The Pop Team

A multidisciplinary team has been assembled to work with patients and contribute to clinical and basic research. The team includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, internists, nurses, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, psychologists, volunteers, and a patient representative.

Franco Carli, MD, MPhil, FRCA, FRCPC

Research Director

Dr. Francesco Carli is Professor of Anesthesia and Associate Professor in the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at McGill University. Dr. Carli’s research interests are in the areas of surgical stress and prehabilitation.

Dr. Carli is a founding member of the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) society, an international organization that trains clinicians in implementing evidence-based multidisciplinary perioperative programs aiming at accelerating the recovery process following major surgery.

Dr. Carli is a founding member of POP and a Principal Investigator in prehabilitation research.

Mary Guay, BA

Director and Volunteer

Mary Guay, a Director of POP, works as a volunteer for the not-for-profit organization.  She is in charge of bookkeeping and administration, and comes from a background of marketing research and strategic planning for a marketing consulting firm.

Enrico Minnella, MD

PhD Candidate

Dr. Enrico Maria Minnella completed his medical degree at the University of Milan, Italy, in 2011. He completed his residency in Anesthesia and Critical Care at the same Institution. From 2015 to 2016, he completed a research fellowship at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC), focusing his attention on the clinical impact of prehabilitation in cancer patients.

He is currently a medical coordinator for the prehabilitation unit at the Montreal General Hospital; and a PhD Candidate at McGill University. His main clinical and research interest is the impact of exercise and nutrition in cancer and critical patients.

Rashami Awasthi, MSc, CSEP-CPT

Research Coordinator and Head Kinesiologist

Rashami Awasthi, a certified personal trainer, completed her Master’s degree in Exercise Science: Clinical Exercise Physiology from Concordia University in 2015. She has been working with POP for the past seven years as a Kinesiologist and is also the Research Coordinator of the program. She is responsible for supervising a team of Kinesiology students.

She has worked with a variety of different populations, such as asthma, cardiac, cancer, dialysis and hernia patients. Her main goal is to provide individualized exercise programs to help improve quality of life.

Vanessa Ferreira, MSc


Vanessa Ferreira has been involved with POP for three years as a kinesiologist. As a Master student completing her degree in exercise physiology at McGill University, she has been studying how prehabilitation impacts cancer patients' metabolism, specifically the role that insulin sensitivity plays in cancer and surgery. She will be furthering her research interests in prehabilitation by pursuing a PhD where she will investigate the synergistic effects of exercise and protein on metabolism in surgical cancer patients.

Anh Thy Le Quang, BSc


Upon completing her B.Sc. in Exercise Sciences (specializing in Clinical Exercise Physiology), Anh Thy gained knowledge and experience working with patients with Parkinson's Disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke and cancer.

While working as a kinesiologist at POP, she is also the Head Trainer at OGYM centre de conditionnement physique, where she helps her clients reach their fitness goals and implement a healthy lifestyle.

Lauren Richer, BSc, Registered Dietician


Lauren Richer, a Registered Dietitian, completed undergraduate degrees in both Psychology (at Concordia University) and Dietetics (at McGill University). She went on to receive her Master in Dietetics at McGill and is now working in multiple clinical settings, including POP’s prehabilitation program.

Her practice includes corporate nutrition programs and individual counseling for a variety of conditions such as cancer, weight management, metabolic and gastrointestinal conditions. She is responsible for providing a holistic, patient-centered, and individualized nutritional plan for the patients of the peri operative program. 

Isabel (Ibby) Shuster, R.N., B.A.


Ibby received her nursing diploma in 1963 at the Jewish General Hospital and her B.A. in Sociology from Concordia University in 1985. For 40 years she worked in Pediatrics; in Geriatrics (doing research with Alzheimer patients); and in Oncology (where she worked in a Psycho-Social research project).

Simultaneously, for the past 16 years, Ibby coordinated the McGill Mini courses: Mini-Med, Law, Music, Science, Environment and Pharmacology. She retired in April 2016 and has been volunteering at POP since May 2016, offering stress management techniques to the patients facing major surgery.

Linda Edgar, R.N., PhD


Linda volunteers at POP teaching relaxation techniques and coping strategies to the patients. Linda is a retired nurse with both a Masters and PhD in Nursing. She has conducted several funded research projects on coping, distress and volunteerism, and has published articles, book chapters and books on these topics.

Her previous research took place within the Depts. of Nursing, Oncology and Epidemiology at the Jewish General Hospital. She also served as the National Advisor for Psychosocial Support with the Canadian Association of Colorectal Cancer.

She continues to be an adjunct professor of nursing at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON, and an adjunct assistant professor at McGill’s School of Nursing.

Gabriele Baldini, MD, MSc


Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesia of McGill University

Dr.Gabriele Baldini graduated in Medicine in 2003 from the University of Florence, Italy. After having completed his residency program in Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine in 2007 from the University of Florence, he completed a clinical fellowship in Anesthesia for Minimal Invasive Surgery and Fast-track surgery, and a clinical fellowship in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine at McGill University. He also received a Master Degree in Science Experimental Surgery at McGill University.

Since 2011 he works as anesthesiologist in the Department of Anesthesia at the Montreal General Hospital. Together with Dr. Carli and Dr. Feldman he is member of the Surgical Recovery (SuRe) Team, a multidisciplinary group developed with the aim to improve perioperative care, implementing Enhanced Recovery Programs. He is also the Medical Director of the Montreal General Hospital Preoperative Centre and in charge of the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) of the Montreal General Hospital.

Amal Bississow, MD

Consultant, Internal Medicine

In 2012, Dr. A. Bessissow obtained Royal College of Physician of Canada Fellowship in Internal Medicine and in 2015, she obtained Royal college of Physicians of Canada Fellowship in General Internal Medicine. From July 2013 to December 2014, she completed a research fellowship in Perioperative Medicine at Hamilton Health Sciences and Population Health Research Institute under the supervision of Dr. PJ Devereaux, world renowned researcher in the field of perioperative medicine. Further, Dr. Bessissow expanded her knowledge in research by completing a Master degree in Health Research Methodology at McMaster University. As of July 2015, she holds the position of assistant professor of internal medicine at McGill University Health Centre. Dr. Bessissow is currently the medical director of the preoperative clinic at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) and the director of the general internal medicine/postoperative consult service at the MGH. At the POP center, Dr. Bessissow is involved in optimizing medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, anemia) during and after the prehabilitation period in surgical patients.

Celena Scheede-Bergdahl, PhD

Consultant, Kinesiology

Celena Scheede-Bergdahl  received her BSc in Exercise Science (Concordia University, Canada), MSc in Kinesiology (Université de Montréal, Canada) and PhD in Medical Physiology (University of Copenhagen, Denmark). During her time in Copenhagen, she developed an interest in exercise prescription for the management of complications associated with type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory conditions. Her post-doctoral studies at McGill furthered her interest in inflammation and insulin resistance by studying how it applied to cancer cachexia and the latent effects of chemotherapy on skeletal muscle health in long term survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Presently, she is a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at McGill University, where her research interests lie in the area of exercise interventions in various inflammatory and insulin resistant conditions.

Celena has been working with the POP team for the past 5 years, contributing to both the prehabilitation program and the development of guidelines for early mobilization as a part of Enhanced Recovery Canada.