ICR Institute Advisory Board Members – Biographies

Christine Williams (Chair)
Deputy Director
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR)

Dr. Christine Williams is Deputy Director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), which both performs and enables collaborative cancer research to have global patient impact and bring economic benefit to Ontario. Dr. Williams works with OICR’s executive team and scientific leaders to determine strategic directions and priorities of the Institute’s research programs in adaptive oncology, therapeutic innovation and clinical translation. In her role she also acts as a liaison between the scientific activities of the Institute and its management, including measuring and communicating the impact of OICR research. Dr. Williams is also responsible for developing and maintaining productive relationships with a broad range of provincial, national and international stakeholders including academic, industry and government partners.

Dr. Williams received an undergraduate degree in Life Sciences from Queen’s University and a PhD in Immunology from the University of Toronto. She received postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University where she studied the molecular pathways involved in the development of leukemia and lymphoma in children. Prior to her role at OICR, Dr. Williams had various leadership positions over a decade at the Canadian Cancer Society, most recently as its Chief Mission Officer & Scientific Director, responsible for program delivery, information, policy, advocacy and research activities nationwide.

In addition to her role as Deputy Director, OICR, Dr. Williams is involved in many boards and advisory committees, including as past chair of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance.

Nathalie Baudais
Senior Transportation Engineer, City of Saskatoon
Co-chair, Rethink MBC Advisory Board
Peer facilitator, Breast Cancer Support Saskatoon

Nathalie is an advocate for metastatic breast cancer and cancer research. She is passionate about advancing cancer research and providing support programs for cancer patients. She has participated in the Canadian Cancer Research Conference (CCRC) patient involvement program and the BiocanRX learning institute. She was a member of the Scientific Planning Committee for CCRC in 2019 and will be part of the committee for the upcoming conference in 2021.

Nathalie was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2008, and with metastatic breast cancer in 2011. She has had many treatments including multiple surgeries, chemotherapy regimens, radiation therapies, and a clinical trial with biphosphonates. She has the BRCA1 genetic mutation. Nathalie is a Senior Transportation Engineer for the City of Saskatoon, co-chair of the Rethink MBC Advisory Board, and a peer facilitator for Breast Cancer Support Saskatoon.

Jason Berman
CEO and Scientific Director of the CHEO Research Institute and the Vice President Research at CHEO
Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa

Jason Berman completed a clinical fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital and post-doctoral training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute funded by the prestigious Pediatric Scientist Development Program. He was recruited to Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre in 2005 as the named MSC Clinician-Scientist in Pediatric Oncology. He became Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology at Dalhousie University and Associate Chair Research for the Department of Pediatrics. He was awarded the Peggy Davison Clinician Scientist Award and Excellence in Innovation Award by CancerCare Nova Scotia. In 2017, he assumed the role of interim Vice President Research at the IWK Health Centre. He relocated to Ottawa in 2019 to assume the role of CEO and Scientific Director of the CHEO Research Institute and Vice President Research at CHEO. He is a full professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Berman is internationally recognized for pioneering research using the zebrafish to study childhood cancers, cancer predisposition syndromes and rare inherited diseases. He has been a member of the Children’s Oncology Group Myeloid Committee since 2008 and is co-chair of an international trial of risk-stratified therapy in Down syndrome myeloid leukemia. He is former co-chair of the C17 Canadian Childhood Cancer Network Developmental Therapeutics Committee. He is outgoing President of the Canadian Society of Clinical Investigation and incoming President of the Canadian Hematology Society. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

Parveen Bhatti
Principal Investigator, Cancer Epidemiology & Prevention, Cancer Control Research, BC Cancer
Adjunct Professor, School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Dr. Parveen Bhatti is an epidemiologist at BC Cancer and serves as Scientific Director of the British Columbia Generations Project, one of the population-based cohort studies contributing to the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health. After graduating with a B.Sc. in Cell Biology and Genetics (1998) and M.Sc. in Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (2000), both from the University of British Columbia, Dr. Bhatti completed a PhD in Environmental Epidemiology at the University of Washington (2006). He went on to pursue post-doctoral work in molecular epidemiology with the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. In 2009, Dr. Bhatti became a faculty member in the Division of Public Health Sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. In 2018, he joined BC Cancer where his research continues to focus on the use of molecular markers to improve understanding of cancer risk factors as a means to identify potential targets for intervention or biomarkers for early cancer diagnosis. His research interests include pharmacoepidemiology, impacts of early childhood exposures to environmental pollutants, and epigenetic and metabolomic mediators of cancer risk. Dr. Bhatti’s research in nightshift work and cancer, in particular, is broadly recognized. In 2019, he served on the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Committee that reviewed evidence for carcinogenicity of nightshift work.

