Rory Bertrand describes himself as a “born and raised” Montrealer. The National Bank portfolio manager grew up in the residential West Island community of Baie d’Urfé. Rory studied Engineering before completing a joint Master’s degree in Investment Management and CFA at Concordia’s Goodman Institute. At 32, he is one of the ambitious young professionals behind the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation’s new LEADERS program.
Established by MUHC Foundation board members Stéfanie Pelletier and Sacha Haque, LEADERS is an exciting initiative that brings together mid and senior level professionals who support the priorities of the MUHC. These dedicated individuals, who are committed to advancing patient care, teaching and research, have joined forces to raise the standards of care and push the boundaries of research through fundraising. Members get together regularly and meet some of the best and brightest physicians and researchers to learn firsthand about advances in healthcare at the MUHC.
While members of LEADERS make a personal contribution to the MUHC Foundation, their involvement extends beyond their financial commitment. “One thing I think is interesting about the LEADERS group is that rather than asking members solely for a donation, we are building relationships and networks for the long- term,” says Rory. “If we can build awareness of the important role the MUHC Foundation plays in improving healthcare among people in their mid-careers, our goal to strengthen their connection to the hospital over a lifetime will be realized.”
MUHC researcher Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, who was a physician in India before completing a PhD in epidemiology and biostatics, spoke at a recent LEADERS event. Her research focuses on developing rapid screening strategies for marginalized populations to improve screening and diagnosis, including an oral HIV test that can be self-administered. Dr. Pant Pai is currently developing an all platform application to support self-testing for use in many countries including South Africa, India and Canada.
Dr. Don Sheppard, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the MUHC also had occasion to speak to the LEADERS and their guests about the ongoing battle against infectious and immune-related diseases, and the MUHC’s role in fighting the global threat that they represent.
“Some people don’t know that the Research Institute of the MUHC is among the top research hospitals in Canada,” notes Rory. “We think having somebody from the hospital come to talk about the work they do is very important. If you pique somebody’s interest, then they will be more engaged.”
As a young man Rory worked part-time as an aid to children with autism. He believes those experiences contributed to his present day commitment to philanthropy in the healthcare sector. He is encouraged by the reaction he is getting from friends and colleagues when they learn of his involvement with the MUHC Foundation.
“What we are trying to do is build awareness among people of our generation,” says Rory. “For us, it is important to get people involved. I get emails from colleagues and friends saying, ‘Hey, I heard you’re involved in this, what can I do?’”