IHSPR Institute Advisory Board Members – Biographies

Christina Weise (Chair)
President and CEO
Weise Insights Ltd

Christina Weise is the President and CEO of Weise Insights Ltd and most recently was the Chief Executive Officer of Research Manitoba which promotes and provides support for research in health, natural and social sciences, engineering and humanities in Manitoba. Christina has a Masters degree in public administration from the University of Manitoba. She is a public administrator with more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing public policy in the areas of research and innovation and in managing funds and programs to support research. Prior to joining Research Manitoba, Christina was with the Manitoba Department of Innovation, Energy and Mines as Director, Research and Innovation Policy where she oversaw the administration of over $20 million to support research in Manitoba. Christina serves on numerous Boards including as Vice Chair of the Institute Advisory Board with the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, and as members of the Dean’s External Advisory Committee for the Faculty of Science, University of Manitoba, of the Health In Common Board of Directors and of the Advisory Council for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.


Katie Aubrecht, PhD
Canada Research Chair in Health Equity and Social Justice
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Dr. Katie Aubrecht is Canada Research Chair in Health Equity and Social Justice and Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Aubrecht has a PhD in Sociology of Education from University of Toronto, and is an alumnus of the inaugural cohort of the CIHR IHSPR Health System Impact (HSI) Fellows. As Director of the Canadian Foundation for Innovation Spatializing Care: Intersectional Disability Studies Lab, she leads an interdisciplinary research program that maps health services, social policies and community resources related to marginality, mental health and resilience across the life span, with a focus on rural communities in Atlantic Canada. Aubrecht’s teaching and research as a health sociologist draw on intersectional disability studies, gerontology and participatory, decolonizing and arts-informed qualitative research methods to analyze disability, aging and mental health education, policy and practice. As part of this program of work she explores creative cross-sectoral approaches to person- and family-centred dementia, mental and behavioural health care. Aubrecht has status as Adjunct Professor in Family Studies and Gerontology at Mount Saint Vincent University and Dalhousie University’s School of Health and Human Performance. Her contributions to initiatives to support patient and citizen engagement and knowledge translation in health research have been recognized through an appointment as Associate Scientist with the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit. She has served as President and Executive Board Member on the Canadian Disability Studies Association, and as Board Director for Canadian Centre on Disability Studies, and Mental Health Research Canada.


Thomas Beaudry
Engagement and Reconciliation Community Coordinator
Department of Sustainable Development
Province of Manitoba

Residing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thomas is a proud Anishanaabe man; a proud father of three (two young men and a young woman); and a mishoom of two boys. He is a graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER), with a certificate in Environmental Protection, with the focus on environmental-related issues concerning Indigenous Peoples and communities. Thomas is currently employed with the Province of Manitoba, Agriculture and Resource Development, as an Engagement and Reconciliation Community Coordinator.

Thomas’ goal is to work with Indigenous Peoples and communities, NGOs and government in the area of environment and health, applying traditional knowledge towards creating healthy environments, people and communities. As well as to work at a local, national and international level on Aboriginal issues related to the health, environment and development.

Thomas sits on the George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation’s (CHI), (Manitoba’s SPOR SUPPORT Unit) Executive Council, helping to inform the Centre’s strategic direction and governance. He also sits on CHI’s Patient/Public Engagement Collaborative Partnership, helping to inform all of CHI’s patient/public engagement in health research activities. Thomas was a caregiver partner on Dr. Maya Jeyaraman’s research study on ER wait times, which has won a SPOR CIHR PIHCI Knowledge Synthesis grant, as well as Dr. Tara Stewart and Dr. Malcom Doupe’s CIHR grant proposal about subacute care. He also sits on the University of Manitoba’s College of Pharmacy Experiential Education Advisory Committee as a patient partner. Thomas completed CHI’s Academic Health Sciences Leadership Program.

'It is time to be comfortable being uncomfortable with one another when collaborating on the issues that need to be addressed. This is in a respectful and safe environment'.


Arlene Bierman
Director of Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement (CEPI)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Arlene S. Bierman, M.D., M.S., is director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement (CEPI) consisting of five divisions: the Evidence-Based Practice Center Program; the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Program; Digital Healthcare Research; Practice Improvement; and Healthcare Delivery and Systems Research; as well as the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research. Dr. Bierman is a general internist, geriatrician and health services researcher whose work has focused on improving access, quality and outcomes of health care for older adults with chronic illness in disadvantaged populations and has published widely in these areas. Dr. Bierman has also developed strategies for using performance measurement as a tool for knowledge translation, as well as conducted research to increase policymakers’ uptake of evidence.

