Grad Students

PhD Candidates


Fabio Botelho MD, MSc, PhD(c)

PhD Candidate 2023, McGill University

Supervisor: Dr. Dan Poenaru

Thesis Title: Non-technical skills (NOTS) in trauma training using simulation

I’m a Brazilian pediatric surgeon and the current Jean-Martin Laberge Global Pediatric Surgery Fellow at Montreal Children’s Hospital. My research focuses on investigating improvements in pediatric trauma care – the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in many countries in the world, including Brazil. My strong belief is that “surgery connects people and it is a tool for social change and global equality”.

My bio can be found here.

Zanib Nafees, BSc, MSc, PhD(c)

PhD Student 2025, McGill University

Supervisor: Dr. Dan Poenaru

Thesis Title: Adaptation and translation of the Patient Reported Experience Measure for Children and Young People (PREM-CYP) at The Montreal Children’s Hospital

My thesis focuses on improving children’s experiences at the hospital and we are designing a survey that will tell us exactly how children want us to improve their experiences at the hospital. I love working with children, so I spend my late afternoons tutoring French and Math to elementary kids and high schoolers on a weekly basis. I love hiking and swimming in the summer and skating during the winter. I am really happy to be part of the Commisur lab and work with such a lovely and supportive team!

My bio can be found here.


Sacha Williams

Sacha Williams, MD, MS, MPH, MSc(c)


PhD Student 2027, McGill University

Supervisor: Dr Dan Poenaru, Global Surgery

Thesis: Gender inequity in pediatric surgical access and outcomes in LMICs.

I am a Jean-Martin Laberge Global Pediatric Surgery Fellow. My research focus is on gender inequity and global surgery, particularly in low and middle income countries. I am strongly committed to: ameliorating clinical systems, patient care, health equity, and social justice to better serve vulnerable communities.


My bio can be found here.

Julia Ferreira MD, MSc(c)

MSc 2023, McGill University

Supervisor: Dr. Dan Poenaru

Thesis Title: Patient-reported outcome and experience measures in pediatric surgery

I’m a Brazilian pediatric surgeon, pursuing a Master’s in Experimental Surgery at McGill University. My research area is patient-centered care, connecting pediatric surgeons with patients and their families. I also lead a team of young surgeons in the fight against gender inequity in surgery.

My bio can be found here

Mohamed Elahmedi, MBBS PMP, MSc(c)

MSc Candidate 2023 McGill University

Supervisor: Dr. Dan Poenaru

Thesis Title: Digital health innovation in pediatric surgery

I’m a healthcare professional with a passion for combining healthcare with information technology. As a child, I created databases for a telecommunications company. During medical school in Sudan, I was able to apply his skills to alleviate suffering and save lives. After completing his clinical internship, I took a technical internship in an internet service provider. I then became a member of a multidisciplinary team that studied obesity and weight loss surgery in children, helping thousands of children and adolescents suffering from severe obesity and associated medical problems. I’m currently a master’s student in experimental surgery / digital health innovation at McGill. This is a digital health app that aims to improve the experience of children and their parents during surgical care by providing information, support, and communication tools. I’m dedicated to using his knowledge and experience to enhance the healthcare experience for both children and their parents through the use of digital technologies.

My bio can be found here
Alex Dimmer-2

Alexandra Dimmer, MD, MSc, MSc(c)

Msc Candidate 2024, McGill University

MD 2020, St. George’s University

Msc 2014, McGill University

Co-Supervisors: Dr. Pramod Puligandla and Dr. Dan Poenaru

Thesis: Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Long-term Follow-Up Clinic Patient and Family Satisfaction

I’m a surgical resident at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY who is currently completing my MSc at McGill as part of her dedicated research time. I’m a Toronto native, who completed both her Bachelors and Masters degrees at McGill University, before pursuing a medical degree from St. George’s University. My future career aspirations are to become a pediatric surgeon.

My bio can be found here
Mahshid Mortazavi

Mahshid Mortazavi, MD, MPH, MSc(c)

MSc 2023, McGill University

Supervisor: Dr. Sherif Emil

Thesis: A systematic review of the risk stratification schemes for pediatric perforated appendicitis

My name is Mahshid. I graduated in 2013 from the Tehran University of Medical sciences. Currently an MSc student at the department of Experimental Surgery. I’m a wife, a mom and a foreign medical graduate from Iran with nine years of experience as a family doctor in my home country. I have been engaged in some research projects since medical school, and my field of interest is cancer epidemiology, public health and surgery. I love painting and playing basketball.

My bio can be found here

Jiahao Deng, MSc(c)

MSc, McGill University

Supervisors: Dr. Sam Daniel and Dr. Dan Poenaru

Thesis: Mixed-Methodology Study on Patient-Reported Outcomes in Adult Bone-Anchored Hearing System Users and Non-Users

Hello! I am a master’s student in otolaryngology – head and neck surgery, under the supervision of Dr. Sam Daniel and Dr. Dan Poenaru. My thesis projects are a systematic review of a new bone-anchored hearing implant and a piloting study of a mixed-method survey assessing patient-reported outcomes and experiences in those who refused the hearing implant.

My bio can be found here
Gianluca Bertolizio

Gianluca Bertolizio, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., MSc(c)

Pediatric Anesthetist

MSc, McGill University

Supervisor: Dr. Dan Poenaru

Thesis: Comparison between virtual reality- and high-fidelity-based simulation in training postgraduate anesthesia residents

I’m Assistant professor, McGill University in the department of anesthesiology. My research interests are brain physiology, Pediatric airway, Pain, Virtual Reality, Perioperative anesthesia. Currently I’m doing my master’s in virtual care with Dr. Dan Poenaru. I am learning downhill longboarding. I love working with children and their families because  every day they teach me a new way to be resilient and positive.

My bio can be found here
Mathias Johansen

Mathias Johansen, MSc(c)

Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia,

MSc, McGill University

Supervisor: Dr. Dan Poenaru

Thesis: Short- and long-term gastro-intestinal and pulmonary complications in patients with esophageal atresia

My bio can be found here

Felix Oyania (PhD, Mbarara University School of Technology)

Charles Odongo (PhD, Mbarara University School of Technology)

Yasmine Yousef

Etienne St. Louis (PhD thesis:Patient-level risk adjustment for outcomes benchmarking of pediatric trauma patients in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, 2021)

Kathryn LaRusso

Pier-Luc Beaudoin (MSc thesis: Barriers in access to care for head and neck cancer patients in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2020)

Luc Malemo (MSc thesis: Estimation of met surgical needs at hospitals in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2020)

Irina Boldeanu

Nadia Safa

Anne-Sophie Besner (MSc thesis: The use of patient-reported outcome measures for pediatric surgical congenital anomalies, 2022)

Zoe Atsaidis (MSc thesis: Understanding the effectiveness of informed consent in pediatric surgery, 2022)

Parsa Bandamiri

Hamed Ranjbar

Naomi Wright (MSc, PhD, King’s College, London, UK)
Sabrina Wimmer (MA, Univ. of Groningen, NL)