INMD Institute Advisory Board Members – Biographies

Chris Kennedy (Chair)
Senior Scientist
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute & Kidney Research Centre
Professor
Departments of Medicine & Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa

Christopher Kennedy received his Bachelor of Science (Cum Laude) in 1992 followed by a Doctoral degree in 1997 as an NSERC scholar under the supervision of Drs. Pierre R. Proulx and Richard L. Hébert at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Kennedy continued his training, focussing on the role of prostaglandins in renal disease progression as a fellow of the National Kidney Foundation in the Division of Nephrology at Vanderbilt University, under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Breyer. In 2000, Dr. Kennedy returned to Canada where he is a Senior Scientist within the Chronic Disease Program and Kidney Research Centre at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine / Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Kennedy's research program has been funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the Kidney Foundation of Canada (KFOC), and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. He was a CIHR New Investigator Scholar. He has held CIHR operating grants continuously since 2001, seeking to identify factors such as prostaglandins and reactive oxygen species responsible for mediating damage to cells within the kidney's filtration barrier – known as podocytes. Such injury results in abnormal leakage of protein into the urine. Identifying the specific factors responsible for filtration barrier injury may reveal a novel therapeutic target for the prevention of glomerular diseases. Most recently, his work defined a critical role for a novel NADPH oxidase isoform (Nox5) in diabetic kidney disease. Dr. Kennedy's KFOC-funded research has shed light on how mutations in the alpha-actinin-4 gene lead to an inherited form of a common kidney disease - focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). This research project employs transgenic technology to reproduce this disease state in mice so that its progression can be better studied and novel therapies developed.

Dr. Kennedy has served as a member and is currently Scientific Officer of the CIHR Haematology, Digestive Disease & Kidney (HDK) open operating grant peer review committee. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Council on Animal Care.


Julie Ho (Vice-Chair)
Associate Professor
Departments of Internal Medicine & Immunology
Sections of Nephrology and Biomedical Proteomics
College of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Manitoba

Dr. Ho is a transplant nephrologist and clinician-scientist at the University of Manitoba. She is a principal investigator at the Manitoba Center for Proteomics and Systems Biology and Medical Director for Quality and Innovation Program, Transplant Manitoba Adult Kidney Program. Her translational research interests focus on using different proteomic approaches to improve our understanding of the human responses to early renal injury, and to use these data to develop new diagnostic or therapeutic targets to improve kidney transplant and patient outcomes. The focus is on three key inflammatory states that negatively impact outcomes and occur throughout the lifespan of a renal transplant: ischemia reperfusion injury, subclinical T-cell mediated rejection and chronic active T-cell mediated rejection. She is presently conducting a CIHR-funded international multi-center clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of the early treatment of rejection, as detected by urine chemokines, for improving renal allograft outcomes.

Dr. Ho has received a MMSF Dr. FW DuVal Clinical Research Professorship (2014), American Society of Transplantation Clinical Science Career Development Award (2014), Canadian Society of Nephrology New Investigator Lectureship (2014) and CIHR New Investigator award (2015).


William Cefalu
Director, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institutes of Health

Dr. William T. Cefalu is the Director of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases (DEM) at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Prior to joining the NIH in August 2019, Dr. Cefalu served as Chief Scientific, Medical & Mission Officer of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). From 2012 to 2017, Dr. Cefalu was the Executive Director, the George A. Bray, Jr. Endowed Super Chair in Nutrition and a professor at Louisiana State University’s (LSU’s) Pennington Biomedical Research Center (Pennington Biomedical) in Baton Rouge, La.