Kimberly D. Brewer
Scientist, Biomedical Translational Imaging Centre (BIOTIC)
QEII and IWK Health Science Centres
Assistant Professor, Departments of Diagnostic Radiology, Microbiology & Immunology
Dalhousie University

Dr. Kim Brewer received her PhD at Dalhousie University and completed post-doctoral fellowships in industry (with a cancer pharmaceutical company) and at Stanford University at their prestigious Molecular Imaging Program (MIPS). She is currently a research scientist at IWK Health Centre and Nova Scotia Health Authority and is also appointed as an assistant professor in Diagnostic Radiology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS with cross-appointments in Physics, Biomedical Engineering and Microbiology & Immunology. Dr. Brewer leads the preclinical research program at the Biomedical Translational Imaging Centre (BIOTIC) in Halifax. Dr. Brewer is also an associate member of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and serves on their Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) scholarship committee. The main focus of Dr. Brewer’s research is the application of molecular imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to the development and evaluation of novel cancer immunotherapies. Dr. Brewer is particularly interested in using MRI to monitor changes in the immune microenvironment in response to cancer and immunotherapies and whether these changes can be used to improve combinations and the implementation of clinical therapies.

Juliet Daniel
Cancer Biologist, Faculty of Science, McMaster University
Associate Dean of Research and External Relations, Faculty of Science, McMaster University

Professor Juliet Daniel is a Cancer Biologist and the Associate Dean of Research and External Relations in the Faculty of Science at McMaster University. She received her BSc from Queen’s University, her PhD from UBC, and completed Postdoctoral studies at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Prof. Daniel’s research is focused on elucidating the role of the transcription factor Kaiso in cancer and vertebrate development. Her team is also currently elucidating the molecular/genetic causes of the disparities in incidence and poor outcomes of triple negative breast cancer in Black women. In recognition of her research and community service, Prof. Daniel has received several awards including the inaugural Canadian Cancer Society Inclusive Excellence Award, an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill, a UWI Vice Chancellor’s Award, and a WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award among many others.

Martin Hirst
Head, Epigenomics, BC Cancer Genome Sciences Centre
Director, Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium Network
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Associate Director, Michael Smith Laboratories
University of British Columbia

Dr. Hirst is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Associate Director of the Michael Smith Laboratory at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Senior Scientist and Head of Epigenomics at Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at BC Cancer. Over the last decade, he has led the development of an internationally recognized epigenomic research program at BC Cancer and UBC. He leads the Centre of Epigenomic Mapping Technologies (CEMT) that represents one of two Canadian epigenomic mapping centres funded as part of the CIHR signature initiative; the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC). Dr. Hirst chairs the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Human Epigenome Consortium and leads the Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium Network with a mandate to drive epigenetic research in Canada and internationally.

Dr. Hirst received a TFRI New Investigator Award (2015) and UBC Killam Research Prize (2018) and has been cited over 48,000 times (Clarivate, 2018 Highly Cited Researcher). His research focuses on understanding epigenetic dysfunction in cancer and his laboratory develops experimental and computational tools to characterize normal and transformed cell types down to the single cell level. He applies these tools to explore the epigenomic states of normal and transformed cell types to discover and exploit therapeutic vulnerabilities.

Bertrand J. Jean-Claude
Professor of Medicine, McGill University Health Centre,
Director, CTB Drug Discovery Platform
Associate Leader, Metabolic Disorder & Complication Program
Director, Drug Development Training Program
Director, Cancer Drug Research Laboratory
Chief Coordinator, Graduate Diploma in Clinical Research
The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
Department of Medicine, McGill University

Bertrand J. Jean-Claude, PhD is Director of the CTB Drug Discovery Platform at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and Associate Leader of the Metabolic Disease and Complications Program (MeDiC). An Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University, he has received many awards, including the Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC)- Cancer Research Society (CRS) partnered award, the US Department of Defence New Investigator Award and the Fonds de recherche du Québec Santé (FRQS) Senior Investigator Award. His research program focuses on a novel tumour targeting approach initiated in his Cancer Drug Research Laboratory, termed “the Combi-Targeting concept.” This approach seeks to confer signaling inhibitory properties to potent DNA damaging agents with the purpose of interfering with mechanisms that lead to apoptosis. The first proof-of-concept synthesis of a novel molecule capable of targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and damaging DNA made Dr. Jean-Claude a pioneer in the rational design of dual targeted kinase inhibitors. He is currently applying the new combi-targeting approach to immune-oncology. In addition to directing a research laboratory and a technological platform, Dr. Jean-Claude leads two major training programs at McGill University: the Graduate Diploma in Clinical Research and the Drug Development Training Program (DDTP).

Hanne Ostergaard
Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, University of Alberta
Director, Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta, University of Alberta

Dr. Ostergaard completed both her B.Sc. in Cellular and Molecular Biology and PhD in Immunology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  Following completion of her PhD she undertook postdoctoral studies at The Salk Institute during which time she was supported by a Damon-Runyon Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fund Fellowship and then a Leukemia Society of America Fellowship. She then moved to the University of Alberta as an Assistant Professor and is currently a Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology.  She was director for seven years of the Immunology Network, and Associate Dean, Research (Graduate Programs) for the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry from 2012-2020.  She has served on numerous peer review committees locally, nationally and internationally and was a member of the Advisory Council on Research for the Canadian Cancer Society for eight years.  She was the President of the Canadian Society for Immunology and organized a number of its annual meetings.  She has been an Associate Editor of the Journal of Immunology and served on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Biological Chemistry.  She is currently the Director of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta at the University of Alberta.  Her research centers on cytotoxic T lymphocytes of the immune system and how they recognize and kill cancer cells.  She is focused on mechanistic studies that examine the cell biology of how these cytotoxic cells migrate and function and how different populations of CD8 T cells suppress tumor grown. 

