One-on-One with Mike Allard


The first time Mike Allard stepped onto UBC's campus he was an undergraduate student studying science. He later went on to complete his medical degree and residency at the Faculty of Medicine, as well as research fellowships at the UBC Pulmonary Research Laboratory with Dr. James Hogg and at the University of Alabama. 

Today, Dr. Allard fosters excellence in education and research as the Head of the UBC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and has taken the helm of a growing alumni community, as President of the Medical Alumni Association. He is also a Cardiovascular Pathologist at St. Paul's Hospital and Principal Investigator in the James Hogg Research Centre. 

What inspires you and why? 

MA: People who work to make a difference. The people that I find most inspiring are those who aim to correct injustice or inequality and who do so against incredible odds or personal risk - people like Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.  

How do you like to recharge?

MA: I have a passion for travel. Together with my wife, who is my favourite travel partner, I grab my camera and off we go! We recently travelled to Costa Rica and our next destination might be Japan.

I also play ice hockey once a week throughout the year.  It's an excellent way to clear your head. 

Best piece of advice

MA: Dr. James Hogg, Professor Emeritus, UBC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, once told me, “If you agree to take something on, you have to give something up.” 
It’s a really good piece of advice but I can’t say that I’m very successful at following it.

Secret Talent

MA: I think it would be better described as aspirational, and think it’s fair to say I’m a “wannabe” painter. I usually work with water colours but recently got a set of acrylics. I also like photography; that too, is a work in progress. 

First job

MA: I worked for the City of Vancouver collecting garbage after high school and during the summers while attending university. The people I worked with were great and it was a well-paying job so I was lucky to have it. 

What are some of your goals or aspirations in your current role? 

MA: The Faculty’s strategic plan, Building the Future, is an excellent roadmap to our future, and the department and alumni can play roles in realizing the goals embedded in that plan.   

From a departmental perspective, one thing that I would like to see is full integration of clinical and academic worlds so we can create a health system that more readily puts discoveries into practice and that is capable of learning to adapt and change in response to evidence. This will have a positive impact on patient care and will improve the health of British Columbians through better diagnoses, more effective treatments, and better preventive practices. It will also lead to a more effective and sustainable health system.

From an alumni association perspective, I think it’s important for the association to find new ways to support the mission of the Faculty while still being mindful of the people we serve – students, trainees and alumni. One concept I think worthy of exploration is having the alumni association represent the entire breadth of the Faculty – including medical and health professionals.  

For you, what makes UBC different?

MA: The distributed medical model in the Faculty of Medicine is unique. B.C. is very large - in area, it is as big as Washington, Oregon and California combined. It also has a complex organizational structure and delivers its academic mission by working with other universities, a number of health authorities, and more than a hundred different clinical sites. It’s incredible when you think of all the parts that must come together to make it work.  

Favourite place in B.C.

MA: That’s easy, Taylor Arm on Sproat Lake near Port Alberni. It’s an amazing spot to relax and soak in the west coast beauty. I have great memories of shooting stars, incredible sunsets, and time with family and friends.