Molina Foundation Osler Library Medical Student Research Awards

Frontispiece of Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica, showing a busy dissection scene.


The Osler Library of the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that The Molina Foundation has generously offered funding for a summer research award programme, open to medical students enrolled at McGill University.

The primary objective is to provide medical students with an opportunity to undertake a research-based project using the Osler Library’s resources. It is expected that the award will lead to scholarly output that will be of mutual benefit to the participant and the Osler Library. Examples include: an article suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal, a curated exhibit at the library, and educational content for use in medical teaching. The recipients will each be expected to work under the guidance of a mentor for 8 weeks, to be scheduled during the summer academic holiday. The awardees will receive C$5,000, typically paid in two installments.

Applicants are welcome to come forward with their own proposals, but the Library can offer guidance as to topics that may be particularly well-suited to this opportunity. Broad areas of interest include:

  • Investigation of anatomical works (the library’s collections are particularly strong in books from the 16th-19th century)
  • Research drawing from the library's extensive collection of health-related pamphlets
  • Using archives and special collections to address Osler’s legacy and questions about his relevance to medical students of today
  • Investigations using the Wilder Penfield Fonds and other archival collections
  • Health care in times of war, as addressed in the letters and diaries of WWI nurses
  • Cross-cultural transmission of medical knowledge

To apply, please send a current CV and a proposal (not to exceed 2 pages) outlining how you will use Osler Library resources to support your research. In addition, have a letter of support sent directly to us (osler.library [at], to arrive by the application deadline. If you have a mentor you would like to work with, please include that information with your application. The application deadline for summer 2024 has now passed; information about the 2025 awards will be available at the end of 2024.

One can explore a sample of resources compiled in this spreadsheet.

The McGill Osler Society recorded an information session held on 2 February 2023:

Congratulations to the 2024 Molina Foundation Research Award recipients! 

  • Meygan Brody is a second-year McGill medical student with a passion for reading, writing, and the humanities. She has found ways to integrate the social studies of medicine within her training, most notably by working with the Maude Abbott Medical Museum and by participating in the 2023 Osler Essay Competition. This year, the Molina scholarship will enable her to pursue research on the Canadian temperance movement’s efforts to include lessons about alcoholism within public school curricula in the early twentieth century. The temperance movement’s historical conceptualization of alcoholism situated children and teenagers as the passive, helpless victims of adult male alcoholics. The public school educational materials shifted that narrative; they discussed the evils of teenage drinking, and outlined how children should actively denounce the adult alcoholics in their lives. Meygan’s project will explore how these teachings redefined the temperance movement’s paradigm of alcoholism by attributing much more agency to children and teenagers

  • Reda Hessi is a Med-P student at McGill University. As a two-time laureate of the Concours Philosopher prior to his entry into medicine, he has always had a keen interest in the humanities alongside his passion for science. This summer, in the context of the history of medicine, he will be able to explore the challenges that the Montreal-born anesthesiologist Dr. Harold Griffith overcame as he introduced curare into clinical care, despite the prevailing prejudice that this substance was a dangerous drug of no use to anesthesia. In doing so, Reda will have the chance to examine a rich body of correspondence between Dr. Griffith and other scientists that have yet to be looked into, including letters recently discovered in the Osler Library, to better understand both the scientific advances and the intricate relationships that underlie the revolutionary implementation of curare in anesthesia.

  • Amina Moustaqim-Barrette is a second-year medical student at McGill University. She earned a BASc from McGill University and an MSc in Population and Public Health – Epidemiology from the University of British Columbia. She subsequently worked as an epidemiologist in Vancouver before deciding to return to school. Amina is keenly interested in exploring issues related to social determinants of health and health advocacy in her researchHer project explores the life of Dr. Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866), British physician and social activist. Renowned for describing the malignant disease of lymphatic tissue, known today as Hodgkin Lymphoma, Dr. Hodgkin had an interest and role in numerous social reform and humanitarian movements in mid-19th century England. The project seeks to trace Hodgkin's involvement in Canada’s Indigenous rights movement, evaluate the tangible impact of his advocacy, and contextualize his efforts within the broader historical and sociopolitical milieu of the mid-19th century British Empire.

Previous winners:


  • Neevya Balasubramaniam is a second-year medical student at McGill University. Her research interests include artificial intelligence, epilepsy, neuro-imaging, neuro-oncology and neurosurgery. She is excited to be working on: “The Central Nervous System in the 18th Century Japanese Dissection Scrolls: Art of Observation and Dissection” this summer. This project will explore: 1) the transfer of anatomical illustrations related to the central nervous system from Kulmus’s volume to the wood engravings of the Kaitai Shinsho, 2) how these wood engravings were used as a dissection manual or guide to perform and illustrate scrolls and codices concerning human dissections, and 3) how these scrolls were used in the teaching of anatomical knowledge.

