture" lens and pick out associations that were never previously thought of.

My specific work seeks to incorporate this emerging field into research with infectious diseases. Examples of this include resolving novel adverse events with drugs or finding novel insights in the fight against COVID-19 through large-scale databases. We have established collaborations with prominent researchers nationally and internationally.

Future Aspirations for Research:
I plan to build upon our current team, establish a team that combines skills in medicine, informatics, statistics, and computer programming and continue to establish collaborations with national and international researchers. The field is so new, I think the current work is only scratching the surface of what's possible. I hope to bring our site to the forefront of this work.


Using a question and answer format we get to know about Dr. Debra Morgan (PhD), Professor, CCHSA - Saskatoon 

DMorgan.jpgMy Background:
I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and did my RN training at SIAST, then completed a BSN, MN, and a special case PhD in Nursing at the University of Saskatchewan. There was no graduate training in Nursing here at that time so some of my studies were at the University of Alberta. I did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture and then joined the faculty in 1999.

Areas of Research:
Most of my research is focused on improving the quality of life and care for people living with dementia, and their families, in rural areas. For the last 20 years I have led the community-based Rural Dementia Action Research (RaDAR) research program.

Big moments in research:
The first was receiving a CIHR New Emerging Team grant in 2003, which we used to start the Rural and Remote Memory Clinic at the University to provide specialist dementia diagnosis and management. Following the 5-year demonstration project we secured ongoing Ministry of Health funding to continue.

The second was starting the Rural Dementia Summit in 2008 to bring together the Decision Maker Advisory Council created to guide a CIHR Applied Chair grant. The Summit has evolved into a growing community of practice to advance dementia care in Saskatchewan that has met yearly for 13 years now.

Another big moment was receiving a 7-year CIHR Foundation grant in 2016 that supports research with rural healthcare providers to co-design team-based primary care memory clinics. Four rural memory clinics have been implemented so far.

Messages for junior researchers and early-career clinicians on how to get involved in research:
I was fortunate to have wonderful mentors who helped me get started. With their support I was able to form a research team that continues to work together. Draw on your mentors and find colleagues who share your interests and that you enjoy working with. Collaborating with community partners to address their priorities has also been very rewarding.

Future aspirations for research:
Our focus now is on developing strategies for spreading and sustaining the rural primary care memory clinics and measuring outcomes. The Covid 19 pandemic has slowed this work over the last year so we are looking forward to re-starting our projects.

UGME DURING THE TIME OF COVID-19 - submitted by Dr. Rahul Mainra, Director, Undergraduate Education 

Many of you are likely wondering what a clerk is allowed to do in the setting of the pandemic. Here is the most up to date list of activities medical students are allowed to be involved in:

  1. All medical students must not be involved in the care of patients who are probable, suspect or confirmed positive for COVID-19.
  2. Pre-clerkship students:
    a) will not be involved or see any patients who are screen positive for COVID-19.
    b) will not be involved in any AGMP procedures.
  3. Clerkship students: 
    a) may participate in the care of patients who are screen positive for COVID-19.
    b) may participate in AGMP procedures for patients who are screen positive or probable or suspect for COVID-19. We recommend this to only occur to meet a unique learning experience/objective. We recommend that you decide the risk to the student and if you feel it is too high then you may recommend to the student they not be involved.
  4. Medical students have access to full PPE as would be required for the clinical exposure (including N95 masks).
We thank you for your ongoing commitment to learning during this difficult time and please contact us with any questions or comments. - RM


Using a question and answer format we get to know about Dr. Gudrun Casper-Bell, Associate Professor, Endocrinology & Metabolism - Saskatoon 

Dr. Caspar-BellMy Background:
I came to Canada in November 2006 to work as an Endocrinologist and faculty member in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. I did my training for internal medicine and endocrinology in Germany at the University of Heidelberg and Frankfurt Am Maine. My doctoral thesis in 1998 was in the field of autoimmune thyroid diseases.

Describe your most memorable teaching moment.
Research and teaching inpatient care setting is my passion. I find it very exciting to show students and residents different approaches to unlock the complex puzzle of different medical entities. It’s very exciting to be able to pass the passion of being a doctor. The highlights of my teaching sessions are when I can involve my followers in medical tests and imaging (ultrasound) that I do myself and see the “AHA” effect. It is very rewarding when former students or residents reach out to discuss a case or a patient they are involved with as they remember that I had shown them a similar case before.

