Associate Heads

Our Associate Heads support the Department of Medicine by providing strategic leadership and oversight in key areas. Serving as core members of the Department’s Executive and Advisory Committees, the Associate Heads actively contribute to the development and implementation of the Departmental Strategic Plan, and are responsible for executing specific objectives and priorities related to their respective portfolios.

Associate Head, Education
Dr. Andrea Townson, MD, FRCPC

Dr. Andrea Townson was appointed the Associate Head of Education for the Department of Medicine in September 2015.

Dr. Townson provides strategic Education leadership and direction to the UBC Department of Medicine with respect to the support and advancement of learning, education scholarship and innovation across the Department. She cultivates a positive and inclusive culture that values education and learning while driving progress to sustain and advance the excellence of our education programs. 

Dr. Townson is a Clinical Professor in the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has completed her Masters of Science in Health Professions Education. She completed her MD at Queen’s University and her Residency Training at UBC in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Townson’s clinical and research interests include spinal cord injuries and high lesion injuries. She also studies ventilator dependency resulting from paralysis of the diaphragm.

Dr. Townson is actively involved in clinical teaching with medical students and residents on the spinal cord injury unit at GF Strong as well as scheduled clinical skills teaching for medical students in the Musculoskeletal and Bedside clinical skills teaching blocks. She was the recipient of the Theo van Rijn Award for Contribution to the UBC PM&R Residency Program in 2012.

Associate Head, Research
Dr. Najib Ayas, MD, MPH

Dr. Najib Ayas was appointed the Associate Head of Research for the Department of Medicine in June 2024.

Dr. Ayas oversees the strategic operations of the Research Office, supporting and advancing research, scholarship, and innovation in the Department of Medicine. He also leads the external review of research and develops initiatives to advance the Department’s research mission.

Dr. Ayas is a Professor in the Department of Medicine. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the Mayo Clinic in 1996 and a Fellowship in Pulmonary/Critical Care/Sleep Medicine in 2000 at Harvard. In 2002, he completed a Master’s in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He came to UBC in 2002 and specializes in sleep disorders. He is internationally recognized for his research in sleep disorders with over 250 publications in the field.