Congratulations to Lisa Cain

I just want to give my super congratulations to Lisa Cain, our highly esteemed KBNF Research Chair and Board Member for her new appointment, Faculty Senate Chair, University of Texas Medical Branch. Well done dear Lisa. We are sooooo proud of you.


Announcing the new Faculty Senate Chair-Elect, Dr. Lisa Cain, effective September 1, 2012

Lisa Diann Cain, Ph.D. received a BS in biology from Jackson State University in Jackson, MS, a Ph.D. in anatomy from University of Mississippi Medical Center and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology; Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, NJ.  She is a 2007 graduate of UTMB Health’s Scholars in Education Program. She is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Cell Biology, Associate Member of the Institute for Medical Humanities and Director of the Medical School Enrichment Programs at UTMB Health. Dr. Cain has been active in both the education and research mission of UTMB Health.  As an educator she was a course co-director for cell biology course in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and has been an instructor in the Gross Anatomy and Radiology Course since 1992. Dr. Cain spent many years as a researcher investigating cholinergic neuron survival and agents that protect spinal cord neurons against the effect of glutamate toxicity and other insults.  As Director of the Medical School Enrichment Programs, she is responsible for implementing research and medical school preparatory academic programs, for maintaining contractual partnerships with six undergraduate universities in the state of Texas and for implementing partnerships with four community organizations.  Dr. Cain has rendered outstanding service to UTMB Health. She served as chairperson of the Committee for Diversity in Graduate Education and was the organizer of the UTMB’s Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium from 1993-1998. She has served as Vice Chair of the Curriculum Committee of the School of Medicine and is an Osler Student Society Mentor, Director of the Aerospace Medicine Track, a UTMB Health Council Member for the Joint Medical School Admissions Program, a member of the Medical School Admissions Committ! ee, the Educational Research Committee, the International Oversight Committee and The President’s Cabinet.  Dr. Cain is chair of the Academic and Administrative Committee of UTMB Health’s Faculty Senate. In addition to her duties at UTMB, she is involved in national and international affairs involving education and research and has established educational and research collaborative networks in Paris, Ghana, Eritrea and Canada. She is the recipient of many honors and awards.

Monique R. Ferguson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Director of HIV Pathogenesis Laboratory

Department of Internal Medicine

Division of Infectious Diseases

Co-Director of Medical Student Summer Research Program

University of Texas Medical Branch

KBNF Mission Trip – Liberia (post 21)

While in Liberia, the President of Liberia accepted our invitation to come to Canada on an official visit. She has only asked that we plan it when the weather is warmer. So we are considering next May. We will have her in Vancouver for fundraising and awareness raising and to help train specialists for Liberia. She is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and I believe many would be eager to hear her story. It’s quite amazing actually. SFU would like to be a part of this. We would begin in Ottawa and Parliament. We would also have a banquet in her honour.

A Tribute to President Mills by Rev. Prof. Seth Ayettey

Seth Ayettey and the late President Mills


I received with great pain the news of the sudden death of President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, a friend and a brother at heart. I have known him since 1971 when he was a Ph.D. student in London. He was God-fearing, a man of integrity, an eminent scholar, an excellent leader with irreproachable character and a strong advocate for investment in enduring institutions including the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation.  He lived for others, ready and willing to share what he had without expecting anything in return. At 2:15 p.m. on July 24, when he died at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra three days after his 68Th birthday, Ghana and the world lost a fine leader. Many, including myself, have also lost a trusted and faithful friend.

Until his death, Professor Mills was President of the Republic of Ghana from January 2009, having served also as Vice President under former President Rawlings from 1997-2000. He was leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party in opposition from 2001 to 2008, when the National Patriotic Party governed under former President John Adjekum Kufuor.

Under his able leadership as President with a “Better Ghana” agenda, the economy of the country has witnessed unprecedented growth fuelled by production of oil in commercial quantities. His prime focus had been on expanding and improving education to ensuring access to quality education especially for children in poor, deprived and disadvantaged communities. Within three and half years, he led the NDC government to make massive investments to transform every sector of socio-economic life. This covered food and agriculture, water, education, energy, health, transportation, ports and harbors, security, the judiciary, waste management, housing, communication, entertainment and sports. Other major undertakings included a review of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and development of a long-term national strategic plan.