In your busy clinical days, how do you fit in teaching?
My daily clinics are mostly focused on teaching. I book a wide variety of endocrine disorders (and of course follow-ups) so that I can expose the learners to different clinical pictures.

Why is teaching important to you?
Medicine is a very complex field that you cannot strictly learn from literature. Being taught different ways to approach disorders and symptoms, seeing different clinical pictures, interpreting signs and lab work is most effective if you have an experienced teacher with you. I like to share my knowledge and passion with learners hoping to give them the right tools on their way to a successful career as a doctor.

What is the key to successful teaching?
In my opinion, the motivation of the learners, being a good role model and being available to stand by the learners' sides are keys to successful teaching.


Thank you to the Department of Medicine members who have shared your knowledge and promoted the Department of Medicine by participating in Researchers under the Scope podcasts produced by the USask College of Medicine.  Let us know if you have a topic that would be of interest to the general public.

  • Episode 1 – Eric Sy talks about hitting COVID-19 with Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir and blood plasma (10:38) Recorded May 5, 2020
  • Episode 2 – Drilling down on how COVID-19 affects vulnerable people with Donna Goodridge (10:42) Recorded May 6, 2020
  • Episode 16 – Indigenous wellness though “slow” research, with Alexandra King (23:09) Recorded January 4, 2021
  • Episode 18 – The burden of lung disease and lightening it, with Erika Penz (15:09) Recorded January 18, 2021


Department of Medicine Grand Rounds are recorded and available for viewing usually by the Friday after the Wednesday presentation. A link to the Grand Rounds page is available from the homepage of the department’s website at www.medicine.usask.ca/medicine.


If you have a national or international achievement, please consider letting our communications office know so we can share it with the rest of the team. Celebrating each other’s successes makes our department stronger. Contact susan.burton@usask.ca for any communication needs.



Welcome to the new year and a time of new hope as we start to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.  The vaccine rollout for frontline healthcare workers has begun and some of you have already received your vaccinations. 

I appreciate your patience and acknowledge there have been some challenges particularly around transparency and communication of the vaccine distribution process. Member concerns have been communicated to Pandemic Leads who agree criteria for determining priority for vaccines will be reviewed to ensure more timely access to all DoM members.

While the Department is not the source of vaccine rollout information, nor part of the decision-making process, we do want to help you get answers to your questions. This special newsletter provides links to a variety of sources where you can get more information about Saskatchewan’s vaccine rollout plan.

Let us continue to support each other and learn from each other as we get through these challenging times.


SHA Emails

  • The SHA is attempting to communicate directly with physicians via SHA email Information on activating your SHA email account is available here.
  • Physicians are being contacted directly via SHA email as they become eligible to be vaccinated.
  • SHA emails are also being used to invite physicians to participate in weekly online Physician Town Hall Updates being every Thursday from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Past sessions can be found here. This appears to be the best opportunity to have your questions answered.

SHA Website

  • You may find some answers to your question on the SHA COVID-19 Vaccine webpage, which includes regular updates, including provincial tracking.

SHA Weekly Updates

  • A summary of SHA’s Weekly Update - COVID Vaccine Planning emails sent to Department Heads and other leaders within the SHA is available on the Department of Medicine COVID-19 sharepoint site in the Vaccine folder. You will need your USask NSID and password to sign into this site which you can access from the DoM homepage. medicine.usask.ca/medicine.


  • The SHA website has information and guidance about both vaccines being used in Saskatchewan. You can find it here.
  • Read the New England Journal of Medicine publications about both the Moderna vaccine and Pfizer vaccine.
  • Additional publications about these and other vaccines are posted as PDFs in a new Vaccine Folder in the Department of Medicine Sharepoint Drive. You will need your USsask NSID and password to access this site.


We are living through challenging times. I want to once again thank each and everyone one of you for your sacrifices, your extraordinary efforts and your commitment to the people of this province and to the mission of the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. 

We are also witnessing social unrest and growing frustration with systemic racism and sexism. It is a reminder for each of us to examine our unconscious biases and regularly check ourselves for stereotypes, prejudices and ultimately unintentional but still hurtful discrimination.

Earlier this year, the Department of Medicine created a Diversity Committee to promote an environment of equity, diversity and inclusion. Committee Chair Dr. Nassrein Hussein explains more about the committee below.