During his nearly 35-year career as a physician caring for patients, a scientist and a health care expert, Dr. Cefalu has been an active leader within the endocrine and diabetes scientific and medical communities. As an extramural investigator, Dr. Cefalu had research support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for more than 25 years and was the principal investigator for two NIH research centers. His clinical and basic science research focused specifically on interventions to improve the metabolic state of individuals with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and in the cellular mechanisms for insulin resistance. In addition, over his career, he has played an active role in scholarly publications. From 2003 to 2011, he served as Associate Editor of Diabetes Care, the ADA’s clinical research and care journal, and Diabetes, the ADA’s basic science journal. From 2011-2017, he served as the editor-in-chief of Diabetes Care, and under tenure, Diabetes Care achieved the highest impact factor in its history.

Dr. Cefalu earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and his Doctor of Medicine from LSU Heath Science Center, New Orleans. He completed his Internal Medicine residency and served as chief resident at the University of California, Irvine, Veterans Affairs Long Beach Healthcare System. He completed a fellowship in Endocrinology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, Center for Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to his tenure at the ADA and Pennington Biomedical, he has also held academic appointments at Tulane University School of Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Dr. Cefalu is widely published in journals, books and book chapters, including more than 300 publications and 25 book chapters, and served as the editor of five books on the management of diabetes.


Sukhinder Cheema
Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Cross-appointed, BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Sukhinder Cheema is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is also cross-appointed in the Faculty of Medicine. She was the Deputy-Head of Graduate Studies in Biochemistry Department from 2011-2015. She joined Memorial in 1999 after her postdoctoral training at the University of Alberta. Sukhinder has more than 30 years of experience in nutritional biochemistry. The main focus of her research is the importance of maternal nutrition in the context of intergenerational health. She is specifically interested in studying “in-utero programming” of lipids and lipoproteins, and cholesterol metabolism with the goal to develop diet based therapeutic strategies. Sukhinder was awarded the CIHR New Investigator award when she joined Memorial University. She has served on CIHR, Heart & Stroke and NSERC grant review committees. Her greatest research accomplishments include working with vulnerable populations to improve health outcomes, specifically in Newfoundland and India. Sukhinder takes initiatives to work with local industries to develop novel nutraceuticals aimed at obesity, diabetes and heart disease.


Erica Samms-Hurley
Nurse Educator
Western Regional School of Nursing
Grenfell Campus-Memorial University of Newfoundland Corner Brook

Erica Samms-Hurley is a Mi’kmaq woman from Newfoundland and a member of the Qalipu First Nation. Erica earned her BN (2004) from Memorial University and her MN (2014) from Athabasca University. Over the years, she has worked as a nurse in various settings such as cardiac care, pediatrics, long term care, emergency and intensive care at the Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Erica’s career in health education has included working as a Diabetes Educator, Nurse Instructor, and most recently Nurse Educator with Grenfell Campus, Memorial University. In 2014 she completed her Master of Nursing via thesis route, with a primary focus on quantitative research, focusing on pediatric nursing and simulation with nursing students. Over a number of years, Erica has dedicated her time volunteering on numerous committees locally, provincially and nationally, such as the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s (NWAC) Youth Council and Board of Directors, NWAC’s Health Advisory Committee, and the Indigenous Women’s Fund of Canada. She has also been recognized for her achievements and contributions by the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case (Youth) and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award. Erica’s main areas of interest are education, health and the well-being of Aboriginal youth and women. She believes that research is an important aspect of nursing, and more specifically in relation to the advancement of health.


Sharon Kirkpatrick
Associate Professor, School of Public Health Sciences, University of Waterloo
Associate Director, Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, University of Waterloo

Dr. Sharon Kirkpatrick leads a public health nutrition research program in the School of Public Health Sciences at the University of Waterloo. Her research primarily focuses on understanding dietary patterns in populations and influences on these patterns, using a systems thinking lens to consider the array of factors at play. Much of her work is aimed at improving dietary assessment methodologies to foster a robust evidence base on the influence of dietary patterns on human and planetary health and on effective interventions to promote healthy and sustainable dietary patterns. She has contributed to the development of freely-available and highly-accessed resources for researchers, including an online dietary assessment primer, web-based dietary assessment tool, and diet quality index. Dr. Kirkpatrick also has longstanding interests in food security and equity. She is a Registered Dietitian and holds a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and Master of Health Science in Community Nutrition from the University of Toronto.