As tenured professor she held appointments Health Policy, Evaluation, and Management; Public Health; and Medicine; and Nursing at the University of Toronto, where she was the inaugural holder of the Ontario Women's Health Council Chair in Women's Health and a senior scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael's Hospital. She was principal investigator for the Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report Card (POWER) study, which provided actionable data to help policymakers and health care providers improve health and reduce health inequities in Ontario.

Dr. Bierman has served on many advisory committees including the Geriatric Measurement Advisory Panel of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the boards of Health Quality Ontario, and the National Center of Excellence National Initiative for Care of the Elderly (NICE). She received her MD degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill where she was a Morehead Fellow. She completed fellowships in Outcomes Research at Dartmouth Medical School, and Community and Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and also served as an Atlantic Philanthropies Health and Aging Policy Fellow/American Political Science Foundation Congressional Fellow.


Irfan Dhalla
Vice-President, Care Experience and Equity, Unity Health Toronto
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine and Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto

Irfan Dhalla is Vice-President, Care Experience and Equity at Unity Health Toronto. In this role, he works with colleagues to help the organization achieve its vision: The Best Care Experiences. Created Together. Irfan also continues to practice general internal medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital, one of Unity Health Toronto’s 3 sites.

From 2013 to 2019, Irfan was a Vice-President at Health Quality Ontario, a government agency established by the Excellent Care for All Act in 2011. He and his colleagues there transformed the way the government agency supported a health care system that serves 14 million people. He oversaw the work the organization does to support HQO’s recommendations about which health care services should be publicly funded, and he also led the development of a new program to make recommendations about standards of care. This programs continues to thrive at Ontario Health, an organization created through the merger of HQO and several other provincial government agencies.

Irfan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of British Columbia, a medical degree from the University of Toronto, a master’s degree in health policy, planning and financing from the London School of Economics, which he pursued as a Commonwealth Scholar, and a master’s degree in health care management from Harvard University.

Irfan’s work has been recognized with awards from many organizations, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Canadian Society of Internal Medicine, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health and the Toronto Star. He is regularly asked to serve on provincial or federal advisory committees. Most recently, he has been co-chairing the federal government’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel.


Antoine Groulx, MD, MSc, FCFP
Family Physician
Full Professor, Clinical Medicine, Université Laval
General Director, Alliance santé Québec
Scientific Director, Quebec SPOR Unit

Antoine Groulx is a family physician and training manager with experience in unions, administrative positions and professional associations. He previously served as president of the Quebec College of Family Physicians and as the assistant deputy minister for Quebec’s Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, where his work focused on community service integration, data reflexivity, and user, decision maker and clinician empowerment.

A Full Professor of Clinical Medicine at Université Laval, he finds the time to balance his family life with clinical, teaching and research work and his job as clinical lead. He is the general director of Alliance santé Québec, a value-creating and sustainable health learning network. He actively contributes to the emerging learning health system structured around the Quebec Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) Support Unit, and will become SPOR’s scientific director in 2021.


Alies Maybee
Patient Partner
Co-founder, Patient Advisors Network (PAN)

Alies Maybee brings her patient, caregiver and technology background to her commitment as a patient partner.

At her local hospital, Alies co-designed and was the initial co-chair of the Community Engagement Council and continues as a patient and family advisor. She collaborates with Ontario Health on the Toronto Region Digital/Virtual Care Task Force, co-chairs the Citizens’ Panel’s Digital Health Working Group for the local health authority and is involved in establishing her local Ontario Health Team. In the research area, Alies was one of the initial citizen members of the Research Management Committee of the Canadian Frailty Network for nearly 4 years. She led the SPOR funded OSSU Demonstration project examining the experience of patient partners in research and developed tools to support patient partners. She has also been on the ARTIC Operational Committee focusing on scale and spread of proven interventions and the Patient Engagement Advisory Committee focused on supporting primary care research. Currently Alies is on the INSPIRE Operations Committee, the Ontario BeACCoN PHICI Network, the National Patient Council and the National Leadership Council for the PHICI Network. She has also been a patient partner on over six research projects since 2014. Alies has also taken the PaCER course out of the University of Alberta that trains patients and caregivers to be community researchers.

