IHPME Students Named 2024 Vanier Scholars

July 2, 2024

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2024 Vanier Scholars: Six framed photos of people smiling.
Clockwise: Gilbert Bryan Gascon, David-Dan Nguyen, Sarah Malecki, Gemma Postill, Erica Wennberg, Conrad Tsang.

Six IHPME students were recently named 2024 Vanier Scholars, one of the most prestigious scholarly achievements in Canada.  

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS) were launched in 2008 by the Government of Canada to attract top doctoral students and leaders in higher education. 

“Congratulations to our 2024 Vanier Scholars. The IHPME community is proud of your leadership and dedication to the field of health research. This award is a celebration of your outstanding academic achievements and potential as health systems trailblazers. To see our graduate students consistently listed among the winners each year is a reflection of their tenacity, perseverance, and commitment to discovering innovative solutions to the health system’s toughest challenges. We are extremely proud of your accomplishments and can’t wait to see the positive impact you will have,” says IHPME Director, Audrey Laporte

IHPME’s 2024 Vanier Scholars 

Gilbert Bryan Gascon, an MD-PhD student in the Health Systems Research (HSR) program, was awarded for his research on using implementation science approaches to integrate evidence-based early diagnosis programs for children with cancer in low- and middle-income countries. Gascon was overjoyed following the announcement and hopes this acknowledgement will help him further his goals of affecting positive change. “I hope this recognition helps bring life to my vision, which was always to help bring health solutions for communities who are underrepresented in research and medicine, particularly in a world where children seem to be undervalued,” says Gascon.  

David-Dan Nguyen, a urology resident physician at the University of Toronto, will begin his studies in the direct-entry PhD in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research (CEHCR) program in July 2024. Nguyen’s research is centered around enhancing health equity and reducing prostate cancer overdiagnosis by developing a machine-learning model for more effective, equitable prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test screening. As an incoming IHPME student, Nguyen is looking forward to joining a community of like-minded leaders and is grateful for the support he will receive from the Vanier Scholarship.  

“Receiving the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship is incredibly motivating as I embark on this new chapter in my training,” says Nguyen. “It brings me significantly closer to my ambition of becoming a surgeon-scientist, working at the intersection of health policy, artificial intelligence, and cancer care delivery to tackle health disparities.”

Sarah Malecki is a General Internal Medicine fellow at the University of Toronto and MSc student in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research (CEHCR). Her research revolves around adults with childhood-onset complex diseases and aims to measure their impact on adulthood and track their long-term effects to improve care and interventions. Malecki looks forward to continuing her studies as a Vanier Scholar. “Having the support of a Vanier Scholarship during my graduate studies will ensure that I am able to dedicate the time needed for my research,” says Malecki. “Being named a future leader of research excellence in Canada gives me further confidence and inspiration to pursue a research career in medicine.”

Gemma Postill is a 3rd year MD-PhD student in the Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research (CEHCR) program. Her research focuses on the use of machine learning and health data to study long-term outcomes of older adults after traumatic injury, with the aim of improving recovery time and helping patients remain at home longer. As her research lies at the intersection of data science, population health, and clinical care, Postill believes the Vanier Scholarship will help her develop her interdisciplinary leadership skills. Her overarching career goal is to create machine learning models for improving client care.  

“I was thrilled and deeply honored to be named a Vanier Scholar,” says Postill. “The Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship recognizes and awards academic excellence, research potential, and leadership. As I continue my journey to become a clinician scientist, I could not be more excited by this recognition!”

Erica Wennberg is a second-year PhD student in the Clinical Epidemiology and Healthcare Research (CEHCR) program and a third-year student in the MD/PhD program. Her research explores virtual mental health care among youth and young adults, specifically its access, safety, effectiveness and fairness compared to in-person care. Wennberg is grateful to be named a Vanier Scholar and the support it will provide for the remainder of her PhD.  

“My career goal is to become a clinician-scientist with a research focus in health equity,” says Wennberg. “Being named a Vanier Scholar alongside an amazing group of doctoral students across Canada has only deepened this conviction. I look forward to continuing to grow in the remaining years of my PhD with the support of the scholarship.” 

Conrad Tsang is a second-year PhD student in Health Professions Education Research (HPER) and a triple-specialized physician in Occupational Medicine, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and Family Medicine. Tsang’s PhD research is focused on fairness in medical school admissions, specifically how socioeconomic and other factors influence selection. Traditionally, physicians may not pursue medical education research, particularly on medical school admissions. The support provided by the Vanier Scholarship will allow Tsang to focus on this previously untapped issue.  

“The financial support gives me more freedom and flexibility to pursue the higher-risk but potentially higher-reward research avenue that could make important contributions and impact,” says Tsang.  

See the complete listing of Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships. 

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Marielle Boutin
Email Address: ihpme.communications@​utoronto.ca

Manages all IHPME-wide communications and marketing initiatives, including events and announcements.