People 2018-04-19T20:25:08+00:00


The B.C. Centre for Vulvar Health offers comprehensive care from a team of health care experts.

Leslie Sadownik, M.D., M.Ed., FRCSC

Director, BCCVH


Dr. Sadownik is an Associate Professor in the University of British Columbia (UBC) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Gynecologic Oncology, and an Associate Member of the UBC Department of Dermatology and Skin Sciences. She graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science and Medical Degree. She completed her specialty training at the University of Calgary. After graduation she obtained a Master’s in Adult Education from UBC. Her clinical practice has focused exclusively on female lower genital tract disease -colposcopy, vulvar diseases and vulvar pain conditions. She is an educational consultant for the BC Provincial Colposcopy Program.

Naleena Gounder, B.A.

Clinic Care Coordinator

Ms. Gounder completed her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Biology at UBC in 2001.  She has worked at the Anxiety Clinic, rehabilitation centres and in community mental health.  In the research field, she has studied assessment and treatments for pain, depression, addictions and anxiety.  As part of Mental Health Commission of Canada’s initiative to increase the public’s knowledge on health, Naleena also teaches Mental Health First Aid. Naleena believes that it is important for each person to take an active role in her (or his) treatment.  This can be accomplished by working closely with the team to develop a personalized multidimensional care plan. Contact Naleena at (604) 875-4111 extension 63445.

Kelly Smith, Ph.D. R. Psych

Director of Research

Dr. Smith has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Queen’s University and completed fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and UBC. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (UBC) and a Registered Psychologist in BC. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on women’s vulvar health, sexual health and vulvodynia, including the pregnancy and post-partum experiences of women with vulvodynia. Dr. Smith has been funded by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Canadian Pain Society, National Vulvodynia Association, and Women’s Health Research Institute and has authored several publications in the area of women’s health and genital pain.

Ulrike Dehaeck, MSc, MD, FRCSC


Dr. Dehaeck is a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UBC. She completed medical school and a Masters of Science in clinical epidemiology at the University of Calgary and then residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UBC.  Dr. Dehaeck is a gynecologist with an interest in chronic, benign, and pre-malignant conditions of the vulva and dedicates part of her clinical practice to lower genital tract diseases at the Centre for Vulvar Health.   She also has a general obstetrics and gynecology practice in Vancouver located outside the Centre.

Sydney Thomson, M.D., FRCSC


Dr. Thomson is a Clinical Associate Professor at UBC. She graduated from an Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency at UBC in 1990, and did a fellowship year in Sexual Medicine at UBC in 1991. Her clinical practice has always dealt with female sexuality concerns but has become exclusively focused in this area since 1995. She has a teaching practice within the Department of Gynecology at Vancouver Hospital, and is also a consultant at the British Columbia Cancer Agency and the Center for Sexual Health in the area of female sexuality.

Paul Yong, M.D., Ph.D., FRCSC


Dr. Yong is an Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Specialties. He completed a MD/PhD degree in Experimental Medicine, specialty training in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and then a Fellowship in Endometriosis, Pelvic Pain & Advanced Laparoscopy at UBC. His clinical practice and research focuses on pelvic pain. He has a particular interest in endometriosis, sexual pain, painful periods, co-existing bladder and bowel problems, and pain related to the musculoskeletal system. His surgical interests include laparoscopic excision of endometriosis and prevention of adhesions in women with pelvic pain and or infertility.

Gynecologic Oncologists

Members of the UBC Division of Gynecologic Oncology assess and manage women with pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions of the vulva or vulvar conditions that require complex surgery. The current members of this Division include:

Dr. Dianne Miller

Gynecologic Oncologist

Dr. Dianne Miller is the Division Head of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of British Columbia and gynecologic oncologist at Vancouver General Hospital. She is also the Provincial Gynecology Tumor Group Chair for the Province of British Columbia, co-founder of OVCARE. Dr. Miller obtained her BSc. in microbiology and immunology at UBC in 1976, her MD at UBC in 1980. She then interned at the Toronto Western Hospital prior to working as a Family Doctor in Yellowknife NWT.  In 1988, Dianne completed her Royal College certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UBC. This was followed by completion of a Royal College Fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology in Toronto in 1990.


Dr. Mark Carey

Gynecologic Oncologist

Dr. Mark Carey trained in Gynecological Oncology at the University of Toronto. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Western Ontario and returned to practice at the London Health Sciences Centre following his fellowship. He has been involved in clinical trials in gynecologic oncology through the National Cancer Institute of Canada and served on the executive committee of the gynecological disease site group.   He is interested in the molecular basis of cancer, biomarker discovery, and translational research in gynecological cancer.