And finally, she is one of 12 co-founders of the Patient Advisors Network (PAN), a national community of practice for patient and family advisors. PAN is a fully independent association of patient partners in Canada and as such, is unique.


Kimberlyn McGrail, MPH PhD
Professor, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, School of Population and Public Health
Director of Research, UBC Health
Scientific Director, Population Data BC
Scientific Director, Health Data Research Network Canada

Kimberlyn McGrail is a Professor in the UBC School of Population and Public Health and Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, Director of Research for UBC Health, and Scientific Director of Population Data BC and Health Data Research Network Canada. Her research interests are quantitative policy evaluation and all aspects of population data science. In 2019-2020 she participated as a member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Task Force on AI4Health. She is currently a Canadian representative to with the Global Partnership for AI as part of the data governance working group, and a member of the Expert Working Group for the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy. She holds a PhD in Health Care and Epidemiology from the University of British Columbia, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan.


Anne Snowdon
Professor, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Chair, World Health Innovation Network (WIN)
University of Windsor
Odette School of Business

Dr. Anne Snowdon is a Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and the Chair of the World Health Innovation Network (WIN), at the University of Windsor, Odette School of Business. Dr. Snowdon leads the work of the first Canadian health innovation centre with formal ties to the U.S., building collaborative partnerships between the two countries to advance the health of populations, accelerate health system innovation in both countries to achieve sustainability, economic value and productivity by providing support for innovators and entrepreneurs to successfully bring their discoveries to the Canadian, US and world markets.

Currently, Dr. Snowdon is leading over 15 innovation research initiatives across seven Canadian provinces that collaborate with government, health professionals, private industry, foundations and families. She is a member of the Ontario Health Innovation Council and former Chair of the Institute Advisory Board for the Institute for Human Development, Child and Youth Health, of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). She has also been appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee on Digital Health Innovation at CIHR, is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Alberta Innovates, and is an Expert Advisor to the Canadian Space Agency focused on Space, Health and Innovation: Emerging challenges, new opportunities and benefits to society.

She is also an Associate Professor to the adjunct academic staff of the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University, Adjunct Faculty at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Windsor, and Adjunct Faculty at the School of Nursing at Dalhousie University.

Dr. Snowdon has published more than 140 research articles, papers and cases, has received over $22 million in research funding, holds patents, and has commercialized a highly successful booster seat product for children traveling in vehicles. She holds a PhD in Nursing from the University of Michigan. She is a Fulbright Scholar, and received the CIHR Partnership Award for her partnership with the automotive industry focused on injury prevention for children.


Vasanthi Srinivasan, PhD
Executive Director
Ontario Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) SUPPORT Unit

Dr. Vasanthi Srinivasan is the founding Executive Director of the Ontario Strategy for Patient- Oriented Research (SPOR) SUPPORT Unit. Until December 2013, Vasanthi was the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Health Systems Strategy and Policy Division. She was also the lead for the research program for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.  She has held several senior management positions at the federal and provincial levels of government.

Vasanthi holds a PHD from the University of Ottawa and has led several key policy and research initiatives. She has served at the national and international levels in social policy areas such as health and immigration with a particular focus on seniors, aboriginal peoples and women's issues. During her tenure in the Policy Research Initiative of the Privy Council Office of Canada, she was seconded to the Cabinet Office in the United Kingdom to the Performance and Innovation Unit. While in London, she co-authored a white paper on Immigration and Integration Issues and created the Strategic Futures Group that led horizontal policy development for Whitehall, the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland. Vasanthi was awarded the prestigious Head of the Public Service of Canada Award for her work on the Metropolis Project established to conduct policy research on immigration and integration in cities lead by Canada and involving 18 countries. As Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Vasanthi was the lead of two teams that won the coveted Amethyst Awards for the Ontario Mental Health and Addiction Strategy and for the work of the Trilateral Committee addressing First Nations and Aboriginal issues.


