One-on-One with Deborah Money


Since her appointment as Executive Vice Dean in 2016, Dr. Deborah Money has been providing operational leadership to the Faculty of Medicine's department heads and school directors, while overseeing academic standards and the administrative functions of the Faculty. Working in close collaboration with the Dean, Dr. Money plays a vital role in helping to implement the priorities set out in the Faculty of Medicine's new strategic plan, Building the Future.  

An alumna of UBC, Dr. Money became the first physician in Canada to hold specialties in both infectious diseases and obstetrics and gynecology. She remains an active clinician and researcher in reproductive infectious diseases and was most recently honoured with the inaugural Career Contribution to Women's Health Research Award in recognition of her contribution to women's health research in B.C. and globally over the course of her career.

What quality do you most admire in a leader?

DM: Passion. Strong leaders are those who truly believe in the value of their organization and who are passionate about their work and the team they are leading.

What makes you laugh?

DM: While a lot of things make me laugh, it's often the day-to-day moments and humorous interactions with others I enjoy most. I have to confess that Dr. Gurdeep Parhar's jokes are also pretty funny.

Who inspires you, and why?

DM: I don't know if I have just one individual. When it comes to those in the public domain, I greatly admire strong women, like Michelle Obama.

There are also women in my personal life who I really admire, including Dr. Sharon Hillier, the Director of Reproductive Infectious Disease Research at the Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, as well as my former supervisor, Dr. Heather Watts, the Senior Technical Advisor for the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State. Both have been remarkable mentors to me. I first met them when I was a fellow in the U.S. — they were junior faculty at the time and I got to know them very well personally. They are both incredibly accomplished, but also very genuine. We have remained in touch over the years and I consider myself very fortunate to still have them as my mentors.

What's the most important lesson you've learned?

Humility. While you should always try to do things to your utmost ability — to make a difference in the world and contribute — it's important to remember that the world is full of a lot of accomplished people, many who may see the world differently, or find a way to solve an issue in a way that you may have never considered.

As Executive Vice Dean, what is your vision for the Faculty of Medicine? 

The Faculty of Medicine has a long-standing history of excellence in both research and education. As we look ahead, I think we have a tremendous opportunity to continue to build on our successes and become one of the top health research and educational institutions in the world. I see my role as helping facilitate this by creating a working environment within the Faculty that is increasingly agile and fosters engagement across the province so that innovations in both research and education can truly thrive.

For you, what makes UBC different?

For me, it's our province-wide approach. Compared to other universities — particularly other faculties of medicine — we are incredibly distributed, with over 80 training sites across the province. The fact that we have built an education and research community that extends the reach of the province — with partnerships with other institutions and BC's seven health authorities — is truly amazing.

What is your favourite song?

I don't think I have one. You are supposed to have favourite things like that aren't you?

If I had to choose one, it would have to be K.D. Lang's rendition of Hallelujah during the 2010 Winter Olympics. I watched it real time, and it was unreal.

How do you like to recharge?

I exercise and play sports — they are a huge part of what keeps me balanced. I really enjoy outdoor sport and athletics so depending on the season and circumstance I usually have something going on. I have been a field hockey player for many years, but I also love skiing, playing tennis, golfing, and running. I usually work out most mornings — you'll find me in the gym at 6am.

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

I don't even know what all the official super powers are. My husband sometimes calls me mighty mouse because I am small, but powerful. But if I could have a super power, it would be to run as fast as possible.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to feel that I've made a difference somehow — that this career, that my research in women's reproductive health, and my training of the next generation of physicians and health care providers will have all made a difference.

First job

My first job was working in Edie and Pat McGeer's laboratory here on UBC's Point Grey campus. I was in high school at the time. They needed some extra help in the summer, so I helped them with basic tasks in the lab. I ended up working there for several summers and picked up more tasks and responsibility as time went by. I was interested in pursuing a career in science and the neuroscience research being conducted at the McGeer lab was really interesting.  

Best piece of advice

I remember advice that I never took. I was doing an exit interview with one of the premier infectious disease researchers in the United States after my fellowship at the University of Washington. He said to me 'you need to become a one organism researcher.' In the field of infectious diseases, his advice makes sense. Essentially, what he was saying was 'be focused in your career.' I promptly came back to Canada (as the only person with a combined training in infectious diseases and obstetrics and gynecology) and did the exact opposite. I ended up with my finger in every pie. I diversified like mad. I ran into him more recently — he is still active and attending conferences. I reminded him about the advice he had offered me all those years ago, and he looked at me and said, 'well, perhaps it's good you didn't take my advice.' 

Favourite app

It's a tie between the music app Spotify or Runkeeper, which tracks your running and tells you how far you went and your pace.

Currently reading

I wish I had more time to read novels. I just finished A Long Way Home, which about a boy from India who was separated from his mother at the age of five. He was then raised by a couple in Australia and reunited with his biological mother after 25 years! The story was recently adapted into the film Lion. I haven't seen the movie yet, but the story is amazing.

I've also been reading Arresting Hope, which was co-edited by one of our faculty members, Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin. The book is about women serving time in prison and covers a wide range of stories about grief and hope through a collection of poetry, letters, and journal entries, including those from Dr. Martin, who worked part-time as a physician in correctional centre medical clinics.

Favourite restaurant

La Spiga in Palm Desert — it's Italian and it has a huge outdoor courtyard that reminds me of Italy.

Last vacation destination

Palm Desert.