Dr. Mark Heywood

Gynecologic Oncologist

Dr. Heywood is a Gynecologic Oncologist with Vancouver General Hospital and B.C. Cancer Agency. Dr. Heywood has been active in leadership roles at provincial and national committees. He has served as President of the Medical, Dental and Allied Staff Organization at Vancouver General Hospital and President of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC). He is currently Site Head, VGH Department of Gynecology, and a Clinical Professor in the UBC Department Obstetrics & Gynecology.


Dr. Janice Kwon

Gynecologic Oncologist 

Dr. Janice Kwon is a Gynecologic Oncologist practicing with Vancouver General Hospital and the BC Cancer Agency. Her major areas of research interest are in evaluating endometrial and ovarian cancers at a population level and within hereditary cancer syndromes. Her expertise is in conducting cost-effectiveness analyses to compare different treatment strategies. She has a Masters degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.


Dr. Marette Lee

Gynecologic Oncologist

Dr. Marette Lee is a Gynecologic Oncologist practicing with Vancouver General Hospital and BC Cancer Agency. She received her medical degree from the University of Alberta and completed her Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at Queen’s University. She then did a fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology with UBC (2009-11) and a Master’s degree in Public Health (2011-2015) from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her current research includes: studies looking at outcomes of conservatively managed pre-cancerous cervical lesions in young women; predictors of negative LEEP results with the goal of avoiding over treatment; a pilot study for anal screening study looking at a high-risk group of women with recurrent VIN; and a multi-phase study that looks at women’s anxiety and satisfaction levels related to how they receive colposcopy results.


Dr. Jessica McAlpine

Gynecologic Oncologist

Dr.McAlpine is a Gynecologic Oncologist with joint positions at UBC (Associate Professor) and the BC Cancer Agency. She currently splits her time equally between clinical/surgical duties and translational research.  She is part of the OVCARE research team (British Columbia’s Ovarian Cancer Research group), Director of the OVCARE Tissue Bank and recipient of a CIHR New Investigator Award (2013-2018) and BC Cancer Foundations Clinician Scientist Award in (2016-2021).Her research focuses on molecular subtypes of gynecologic tumors including HPV-associated and HPV-independent vulvar squamous cell cancers and precancers.


Dr. Sarah Finlayson

Gynecologic Oncologist

Dr. Finlayson is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. She is a Gynecologic Oncologist at Vancouver Hospital and the BC Cancer Agency. Her career is focused on the surgical and medical care of women with gynecologic cancers. Her academic interests include minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology and medical education.

Dr. Gavin Stuart

Gynecologic Oncologist

Dr. Gavin Stuart is a Gynecologic Oncologist with Vancouver Coastal Health and B.C. Cancer Agency. A native of Manitoba, he attended the University of Western Ontario for his undergraduate medical and postgraduate training in obstetrics and gynecology. This was followed by a Fellowship in Gynecological Oncology at Wayne State University in Detroit. His clinical research interests and publications have been in the area of gynecologic cancer, including population-based screening programs and the conduct of clinical trials as therapeutic interventions in gynecologic cancer. Dr. Stuart has been active in leadership roles in many national and US committees on medical education, health human resource planning and evidence-based guideline development. In his current role, he continues to function as a Gynecological Oncologist and a member of the team at the Vancouver Hospital and BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver. Dr. Stuart served as Dean of Medicine at UBC from 2003-2015.

Stacey Foote, RN

Registered Nurse

Ms. Foote is one of the nurses in the Centre for Vulvar Health, and is the charge nurse in the Women’s Clinic.  She is a graduate of the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing, and holds a certificate in Nursing Management from McMaster University.  Stacey has worked in a variety of settings including gynaecology, program development/management, as well as consulting work in orthopaedics. Stacey is a strong proponent of patient education and patient centered care, and strives to ensure the patient’s journey through the clinic is a positive one.

Charisse Teitz, RN

Registered Nurse

Charisse Teitz RN completed her nursing training at the Vancouver General Hospital School of nursing in December 1988. She has worked at VGH since finishing her training and has extensive experience in Gynecology, Urology & Plastics surgical nursing. Charisse has worked at the Women’s Clinic for over 10 years. Through her interaction with patients, Charisse strives to make  their visit informative and stress free.

Marcy Dayan, B.S.R., M.H.A., MCPA

Registered Physiotherapist

Ms. Dayan is a Registered Physiotherapist with expertise in the management and treatment of vaginal and rectal pain, incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Since graduating from UBC with a Bachelor’s of Science in Rehabilitation in 1984, Marcy has completed postgraduate courses in vulvar pain, incontinence, pelvic dysfunction, orthopaedics and sex education and counseling. She also has a Master of Health Administration from the University of British Columbia.

Maryla Podgajny, B.Sc.P.T., C.F.C.I.

