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 interns will receive an award of C$5,000.

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

  • Investigation of anatomical works (the library’s collections are particularly strong in books from the 16th-20th century)
  • Analysis of books, manuscripts and other items donated by Sir William Osler
  • Using archives and special collections to respond to the question of Osler’s relevance and importance to medical students of today
  • Investigations using the Wilder Penfield Fonds

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: 31 January 2022. If you have a mentor you would like to work with, please include that information with your application.

Congratulations to the 2022 Molina Foundation Research Award recipients! 

  • 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.

Previous winners:


  • 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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