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Doctor, Professor


Tell us a little about your career.

I am a doctor. In 1989 I graduated from Simferopol Crimean Medical Institute, with a specialty in surgery and in 1992 I moved to Israel. In Israel, I served as a doctor in a combat unit of the IDF where I had to deal with resuscitation and assistance on the battlefield. It influenced my decision to change my specialty and become a resuscitator and I took up residency in anesthesiology. But in the process of studying, my interests changed once again and, since I often had to deal with patients suffering from chronic pain, I decided to become an expert in the treatment of pain. I was very lucky because my teacher in this field of medicine was Professor David Niv, President of the European Federation for Research and Treatment of Pain, who introduced me to a new world and he became my mentor. For several years I had a successful practice in Tel Aviv at the University hospital. In 2004, there was an opportunity to go for training in Canada, where I worked at Sunnybrook Hospital. After completing residency, I was offered to stay and I accepted. Five years later, I took a position as the head of a pain clinic in Seattle, WA. This clinic, founded in 1967, was the world's first clinic of its kind. Two years ago, we returned to Canada.

Where is your family from?

My mother's family comes from the Lithuania. One of my great-grandfathers moved to Ukraine and became the chief rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk. My father came from a family of German Jews from Bavaria, who also moved to the Ukraine. I remember my great-grandmother (she died when I was a second year student at university), who did not speak Russian, and spoke mostly Yiddish. Despite all the Soviet prohibitions, I remember very well the mood of Pesach, the wonderful taste of gefilte fish, and spinning the dreidel on Chanukah. These memories still warm my soul to this day.

Why did you choose to live in Thornhill?

The second time we came to Canada was two years ago. We chose to live in Thornhill because of the large Jewish population and specifically the many Russian and Hebrew-speaking Jews who live in the area.

What do you do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

I do yoga and I recommend it to anyone who wants to live a long life without disease. Longevity depends on strength, flexibility and endurance, which are developed in the process of yoga. Also, I love mountain biking and sailing yachts. Every year, I try to carve out a week for sailing.

If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose, and why?

I think I would chose King Solomon. There is a book by Malcolm Gladwell titled “Blink” about how we think without thinking. It describes how people are able to find a solution in a difficult situation in a fraction of a second. It is difficult to understand the mechanism of lightning decision issued by the human brain. I believe that the first person who relied on wisdom, intuition and instinct to make the right decision was King Solomon. No doubt this is something we can all learn from, especially people in my profession - doctors - could benefit from making decisions in the blink of an eye when human life depends on it.

What are your future plans?

I plan to continue my medical career. At present I am an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. I would like to move forward on this path and become a full professor. In addition, it is possible that I'll do private practice and open my own pain clinic to help people in our community.