Best Brains Exchanges 2015

Best Brains Exchanges are in-camera sessions. As a result, not all Best Brains Exchange topics and presenters are listed here. The following information is being shared with consent.

For more information on any of the past Best Brains Exchanges listed below please contact

Transforming Science and Knowledge into Action: Adapting to the Health Impacts of Climate Change in Canada

Hosted by CIHR in collaboration with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

The BBE provided participants with the opportunity to hear research evidence and best practices related to leading climate change adaptation approaches and strategies. More specifically, Canadian and international policy and decision makers, researchers and key stakeholders discussed current and anticipated climate change health risks in Canada, policy levers to affect change, and strategies to promote multi-jurisdictional and sectoral collaboration to address such health threats.


  • George Luber, Associate Director for Climate Change, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health
  • Robert Lipton, Research Scientist Supervisor, California Department of Public Health
  • Jan Semenza, Professor, Environmental and Climatic Determinants of Infectious Disease, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)


  • Kris Ebi, Professor, Global Health University of Washington
  • Nancy Edwards, Scientific Director, Institute of Population and Public Health (IPPH), CIHR

How Can We Make the Policy Research Environment a Better Place?

Hosted by CIHR in collaboration with the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, Statistics Canada and Health Canada. 

The BBE brought together federal, provincial and territorial (F/P/T) policy makers and researchers, academic researchers and international experts to hear leading evidence on the current state of policy research in Canada, and effective approaches to increase its impact and implementation.  In addition, the Exchange provided an opportunity for key stakeholders to discuss individual and collective needs, the desired outcomes and deliverables stemming from policy research, and the usability of such research in the policy context. This BBE was unique as it brought together senior-level representatives from across over 20 federal agencies and departments, federal government policy researchers and academic researchers to discuss the policy issue. 


  • Patrick Fafard, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa
  • Alan Katz, Director, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP), Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
  • Chris Andersen, Associate Dean (Research) and Professor, Native Studies, University of Alberta
  • Guy Lacroix, Professor, Department of Economics, Université Laval
  • Alice Aiken,  Scientific Director, Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research
  • Mathieu Ouimet, Associate Professor of Political Sciences, Université Laval & Researcher, CHU Research Centre
  • Vasanthi Srinivasan, Founding Executive Director, Ontario Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) SUPPORT Unit


  • Pierre Lecours, Director, Executive Leadership Development, Health Canada

A Coordinated Approach to Opioid Monitoring across the Atlantic Provinces

Hosted by CIHR in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, New Brunswick Department of Health, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Health & Community Services, Nova Scotia Department of Health & Wellness, and Prince Edward Island Department of Health & Wellness. 

The BBE was designed to allow the four Atlantic provinces  to collectively benefit from hearing evidence on leading public health approaches and strategies (e.g. policy, education, regulation, surveillance) to improve health and reduce the harms associated with opioid misuse.  Areas of discussion included partnerships, feasibility, and challenges and opportunities associated with developing a sustainable collaborative public health approach to opioid monitoring across the Atlantic Provinces.


  • David Juurlink, Senior Core Scientist, ICES Central, Chronic Disease and Pharmacotherapy Research Program & Professor, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Beth Sproule, Associate Professor (Status-only)/ Director, Division of Pharmacy Practice & Clinician Scientist, University of Toronto
  • Fred Brason, Executive Director, Project Lazarus (North Carolina, USA)
  • Andrea Furlan, Associate Professor, Division of Physiatry, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto & Associate Member, Institute of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto


  • Tony Phillips, Scientific Director, Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, CIHR

Lyme Disease Diagnostics

Hosted by CIHR in collaboration with the Centre for Food-borne, Environmental and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada. Best Brains Exchange Report – Lyme Disease Diagnostics.

This BBE was centered on:

How effective are current diagnostic tests in detecting Lyme disease (during early, disseminated, late disseminated and post-treatment phases) and what novel methods show promise in improving patient diagnosis?

The anticipated outcomes of the BBE were:

  1. To lay the foundation for a research agenda for the Agency and key stakeholders with an interest in Lyme disease;
  2. Meaningful engagement among experts and policy makers to inform the future development of a federal framework on Lyme disease; and
  3. Identification of ideas, concepts and gaps in knowledge for further exploration among the academic and scientific community to advance our understanding and response to Lyme disease diagnosis.

