Who are we?

We are:


Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Currently active or recently retired health care professionals who are specialists in caring for people with spinal cord injury, we are sharing our skills and knowledge with our colleagues in Nepal. We all are and/or have been affiliated with the UBC and with one or more Vancouver hospitals.

Dr Claire Weeks (image left, on the right, seen here with former SIRC administrator Sandra Boone) is a specialist rehabilitation physician who spent several years at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre working exclusively with people with spinal cord injury.


Dr Peter Wing (image right, on the left) worked for years as an orthopedic spine surgeon and was head of orthopaedics and/or spine surgery in two Vancouver hospitals. Here, reviewing the acute spine surgical services in Kathmandu, he confers with Kathmandu neurosurgeons Drs Bista and Rajhbhandari.


Our colleague Dr Joanna Mereu, seen here with Dr Prakash’s family, spent a month in 2018 working alongside Dr Raju at SIRC. Her background as a trained family physician with seven years of experience as a hospitalist on the Spinal Cord Injury service at Vancouver’s GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre was very useful as she worked alongside and taught Dr Raju and the two SIRC doctors.


Dr Jordan Farag, a rehabilitation resident (specialist in training), based at Vancouver’s GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, met Raju on his Vancouver visit in 2016. Jordan returned to Nepal in 2017 and worked with Raju at SIRC (right). We received enthusiastic reviews of him and his work from Raju, grateful for Jordan’s rehab teaching skills which were of great assistance, relieving him of some of his teaching duties with the two current junior physicians and participating in clinical rounds. Jordan’s debrief confirmed our opinion that a resident travelling to Nepal to provide support should be at a minimum at or above the R3 level with completed rotations in neurorehabilitation.

Indianapolis, Indiana:

Dr Christine Groves is a native of Indianapolis who completed her PM&R residency at Carolinas Medical Center. She is an Associate Professor of Physical Medicine & RehabilitationIndiana University School of Medicine, where she worked after residency to help develop PM&R consult services at two major trauma hospitals and one long-term acute care hospital. Sensing a strong calling to work internationally, she moved to Nepal in 2014 to first learn the language then to teach as a volunteer. She linked up with the SIRC in 2015 and has been a wonderful mentor to Raju, and continues to work with him in Nepal twice annually for a few weeks. She has an extensive and relevant publication list:  https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/Christine-C-Groves-2161863332  Here (right) she is seen with SIRC administrator Hari, Raju and Claire. She is a lead team member of the recently funded project: A Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency by, in and for Nepal”.

Vancouver team members on previous visits:

Birgitte head shotDr Scott Paquette (image right) is a spinal neurosurgeon and clinical assistant professor with an interest in medical education. He is an investigator with the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries. He has visited Nepal twice and continues to provide spine surgical guidance when needed. His (now) wife Birgitte Biorn is an educator who participated with us teaching in workshops in Nepal in November 2013.



Dr Rhonda Willms (image left) is the Medical Manager of the Spinal Cord Injury Program at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. She is also a Clinic Assistant Professor in the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of British Columbia. She is an Associate Member at the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries and joined the team presenting in workshops in Nepal in November 2013.


Kate C 1


Kate Coffey (image right) is a wealth manager and investment counselor who worked as a volunteer with SIRC for several months from December 2013 to April 2014. She worked on a number of projects there and has worked in Sri Lanka assisting struggling businesses in remote areas. Her heart is still in Nepal and she continues to promote SIRC’s work through  her blog, as well as raising funds for the Spinal Cord Injury Network, who provide support to cord-injured children to continue their schooling.


Grant Huston (image left) is a physiotherapist with years of experience working with SCI at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver. Here he tries a three-wheel chair on the rough training track at SIRC (2010).


Kim van Wyk (image right) is an occupational therapist and health planner working on the SCI service at GF Strong Centre. Here, lunchtime is another opportunity to teach (2010).


Fredericton, New Brunswick:

Dr Colleen O’Connell, Chief of the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton, is a Canadian clinician physiatrist and researcher with years of international experience working in Haiti, both before and after their massive earthquake in 2010. She visited SIRC in late 2015.

Perugia, Italy: Dr Renee Maschke (image right) was the Medical Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Unit in Perugia aReneend joined us on our November 2013 trip, and returned to SIRC after the 2015 earthquake. Now retired, she has recently been teaching in China and India. She is hoping to return to SIRC within the next year.



Kathmandu, Nepal: There are too many good friends and colleagues associated with SIRC to name them all individually. Representing the Board is founding Chair Kanak Mani Dixit (see below with Stephen Muldoon of Livability Ireland); representing the staff is Director Esha Thapa, seen left with frequent visitor and consultant psychologist Dr Stanley Ducharme of Boston.

Please note that we all travel to Nepal at our own expense.


Meet two impressive people who reached out to us. 

We would like to introduce you to two important people who have inspired and encouraged our work.

Kanak Mani Dixit (left) The SCI rehabilitation story began with Kanak’s fall in 2002. He injured his neck and spinal cord but was lucky enough to have sustained little lasting  neurological deficit. He was also far-sighted enough to realize that Nepal needed to develop a rehabilitation program for those with similar injuries whose outcomes were less fortunate. His story and that of SIRC is here

Stephen Muldoon (right) is an Irish-trained nurse with years of experience helping develop SCI rehab programs in Asia in conjunction with the charity Livability Ireland. He asked us in 2009 to assist with training staff at the SIRC which had just moved into a new building. For the first time, they were to have their own physician. He was an enthusiastic young doctor, trained in Kathmandu, but had no formal education about and no experience working with people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Livability Ireland and its leaders Stephen and Maggie Muldoon received the 2013 UK Charity award in the Disability Category – for more information click here.


Tremendous resource people from our early days:

Nathan O’Hara (image left) was a logistician affiliated with the Orthopedic Department of UBC with experience providing support to medical teams in a number of countries; most notably with the Uganda Sustainable Trauma Orthopaedic Program (USTOP) – for more information on this program, click here . Nathan was a great help setting up our program. Dr O’Hara moved with his family to Baltimore to pursue a career in international health.

We have recently been supported by Orthopedic’s Administrative Coordinator Patryk Krolikowski, who has been a great addition to our team.