Linda Hiraki 1995
Dr. Linda Hiraki, MD, PhD is an exemplary young alumna who demonstrates the intellectual curiosity, professional drive and deep caring for community which Havergal instilled in her at a young age. As an associate staff in the division of rheumatology at the Hospital for Sick Children and a postdoctoral fellow in genetics and genome biology at the SickKids Research Institute, Linda cares for children with complex diseases while conducting academic research to increase our understanding of disease and improve the health and well-being of patients.
I have known Linda since Grade 5, when I came to Havergal as a new student. The first thing I noticed about her was her signature smile and warm laugh. As I came to know Linda, I found that her warm and friendly nature was matched by her intelligence, humility and deep caring for others.
In nominating Linda for the Dr. Susan Ditchburn Young Alumna award, I have discovered the extent of her abilities to achieve exceptional goals both personally and professionally. Since leaving Havergal, she has completed four degrees, is continuing with post-doctoral work, rocked it out as the lead singer of her band at the North by Northeast music festival, and is married with two beautiful daughters. She has done all this while serving her community through volunteer work and leadership roles.
While working on her B.Sc. in human biology at the University of Toronto, she volunteered at the Hospital for Sick Children. She volunteered in the neonatal followup classroom as an assistant teacher; her job was to help educate children who were born extremely prematurely. She also volunteered in the bustling emergency department, aiding patients and families as they sought emergency care.
After obtaining her MD from Queen’s University, Linda returned to the Hospital for Sick Children to complete her residency in general paediatrics and fellowship in paediatric rheumatology. Following clinical training, Linda pursued rigorous epidemiology and biostatistics training with master’s and Doctor of Science degrees in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. For this work, Linda was awarded the competitive Harvard Frank Knox Memorial Scholarship followed by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research five-year fellowship training award.
Linda’s research on the genetics of complex diseases such as cancer and autoimmune diseases has resulted in peer-reviewed publications, which advance our understanding of diseases affecting thousands of people worldwide.
During Linda’s clinical training at the Hospital for Sick Children, she was actively involved with the postgraduate medical education committee and was awarded the Christopher Ondaatje Award for Excellence in Third-Year Clinical Teaching by her resident colleagues.
In her current role as associate staff in the division of rheumatology at the Hospital for Sick Children, she cares for children with rheumatic diseases, as well as for their families. She also teaches and mentors medical students, residents and fellows not only in clinical skills, but also in research methods and critical appraisal of academic literature to inform and improve knowledge creation and ultimately patient care.
As a mother, Linda strives to nurture, inspire and support her two young daughters to achieve their own dreams!
Written by Lisa Rossiter-Thornton 1995