Franco Carli, MD, MPhil, FRCA, FRCPC

Research Director

Dr. Francesco Carli is Professor of Anesthesia and Associate Professor in the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition at McGill University. Dr. Carli’s research interests are in the areas of surgical stress and prehabilitation.

Dr. Carli is a founding member of the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) society, an international organization that trains clinicians in implementing evidence-based multidisciplinary perioperative programs aiming at accelerating the recovery process following major surgery.

Dr. Carli is a founding member of POP and a Principal Investigator in prehabilitation research.

Mary Guay, BA

Director and Volunteer

Mary Guay, a Director of POP, works as a volunteer for the not-for-profit organization.  She is in charge of bookkeeping and administration, and comes from a background of marketing research and strategic planning for a marketing consulting firm.

Enrico Minnella, MD PHD

Clinical Fellow

Dr. Enrico Maria Minnella completed his medical degree and his residency in Anesthesia and Critical Care at the University of Milan, Italy. Following a research fellowship, he completed his doctoral studies at McGill University in 2019, with a focus on clinical impact of prehabilitation in patients suffereing from cancer.

He is currently a clinical fellow in perioperative medicine at the Montreal General Hospital, and a medical coordinator for the Prehabilitation Unit.  His main clinical and research interest is the impact of exercise and nutrition in cancer and critical patients.

Rashami Awasthi, MSc, CSEP-CPT

Research Coordinator and Head Kinesiologist

Rashami Awasthi, a certified personal trainer, completed her Master’s degree in Exercise Science: Clinical Exercise Physiology from Concordia University in 2015. She has been working with POP for the past seven years as a Kinesiologist and is also the Research Coordinator of the program. She is responsible for supervising a team of Kinesiology students.

She has worked with a variety of different populations, such as asthma, cardiac, cancer, dialysis and hernia patients. Her main goal is to provide individualized exercise programs to help improve quality of life.

Dr. Chelsia Gillis

Nutrition Lead

Dr. Chelsia Gillis has a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Calgary and is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Carli at McGill University. Chelsia is a Registered Dietitian, Canadian Vanier Scholar, and CIHR Fellow with expertise in surgical metabolism, surgical nutrition, epidemiology, and patient engagement.

Dr. Miquel Coca Martinez

Dr. Miquel Coca Martinez completed his medical degree at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and his residency training in Anesthesia and Critical Care at the University of Barcelona, Spain. He then moved to Montreal to join the POP team to study the effects of multimodal prehabilitation in patients suffering from peripheral arterial disease. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. studying prehabilitation in cardiovascular disease.

Hamza Qureshi, BSc, FKQ


Having started as volunteer trainer at the YMCA led Hamza to pursue a degree in Exercise Science at Concordia University. Hamza Specialized in Clinical Exercise Physiology, during this time Hamza worked as a Personal Trainer at Mansfield Club Athletic. After receiving his BSc Hamza continued to work as a Personal Trainer while also working as a Special Education Tech for LBPSB. This, along with academic internships has allowed Hamza to gain knowledge and experience working several varied populations, including, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons and Parkinson’s Disease dementia, neurodevelopmental disorders, stroke, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

While being a Kinesiologist at POP Hamza also works at gym Fitforme where he helps his clients improve their lifestyles and quality of life via improving body composition, strength and decrease pain. As Kinesiologist Hamza is always hungry for more knowledge and is always searching for the best ways to improve his practice as a Kinesiologist.

Anh Thy Le Quang, BSc


Upon completing her B.Sc. in Exercise Sciences (specializing in Clinical Exercise Physiology), Anh Thy gained knowledge and experience working with patients with Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke and cancer.

While working as a kinesiologist at POP, she is also the Head Trainer at OGYM centre de conditionnement physique, where she helps her clients reach their fitness goals and implement a healthy lifestyle.

Dorsa Alavifard, M.Sc., P.Dt.


Dorsa is a Registered Dietitian and a member of the Ordre Professionnel des Diététistes du Québec. She completed her master’s degree in human nutrition at McGill University.

Dorsa has professional experience counselling patients with a variety of health conditions. Most recently, she has worked with patients undergoing rehabilitation for chronic disease and those with neurological deficits. In addition, she works closely with the geriatric population to help restore and maintain their nutritional status.

Dorsa uses an individualized and evidenced-based nutritional approach to accelerate patient recovery and improve short- and long-term outcomes.  She is excited to join the team as a nutritional consultant and help prepare and optimize patients’ nutritional status for the perioperative period.

Isabel (Ibby) Shuster, R.N., B.A.


Ibby received her nursing diploma in 1963 at the Jewish General Hospital and her B.A. in Sociology from Concordia University in 1985. For 40 years she worked in Pediatrics; in Geriatrics (doing research with Alzheimer patients); and in Oncology (where she worked in a Psycho-Social research project).

