Queen’s remembers Mariana Pradier Silva
September 16, 2021
The Queen’s community is remembering Dr. Mariana Pradier Silva, professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization physician who passed away on Sept. 4, 2021 in Kingston.
Dr. Silva graduated with her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Buenos Aires in 1981 and completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of British Columbia. She joined the Department of Pediatrics at Queen’s University and the medical staff at Hotel Dieu Hospital and Kingston General Hospital (now Kingston Health Sciences Centre) in 1988.
Dr. Silva was one of the earliest recognized specialists in the field of hematology/oncology specifically trained in pediatrics. Upon arriving in Kingston, she began working to create a pediatric hematology/oncology program.
She built a service dedicated to the assessment and care of children with diagnoses of various types of cancer, and hematologic disorders. At the time, the Cancer Centre was located at Kingston General Hospital, and Pediatrics was located at Hotel Dieu Hospital, resulting in challenges to coordination of care and the need to convince hospitals with different missions to jointly build an important service. Dr. Silva worked through these challenges, building bridges between the two institutions and creating effective teams across both sites to care for children. Through her persistence, the Kingston Regional Cancer Centre Ontario formally created a Pediatric Oncology Program in 1995 with Dr. Silva serving as head. A recognized Pediatric Oncology Division was created in 2000.
As the only pediatric hematologist/oncologist in Southeastern Ontario for more than 30 years, Dr. Silva carried an immense clinical load, caring for many of the sickest children in the region. She was “on duty” 24 hours a day, every day of the year. She built teams of professionals that were aligned to pediatric hematology and oncology and fostered their development as clinicians. Her loyalty and dedication to her team members was obvious to all.
"Mariana's dedication was endless — to her patients and families, to the students under her care and to her colleagues. I often joked with her that I'd need to hire three people to do all that she did in a day! She has touched the lives of so many during her incredible career here at Queen's and has left a legacy in the care of children and in the education of future pediatricians," writes Dr. Robert Connelly.
Dr. Silva’s devotion to evidence-based care is evident in the Pediatric Oncology Program today. She aligned the program closely to the work of the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) to ensure patients received the best possible care. Her work with COG meant that pediatric oncology patients had access to the latest clinical trials, ensuring excellent care was always available now and into the future. She was involved in more than 150 grants and more than 100 peer reviewed publications in addition to numerous posters, projects, and abstracts. She has been a highly-sought speaker provincially, nationally and internationally, with dozens of invited presentations.
Dr. Silva taught thousands of students, residents, and others. Her teaching style is described by her learners as tough, but fair, and always aimed at ensuring their current and future success. Even the shortest periods of slower activity in the clinic were seen as opportunities to teach, with impromptu lectures, card cases and white board at the ready, and questions geared to challenging learners at all levels. Her skills in resident education saw her appointed Residency Program Director for Pediatrics from 2005-2009, during which she set out to modernize and solidify the program. Her dedication to resident education was recognized by a Professional Association of Residents of Ontario (PARO) Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award in 2009.
Dr. Silva had a remarkable career in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology. Her work ethic was unmatched and her persistence indefatigable. She has left an indelible mark of distinguished and devoted service on the department, forever grateful colleagues and countless patients and families who benefited from her care.