Exceptional alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine wins Governor General’s Gold Medal

Faculty of Medicine
Awards and recognition
At uOttawa, Dr. Faizan Khan was a standout graduate student in Epidemiology who earned his PhD last year.

A recent alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine has won the prestigious Governor General's Gold Medal, a highly competitive award for academic excellence at the graduate level.

At uOttawa, Dr. Faizan Khan was a standout graduate student in Epidemiology who earned his PhD last year. He’s currently pursuing postdoctoral training at the University of Calgary, in partnership with Alberta Health Services through the CIHR Health System Impact Fellowship program.

His doctoral dissertation was focused on addressing key evidence gaps when making decisions about treatment duration for patients with venous thromboembolism, a blood clot typically forming in a deep vein of the leg or the lungs. After heart attack and stroke, it’s the third leading vascular diagnosis. It frequently recurs and can result in long-term disability and death. 

Dr. Khan says he’s “certainly shocked but also extremely honoured and thankful” for winning this major award at uOttawa. For nearly 150 years, the Governor General’s Academic Medals recognize the academic achievements of outstanding students in Canada.

“It means a lot to me as it is a recognition of answering important questions that can help inform uncertainty in clinical practice and improve patient care. This award reinforces why I do research – that is, to make a difference,” Dr. Khan says.

His supervisor during his doctoral training was Dr. Dean Fergusson, who Dr. Khan describes as a “phenomenal mentor and world-class scientist.”

Dr. Khan says his time training at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine and its affiliated institutes was an “amazing experience” that was greatly enriched by various mentors including Dr. Marc Rodger, a renowned and prolific thrombosis researcher who agreed to supervise him in 2015 when he was a “young, research-naïve” MSc student.

“From there, I believe the combination of being in the right place at the right time, with the right people, set me up for success,” he says.

He says a skill he learned at uOttawa that he will carry throughout his career is the ability to “ask the right research questions and to answer them the right way.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Khan aims to establish himself as an independent investigator in the field of Epidemiology and Public Health. He aspires to help evaluate and improve the delivery of safe, quality, and cost-effective healthcare in Canada.  

What advice does he have for current and incoming PhD students?

“First, I would say: Find mentors. Build a network of multiple mentors with required strengths – don’t undervalue the role of mentorship, it will increase opportunities, success, and satisfaction. And secondly, don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone struggles in their own way. Self-reflect often, redirect as needed, and think strategically to achieve set goals,” he says.

Dr. Khan will attend the June convocation ceremony at the Shaw Centre to receive the Gold Medal award.