Twin trajectories


Identical twins Avina and Alexia De Simone found their way to the MDCM program by different paths.

by Anne Chudobiak

Alexia De Simone, BSc’16, and identical twin Avina both wanted to become doctors. The West Island natives applied to the McGill Faculty of Medicine’s Med-P program—a stepping stone to the MDCM program—at the same time, in their last year of CEGEP.

“She got an interview, I didn’t,” says Alexia. “But in the end, we’re both really happy about how it’s turned out for us.”

This semester, as Avina enters her final year of the MDCM program, Alexia begins her first.

The two are speaking to Medicine Focus from outside of the McIntyre Medical Building. Inside, in the Charles F. Martin Amphitheatre, members of Alexia’s class, the Medicine Class of 2021, are being fitted for their white coats.

“I felt so humbled when I tried on my white coat,” says Alexia. “I thought, now I know how Avina felt!”

In retrospect, Alexia is grateful for that early refusal. It enabled her to enter the new BSc/MSc track program in Microbiology & Immunology at McGill. “I learned how much I love research,” she says.“I just submitted my thesis two weeks ago.”

Under the supervision of professors Brian Ward, MDCM’80, and Elizabeth Fixman, she studied a potential asthma therapeutic. “I was looking at whether or not it could have side effects on worm infections.”

When asked if she has any words of advice for her sister, Avina says, “It’s a lifelong learning process. You can’t become a doctor in one day.”

Avina also mentions the importance of self-care, a pillar of the MDCM Wellness curriculum. “It’s going to be a journey,” she says. “Sometimes we forget to take take time for ourselves, whether that’s exercising or spending time with friends and family. It’s important to have fun.”

The twins are the first in their family to pursue a career in the health sciences, but not the first to have an association with the McGill Faculty of Medicine.

“Our grandfather was a janitor in the McIntyre. He was an immigrant from Italy. This would have meant so much to him,” explain the sisters, before going their separate ways, Avina to a lecture on Public Health, and Alexia, to her next Orientation activity, words of welcome from VP-Dean David Eidelman, MDCM’79.

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