Dr. Bjarnason, also an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, has focused his clinical work and research on kidney cancer. He is the inaugural recipient of The Anna-Liisa Farquharson Chair in Renal Cell Cancer Research. He continues his long-standing collaborations with Drs. Robert Kerbel, Peter Burns, Greg Stanisz and Stuart Foster at Sunnybrook Research Institute, most recently investigating innovative scheduling of drugs using imaging technologies to understand how to best deliver therapies that block the flow of blood to tumours.
He still finds time to pick up his guitar now and then, and to go gliding on annual summer trips to Iceland.
IT MAY HAVE BEEN A CANADIAN who brought Dr. Paige Church to Toronto from Boston, but it’s Sunnybrook that keeps her here.
Of course, it helps that it wasn’t just any Canadian but her husband, Erik, whom she met even before earning her medical degree at the University of Vermont. And Sunnybrook isn’t just any hospital either, she says, but one that stands firmly behind what she’s trying to accomplish. “It’s like playing tennis with people who are better than you every day. You know you’re going to get better,” Dr. Church says of the team at Sunnybrook’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Follow-Up Clinic, of which she’s director. “The team here is better than any team I’ve ever worked with.”
And Dr. Church has worked with some excellent teams. After medical school, she did her residency in paediatrics at the University of Chicago Children’s Hospital. The experience helped her develop a keen interest in children with disabilities and ultimately brought her to Boston, where she became one of only two paediatricians in North America to complete dual fellowship training and board certification through the American Board of Paediatrics in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and Developmental Behavioural Paediatrics.
And she certainly grew up in a beautiful spot, Burlington, Vt., probably best known for being the home of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream; in fact, Dr. Church remembers having delicious ice cream scooped and served by Ben and Jerry themselves. But while she hasn’t yet learned to ice skate and misses Vermont’s beautiful ski slopes, she says she’s happy to call Toronto home.
Credit her satisfaction to Sunnybrook’s Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic, with its capacity to see up to 200 babies and children each month. The clinic is working to expand its exceptional follow-up care – already more extensive than at other centres – through collaboration within the community and schools, sharing its expertise and gaining additional expertise from community partners.
“To find a hospital with a mandate to follow children to the age of six years is an incredible investment. It is unusual and is one reflection of the commitment by the hospital to provide comprehensive care to the infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and their families, even after discharge. There’s a fundamental belief here that our clinic is essential for these children and that our care should extend to the early school years,” she says.
“For me, it’s a huge learning opportunity to work with the team at Sunnbyrook and to practice what I’ve been trained to do in an environment that is very supportive.”