This newsletter also has important information about opportunities to share your research success. Not only does this help to attract graduate students and residents, it can lead to the identification of synergies and collaborative opportunities within the department. I encourage you to explore the information about your colleagues on our website at medicine.usask.ca/medicine.

This season’s newsletter also includes research profiles from a relatively new faculty members as well as a Distinguished Professor who has been at the University of Saskatchewan for more than 50 years.

And speaking of new arrivals, I extend a warm welcome to the 16 new faculty members who recently joined our team. I look forward to more opportunities to see all of you in person.

On a sad note, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the great contributions made to our community by Dr. Jose Tellez who recently passed away. He was a highly valued member of our department and he will be missed. 

Please enjoy this edition of our newsletter and consider submitting story ideas for the next issue.  

Dr. Haissam Haddad
Provincial Head

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee at the Dept of Medicine. 
Submitted by Nassrein Hussein – EDI Committee Chair

In the summer of this year the Department of Medicine Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee was initiated, with the inaugural meeting held July 6, 2020. The mission of this committee is to promote an environment of diversity and inclusion within the Department of Medicine, in line with the University of Saskatchewan’s Diversity and Inclusion Policy, using evidence-based initiatives to implement best practices. [Read More]

Welcome to new faculty who recently joined the Department of Medicine
(July, August and September, 2020)

  • Dr. Michael Cenkowski – Cardiology
  • Dr. Chris Pekrul - Cardiology
  • Dr. Steve Pylypchuk – Cardiology
  • Dr. Devon Houdek – Endocrinology & Metabolism
  • Dr. Krista Lagimodiere – Geriatric Medicine
  • Dr. Megan Surkan – Geriatric Medicine
  • Dr. Fahd Al-Dhalaan – General Internal Medicine
  • Dr. Anmol Cheema – General Internal Medicine (Regina)
  • Dr. Ben Leis - General Internal Medicine
  • Dr. Arthur Ling – General Internal Medicine
  • Dr. Michelle Lund – General Internal Medicine (Swift Current)
  • Dr. Regan Cooley – Neurology
  • Dr. Priya Figurdo – Neurology (Regina)
  • Dr. Sanchea Wasyliw – Neurology
  • Dr. Colin Ellis – Respirology, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
  • Dr. Cairistin McDougall - Rheumatology (Regina)

Return of Grand Rounds 
Grand Rounds have returned in Saskatoon. Up to 30 people are allowed in the Vivian K Asher Lecture Theatre, or you can attend live via WebEx.  All sessions will be recorded if you cannot attend the live event. Information about Grand Rounds is sent out each week from Lesley Reynolds and can be also accessed from the homepage of the Department’s website.


  • Research Lunch and Learns (RLLs) are needs-driven topical meetings with the goal of:
    • increasing understanding of each other’s research
    • building a strong research community, and
    • fostering learning and growth.
RLLs take place once a month, on a Friday at noon. This academic year all sessions will be via WebEx only. If you would like to present or have a topic you think should be covered, please email Ozlem Sari with your presentation idea or title.

  • Check out the Recent Publication section at the top of the research page on the Department of Medicine website (medicine.usask.ca/medicine) where you can share your publications with your colleagues. The page is updated based on alerts from Pub Med. You can also send a note about your latest publication to the communications office at dom.communications@usask.ca.

  • Several faculty members in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw are actively involved in COVID-related studies. You can find a list here and on the research page of our website. If you have recently started COVID-related research, please let our research facilitator know. Ozlem Sari can be reached at ozlem.sari@usask.ca.

  • We want to showcase everyone’s research interests, so if you have not already done so, please fill out the one-page Faculty Information Form so you can be included in the Directory of Research Interests on the department website. The directory is meant to aid potential residents and graduate students who are searching for a research supervisor. You can find the form in the Research Faculty section on the Research page of our website. You may also want to check your faculty profile and send updated information to dom.communications@usask.ca.

  • Return to Research on campus. If your research was halted due to COVID, you may be able to start up again. Check out USask’s COVID information page, and the Request for Campus / Field Activity or Access to Campus. Resources you may need, including forms, are available on the Department of Medicine Sharepoint Covid Site in the Return to Work – Research folder.

