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.

Rashami Awasthi, MSc, CSEP-CPT

Project Manager and 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 eleven years in various roles (Research Coordinator, Kinesiologist). She is responsible for supervising a team of Kinesiology students for the research program.

She has worked with a variety of different populations, such as asthma, cardiac, cancer, dialysis, and hernia patients. She is involved in the development of individualized exercise programs for patients.

Dr. Chelsia Gillis, PhD

Nutrition Consultant

Dr. Chelsia Gillis is an Assistant Professor within the School of Human Nutrition, with Associate appointments in Anaesthesia and Surgery, at McGill University. She has a Ph.D. in Epidemiology, is a Registered Dietitian, Canadian Vanier Scholar, and a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician. Her expertise includes surgical metabolism, surgical nutrition, epidemiology, and patient engagement.

Dr. Miquel Coca Martinez. MD

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.

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


Dorsa is a Registered Dietitian and a member of the Ordre des Diététistes Nutritionnistes du Québec. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Carleton University as well as a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from McGill University.

Dorsa has professional experience counselling patients in a range of areas including malnutrition, cancer surgery/treatment, dysphagia, diabetes, hypertension, Irritable Bowel Disease, weight management, sports nutrition, and creating customized meal plans. Dorsa uses an individualized and evidenced-based nutritional approach to accelerate patient recovery and improve short- and long-term outcomes. She appreciates being part of the prehabilitation team of Montreal, where she helps prepare and optimize patients’ nutritional status for the perioperative period.

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.

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, M.Sc

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.

Do Jun Kim, M.Sc

Kinesiologist and Physiotherapist

DJ has a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Physiotherapy. He has been working with cancer patients for more than 15 years, doing assessments, prescribing home exercise programs, and supervising exercise at the POP clinic.

Natalia Tomborelli Belafronte, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Researcher

Natalia is a Dietitian graduate from Sao Paulo University (Brazil), from where she also holds a Master’s Degree at Biomedical Science and a Ph.D Degree at Nutrition and Metabolism. She worked at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and Hospital Universitario de la Princesa (ES) as a visiting Ph.D student.

She has experience and professional practice focused on clinical nutrition. In her Master and Ph.D research projects she worked with evaluation of nutritional status, body composition, resting energy expenditure, frailty, sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Her experience in nutrition and physical assessment makes she an asset to the Prehabilitation Clinic. As a result, now she is interested in moving beyond just screening and assessment to identify and diagnose nutritional problems, to investigating most adequate nutritional and physical interventions that support important clinical changes and patients’ outcomes. As a postdoctoral student, she will be conducting a multimodal prehabilitation cutting-edge randomized clinical trial with the supervision of Dr. Gillis, an expert in prehabilitation research area and leading expert in nutrition prehabilitation.

Jade St-Pierre, B.Sc


Jade completed her Bachelors in Kinesiology at McGill University in 2020. A fervent believer in physical health, she is passionate about encouraging patients to stay active. She is currently pursuing her PhD studying prehabilitation in patients with esophageal cancer.

Carol Common, M.Sc, RN

Relaxation and Coping Consultant

As a relaxation and coping consultant, Carol helps patients with stress management using coping skills, relaxation and breathing exercises as well as reframing thoughts to support feelings of self-control and empowerment.

Carol is a retired nurse with a Masters in Applied Science (Nursing) from McGill University. Her career has spanned various fields of nursing including pediatrics, oncology, community health, emergency management, and community liaison.  Carol is a long-time yoga practitioner and has been teaching yoga since 2001

Anastasia Parashis

Administrator POP Clinic 

Anastasia Parashis, a former manager/director in the fashion industry for over 30 years. She was also the co-founder of Femmes Averties/Women Aware not-for-profit organization. She has been currently working at the MUHC for the last 3 years and joined the Prehabilitation Clinic in 2021 as an administrative agent. Her main focus is patient support and ensure that the patients of our clinic receive adequate care during their time with us in preparation for their upcoming surgery.

Jade Corriveau, P.Dt


Jade is a Registered Dietitian with experience in peri-operative care. Before joining the team at POP, she worked on neurosurgery and neurovascular units at the MUHC. She is currently pursuing her academic training with a Master’s degree in nutrition under the supervision of Dr. Chelsia Gillis. Through her clinical and research work, Jade aims to advance the study of prehabilitation and contribute
to improving surgical care. At POP, Jade helps patients develop nutrition habits to optimize their long-term health and provides insight on the special nutritional needs of patients with cancer or patients preparing for surgery.

Anas Koudieh, MD

Research Coordinator

Anas Koudieh is a graduate from Al-Faisal University School of Medicine with an affiliation with King Faisal Specialist Hospital. He completed his Internship in King Fahad Medical City where he developed interest in clinical research, with one publication completed in the World Journal of Cardiovascular disease. His research focused on the intravascular profile of coronary artery disease in diabetic patients with acute coronary syndrome. This developed his interest in expanding his reach in research. Currently he is a research coordinator in the Montreal General Hospital where he focuses on data entry and analysis in the pre-habilitation clinic. He continues to strive to increase his expertise in research with a multidisciplinary team.

Ciaran Keane, OTPTA

Exercise Monitor, Research

Ciaran has a diploma in Health and Exercise Fitness form the University of Limerick and a diploma in Physical Rehabilitation Therapy. Ciarán exercises patients both virtually and in-person at the POP clinic.

Janius Piuming Tsang, RD, MSc, PhD

Consultant, Dept. of Anesthesia, McGill University

Dr. Janius Tsang obtained her medical degree from the University of Calgary in 2004 and completed her residency training in Anesthesiology at McGill University in 2009. While working in the community setting, she was inspired by the pioneering work of the perioperative program team. To further her involvement, she returned to McGill University in 2021 to pursue a Masters’ degree in Experimental Surgery, focussing on how to make prehabilitation more effective in patients with colorectal cancer surgery.

Since 2020, she also works as a staff anesthesiologist in the Department of Anesthesia at the Montreal General Hospital and teaches trainees about preparing patients for surgery.