Chair’s Comments

Chair’s Comments: January 2016

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

“So, this is Christmas
And what you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun…”


— From Happy Christmas (war is over) – John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1971

I am delighted to wish you all a very happy 2016 and I hope that your holiday season was an enjoyable and healthy one.

I love this time of year as all forms of media feel obliged to generate their “best of” lists. The best books of 2015, the best movies of 2015, the best songs of 2015, the best restaurants of 2015… you get the idea. I enjoy gleaning through these lists in the hopes of discovering a hidden gem or something I overlooked during the year.

This past holiday season, I happened to discover a series of websites showing the best photographs of 2015. As Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, we are all very much into visuals (“it doesn’t heal without a photograph, right?”) and like most of you, I enjoy and appreciate making photographic images. One of my favorite annual endeavors is to check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest that is on display at the Natural History Museum in London. This is a remarkable collection of images taken by pros and amateurs (our own Dr. Howard Clarke has submitted images to this contest).

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Chair’s Comments: September 2015

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
— Milton Berle (actor and comedian, 1908-2002)

 

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
— Sun Tzu (544 – 496 BC Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher)

 

“Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.”
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr. (American author best known for his inspirational book, Life’s Little Instruction Book)

Welcome back to the academic year and I hope that you all had an enjoyable summer and made the most of the briefest of our four seasons!

As I write, with temperatures on this Labour Day Weekend soaring into the 30’s, summer isn’t going away any time soon, but with the last few breaths of the Canadian National Exhibition, mist on the pond in the morning and certainly, waking up at my usual time to dark skies is an indicator that it is time to move on and embrace the fall season.

Invariably, in this message to welcome you into the new academic year, I reflect back on to what has transpired over the past couple of months and make some light and pithy comments about books read or places visited and how quickly time goes by. But this year, the sobering events going on in other parts of the world bring to mind other thoughts.

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Chair’s Comments: January 2015

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

“Innovation is creativity with a job to do.
John Emmerling

 

“Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter

 

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Let me start by wishing all of you a belated Happy New Year with health, happiness, safety and prosperity for the months to come.

It is already more than halfway through the first and coldest month of the year so it can only get better from here right? And besides, the days are getting longer!

Last Chair’s Comments, I expounded about the aspects of creativity that are integral to our specialty. This time, it’s innovation. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, innovation involves “the act of introducing things or methods that are new”. What is interesting to me is the “butterfly” effect of innovation. One thing influencing something seemingly unrelated. Did you know that the English innovation of using coal to make glass in 1611 was integral to development of the champagne world market? French glass was wood-fired, intrinsically weak and prone to failure making storage of the effervescent liquid problematic. English coal-fired furnaces burned at higher temperatures and allowed for stronger glass production. Reinforced English glass bottles (“verre anglais”) resulted in preservation of sparkling champagne and replaced wooden casks thereby allowing it to be transported long distances. The rest is history (true story). New stuff happens every day. It is hard to keep up with innovation. In fact, it can be overwhelming. Especially for someone of my era. Ask your 15 year-old son about the latest in android phones and you will get a snarky answer and withering look of derision.

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Chair’s Comments: September 14, 2014

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
Albert Einstein

Starting back to work after the Labor Day weekend and with the glory of my vacation fading into the distance, the slight chill in the morning air and the absence of daylight at my usual waking time confirmed the impression that summer was officially over. Remarkable how the benefits of a couple of weeks on holiday can evaporate within minutes of being back at work. So welcome back everyone! I hope that you all had a great one and had the time to enjoy family, friends and some albeit brief, warm weather!

I have said before that the fall is my favorite time of year. The light changes, accentuates and highlights details of the landscape in a way that you see things that were not obvious before. Fall harvest and the hustle and bustle of going back to school, the TIFF and all its excitement, a change in wardrobe from flip flops to loafers. There is something about renewal and fresh opportunities that come with the change in the colour of the leaves…a reminder that winter is coming and there is a subtle urgency to get things done and time to make some plans.

I am very excited about the coming academic year. We have a new research director, Dr. Greg Borschel and I am looking forward to hearing Greg’s plans for the division. I have expanded the scope and size of our executive committee to incorporate Undergraduate Education (Dr. Melinda Musgrave) and Quality Improvement (Dr. Karen Wong) in order to provide a comprehensive infrastructure to manage the needs of the division and provide innovative and creative opportunities for the future (more about that later). Our new website is up and running and already I have plans for additional enhancements to it.

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Chair’s Comments: May 2014 – Global Outreach and International Volunteerism

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

As I was passing a colleague the other Friday and enquired what he was up to for the weekend, he casually replied he was about to hop on a plane to go to the other side of the globe on a mission.

I perfunctorily wished him safe travels and my mind wondered about the place he was headed to, thinking quite superficially “wow, what a great way to see the world” and “lucky you”. As I wandered further down the corridor, it struck me that on Monday, he would be working in a strange OR with a team he wasn’t familiar with, operating on patients he had not yet met, not to mention suffering an 8 hour jet lag and acclimatization to non-Starbucks coffee. I could relate to this feeling of displacement, having just returned from a mission to Ethiopia. By coincidence, 2 other colleagues were returning from India having completed a 2-week event with Operation Smile. It occurred to me that our division is having a profound effect on different parts of the world in a relatively short period of time. I felt a little embarrassed by my initial thoughts of envy.

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Chair’s Comments: Research Day 2014

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

Dr. Christopher R. Forrest

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all the house-staff (Heather Baltzer, Shaikhan Al-Hashmi, Paul Carter, Olivia Ho, Matt Plant, Homan Cheng, Blake Murphy, Kathryn Isaac, Ryan Austin, Siba Haykal, Jennica Platt, Mike Hendry, Joseph Catapano, Katie Armstrong, Dale Podolsky, Matt Murphy and Victoria Hayward) of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Toronto who did a tremendous job in representing the high quality and variety of research that is being carried out in the division at the 30th Annual Hoyle Campbell Annual Research Day on Friday February 21, 2014.

Thank-you to the supervisors who were able to inspire and support our residents to create a world-class forum for research. We were able to access the brand new Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at the Hospital for Sick Children which is a spectacular environment for this event.

We were exceptionally fortunate to have Dr. Paul Cederna, who is the Chief of the Section of Plastic Surgery, Professor in the Department of Surgery, and a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbour as this year’s Tau Omicron Visiting Professor. I introduced Paul as one of the “rock stars” of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and he did not disappoint during his visit. His academic accomplishments to date are pretty phenomenal and he heads a powerhouse of a division at UoM. His inspiring lecture on neuromuscular interfaces in prosthetic rehabilitation of amputees was a terrific highlight of the day demonstrating the powers of collaboration, team-work, innovative thinking and persistence. I was immensely proud of the great job our residents did in making Paul feel comfortable and welcomed. However, we couldn’t resist the opportunity of rubbing it in a little when Canada beat the US Olympic Team in the semi-final. To his credit, Paul was incredibly graceful in defeat. Thank-you to Dr. Paul Cederna for taking the time and energy to make this year’s Tau Omicron Professorship a truly memorable one.

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