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Two grads named among top 40 in the country

Dr. Fiona Costello, top, and Brian Chafe were named in Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 list.

By Sharon Gray and Meaghan Whelan

Two Memorial grads were among only 40 people in the country recognized by a national newspaper.

Dr. Fiona Costello, a medical graduate from the Class of 1995, and Brian Chafe, chief operating officer of Provincial Aerospace Ltd. who graduated from Memorial’s bachelor of commerce (co-op) program in 1993, were part of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 list compiled annually by the Globe and Mail.

Established in 1995, Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 celebrates the achievements of Canadians in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors who were under the age of 40 by Dec. 31, 2008.

The 26 members of an independent advisory board choose the honourees from about 1,200 nominees through a selection process based on five criteria: vision and leadership; innovation and achievement; impact; growth and development strategy; and community involvement and contribution.

It is co-sponsored by Caldwell Partners International Inc.

Dr. Fiona Costello
At age 39, Dr. Costello is an associate professor of neurology and ophthalmology and multiple sclerosis-treating neurologist at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary.

She grew up in Stephenville, one of three children born to Fintan, originally a teacher, and Teresa, a nurse, who had emigrated from Ireland in 1967. She remembers many of the professors at Memorial who influenced her.

“During my undergraduate studies in biochemistry, Drs. Willie Davidson, Eric Bullock and Peter Golding had a major impact on me with their teaching and the support they provided in my application to medical school.”

During her undergraduate medical studies, Dr. Costello said that Drs. Wally Ingram and Mary O’Brien had a major influence on her. “They both brought a standard of excellence and ‘sixth sense’ to patient care that I was incredibly impressed by.”

Dr. Costello said during her clerkshipshe was very much influenced by the work ethic, humour and sheer artistry of plastic surgeon Dr. David Jewer. Her first internship rotation was in neurosurgery, and she was amazed by the dedication, competence, excellence, and resilience of Drs. Falah Maroun and Gerry Murray.

As a neurology resident, her mentors were Drs. Alan Goodridge, William Pryse-Phillips and Abayomi Ogunyemi. “I owe these men a tremendous debt because they put up with me through three years of core neurology and were tireless in their teaching and mentorship despite serious manpower shortages and overwhelming demands on their time.”

Dr. Costello said Dr. Gordon Mathieson in neuro-pathology taught her the value of methodology, precision, and excel­lence. “And Dr. David Buckley in pediatric neurology showed me how one could remain fiercely academic, even as a relatively independent entity.”

Dr. Costello went on from Memorial to study neuro-ophthalmology at the University of Iowa for two years, followed by a co-appointment to the Departments of Medicine and Ophthalmology at the University of Ottawa from 2002-2007. Opportunity drew her to Calgary two years ago; she is teaching and doing both research and clinical work. She has developed a system model of MS that is being applied in clinical and experimental models of the disease. Her research focuses on nerve damage in the eye and its apparent similarities to nerve damage in multiple sclerosis patients, with a view toward potential new MS therapies.

Brian Chafe
Mr. Brian Chafe’s business acumen has helped Provincial Aerospace Ltd. (PAL) shed the perception it is solely an airline and earn some major contracts in the maritime patrol sector.

Mr. Chafe has been with PAL since 1988. Five years ago, he and his team looked overseas to market their maritime patrol capabilities. This new approach led to a $150 million dollar contract in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in 2007 and a $370 million dollar contract with the United Arab Emirates earlier in 2008.

Mr. Chafe has maintained his relationship with Memorial since graduating in 1993. As the PAL team was preparing to enter the UAE market, the Faculty of Business’s Gateway initiative provided support to Brian and his colleagues.
“We turned to Gateway to help us develop the right approach to doing business in the UAE. Their understanding of the culture and business practices helped us in the critical early stages of developing this deal,” Mr. Chafe said. “Gateway and its network in the UAE is an invaluable resource to companies like ours.”
Dr. Gary Gorman, dean of the Faculty of Business, he said that he was delighted to hear that Mr. Chafe had been named one of the top 40 under 40. “Brian is a visionary who has worked very hard to make Provincial Aerospace a leader in the industry and we are extremely happy for him and the entire team at PAL,” Dr. Gorman said. “Memorial alumni are doing great things and it’s a pleasure to see someone like Brian recognized for his abilities and accomplishments.”

Douglas Caldwell, chairman of Caldwell Partners International Inc. and founder of the Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 awards, said this year’s nominees came from traditional businesses rather than “a lot of the software/hardware types of success stories that existed in the past,” he said, adding they also found fewer “instant success stories.”

“What’s significant this year is people giving back to their communities,” Mr. Caldwell said. “What we find is that often that can slip. … people get more focused on trying to survive, but what we’ve seen this year is people with a strong commitment to their basic business but also to community service.”