Jessie is a fourth year medical student at McGill University. She holds a BSc in Anatomy and Cell Biology and a MSc Neuroscience. Her thesis work, conducted at the Montreal Neurological Institute, was focused on the neuroimaging of temporal lobe epilepsy. She was first introduced to rare diseases as clinical research coordinator in a lab at the MUHC Research Institute which studied peroxisome biogenesis disorders, a rare genetic disorder. In this role, she also served as a scientific advisor on the committee of the Global Foundation for Peroxisomal Disorders. Here, she learned about the exceptional challenges people with rare diseases and their families face.
Jessie founded rareDIG in September 2017 in an effort to improve the care of people with rare diseases by raising awareness of the challenges they face among medical students.
President & Founder
Kristin is a fourth year medical student at McGill University. She holds a BSc in Microbiology and Immunology and a MSc in Immunology from McGill. Kristin’s experience with rare disease began when she was 12 years old and diagnosed with a rare autoimmune bleeding disorder called Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP). As a rare patient herself, she wanted to raise awareness of her condition which is why she first teamed up with the Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA) to help other patients with ITP. Since 2010, Kristin has held many roles with PDSA including fundraiser, sitting on the patient research panel and starting a 3-day summer camp for kids with ITP. Becoming one of the founding members of rareDIG allowed Kristin to continue helping rare patients on a much broader scale. As VP external, Kristin is rareDIG’s main liaison with the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) as well as other rare disease groups outside McGill. On top of her involvement with other rareDIG projects like the Rare Disease Day event, Kristin also spearheads rareDIG’s Patient Perspective Series.
Vice President External & Co-Founder
Sean is a fourth year medical student at McGill University. He completed his BSc in Life Sciences at Queen’s University, during which he developed his passion for human anatomy and physiology. This lead him to pursue an MSc focused on the effects of the host microbiota on intestinal inflammation, and subsequently, a career in medicine. During his first year of medical school Sean was exposed to the obstacles faced by people living with rare diseases and was drawn to rareDIG because of its core aim of preparing medical students to respond positively to these challenges. He enjoys rareDIG’s approach of learning directly from patients about their disease and how to best support them in their journey.
Professional Development & Co-Founder
Noémie is a fourth year medical student at McGill University. She holds a BSc in Honours Biochemistry from the University of Waterloo. She became involved in genetic research on autism spectrum disorder through the cooperative work terms she completed during her degree, which fostered her interest in rare and genetic conditions. Noémie learned about the diagnostic odyssey with which rare disease patients are often faced. She helped found rareDIG in order to address this challenge and to learn directly from patients how best to collaborate with them to manage their condition.
Professional Development & Co-Founder
Cyril is a third year medical student at McGill University. He holds a BSc and a MSc in physiotherapy from Université de Montréal. Being diagnosed with Hemophilia from birth, Cyril has always been in touch with the rare disease community. Being a rare patient himself, he wants to inspire the younger generations of patients with hemophilia to chase their dreams and live the life they choose which is why he is part of the Comité Jeunesse de la SCHQ where he organizes empowering activities and hemophilia awareness campaigns. Becoming one of the founding members of rareDIG, Cyril wants to improve quality and access to care for rare patients with rare diseases by encouraging medical professionals to adopt attitudes that will benefit patients with rare diseases and by raising awareness for those diseases.
Executive Vice President & Co-Founder
Nikola is fourth year medical student at McGill University. He entered medical school through the Med-P program after studying for one year mandarin language and Chinese culture in Jinan University, China. His interest in rare diseases stems from a summer studentship in the field of paediatric rheumatology, where he was exposed to children affected with a panoply of rare disorders, which were often very difficult to understand for patients, overwhelming, and significantly impacted their lives. This budding passion for rare diseases and their management has lead Nikola to contribute in the creation of rareDIG. Nikola has also made Noémie’s idea of a “Humans of Rare Diseases” series a reality, which constitute a platform for patients to talk about their rare disease, and in by doing so, hopefully broaden the knowledge of medical students.
Vice President Communications
Andrei is a fourth year medical student at McGill University. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Ottawa in Biopharmaceutical Science and has a background in biotech industry with a focus on point-of-care genetic testing with Spartan Bioscience. Andrei was first exposed to the rare disease community during a volunteer opportunity at the Centre d'activités récréatives et éducatives in Montreal. Having to assist individuals with activities of daily living, he experienced one extreme of the spectrum of disability that rare diseases can inflict. With the help of amazing colleagues, Andrei has contributed to the development of an inspiring and innovative group, rareDIG McGill.
Alongside his VP communication partner Nikola, Andrei focuses on website and infographic design, propagating support for projects through multimedia platforms and recruiting advocate collaboration.
"With goals of priming future physicians to be able to to deal with rare disease and provoking practice changing discussion, it's hard not to be motivated by the wave rareDIG has put in motion."
Vice President Communications
Mahdi is a second year medical student at McGill University. He holds a B.Sc. in Biomedical Science from the University of Ottawa. During his undergraduate degree, he worked at the CHEO Research Institute in the MacKenzie Lab as part of the Care4Rare Initiative and his work in this setting allowed him to meet with various scientists conducting rare disease research across Canada. Mahdi joins rareDIG in hopes of supporting rare disease advocacy work both at McGill and in the community at large.
Outreach and Advocacy
Danny is a second year medical student at McGill University. He completed his Bachelors in Nursing at McGill University and subsequently worked as a nurse at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. While coordinating care and clinical trial needs for children living with neuromuscular degenerative disorders, Danny witnessed families hindered by both the paucity of medical interventions and diminished access to novel therapies. He joined rareDIG in hopes of raising awareness about rare diseases amongst students in healthcare and explore ways to improve care and access for patients.