Erika D. Penz, SM MD MSc FRCPC
Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Respirology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
Program Director, Respirology Fellowship Training Program

Dr. Penz is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Respirology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and Program Director for the Respirology Fellowship Training Program. She is an adjunct scientist with the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council (HQC) and a member of the Respiratory Research Centre, University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Penz completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan in 1996 and Master’s of Science in Health Policy and Management in 2001 at the Harvard School of Public Health. She went on to complete her medical degree from McMaster University in 2004 followed by Internal Medicine (2008) and Respiratory Fellowship training (2010) at the University of Calgary. She pursued a Master’s in Health Economics from the University of York, UK followed by a research fellowship in Health Economics in 2013. She took her first faculty appointment at the University of Saskatchewan in September 2013.

Her program of research relates to studying the burden of disease in society in order to understand 1) the personal impact chronic disease has on individuals in terms of quality of life, productivity, and mortality; 2) the health care system impact in terms of health service utilization, costs, budget and system capacity; and 3) how therapeutic interventions improve health system outcomes in a cost-effective way. She uses tools such as decision analytic models, cost-effectiveness analysis alongside clinical trials, and large administrative databases to study health outcomes at a population level. Given that respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, contribute greatly to morbidity and mortality in society, her research has focused largely on these diseases.

Trevor Pugh, PhD, FACMG
Director, Joint Genomic Program, University Health Network
Director, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR)
Associate Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto
Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Senior Investigator, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Dr. Trevor Pugh, PhD, FACMG is a cancer genomics researcher, board-certified molecular geneticist, and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Translational Genomics. He is Director of the Joint Genomics Program of the University Health Network and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research which delivers basic, translational, and clinically-accredited genomics services. He is also appointed as Associate Professor in the University of Toronto Department of Medical Biophysics, Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and Senior Investigator at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. His research lab is focused on understanding clinical implications of clonal shifts in cancer and non-cancerous cell populations during treatment, most recently using cell-free DNA, immune repertoire, and single cell RNA-seq sequencing. Most recently, he was recognized by Canada's Top 40 Under 40, the Canadian Cancer Society Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize, a Terry Fox New Investigator Award, and inclusion on the Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers List.

Lee-Hwa Tai, PhD
CRMUS Chair in Translational Immunotherapy Research
Associate Professor / Professeure Agrégée, Université de Sherbrooke, Département d’Immunologie et de Biologie Cellulaire, Faculté de Médecine et des Sciences de la Santé

Dr. Lee-Hwa Tai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Immunology and Cell Biology at Université de Sherbrooke. Her research focuses on understanding the immune response to viro-immunotherapies and cancer vaccines. She obtained her PhD in Immunology at McGill University in the lab of Dr. Andrew Makrigiannis at the IRCM where she discovered MHC-I regulation of plasmacytoid dendritic cell function. Dr. Tai then joined Dr. Rebecca Auer’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow at the OHRI. Her work in the Auer lab aimed at understanding postoperative immunosuppression and developing novel virotherapies to fight colorectal cancer. Dr. Tai’s discoveries in the field of tumor immunology and viro-immunotherapy led her to win a prestigious Scholarship for the Next Generation of Scientists from the Cancer Research Society, which provided an operating grant to start her own lab. In 2016, Dr. Tai was recruited as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Immunology at the Université de Sherbrooke, and as a researcher at the CRCHUS. In that same year, she won a Junior 1 Researcher-Scholar award from FRQS and a New Investigator Award from CIHR – demonstrating her excellent research potential. Since then, Dr. Tai has obtained operating funds from NSERC, CIHR; equipment funds from JR Evans Leaders’ CFI; and a Université de Sherbrooke CRMUS Chair in Translational Immunotherapy Research.

Robin Urquhart
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology/Department of Surgery and Division of Medical Education, Dalhousie University
Senior Scientist, Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute
Affiliate Scientist, Nova Scotia Health
Nova Scotia Lead, Atlantic Cancer Consortium
Scientific Director, Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (Atlantic PATH)

Dr. Robin Urquhart is an Associate Professor and Canadian Cancer Society (Nova Scotia Division) Endowed Chair in Population Cancer Research in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, with cross-appointments in the Department of Surgery and Division of Medical Education at Dalhousie University. She is a Senior Scientist with the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and an Affiliate Scientist at Nova Scotia Health. Dr. Urquhart is also the Nova Scotia Lead of the Atlantic Cancer Consortium and Scientific Director of the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (Atlantic PATH). Dr. Urquhart is a health services researcher and implementation scientist. Spanning the entire cancer continuum, from primary prevention to survivorship and end-of-life care, her research examines issues related to access, quality, equity, and effectiveness in cancer care and control, and investigates ways to improve care delivery and resultant patient, family, population, and health system outcomes.

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