  • Paris Dastjerdi is a first-year medical student who brings a unique perspective to the field of medicine. Prior to pursuing medicine, Paris earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Concordia University, and a master’s degree in Supply Chain Management from HEC Montreal. Over the course of her 12-year career, Paris worked on a variety of projects in different industries, ranging from manufacturing to healthcare. She has a keen eye for identifying inefficiencies in systems and processes and is skilled at implementing innovative solutions to drive continuous improvement. Paris's journey to medicine was inspired by a personal experience that deeply impacted her. The experience gave her a newfound appreciation for the role that healthcare professionals play in people's lives and motivated her to transition her career to medicine. Paris has a deep passion for history and enjoys exploring the past to gain insight into the present and future. This summer, Paris will conduct research on the archives of Sir William Osler, exploring his fascination with the works of the great Persian physician and philosopher, Avicenna. Her project will involve a historical and cultural analysis of Sir William Osler's efforts to restore Avicenna's tomb in Iran.
  • Yoel Yakobi is a second-year medical student at McGill University whose accreditations include a Bachelor of Arts and Science and a Master of Bioinformatics from the University of Guelph. Though his current research involves the study of human vision in the realm of basic science, his undergraduate specialization in Classical Studies attests to his fondness for history, as well. He is pleased to indulge in this fondness once again with the Molina Foundation, through which he will study the development of anatomical treatises and their intersection with art in the early Renaissance. In the McGill Osler Library, Andreas Vesalius’ 1543 book De humani corporis fabrica presents one such case of intersectionality. Vesalius’ work is among the first to depict human anatomy from a naturalistic and representational standpoint, but rather than employing the sterile, static poses we see in modern anatomical textbooks, his depictions were largely styled following the conventional art practices of the time. In this vein, Yoel will analyze the works of Vesalius and his successors to characterize the influence of art on anatomical representations in the context of the Renaissance.


  • Saman Arfaie is a second-year McGill medical student, researcher, pianist, TEDx Speaker, and UC Berkeley honours graduate. Some of his previous projects include Alzheimer’s Disease tau PET biomarkers, the role of glucocerebrosidase mutations in Parkinson's Disease, surgical expertise using Artificial Intelligence, and the relationship between bipolar disorder with creative musical genius. He is excited to dedicate this summer to ‘Leonardo da Vinci's Medical Library: Mining the Secrets of Genius, and Creativity’. The aims of this project are threefold: 1) Analyze the volumes present in Leonardo’s Library outlined in 1504 in the Madrid Codex II that pertain to medicine and health; 2) Search Leonardo’s notebooks for other medical volumes that he may have consulted which influenced his concepts of medicine and health; 3) Assess the influence of sources on Leonardo's life, writings, and anatomical investigations as they relate to his studies of the central nervous system. His internship with the Osler Library will include mentorship by Professor Rolando Del Maestro (McGill University) and Professor Salvatore Mangione (Thomas Jefferson University).

  • Ali Fazlollahi is a first year medical student at McGill University who holds an MSc in Surgical Education. His research focuses on using advanced technologies to enhance the quality of surgical training, specifically on the use of artificial intelligence as a pedagogical tool in neurosurgery. Although Ali’s vision is towards the future, he believes there is so much that can be learned by looking at the past. In this project, he will be exploring the transmission of skills, styles, and techniques in the history of surgery by shedding light on how the groundbreaking “Montreal Procedure” was taught at the Montreal Neurological Institute. In doing so, he aims to identify the effective instructional modalities used by innovators at the time, notably Dr. Wilder Penfield and Dr. William Cone, that established this procedure successfully in modern neurosurgery.


  • Eden VanDevanter is a first year medical student at McGill University. As an active outdoors enthusiast, she is fascinated by the human body and its physical limitations in the context of athletes and medicine. It is her opinion that advances in modern medicine cannot be fully appreciated without understanding the history and context of their evolution. Inspired by the athlete Kyra Condie, a climber competing in the 2020 Olympic games a decade after undergoing significant spinal surgery for scoliosis, Eden’s project will investigate the evolution of medical knowledge of the spine and its maladies through the past five centuries. Her internship with the Osler Library will include a collaboration with the Maude Abbott Medical Museum
  • Brendan Ross is a 2nd year medical student at McGill hailing from St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to coming to Montréal for medical school, he spent three years studying, teaching, and interpreting in China and Taiwan, and he brings an undergraduate degree in History and East Asian Studies to his summer project, “The Chinese Apotheosis of Dr. Norman Bethune: the Making of a Medical Folk Hero.” Through his research, Brendan plans to explore the extensive Norman Bethune collections in the Osler Library, with the idea of curating a digital exhibit of Bethune memorabilia and publishing an essay on the construction of Bethune’s memory in the context of China. 


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