Vasanti S. Malik, MSc, ScD
Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Vasanti Malik is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, at the University of Toronto and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention. Dr. Malik’s research uses epidemiological and clinical approaches to study dietary and lifestyle determinants of obesity and cardiometabolic risk at different life stages and in different populations. More recent research interests of Dr. Malik include studying the environmental sustainability of diets and food systems. She is an Associate Editor for Nutrition and Health and has published over 95 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 4 book chapters. The ultimate goal of Dr. Malik's work is to inform dietary recommendations and policy strategies to support human and planetary health.


Marc Prentki
Professor of Nutrition, Université de Montréal
Director, Montreal Diabetes Research Center (MDRC)

Marc Prentki, PhD, is Professor of Nutrition at the Université de Montréal and was a Tier 1 Canadian Research Chair in Diabetes & Metabolism for two terms until July 2019. He is Director of the Montreal Diabetes Research Center (MDRC) that he founded in 2004. This center comprises 58 teams across Quebec. His research concerns the regulation of insulin secretion in the normal and diabetic situation, metabolic transduction systems and the role of glucose and lipid metabolism in energy homeostasis. His recent work has identified two therapeutic targets for cardiometabolic diseases. He currently develops drugs with industry for these two targets (ABHD6 and PGP-G3PP). He has published over 170 peer-reviewed articles collectively cited more than 28,000 times (H index=88). He was PI of three successful CFI applications in the field of cardiometabolic disorders since 2004 totalizing $38M. He codirected the first genome wide association study of a complex disorder that lead to the identification of novel type 2 diabetes genes (Nature 2007; Genome QC/CDN 2006, $16M). He was awarded the young investigator prize of the Federation of European Endocrinology Societies in 1994; the 2011 Albert Renold Award from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes; the prize of excellence of CRCHUM in 2017; a seven-year "Foundation" funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in 2015; and the prize of the founders from CMDO, QC in 2018.


Christopher Rose
Research Professor, Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal
Director, Hepato-Neuro Laboratory, Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de Université de Montréal (CRCHUM)

Dr. Christopher Rose is Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Université de Montréal. He is director of the Hepato-Neuro Laboratory, located at Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de Université de Montréal (CRCHUM). Dr. Rose is co-chair of the Research Committee of the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver and an executive committee member of the International Society for Hepatic Encephalopathy and Nitrogen Metabolism.

Dr. Rose received his PhD (Neuroscience/Biomedical Sciences) from the Université de Montréal in 2000. He continued his research interests in Europe by pursuing post-doctoral studies in Germany, Spain and Norway. He joined faculty in 2006.

Dr. Rose’s research interests lie within the area of hepatology with a particular focus on hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a major neurological complication of liver disease. HE affects close to 80% of patients with cirrhosis impacting their quality of life and resulting in significant socioeconomic burden, morbidity and mortality both pre and post-liver transplantation. Malnutrition and sarcopenia, nearly universal in patients with chronic liver disease, are intricately implicated in the pathogenesis of HE via the gut-liver-muscle-brain axis. Translational research is the primary objective of Dr. Rose’s laboratory and, therefore, his research program is based on a bench-to-bedside concept. Dr. Rose has a vested interest in deciphering the role of ammonia and the pathophysiological pathways involved in the development of HE. Identifying novel therapeutic strategies is his passion with the ultimate goal in helping to improve the management of patients living liver disease as well as bettering neurological outcome following liver transplantation.

Dr. Rose’s laboratory is currently funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Canadian Liver Foundation, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé. Dr. Rose has published over 85 scientific articles and trained over 65 students at all levels from throughout the world in his laboratory.


