Distinguished Graduate

Inventing hope: Distinguished alum’s breakthrough helps doctors target brain tumours

March 3, 2017 • Written by

Dr. Mark Torchia

Thirty years ago, Dr. Mark Torchia started tinkering with an idea that had life-saving potential — a tool that could destroy inoperable brain tumours.

The seed was planted during a conversation with neurosurgeon Dr. Michael West at St. Boniface Hospital. A short time earlier, West had used a minimally invasive procedure to access a brain tumour and collect a sample for biopsy. To Torchia, it seemed logical to expand on that idea to deliver a killing blow to the target tissue.

“Taking the idea and turning it into something viable is where the challenge arises,” he explains. “It was one of those situations where the idea was there, but the core technology that was going to be required to really bring the idea to fruition didn’t exist.”

A 1995 recipient of Red River College’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Torchia and engineer Richard Tyc eventually met the challenge, developing the NeuroBlate System at the St-Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre and in 1999, founding Monteris Medical Inc. to take it to market.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a visual guide, the complex system lets neurosurgeons insert a laser probe into the brain and destroy tumours without damaging surrounding tissue.

Approved for use in the U.S. in 2009, the system was first used in Canada in 2015. It’s now available in some 45 hospitals in the U.S. and in three Canadian hospitals — in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Torchia says it’s only a matter of time before it’s available in Winnipeg.

The invention earned Torchia and Tyc a $100,000 Principal Award from the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation in 2015, and one of six inaugural Governor General’s Innovation Awards in 2016. Read More →

Help us find our next batch of billboard VIPs

December 8, 2014 • Written by

Billboard2015Showcase your proud RRC connection — or that of an employee, mentor, or industry colleague — by taking part in our 2015 billboard campaign!

We want to celebrate the success of our alumni and the diverse, innovative organizations that employ our grads. Building on the momentum of our previous billboard campaigns, we invite you to join us in a creative, co-operative advertising opportunity.

You pick the grad, and we handle the purchasing and production work. Then we’ll split the hard costs — and share in the campaign’s success!

Deadline for submissions is Jan. 14, 2015.

Learn more about the new campaign →

Bob Tallman (Business Administration, 1976)

September 4, 2012 • Written by

He’s built a local business into a national retailer, cultivated a passionate base of customers through a tireless focus on service, and devoted himself to revitalizing his community and helping dozens of young people pursue their own career dreams.

That’s why Red River College is proud to name entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Tallman as the 2012 recipient of our Distinguished Alumni Award.

Bob Tallman joined the family business, Princess Auto Ltd, in the mid-seventies, shortly after graduating from RRC with a diploma in Business Administration.

“I was the first in my family to be attending a post-secondary school,” he says. ”Our life had been focused around the family business, and I wanted to know something about business in general before I began working there on a full time basis.”

The investment in education paid off, as Bob and his brother Larry grew the small Winnipeg-based firm into a nationwide retail operation through the late-seventies and the eighties. Bob Tallman became the sole owner and CEO of Princess Auto in 1989. Read More →

“Rock Star” RRC Alum Honoured by PMI Manitoba

April 24, 2012 • Written by

From left: Vida Reader (2012 Conference Committee Co-Chair, PMI Manitoba), Debbie Wilgosh (President, PMI Manitoba), Kirk Johnson (Program Manager, IT and Professional Studies, RRC), and RRC alum Scott Hinkson.

Red River College alum Scott Hinkson has been honoured by RRC and PMI Manitoba, having received a $1,000 student achievement award at the organization’s annual conference last week.

Hinkson, who earned his Project Management certificate through RRC’s School of Continuing and Distance Education in November 2011, works as a project manager for the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. But he is also well-known in certain local circles as an acclaimed singer and songwriter.

“Every year, we ask all of the Project Management instructors to nominate a student for this award based on a combination of academics and attitude,” says Kirk Johnson, RRC’s Program Manager, I.T. and Professional Studies. “This year, the clear winner was more than just a good student — he’s actually an all-out rock star!” Read More →

RRC Alum Dawna Friesen Wins Best News Anchor Gemini

September 20, 2011 • Written by

Red River College alum Dawna Friesen has been named the best news anchor in Canada, for her efforts in front of (and behind) the camera on nightly news show Global National.

Friesen, who serves as Anchor and Executive Editor of Global National, was named Best News Anchor at last month’s Gemini Awards Industry Gala honouring news & sports, documentary, lifestyle and reality programming.

“I take this one for the team, for Global National,” Friesen said at the event, held Aug. 30, 2011, at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre. “We are not the biggest, but we are the best.”

Friesen, a 1984 graduate of RRC’s Creative Communications program, thanked all the people who work on her show, in particular the reporters “who are out there every day working their butts off.”

During the same ceremony, Global BC’s News Hour was chosen as the nation’s Best Local Newscast, Large Market. Earlier this year, Global Toronto won “best newscast” honours at the Radio-Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTDNA) Awards

“To win Gemini Awards for both Best News Anchor and Best Local Newscast in Canada is proof that Global News has taken its rightful place among the world’s leading news organizations,” said Troy Reeb, Vice-President of Global News.

“This is a tribute to the leadership of Dawna Friesen, the incredibly talented team at Global BC, and the hard work of our teams around the world every day.” Read More →