Michael Taccone was the valedictorian of his class at Saba and his speech at the 2014 graduation ceremony was a wry reflection on the pluses and minuses of the decision to become a doctor. Recounting his encounter with an old classmate who while he was in medical school had moved on in her life to parenthood, the address mixed irony and self-deprecation to provide a humbling perspective on the incredible achievement he and his fellow Saba graduates were celebrating.
The understated tone of the speech is all the more compelling when you consider the next stop in Michael’s career: A Neurosurgery Residency at The Ottawa Hospital.
An honours graduate of the University of St. Michael’s College (in the University of Toronto) with a major in Human Biology & Christianity and Culture, Michael knew from an early age that he wanted to be a doctor. Saba was recommended by a close friend whose two sisters were alumnae and accomplished doctors. “I brought my passion and determination to Saba, and the school provided me with the opportunity to become a doctor.”
During his first semesters at Saba, Michael was a teaching assistant for various courses including Immunology & Microbiology, Neuroscience & Neuroanatomy and Medical Physiology. During his clinical rotations back in the US, he was really able to refine his focus on neurosurgery.
“What really stands out in my mind about Saba was the ability to work with the Dean to customize my elective clinical rotations. With much advanced planning, I was able to complete my electives at prestigious centers where I could then compete with the best of the best. The fact that I got tremendous support from Saba in customizing my clinical program so that I could meet my goal of going into neurosurgery was so crucial to my success.”
Michael had a rich experience through a range of elective clinical rotations, including: Pediatric Neurosurgery at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Neurosurgical Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Adult and Pediatric Pathology at Northwestern University, and Pediatric Hematology & Oncology at McMaster University.
Michael is now in his third year of the neurosurgery residency program at The Ottawa Hospital. “Saba has a track record of getting Canadians back to Canada. It was great for me”
Coming back to Canada has also provided him with the opportunity to take part in a wide range of volunteer and charitable efforts. He is a chair of Ontario’s Provincial Pediatric Oncology Plan Steering Committee and an active volunteer with the SickKids Foundation, the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario.
In 2017, Michael begins a PhD in Nanoparticle Technology and Molecular Neurooncology in the Surgeon Scientist Training Program at the University of Toronto in the SickKids Research Institute. As a budding surgeon-scientist, Michael hopes to change the way children and their families experience brain tumor care in the future.