Laura Sly
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia

Dr. Sly is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and serves as Associate Dean, Academic in the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Sly is the Leader of the Immunity in Health and Disease group and serves on the Research Leadership Council at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. She formerly served as a member of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Council for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and is currently serving as the Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Sly hails from Winnipeg where she completed her BSc and MSc degree in Biochemistry and Microbiology. She received her PhD in Medical Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Alberta and did her postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia before she joined the faculty there in 2008.

Dr. Sly’s research includes foundational studies regarding macrophage activation in health and disease and the identification and validation of novel biochemical and/or immunotherapeutic strategies and targets to treat pathological inflammation like that which causes inflammatory bowel diseases. Her work is funded by CIHR, NSERC, GlycoNet, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). Dr. Sly has published more than 60 scholarly articles and has an h-index of 33 and an i-index of 47. She has received New Investigator awards from the CIHR (2009), the Society for Leukocyte Biology (2012), MSFHR (2012), Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CIHR INMD partnership prize; 2020), and won the Research Leadership Award from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada (2019). Dr. Sly is committed to excellence in graduate and postdoctoral education that prepares trainees to take their place among the research, scientific, and thought leaders around the world.


Laura Syron
President & CEO, Diabetes Canada
Transformational Not-for-Profit Executive

Laura is the President & CEO of Diabetes Canada, the country’s largest national charitable organization working to end diabetes. In this role, Laura leads a $35M organization with 100 staff across Canada focused on preventing, caring for people living with, and curing diabetes through investments in education, advocacy and scientific research.

Prior to leading Diabetes Canada, Laura had the privilege of steering and managing high-performance teams for three well-known not-for-profits over the past 20 years including the Arthritis Society, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Before her work in the not-for-profit sector, Laura worked in the for-profit sector at consumer packages goods leader Procter & Gamble, holding senior marketing positions in the Canada business until her move into not-for-profit.

Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She has two teenage boys and enjoys golf, yoga and cooking. In addition to her family and her professional career, Laura is a life-long volunteer.


André Tchernof, PhD
Professor, School of Nutrition, Laval University
Co-Director, Research Chair in Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery, Obesity Tissue Biobank and Obesity Research Division, Quebec Heart and Lung Institute
Principal Investigator, Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant on bariatric care - the REMISSION study

André Tchernof is a Professor at Laval University School of Nutrition since 2000. After a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry (1991), a Master’s degree (1992) and a Doctoral degree (1996) in Physiology-Endocrinology at Laval University, he trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Molecular Endocrinology (Laval University Medical Center, 1996-97) and in Endocrinology & Metabolism at the University of Vermont (1997-2000). He is co-director of the Research Chair in Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery and Obesity Tissue Biobank at the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute. He is currently the Principal Investigator of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant on bariatric care, the REMISSION study. He contributed to more than 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals. His research interests relate to the metabolic complications of obesity and body fat distribution, with a particular emphasis on adipose tissue physiology. Experimental approaches combine cellular biology techniques with biochemistry, genomics, transcriptomics and clinical investigation in humans. His research allows clinical observations to be linked with the cellular characteristics or mechanisms underlying pathophysiological conditions such as abdominal obesity and related cardiometabolic complications.


George Tolomiczenko, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
Executive Director
Merkin Institute for Translational Research
California Institute of Technology (CalTech)

Dr. Tolomiczenko serves as Executive Director of the Merkin Institute for Translational Research at Caltech. His interdisciplinary experience as a clinician, researcher, professor and administrator jointly inform his inclusive approach toward fostering cultures of innovation and entrepreneurship conducive to stakeholders aiming to translate ideas into products that improve health and healthcare delivery. Breakthroughs in science and engineering at Caltech are legendary - and numerous. Translating these research advances to improve healthcare requires breaking through barriers and adaptive tailoring to sustainably address needs and solve problems. At Caltech, Dr. Tolomiczenko works with a diverse set of internal and external stakeholders to foster collaborations that will result in new paths to cures and improved access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.

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