President Mills was well respected as a leader in Africa and in the international community for his invaluable contribution to democracy, good governance, rule-of-law, human rights and peace. Cast in the mould of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah our first President, he led by example and served with his life to the very end. He was noted for being extremely tolerant of views of others, engaging his opponents with great respect, wisdom, candor and humor. By this, he deepened democracy, entrenched free speech and expanded the media landscape to facilitate participatory governance.

President Mills played a key role in the establishment and growth of the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation from 2001-2002 when he was a visiting scholar at the University of British Columbia. One of his last actions as President was approval of a proposal for a new hospital at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital that will include emergency medicine, neurology and neurosurgery. Parliament is expected to ratify this project he was passionate about. Professor Mills shall be remembered for this monumental addition to the heath delivery system. He will also be remembered for building two new universities (the University of Health and Allied Sciences at Ho in the Volta Region and the University of Energy and Natural Resources in the Brong Ahafo Region), for commissioning an oil industry and for servant leadership.

We shall dearly miss this godly man, humble and meek, friend and brother. There is much to learn from this selfless leader God blessed Ghana and Africa with. Ayekoo (well done) President Mills.

Our deepest condolences are to his dear wife and cherished ‘mother’ of the nation, Dr. Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills, and to the rest of his family.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints” (Psalm 116 vs. 15).

Ghana’s President John Atta Mills Passes Away

Danny, Marj, President Mills, Jocelyne and Seth

KBNF is saddened to hear that Ghana’s President John Atta Mills passed away today. Our condolences go out to his family and the country of Ghana.

President Mills was a great visionary and appreciated the need for quality leadership in Africa.

Click here to read a Reuters Canada article on his passing.

News From the KBNF Family Travelling in West Africa

In mid May, Dr. Tony Bell, an American neuroradiologist and new KBNF member from Boise, Idaho, visited KBTH for about 10 days. He brought a gift of four (large and heavy) Neuro textbooks from his friend Dr. Rick Harnsberger, valued at over $1400. They make a great addition to the Radiology resident library and I have used them to double-check facts on a number of cases. Dr. Bell and I went sightseeing together one weekend in the very crowded Makola Market followed by shopping and eating in Osu (downtown Accra’s upscale shopping district), on a street known locally as Oxford Street. Its real name is Cantonments Road, but it doesn’t matter, because I have seen less than 10 street corner signs with street names so far. (This prevents navigating using a map.)

The next weekend, we travelled by taxi to the Shai Hills Reserve (past the main port of Tema), about 60km, in hopes of seeing native wildlife. It was slow going because of the traffic. Unfortunately, the most severe rain and wind storm this year came up just before reaching the reserve. For our trouble, we saw four caged imported ostriches from South Africa, two of which were partially plucked (legs or chest) and one centipede. The apparently ever-present baboons were in hiding. We were told by the game warden that the best time to see the animals is early in the morning and we arrived in the early afternoon.

On the return trip, after seeing many cars in the ditch on the motorway, uprooted trees, toppled small roadside shops/stands and torn galvanized metal roofs, we stopped at Ryan’s Irish Pub in Osu for dinner. We inhaled smoke from the many Caucasian expatriates watching a finals soccer game between two English teams (Manchester United and Manchester City). Dr. Bell enjoyed his steak while I had the (slightly spicy, a la Ghanaian) Irish stew, after waiting about 90 minutes for the food to arrive. (This may have been a ploy to encourage more libations during the wait.)

Guest Blog Post Re: Grand Challenges Video Competition

Below is a guest blog post from Nushi Choudhury, Research Officer for the National Research Council Canada regarding the Grand Challenges video competition.


Hi all at KBNF!

I just wanted to follow-up with you regarding the Grand Challenges. First of all, I wanted to extend a very big thank you to you all for your great ideas and efforts in the last few weeks. We placed 4th overall amongst the 60 videos regarding the votes. We obtained 100+ more votes from your effort!! It was very exciting to watch the numbers climb so quickly every day J

The video component (i.e. ability to generate awareness and disseminate results to the public) is one of the judging criteria. The rest involve the proposal: whether it is a good idea, if it is feasible and if it can have a big impact. We should find out the results in July or August and I will be sure to let you know as soon as we find out.