Competent Learners make Competent Doctors
Submitted by Dr. Rahul Mainra – Director UGME

Competency By Design (CBD) has taken deep roots in our post-grad training programs and is now gearing up in undergraduate medical education.

Dr. Sharon Card gave a wonderful Grand Rounds on Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA) in post-grad residency education. Take home points which resonated with many included using the term “Readiness” instead of “Trustable.” Is your medical student “Ready” to do a history and physical exam on their own or do they need you to be present? [Read more]

Getting to Know You - Researcher Profile with Dr. Jay Shavadia

Using a question and answer format, we learn more about Dr. Jay Shavadia, Assistant Professor of Cardiology.

What is your area of research?
Most of my research work is focused around population outcomes within registries of patients across the spectrum of acute coronary syndromes. [Read more]

Getting to Know You - Researcher Profile with Dr. Ali Rajput

Using a question and answer format, we learn more about Dr. Ali Rajput, Distinguished Professor of Neurology. 

What is your area of research?
My area of research is movement disorder – parkinsonism, essential tremor, dystonia et., and ranges from epidemiology, clinical therapeutics, clinicopathological brain biochemistry, molecular genetics and translational research. [Read more]

In our next newsletter,  Researcher Profiles with Dr. Andrea Lavoie and Dr. Alex Wong.

Taking the Pressure Off: Ear Savers for Saskatoon’s Frontline Healthcare Workers

Infectious Diseases specialist Dr. Shaqil Peermohamed knows the importance of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of disease. But he also saw the discomfort, pain and damage to ear lobes that frontline healthcare workers were experiencing as a result of wearing masks for the entire duration of their shift, day after day, so he decided to do something about it. [Read more]

Dr. Jose Tellez-Zenteno
- in Memoriam

Dr. Tellez

Professor of Neurology, Dr. Jose Tellez-Zenteno, passed away on October 2, 2020. His expertise and compassion helped untold numbers of patients with epilepsy.  

Dr. Tellez-Zenteno received his medical degree from the National University of Mexico in 1996. After residencies in internal medicine and neurology, he came to Canada for clinical fellowships at the epilepsy program at the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario and at the Foothills Medical Center in Calgary, Alberta.  

He arrived at the University of Saskatchewan in 2007 and was promoted to a full professor in 2013. A prolific author with an exceptional citation record, he was an internationally recognized expert in his field. At the University of Saskatchewan, he is remembered as an enthusiastic teacher, a relentless researcher and the founder of Saskatchewan’s first program for complex patients with epilepsy.  

His death is an extraordinary loss to all his patients, to the University of Saskatchewan and to his colleagues around the world. 



As we head into our third month of the novel corona virus outbreak here in Saskatchewan, I want to thank you all for your ongoing commitment and dedication. This has been a trying time and it is far from over. The generosity of spirit you have displayed in sharing your expertise and supporting each other has inspired me and affirms my belief in, and dedication to, our team.

I recognize that everyone has been working under unusual conditions and I want to thank all Department Area Leads and members of the provincial Department for stepping up in this crisis at the Department and/or Pandemic levels. And finally, I would like to thank our administrative team members who are working from home but are still helping us connect and carry on. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

I hope you find this issue of our newsletter informative and that you will consider contributing interesting stories in the future. Stay strong, stay safe and take care of yourselves.

Dr. Haissam Haddad
Provincial Head

Department of Medicine – COVID-19 Bootcamp

Join your colleagues in the Department of Medicine every Thursday from 12 – 1 for an online COVID-19 Bootcamp put on by USask Continuing Medical Education and the Department of Medicine. Watch for an invite in your USask Outlook calendars. All sessions are recorded and available for viewing. Watch recorded sessions here.

COVID-19 Info & Updates Sharepoint Site

To assist department members in keeping track of Covid-19-related information, a COVID Info & Updates Sharepoint site has been created. It is only accessible to members of the Department of Medicine and you will need your USask NSID to sign in. The site serves as an archive of information that may be of particular relevance to department members. Weekly updates, emailed from Lesley Reynolds, provide a list of new information added to the site.

Dispelling Covid-19 Myths via Social Media
Dr. Hassan Masri, GIM and Emergency specialist, is hoping to inspire others to be part of the solution when it comes to battling COVID-19. He has a steadily growing following for his Facebook videos where he answers questions about the virus. Read more…

PGY1 Research Days June 2 and 9th

Watch your email for invite and link for the PGY1 presentations. They will take place via WebEx on June 2 and June 9 from 1 to 5pm. The link will be available to anyone who wants to attend.
Plans are still being developed for the PGY2 poster presentations.