The meeting was facilitated by Dr. Marc Ouellette (Scientific Director, Institute of Infection and Immunity, Canadian Institutes of Health Research) and presenters included:

  1. Dr. Todd Hatchette, Chief, Division of Microbiology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Nova Scotia Health Authority & Professor, Department of Pathology, Dalhousie University (Setting the Stage – Lyme diagnostics – The Current State of Affairs)
  2. Dr. John Aucott, Director, Lyme disease Clinical Research Center, Division of Rheumatology, Johns Hopkins University (Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome and Chronic Lyme Disease)
  3. Ms. Sally Mavin, Clinical Scientist, National Lyme Borreliosis Testing Laboratory (Inverness, Scotland) (Development of the Lyme Diagnostic Service in Scotland)
  4. Dr. Mark Duncan, Professor, School of Medicine, Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, University of Colorado (The Challenges in Developing a Lyme Disease Diagnostic: Lessons from Oncology)

The BBE offered an opportunity for key stakeholders from across sectors, jurisdictions and disciplines to respectfully share insight and unique perspectives on the topic of Lyme disease diagnostics, in an "in-camera" setting. BBE participants included senior level policy makers from across the Health Portfolio, Canadian leaders in microbiology, immunology, infection and public health research and innovation, Canada Research Chairs, Scientific Directors from national laboratories and infectious disease collaborating centers, veterinarians and clinicians, among others.

Canada as a Leader in the Development and Deployment of Precision/Personalized Medicine

Hosted by CIHR in collaboration with the Healthcare Innovation Secretariat.

The BBE was designed to provide the Advisory Panel for Healthcare Innovation with research evidence regarding the current and potential future impact of precision/personalized medicine on the Canadian healthcare system.

Vitamin D fortification of the food supply: Are changes to the existing vitamin D policy warranted?

Hosted by CIHR and Health Canada in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The BBE brought together key researchers and decision makers to share the best available scientific evidence and potential implications on policy decisions related to vitamin D fortification, and discuss what changes to the current vitamin D fortification policy are required based on current scientific evidence and Health Canada’s public health goal for vitamin D.


  • Christine L. Taylor, US Food & Drug Administration (Retired)
  • Kevin Cashman, Professor, School of Food & Nutritional Sciences, University College, Cork
  • Stephanie Atkinson, Professor, Department of Pediatric Associate Member, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University & Special Professional Staff member, McMaster Children’s Hospital
  • Hope Weiler, Associate Professor and Registered Dietitian, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University


  • Phil Sherman, Scientific Director, Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Achievement of Optimal Vaccine Coverage Rates in Canada: Identifying and Addressing the Problem of Vaccine Hesitancy

Hosted by CIHR in collaboration with the Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Infectious Diseases, Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada.

The BBE focused on the following objectives:

  1. Develop a shared understanding among traditional and non-traditional sectors of what vaccine hesitancy is, how/why it is manifesting and key influencing factors for vaccine hesitant parents;
  2. Gain a better understanding of innovative interventions and best practices that encourage positive behavioural change, with consideration to issues of public confidence and trust;
  3. Increase knowledge among researchers, key traditional and non-traditional sector stakeholders and policy/decision makers of the latest research evidence that exists and identify opportunities for continued engagement with experts; and,
  4. Consider strategies and approaches that immunization policy makers could use to achieve desired levels of immunization acceptance and uptake in Canada, including public policy interventions where behaviour change was a focus.


  • Eve Dubé, Anthropologist; Principal Researcher, Infectious and Immune Diseases; Associate Professor, Social and Preventative Medicine, and Anthropology, Laval University
  • Kim Corace, Assistant Professor, Medicine and Psychology, University of Ottawa; Adjunct Professor, Carleton University; Clinical Investigator, Institute of Mental Health Research, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • Kristen Feemster, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania; Attending Physician, Division
  • Oliver Bernard, Pharmacist


  • Ian Graham, Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa & Senior Scientist, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
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