Nov. 5, 2019

Creating future leaders in medicine

Academic physicians help open doors for residents’ research

You may be surprised to learn that approximately eight percent of Canadian children are born pre-term, sometimes with serious or life-threatening complications. For a baby born early, the days and weeks following birth are especially important. 

A common issue is bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a health issue related to a persistent need for oxygen support in those important first weeks of life. Researching BPD — and ultimately improving the lives of babies born pre-term — is a passion of Dr. Nikytha Antony, MD, BHSc’13

Antony is a third-year pediatrics resident at the Alberta Children’s Hospital researching BPD and how it’s treated across Canada. She presented her research in April at the Canadian Respiratory Conference in Ottawa, Ont., the largest gathering of pediatric respirologists in Canada each year.

“I presented a poster and spoke during a moderated session. I received valuable feedback about my research and I was inspired by the level of engagement and interest in what I had to present,” she says.

As Antony was presenting her research, Dr. Hassan Azhari, MD, was half a world away delivering a presentation of his own. A fifth-year adult gastroenterology resident, he spoke at the International Liver Congress in Vienna, Austria on research that found cirrhosis due to alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise in Alberta and Canada.

“It was tremendously beneficial to my research to be presenting in front of this multinational audience,” says Azhari of the 10-minute presentation to some of the world’s leading researchers in liver health. “I was able to connect with many people, including a researcher in Denmark for instance who is doing similar research there.”

Creating future leaders in medicine

Dr. Nikytha Antony, MD, (L) and Dr. Hassan Azhari, MD (R)

The important role of academic physicians

The presentations are made possible in part through funding from a group of academic physicians in Calgary known as the University of Calgary Medical Group (UCMG). Since the creation of UCMG in 1987, members have contributed millions of dollars in physician earnings to support the academic mission of the CSM and the university as a whole. 

Supporting residents by providing grants through the Medical Trainee Fund is just one example. Grant recipients are selected through a competitive process that includes presenting new or original research conducted at the University of Calgary and attendance at a national or international conference. Dozens of travel grants are supported each year, with eligible residents able to receive one travel grant per resident per fiscal year. 

CSM residency programs

The Cumming School of Medicine has more than 60 residency programs ranging in length from two to eight years. There are 843 medical residents at the CSM in the 2019/2020 fiscal year.