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"I always want to continue to add value to the organizations I am within, and to do so in new ways that are a benefit both to the organization and to myself personally," he says.

"I think that my history is evidence of my ability to get very quickly up to speed in new areas."

What's more, he adds, "I love the variation. Variation drives the mind."

Patrick P.W. Luke, 36 Associate professor of surgery, University of Western Ontario; surgical director of renal/pancreas transplantation, attending surgeon, London Health Sciences Centre, London


If you wouldn't want to be the first patient to try a new medical procedure, you probably don't need it badly enough.

Many of Dr. Patrick P.W. Luke's patients -- who suffer advanced kidney or pancreatic failure, and sometimes both -- do. Also inspiring confidence is the long list of scientific awards, prizes and scholarships that is attached to him, not only since emerging in 1993 from the University of Toronto Medical School but from being an adolescent science star at Upper Canada College.

The upshot has been the opportunity in 2003 to conduct Canada's first robotic surgery in urology, followed the next year by the first combined kidney-pancreas transplant to be performed at London Health Sciences Centre, a site of the Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics research program.

Dr. Luke also scored a North American first in 2004 when he removed a renal aneurysm aided by a surgical robot.

And a medical conference featured him conducting from the convention floor in Toronto a robotic surgery 200 kilometres away on a training model on the operating table at LHSC.

"I've been very fortunate," says Dr. Luke, who also does basic research on the antibodies involved in transplants. "It's amazing to be able to walk into work one day and know we're doing organ transplantation, [and]the next day, robotic surgery."

The good fortune cuts both ways; having done clinical and research fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Toronto native Dr. Luke had more than enough woo pitched his way to keep him from setting foot in Ontario again.

"U.S. transplant physicians and surgeons travel from one institution to the next as they build their careers. I can't imagine moving my family four or five times," says Dr. Luke, who has three children younger than age 10. "My family and I have decided to stay in Canada."

Dr. Luke's hunger to see advances in his field -- where there is an increasing effort to enlist living donors while even available organs from cadavers are agonizingly few -- means taking no premature bows.

"These are just second- or third-generation robots that we're using," he says. "We're going to see whole new lines to come."

Robotics is still challenging for many surgeons, disrupting the usual continuum of hand-eye co-ordination, and it hasn't won everyone over. Dr. Luke believes robotics improves precision and dexterity, along with greatly reducing the invasiveness of surgery.

"Even some of our mentors and senior surgeons are among our strongest proponents," he notes.

Philip Smith, 39 Managing director and head of investment banking, Scotia Capital Inc., Toronto


Heading a department that does hundreds of transactions underwriting billions of dollars for companies throughout North America every year, Philip Smith seems comfortable with big challenges.

The business of investment banking, he says, "is very, very competitive, highly so, and if you're a competitive person and you thrive off that, it's very enjoyable."

With a degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA in analytical finance from the University of Chicago, his work isn't the only place where he likes to meet a challenge.

A fan of road biking, Mr. Smith rode with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong two years ago on a mounting, 4,000-foot gradient from Longview, Alta., over the Highland Pass to Kananaskis to raise money for cancer research.

"It was pretty tough," he says. "But if you're a cyclist, it's kind of like the ultimate."

Mr. Smith considers himself fortunate to have built a solid 12-year career at Scotia Capital, the investment arm of Canada's fourth largest bank.

A key to his success, he believes, is an ability to identify the company's competitive advantages and weaknesses "and to focus on building the former and addressing the latter. And out of that," he says, "to focus on the business we should be doing, based on our abilities.

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