McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Two winners chosen for John C. Sibley Award

By Sue Johnston

Published: July 9, 2007
Dr. Surianarayanan Ram  Mohan and Viola Freeman
Dr. Surianarayanan Ram Mohan (left) and Viola Freeman

A St. Catharines vascular surgeon who has been instrumental in the expansion of learning opportunities in the Niagara region for McMaster health sciences students, and a medical laboratory manager who is an expert in cytogenetics, have been named co-winners of the John C. Sibley Award for part-time faculty.

Dr. Surianarayanan Ram Mohan, medical director of Clinical Teaching Programs for the Niagara Health System, and Viola Freeman, manager of genetic services for the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Hamilton Health Sciences, were chosen in recognition of their excellence, initiative and sustained commitment as part-time faculty members of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Both were cited for their numerous teaching contributions to a wide range of health sciences students, from undergraduate nurses, doctors and Bachelor of Health Sciences students, to post-graduate residents and fellows.

Susan Denburg, associate vice-president, academic for the Faculty and chair of the Sibley Award selection committee, said the committee was extremely impressed by the commitment of the two winners to various student groups.

"Our part-time faculty members are crucial to the success of all of our educational programs, and these two individuals exemplify the dedication and personal traits that allow our Faculty to maintain its reputation for excellence in teaching," she said.

Ram Mohan, of Niagara Falls, is an associate clinical professor in the Department of Surgery who has been supervising McMaster surgical residents since 2000. He was instrumental in establishing the Surgical Clinical Teaching Unit (CTU) at St. Catharines General Hospital, and has also been involved in setting up CTUs in internal medicine and obstetrics in the Niagara region for McMaster’s undergraduate MD students. He is now assisting with the development of a pediatric teaching unit.

He has been influential in the establishment of the Niagara regional campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, which is slated to accept its first students in September 2008.

Ram Mohan has also provided many seminars, formal teaching sessions and countless hours of bedside teaching to ICU and surgery nursing staff, in addition to being a frequent presenter at Niagara Health System Teaching Rounds that are open to all health care disciplines.

"I have had the privilege of having worked with so many in the Niagara region in realizing our common academic goals, and I accept this honor on behalf of all of them," he said.

Freeman, of Ancaster, began teaching McMaster students in 1998, as a part-time lecturer in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. She was promoted to assistant professor (part-time) in 2002, and has recently become an associate professor. She has worked in medical laboratories since 1970, and as the manager of genetic services since 1999.

In addition to playing a major role in the training and career development of cytogenetic and molecular genetics technologists, and overseeing the two-year clinical training programs of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists Fellows, Freeman has played a key role in expanding genetics in the curriculum of the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program. In 2002 she developed a third-year genetics course in the program, and still functions as the co-ordinator and principal lecturer.

She also serves as a facilitator/mentor of a level four inquiry course in science, lectures in biology, is a reader for autobiographical submissions for the undergraduate MD admissions program and reviews entrance applications for the B.H.Sc. program.

"This award represents the recognition of countless hours in educational contributions by the medical technologists in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine," said Freeman. "My love for education has been a constant feature of my career. Being able to teach others to carry on one's work is my greatest reward as a teacher and a mentor."

The John C. Sibley award is presented annually to part-time faculty members in the Faculty of Health Sciences who have made outstanding contributions to the education of health professionals. It is named for a former associate dean who was one of the founders of the Faculty. Sibley was known for his interdisciplinary approach to community health both locally and internationally.

Four other part-time faculty members were also nominated for the award this year: Dr. Alan Taniguchi of the Department of Family Medicine, Dr. Rob Whyte of the Department of Anesthesia, Dr. Joseph Ferencz of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, and Janice Pogue of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Denburg praised the commitment and dedication of all of the nominees to McMaster’s academic mission, and noted that selecting the winners is a difficult task due to the high calibre of all candidates.

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