Moderator: Lara El Zahabi Bekdash

lara.jpgAfter completing her Doctorate of Medicine at the American University of Beirut, Lara was granted a scholarship from the Fogarty Center at the National Institutes of Health (USA) to pursue a Master’s in Health Sciences in Bioethics at the University of Toronto. Consequently she won a scholarship from the Ethical, Social, and Cultural Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative to pursue a PhD, which she’s completing now in Global Health Research Ethics and Community Engagement. Lara served as the Vice President of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations and has led international teams of medical students in various areas of global health. She also served as a temporary advisor for the World Health Organization. She recently completed training in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response, and aspires to pursue a lifetime of service as a clinician, researcher, ethicist, entrepreneur, and humanitarian.

 Mariam Abdul Salam

mariam.jpgMariam is an active healthcare provider, a project management professional, and a lifelong learner. Mariam holds the role of Clinical Project Coordinator in the Redevelopment Project Office at Mount Sinai Hospital located in downtown Toronto, and is concurrently pursuing her Masters in Health Management at McMaster University. She graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree from Ryerson University. In her current role, Mariam is part of the planning team for a $400 million redevelopment project of the critical care areas of Mount Sinai, including the Emergency Department, Surgical Services and a new In-patient Unit among others, as part of a Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) initiative “Building Together”. Mariam previously held positions as a Staff Nurse in the Emergency Department and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as well as a Research Coordinator for Phase 3 Clinical Trials. Mariam is a member of the Violence against Women’s Awareness Committee at Mount Sinai as well as the Families as Partners in Patient Safety Committee at Sick Kids Hospital. Mariam is a busy mom of 4 children ranging in age from 23 to 6 and has lived in both Saudi Arabia and various parts of North America.


 Rand Askalan

rand.jpgRand received her Doctor of Medecine (M.D) from the University of Toronto in 2001. In 2006 she studied Pediatric Neurology at the University of Toronto. Rand has her PhD in Neurosciences from the University of Cambridge, UK 1994. She graduated from The American University of Beirut in 1987 with a MSc in Biochemistry. Currently, Rand is a clinical scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children and Assitant Professor at the University of Toronto. Rand is the Founder and Director of the Palestinian Healthy Child Fellowship program at Sick Kids International.

Randa Diwan


Dr Randa Diwan is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Dentistry, university of Toronto, Department of Prosthodontics. She received her dental education in Cairo University, graduating in 1979 , magna cum laude. She completed her post graduate education at the “Victoria University of Manchester”, England, at the department of Prosthodontics, and Dental Materials Research, obtaining her PhD degree in 1983. Her thesis, “Methods of Polymerization Of Dental Resins”, was one of the first original research projects that introduced microwave polymerization of dentures, as a viable method of processing acrylic resin dentures, into the dental field.  She is also Fellow Of the American Dental Academy International.


Throughout her career, Dr. Diwan, has been involved in teaching in various academic institutions. She was appointed assistant Professor, at King Saud University Riyadh, were she taught undergraduate, and postgraduate dental students up till 1996. She directed various pre-clinical and clinical courses in Fixed and Removable Prosthodontics, as well as, carrying out various research projects She then joined the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, in 1996, on a part-time basis before, becoming a full-time staff in the year 2000.  Dr Diwan has been involved in teaching  and directing  undergraduate, dental students, in the preclinical courses,  as well as, supervising  them in the clinical courses,  in the Comprehensive Clinical Care Program at the faculty. Dr. Diwan is a contributor in the internationally acclaimed Textbook, “ Prosthodontic Treatment of Edentulous Patients: Complete Dentures, and Implant-Supported Prostheses”, Zarb -Bolander, 2004, 12th edition,  and 2013, 13th edition.

Mohamed El-Salfiti


Mohamed began his undergraduate career at the University of Ottawa and graduated with high distinction in Biopharmaceutical science with specialization in medicinal chemistry in 2010. Throughout his time there, he received numerous scholarships and worked in multiple settings including the National Research Council (NRC), Merck Frosst Canada Ltd., and 2 academic research labs. He then continued post-graduate education at the University of Toronto and received a masters of science in organic chemistry in 2012. Currently he is a second year student in the new entry-to-practice PharmD program at U of T and is due to graduate in 2016. Mohamed is very active and left no summers to waste, having published 5 peer-reviewed papers along with 2 conference talks to date. He is dedicated and passionate about his field and wishes to pursue a PhD upon completing pharmacy towards a future career in academia. When he finds time, Mohamed enjoys spending time with family, cycling, and giving back to the community.