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IMS students taking the lead. Meet the 2017 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award winners


MARCH 9, 2017

Congratulations to Katherine Schwenger, Richard Foty, Pratiek Matkar and Christine Moon, winners of the 2017 Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award.

The award recognizes students who have made outstanding extra-curricular contributions to their college, faculty or school, or to the university as a whole.

Here’s a little bit more about the winners:

Katherine Schwenger has served as a past Co-President, Site Director, IMS Magazine Representative and is currently a Member at Large for the Institute of Medical Science Student Association. She has also been a journalist and executive editor of the IMS Magazine and is currently the Graduate Student Ambassador for the GLSE. Katherine is also the Committee Lead and Co-Creator of UofT Talks as well as the lead of Health and Wellness both which are run under the Student, Alumni and Faculty Engagement (SAFE) committee at the Institute of Medical Science. Finally she is an active member of Exercise is Medicine and has also been the University of Toronto lead for CAMH’s One Brave Night.

Katherine is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute of Medical Science with Dr. Johane Allard as her supervisor. Her research at the University Health Network explores the relationship between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and intestinal microbiota in morbidly obese patient’s pre and post bariatric surgery.  As a registered dietitian she hopes to bring the importance of the intestinal microbiota into clinical practice. She has won awards and scholarships at the university, provincial, federal and international level for both her academics and volunteerism.


Rich Foty standing portraitThroughout his tenure at the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), Richard Foty has had many opportunities to make extra-curricular contributions to his department, faculty, university and greater community. In 2012-13 Richard was elected president of the IMS Student Association. During this time, he spearheaded a number of community outreach initiatives, and organized a highly successful TEDMED conference for the faculty of Medicine. Richard was then named student lead and co-founder of the IMS Student, Alumni and Faculty Engagement Committee. In this position he continues to collaborate with students, faculty and alumni and places particular emphasis on creating a complete learning environment focused on the academic, professional, social, emotional, and mental wellbeing of students. Included in this initiative are a series of annual symposia that brought together members of UofT and the greater community to discuss important health-related topics including physician assisted suicide and the future of our growing aging population. Richard is currently helping to lead this year’s UofT Talks symposium which focusses on improving health care for Canadians.

Richard is in the final year of his PhD at the Institute of Medical Science, under the supervision of Dr. Teresa To. His research interests include the health effects of climate change, building predictive models and identifying trends within populations, using secondary data sources. He is also the Curriculum and Networks Coordinator in the Translational Research Program, which teaches students to move knowledge into action make tangible differences to improve the health of Canadians.


Pratiek MatkarPratiek Matkar has served the University of Toronto community as an Executive Member of the Graduate Education Council (GEC) and the SGS Committee for Students’ Matters (CSM). He was also a representative for IMS students at the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU).

Pratiek  is currently pursuing his PhD at the Institute of Medical Science, under the supervision of Dr. Howard Leong-Poi. His research at St. Michael’s hospital focuses on pancreatic cancer. Pratiek is particularly interested in studying novel mechanisms of drug resistance in pancreatic cancer. He has authored more than 14  peer-reviewed publications in prominent journals, such as The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids, Oncotarget, Journal of the American Heart Association etc. and has won several federal, provincial and University-wide awards/scholarships.

Christine Moon is pursuing her Masters degree under Dr. Camilla Zimmermann.