Keeping Students on Track

Shout out to the UGME and PGME Administrators who have been working from home to reschedule clinical courses, organize online academic half days, reschedule research days and respond to student queries. Read more here to see what four of them have been working on.  


SHRF Grant Success

Congratulations to three Department of Medicine researchers who recently received grants from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF). Dr. Bhanu Prasad (MD) and Dr. Donna Goodridge (PhD) received 2019-20 Collaborative Innovation Development Grants, which are designed to address health challenges particularly relevant to Saskatchewan. Dr. Sharyl Fowler (MD) received a 2019-20 Sprout Grant for patient-oriented research. Read more.

International Film Award

Congratulations to Dr. Stuart Skinner and the rest of the Wellness Wheel team in Regina for international recognition of your HIV and Hepatitis C program at Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation.
An award wining video, Connecting with Care Ahtahkakoop, focussed on the Ahtahkakoop Health Centre’s Know Your Status program.  The video took home the grand prize in the first annual Hepatitis Elimination Video Contest sponsored by the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination. It highlights the work being done in Saskatchewan and in First Nation communities to address Hepatitis C. View the video.

 2019 David Cotton Award Winner

Dr CC Tyan

     Congratulations to Dr. Chung Chun (Anderson) Tyan for being awarded the
     2019 David Cotton Award. The award recognizes an outstanding faculty
     member who has contributed to the care of respiratory patients in
     Saskatchewan and to the academic life of the Division of Respiratory,
     Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.

Welcome to the first edition of the Department of Medicine newsletter. Please take a few moments to browse the contents. We hope you will find it informative.

Our goal for the newsletter is to help build a closer-knit community of internists throughout the province of Saskatchewan.

With that in mind, we ask you to submit your news, including achievements and upcoming activities, so we can share with your colleagues. Photos are great too. Happy reading!
Dr. Haissam Haddad
Provincial Head

Faculty Retreat 
More than 60 department members from throughout the province came to Saskatoon for the first all faculty retreat this past fall. Along with meeting colleagues from other communities, and putting faces to names, it was an opportunity to ask questions and have lively discussions about provincial standardization.
Read more

Getting to Know You
In each edition of Internal Insights, we will introduce you to one or two members of the Department of Medicine. If you would like to participate in the Getting to Know you section of Internal Insights, send a note to DoM.communications@usask.ca.

Research support is the focus of this edition, as we introduce you to Ozlem Sari, Department Research Facilitator, and Masud Rana, Department Biostatistician.
Click here to read more about Ozlem.  Click here to read more about Rana.

Dr. Haissam Haddad was recently awarded the Canadian Certified Physician Executive (CCPE) credential.

The certification from the Canadian Society of Physician Leaders recognizes Dr. Haddad’s leadership capabilities described in the “LEADS in a Caring Environment Framework.” This is a significant accomplishment and indicates a high level of professional leadership competence. Congratulations Dr. Haddad!

Does Your Profile Page Need Updating?
Under the One Faculty Model, all members of the Department of Medicine who are involved in teaching or research are faculty with the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine. So why not get your information up, or up to date, on the profile pages of the USask website.
Read more about suggested content. 

Call for Content
Internal Insights is YOUR newsletter. Get to know each other by sharing information about your special projects, upcoming events, as well as personal and professional success stories. 
What are we looking for?
Quality improvement initiatives/ Research updates/  Education updates / Department events/ Community engagement activities / PHOTOS / Information you think would be interesting for your colleagues. 
Please send your content to DoM.communications@usask.ca.

Save the Dates - Residents Research Days 2020
Department of Medicine
PGY1 - Case Presentations Tuesday April 21, 11:30am - 3:30pm 
PGY1 - Case Presentations Tuesday April 28, 11:30am - 3:30pm
PGY 2 & 3 - Poster/ Podium Presentations Friday May 1, 2020 8:30am - 4:00pm
Residents' Banquet - Friday May 1, 2020 Cocktails 5:30
For more information contact: yimika.plumptre@usask.ca.

Upcoming Events
Send us information about local events you are organizing or participating in, and we will share with your colleagues.