Registered Physiotherapist

Ms. Podgajny is a Registered Physiotherapist and is certified with the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute. Her clinical interest in Women’s Health has been ongoing for many years. She has previously worked at BC Women’s Hospital and the Continence Clinic at Burnaby Hospital. In 2014 she decided to focus her practice exclusively on both female and male pelvic floor (bladder/bowel control, prolapse, pain) concerns, abdominal dysfunction and perinatal health.  Maryla enjoys challenges and the satisfaction of continuing to learn and grow while working with this diverse population.

Jenn Bossio, Ph.D., R. Psych


Dr. Bossio completed her PhD in clinical psychology at Queen’s University and her clinical residency at Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. Her doctoral research focused on the biological, psychological, and social aspects of human sexuality. Clinically, Dr. Bossio works with individuals and couples dealing with sexual health concerns, as well as other mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety. She has worked within the Sex Therapy Service (Kingston, ON), BC Centre for Sexual Medicine, and the UBC Department of Gynaecology. In her approach to treating sexual health concerns, she uses evidence-based treatments, including cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness.

Jason Winters, Ph.D., R. Psych.


Dr. Winters received his PhD in psychology from UBC and completed post-doctoral training in clinical psychology. During his training, he specialized in sexual problems and disorders, and has published research in the area. Currently, Dr. Winters works as a sex therapist and teaches the psychology of human sexuality at UBC. Dr. Winters is one of the facilitators of the Partner Education Seminar, the Sexual Health Seminars, and the individual Sexual Health appointments at the Multidisciplinary Vulvodynia Program.

Carolin Klein, Ph.D., R. Psych


Dr. Klein is a Registered Psychologist with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from UBC. She also completed a clinical and research fellowship with the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory and a concurrent clinical fellowship with the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Centre of Vancouver. Her clinical training has focused on applying evidence-based cognitive-behavioural and/or dialectical behaviour therapy techniques to treat a variety of concerns including sexual concerns, depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Her research has focused on furthering the understanding of women’s sexual function, sexual outcomes in gender identity disorder, and outcomes related to involvement in prostitution.

Health Care Professionals Associated with the Centre

Melanie Altas


Originally a Maritimer, Dr. Altas settled in Vancouver in 2002.  She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) as well as an Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. She graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology as well as a Masters of Science in Anatomy and Neurobiology. Following medical school at the University of Toronto she finished specialty training in OB/GYN at University of British Columbia in 2007. Providing care for women with vulvar conditions and vulvodynia has become a primary focus of her practice.  She currently provides locum coverage for the Centre for Vulvar Health at Vancouver General Hospital.

Lori Brotto, Ph.D., R. Psych

Research Associate, BC CVH

Dr. Brotto has a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Fellowship in Reproductive and Sexual Medicine from the University of Washington. She is a Professor in the UBC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  She is the director of the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory where research focuses on developing and testing psychological/psychoeducational interventions for women with sexual difficulties and genital pain. She is also the Executive Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute, B.C. Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. Dr. Brotto’s research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Ovarian Cancer Canada, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and the National Vulvodynia Association.

Adrienne Marsh, B.A. 

Research Assistant, BC CVH

Adrienne is currently enrolled in the MA Counselling Psychology program at the University of British Columbia where she received her BA in Psychology. She worked previously at the UBC Sexual Health Lab as a study coordinator for a research study of an online support group for women diagnosed with gynecologic cancer and for the COMFORT study which compared cognitive therapy with mindfulness for the treatment of Provoked Vestibulodynia.

The BC Centre for Vulvar Health Values

The BC Centre for Vulvar Health improves the quality of life for women living with vulvar disorders through women centered care, education and research. The Centre fosters a culture of openness, awareness, and exploration of approaches that have been shown to be effective in supporting women with vulvar disorders.  The ultimate goal is for women to feel empowered to make individualized and effective treatment choices within a respectful and compassionate environment.

Empowerment; Respect; Empathy; Evidence-based care.

Improving awareness of, and access to, evidence-based care for those women affected by vulvar disorders. This involves educating healthcare providers to take a holistic approach that recognizes that it’s not just about treating the specific vulvar condition; it’s about addressing the impact of that condition on a woman’s overall health.

Multidisciplinary Vulvodynia Program

The MVP is for women aged 19 years and older who are suffering from chronic vulvar pain (vulvodynia).


Vulvar Disease Clinic

The Vulvar Disease Clinic is for women with chronic vulvar symptoms and or asymptomatic vulvar condition and or lesions.


Vulvar Intra-epithelial Neoplasia Follow up Clinic

For women who have been previously diagnosed and treated for Vulvar Intra-Epithelial Neoplasia (VIN).


Vulvar Oncology Clinic

The Vulvar Oncology Clinic is for women with suspected cancer, suspected and or diagnosed pre-cancer of the vulva (VIN), and or complex vulvar diseases requiring surgical intervention.