2021 Michelle Harkness Mentorship Award winners announced

2021 Michelle Harkness Mentorship Award winners announced

L to R: Dr. Dean Befus, Dr. Kelly McNagny, Ms. Jenny Thiele, Dr. Lori Connors

AllerGen Inc. is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Michelle Harkness Mentorship Awards (MHMA). Three exemplars of mentorship excellence from across the country are being recognized with MHMA recognition awards, and one mentor-in-development is being supported by an MHMA mentorship development grant.

In terms of recognition awards, the 2021 MHMA Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to Dr. Dean Befus, University of Alberta. Dr. Befus is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and Co-director of Alberta Respiratory Centre. His nominees attested to his deep commitment to mentorship:


Dean acts as a beacon, a guide in the scientific world, and a key player in the development of our character. He promotes honesty, empathy, and humility… He shows how through collaboration we can achieve so much more than through isolation and fosters an environment where teamwork can flourish. What’s more, he stresses the importance of mindfulness and wellbeing in our everyday life, of honesty, respect and togetherness with our team and our families… He is absolutely my role model not only as a scientist but also as a citizen.

The 2021 MHMA Mentorship Excellence Award for an established academic researcher is awarded to Dr. Kelly McNagny, University of British Columbia (read the UBC announcement). Dr. McNagny is a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics and a Senior Scholar of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. His nominators stated:


Besides science, Kelly prioritizes his students’ success by continuously supporting them to attend conferences, to publish, and to pursue any feasible idea… He takes great care when looking at students’ written work and does not just brush over a thesis… Undergraduates seek out a research position in Kelly’s lab after experiencing his passionate class lectures. Everyone wants to be in an environment where their work is valued… I don’t think I could find a more supportive, creative or fulfilling environment than in his lab.

The 2021 MHMA Mentorship Excellence Award for a researcher-in-training, research support staff, practitioner or advocate goes to Dr. Jenny Thiele, Queen’s University. Dr. Thiele is the Lab Manager of the Dr. Anne Ellis Laboratory, which focuses on understanding and developing treatments for allergic rhinitis. In their nomination testimonials, her mentees state:


Jenny devotes all her time to improving Dr. Anne Ellis’ students’ learning experience… her goal is to ensure each student is comfortable in the laboratory and takes autonomy for their experiments and role in the team. Any new student is welcomed with open arms and provided a positive environment to succeed… Jenny treats all students as family and always goes above and beyond to ensure that students are supported, even outside of the lab.

Dr. Lori Connors, Dalhousie University, is the recipient of the 2021 MHMA Mentorship Development Grant. Dr. Connors is an Associate Professor of Medicine and a clinical immunologist and allergist with an academic and a community practice.

The MHMA Mentorship Development Grant does not recognize past mentoring achievements but rather supports activities by which applicants seek to strengthen their mentoring skills. The 2021 grant facilitated Dr. Connors’ participation in a Canadian Women in Medicine Leaders Course, and in the Canadian Women in Medicine Annual Conference, both of which will enable the achievement of her goal: to develop a Women in Allergy and Immunology conference as a means to develop and mentor upcoming and current women in allergy.


Women in Allergy and Immunology face unique challenges in both community-based and academic medicine, and I am passionate about increasing the supports for these women. The training supported by this grant will help me develop a mentorship program for all career stages for Women in Allergy and Immunology, as well as a Women in Allergy and Immunology conference.

“Every year, the MHMA awards remind us of the value of role models in our lives, and they lead us to appreciate the generosity and goodwill of those who make the extra effort to help others to thrive and achieve their best,” observes AllerGen’s President & CEO, Dr. Diana Royce.

“Again this year, our MHMA recipients truly do justice to Michelle’s ideals. We congratulate and thank them all!”

MHMA recognition awards are bestowed upon Canadian allergy and immunology researchers, practitioners and advocates who are nominated by their peers and/or mentees, and whose mentorship contributions are adjudicated by mentorship practitioners. MHMA mentorship development grants support relevant training or experiential activities undertaken by aspiring mentors in the Canadian allergy and immunology community.