Dr. Daniel Holmes - Medical Biochemist, Medical Lead for Clinical Chemistry; and Assistant Department Head for Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Sep 4, 2019 | Meet and Greet

Dr. Dan Holmes was recently named on The Pathologists' 2019 Power List - a list of the top 100 industry leaders.

Job Title:

I am a Medical Biochemist, Medical Lead for Clinical Chemistry, and Assistant Head of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at St. Paul's Hospital.



St. Paul's Hospital Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.


Describe your job in one sentence:

I set up, maintain, interpret and provide consultation on commercial and laboratory developed diagnostic tests.


Why did you choose to specialize in this field?

I come from a Chemistry background and I liked the objectivity of Pathology which is why I chose Pathology for my residency. When I did a rotation with Dr. Morris Pudek and Vancouver General Hospital, I saw how I could do Chemistry and Medicine at the same time and I wanted to give it a try. Dr. Pudek was renowned for his helpfulness and knowledge as was my other mentor Dr. Frances Rosenberg. Both of these individuals taught me the importance of keeping patient care foremost in your mind while you do a job which is primarily technical in nature. Lab medicine allows me to use the skills acquired in the the physical sciences to really change lives.


What’s your favourite thing about your work?

Helping in an individual patient case either through the report, a consultation with a clinician or through seeing the patient directly, which occasionally happens. 


How long have you worked at PHC?

I did the last 3 years of my residency primarily here at St. Paul's Hospital and then came on staff in 2006. So, I like to say that I have been here 16 years, but, technically, it's only 13.


Why Providence?

The first time I drove downtown to do a rotation at St. Paul's I was a little chagrined by the "grittiness" of the environment around St. Paul's. However, a few minutes later, I walked down the corridor from Comox and I saw the carving of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37) which is outside the Gift Shop and across from the coffee kiosk. I remembered that I did not go into medicine to serve my own needs but to serve the needs of others and that anyone who is suffering is my neighbour. 

Providence Health Care is dedicated to the work and ministry of Jesus Christ. This is what defines the work and the environment. If we ever forget this, as many would have us to do, Providence Health and all the things that it represents, will be lost. However, if fight to keep our focus as the service of Jesus Christ, our lampstand will remain, so to speak.


If you weren't in your current role as a pathologist, what would you be?

A chemist or a pastor perhaps - not sure.


What makes your work meaningful for you?

When I make someone's burden lighter, my work is meaningful - that could be a physical burden, an emotional burden or a spiritual burden. That could be a patient, a technologist, a nurse or another doctor. 


What is one thing we might be surprised to learn about you?

I used to run a math, chemistry and physics tutoring company at UBC called "Dan The Tutor".


What is a quote that you live your life by/ think of often?

In John 14:15 Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commandments"


What advice would you give to your 20-year old self?

It's a marathon, not a sprint (which was good advice from Dr. Richard Hegele).


What is your number one tip/tool you use to manage workload?

I don't manage my workload well. I could not possibly give advice on this.


What do you think the future of health care looks like?

I'll be honest. I don't think that it looks good. It looks fragmented and thoughtlessly automated. Good patient care arises from physicians and other health care professionals knowing one another as friends and colleagues. Many aspects of medical care are now so tied to technology that they have undermined the human relationships of medical professionals with one another and with the patients. 


What’s your guilty pleasure?

Haribo brand gummy bears.


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