Ross Upshur BA (Hons.), MA, MD, MSc, CCFP, FRCPC
Head, Division of Clinical Public Health
Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Dr. Ross Upshur is currently the Head of the Division of Clinical Public Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Scientific Director, Bridgepoint Collaboratory for Research and Innovation and Assistant Director of the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System. He is a Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. In 2015, Dr. Upshur was named one of the Top 20 Pioneers in Family Medicine Research and Family Medicine Researcher of the Year, by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Dr. Upshur is the former Director of the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (2006-2011) and was Canada Research Chair in Primary Care Research (2005-2015). He is a member of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Dr. Upshur's research focuses on the intersection of primary care and public health. His current interests include managing complex chronic disease in aging adults, clinical measurement, the concept of evidence in health care, philosophy of medicine including medical epistemology and the integration of ethics and clinical reasoning, public health ethics, global health ethics, empirical approaches in bioethics, primary care research methods, time series applications in health services research, communicable disease and environmental epidemiology. He has been a consultant for the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Public Health Agency of Canada.


Pamela Valentine, PhD
President & CEO
MS Society of Canada

A trained research scientist, Dr. Valentine joined the MS Society of Canada as President and CEO in 2018 from Alberta Innovates where she spent over a decade and a half leading innovation and change, including significantly growing the health research portfolio and strengthening integration of research and health systems to maximize impact for patients and providers. Before joining Alberta Innovates Health Solutions, Dr. Valentine was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary and a member of the Epilepsy and Brain Circuits Program at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. She received many awards and scholarships while she attained her PhD, MSc, and BSc in psychology, all from the University of Calgary.

Pam is a strong advocate for policy and system changes that improve the lives of people affected by neurological conditions and is passionate about creating awareness of challenges faced by persons living with disabilities. With an appetite for community involvement, she currently serves as a board of trustee member for the MS International Federation; an executive committee member of the International Progressive MS Alliance; an executive committee member of Patient Reported Outcomes Initiative for MS (PROMS); a member of the Canada Post Accessibility Advisory Panel; a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee, Ontario Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) Support Unit; a scientific advisory board member for SPOR Evidence Alliance; a member of CIHR Institute Advisory Board for Health Services & Policy Research; and a member of the Health Charities Coalition of Canada.


Jocelyne (Jo) Voisin
Associate Assistant Deputy Minister
Strategic Policy Branch
Health Canada

Jo Voisin is Associate Assistant Deputy Minister at Health Canada's Strategic Policy Branch. Jo returned to Health Canada in 2020 to support Canada’s efforts to fight COVID-19 after two years working in youth employment policy. In her ten years working at Health Canada, she was instrumental in the negotiation of the Common Statement of Principles and health agreements with provinces and territories in 2017, focused on funding for home and community care, and mental health and addictions. She occupied several executive leadership positions, including in federal-provincial-territorial relations, health product regulation, horizontal policy and public health. Jo also worked in social policy at the Privy Council Office, and in economic policy at Treasury Board Secretariat and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Jo is an avid weekend and vacation cyclist, as well as an artist.


Verna Yiu
President and CEO
Alberta Health Services

An accomplished leader in the academic and healthcare sectors, Dr. Verna Yiu has been involved in public sector governance for over two decades. She is currently the President and CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS), Canada’s first and largest province-wide health system providing integrated care to more than 4.3 million Albertans. AHS has been recognized as a national and international leader in many clinical and administrative areas including: being named as one of the top 5 most integrated healthcare systems out of 40 countries, having one of the top 3 best health supply chain management systems in the world, and awarded one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for four consecutive years.

Dr. Yiu is guided by the principle that healthcare is a people business, built upon strong and collaborative relationships. Creating the stability and vision that people and organizations need to succeed, strengthened within the objectives of Quadruple Aim, have been hallmarks of her governance style – first in her role as Interim Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta and now in her current role. Since taking the reins of AHS in January 2016, Dr. Yiu has strengthened relationships with AHS’ many partners, including government; academic institutions; health foundations; the AHS workforce; patients, clients and families; and communities across Alberta. By doing so, AHS has bolstered community engagement, collaborated on world-class research, led the country in many health performance indicators and met budget targets – all with the most efficient and leanest healthcare administrations in Canada.

Dr. Yiu previously served as Vice President, Quality and Chief Medical Officer in AHS from 2012-2016. Prior to the role of Interim Dean in 2011, she was Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Medicine/Dentistry from 2008-2011 and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs from 2000-2008. She has won numerous awards for teaching and clinical excellence and also chaired the Specialty of Nephrology for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for 6 years. Dr. Yiu is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and continues to practice as a pediatric nephrologist.

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