I have my fingers crossed!

Kind regards,


Mission Trip Post – Liberia

Liberia has been in our hearts for quite some time. I recall the day I received a call from Dr. Estrada Bernard, a neurosurgeon in Anchorage, Alaska. Born in Liberia, his father and aunt were members of parliament during the violent coup in the early 1990s. His father was in Ghana watching a soccer match and avoided execution, as was the fate of his parliamentary colleagues. His aunt, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, was considered a radical, as she spoke out against corruption and the government of the day. As a result, the coup leaders thought she would be of value and let her live. Eventually immigrating to America, Estrada became a neurosurgeon and his family returned to Liberia, committed to healing their land in this post civil war era.

So Estrada was overjoyed to learn of our existence and wondered if Liberia was on our radar screen. His timely visit to Vancouver three years ago, with Paul and Monica King and Lisa Cain, one weekend, created a bond that has only grown with time. Honestly, washing and drying dishes together after meals has very bonding element. So over the past year, in discussion with their leadership, we recognize that there is a deep passion from President Johnson-Sirleaf and her team to move health care forward and establish a national contemporary hospital. Their heart cry is to provide credible health care so that their nationals do not have to travel abroad or simply have no hope of even assessment nevertheless treatment. So KBNF is conducting a fact finding mission and neuro conference, visiting Monrovia, Liberia for five days as the guests of Mrs. Jennie Bernard “Aunty Jennie,” Estrada’s mother and JFK Board of Director, and Dr. Wvannie McDonald, CEO, JFK Memorial Hospital. We anticipate discussion on their need for a master site review, plan and program, and at their request, KBNF is providing them with the KBTH Master Plan and Program for review.

KBNF Mission Trip – Sierra Leone II


A brief night’s sleep, and we were off to the airport for the first leg of our mission trip journey, Sierra Leone. I wandered around the duty free shops, checking out prices on their products. I could purchase a watch for $430 US, perfume for $80, carvings for $45, kenti cloth clothing for $200, umbrellas for $20. Jewellry, gold necklaces, were going for $105 and up. The store was open and no employee in site. The general store next door had beautiful Christian music playing. It was so very soothing.

My Kenyan Airline was packed to capacity, as I soon learned boarding the plane. Many of the passengers were from America and South Africa. Occasionally, there would be passionate chatter in the cabin, as various African nationals would talk animatedly with one another across the isles.

I learned that Sierra Leone mines manganese. Many positive developments are in the works, including training their military. Touching down at the airport in Sierra Leone, I learned, quite to my surprise, that in order to get to Freetown, the capital, we had to take a speedboat on a 9-mile journey. Just embarking was a challenge, as the launch site was in constant motion with waves rolling in. The 30-minute trip required pilot expertise, as waves hit our boat and we would often fly off the water. My carryon luggage got wet, as water seeped into the back of the boat, so close to the water’s edge.

I was met by Tamba, a Sierra Leonean, who is conducting research for John Hopkins. He escorted me to the capital. Arriving in port, we waited for John Sampson and Megan, and soon they joined us and we were off to a resort for dinner. Meeting the owner, we learned that he is passionate about supporting the redevelopment of his country.

Tomorrow, I meet the staff at the Konar Hospital. Yesterday, they began their biannual operating room spring cleaning. Everything gets cleaned and fumigated.

Click here to see some images.

KBNF Mission Trip — Sierra Leone

I am patiently sitting at airport gate 3 in Accra, Ghana, in mildly muggy but pleasant weather, awaiting the next flight to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Unfortunately, Kenyan Airlines is behind schedule.  I learned, quite to my surprise, that Kenyan Airlines is a member of Sky Team, part of the KLM, Air France, Delta Group. KBNF is commencing our second multiple national West African mission trip. I am joining Dr. John Sampson, President of DrUMM (our American affiliate), in Freetown. A teaching conference will be held over several days, as we focus on encouraging and educating national nurses and doctors, desperately trying to save lives with scant resources. John’s plea: “Marj, people are dying! We’ve got to help them!” tore at my heart strings and so we are now entering a new phase in our foundation journey. Sierra Leone is post civil war and continues their struggle to recover. We’re here to let them know they are not alone and will support their journey.