Physician one of 10 most influential
– Dr. Ivar Mendez (pictured), one of Canada’s leading neurosurgeons, has been named
among the 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians. Dr. Mendez is a
Dalhousie Medical School professor, head of the QEII Health Sciences
Centre Division of Neurosurgery, director of the Neural Transplantation
Laboratory and chair of the Brain Repair Centre.
He recently received the award, sponsored by Scotiabank, and hopes it
will inspire others from Latin America to come to Canada and Nova Scotia
and build a future here. The award recognizes the importance of the
Latin American community, one of the fastest growing cultural groups in
“There are about a million Hispanic Canadians now,” said Dr. Mendez.
“One of the keys for the community is to showcase role models for the
future – individuals who will provide inspiration, especially for young
“The significance for me, personally, is that it demonstrates that there
is a fertile environment in Nova Scotia. People can come here and
Dr. Mendez came to Canada from Bolivia as a teenager. He is a world
leader in the use of robotics in neurosurgery and has broken new ground
in the field of neural transplantation – transplanting cells into the
His work in treating Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological
conditions has put him at the forefront of modern neurosurgery. Dr.
Mendez does extensive humanitarian work in Bolivia and other countries,
and is building a neurosurgical unit in Rwanda. He is also a talented
photographer and sculptor.
The list of honours he has received includes the Royal College Medal
Award for Surgery from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of
Canada and the Dr. John Savage Memorial Award in International Health.
He believes this latest award says a great deal about Nova Scotia and
“It demonstrates that our hospitals, our universities and our overall
environment has been a very good one in which to build a vision,” he
He cites the Brain Repair Centre – a multidisciplinary collaboration
that specializes in groundbreaking treatments and technologies in the
field of brain repair – and his work with robotics, as putting Atlantic
Canada in the forefront of world medicine. “There’s a perception that we
are a backwater and a ‘have not’ province, but we have a long and strong
tradition of innovation from the time of ship-building,” said Dr.
“We are world leaders in robotics and telemedicine and in cell
transplantation. We can demonstrate to potential immigrants that they
can build a future here.”
The award to the 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians was presented in
Toronto in the late fall. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will honor the
10 winners in Ottawa this spring.
Posted February 25, 2010