Simultaneously, for the past 16 years, Ibby coordinated the McGill Mini courses: Mini-Med, Law, Music, Science, Environment and Pharmacology. She retired in April 2016 and has been volunteering at POP since May 2016, offering stress management techniques to the patients facing major surgery.

Linda Edgar, R.N., PhD


Linda volunteers at POP teaching relaxation techniques and coping strategies to the patients. Linda is a retired nurse with both a Masters and PhD in Nursing. She has conducted several funded research projects on coping, distress and volunteerism, and has published articles, book chapters and books on these topics.

Her previous research took place within the Depts. of Nursing, Oncology and Epidemiology at the Jewish General Hospital. She also served as the National Advisor for Psychosocial Support with the Canadian Association of Colorectal Cancer.

She continues to be an adjunct professor of nursing at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON, and an adjunct assistant professor at McGill’s School of Nursing.

Gabriele Baldini, MD, MSc


Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesia of McGill University 

Dr.Gabriele Baldini graduated in Medicine in 2003 from the University of Florence, Italy. After having completed his residency program in Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine in 2007 from the University of Florence, he completed a clinical fellowship in Anesthesia for Minimal Invasive Surgery and Fast-track surgery, and a clinical fellowship in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine at McGill University. He also received a Master Degree in Science Experimental Surgery at McGill University.

Since 2011 he works as anesthesiologist in the Department of Anesthesia at the Montreal General Hospital. Together with Dr. Carli and Dr. Feldman he is member of the Surgical Recovery (SuRe) Team, a multidisciplinary group developed with the aim to improve perioperative care, implementing Enhanced Recovery Programs. He is also the Medical Director of the Montreal General Hospital Preoperative Centre and in charge of the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) of the Montreal General Hospital.

Amal Bississow, MD

Consultant, Internal Medicine

In 2012, Dr. A. Bessissow obtained Royal College of Physician of Canada Fellowship in Internal Medicine and in 2015, she obtained Royal college of Physicians of Canada Fellowship in General Internal Medicine. From July 2013 to December 2014, she completed a research fellowship in Perioperative Medicine at Hamilton Health Sciences and Population Health Research Institute under the supervision of Dr. PJ Devereaux, world renowned researcher in the field of perioperative medicine. Further, Dr. Bessissow expanded her knowledge in research by completing a Master degree in Health Research Methodology at McMaster University. As of July 2015, she holds the position of assistant professor of internal medicine at McGill University Health Centre. Dr. Bessissow is currently the medical director of the preoperative clinic at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) and the director of the general internal medicine/postoperative consult service at the MGH. At the POP center, Dr. Bessissow is involved in optimizing medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, anemia) during and after the prehabilitation period in surgical patients.

Celena Scheede-Bergdahl, PhD

Consultant, Kinesiology

Celena Scheede-Bergdahl  received her BSc in Exercise Science (Concordia University, Canada), MSc in Kinesiology (Université de Montréal, Canada) and PhD in Medical Physiology (University of Copenhagen, Denmark). During her time in Copenhagen, she developed an interest in exercise prescription for the management of complications associated with type 2 diabetes and other inflammatory conditions. Her post-doctoral studies at McGill furthered her interest in inflammation and insulin resistance by studying how it applied to cancer cachexia and the latent effects of chemotherapy on skeletal muscle health in long term survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Presently, she is a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at McGill University, where her research interests lie in the area of exercise interventions in various inflammatory and insulin resistant conditions.

Celena has been working with the POP team for the past 5 years, contributing to both the prehabilitation program and the development of guidelines for early mobilization as a part of Enhanced Recovery Canada.

Bhagya Lakshmi Ramappa Tahasildar, MD

Research Assistant

Dr Bhagya Tahasildar, graduated in medicine in 2012 and went on to do her residency in Public health from Rajiv Gandhi University of health sciences in 2014. During her residency she has published and presented several research papers on communicable and non-communicable diseases. Bhagya has been part of many public health camps for children living with HIV, pregnant & lactating women, vaccination campaign and worked with several other vulnerable population. In 2017 she joined Kerala University of health sciences as an Assistant professor, Department of Community Medicine.

She has a keen interest in public health research and is currently working on optimizing POP research data collection process.

Sarah Atoui

Sarah Atoui is a Physiotherapist graduate from Lebanese University. She holds a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Quebec at Montreal. Sarah is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Experimental Surgery at McGill University.

Kenneth Drummond

Research Student

Kenneth Drummond completed two undergraduate degrees at McGill University, one in Anatomy and Cell Biology and a minor in Kinesiology, a second degree in Human Nutrition, with a concentration in Sports Nutrition.  Currently completing a master’s in McGill’s program of Experimental Surgery, with a specialization in Surgical Innovation.  He is a certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist with the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology.


Research Student

Geneviève is in her second year of a Master in Experimental Surgery, having completed a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at the Université de Montréal. Her research involves the delivery, by means of online consultation and training, of a prehabilitation/rehabilitation program on cancer patients facing major surgery.