2019-2020 Competition


NADINE AFARI, MSc, is the Manager of Research Programs at Children's Hospital Orange County (CHOC), working closely with CHOC's first Chief Scientific Officer and the Vice Dean for Research at the University of California, Irvine. She is also an R&D Associate with The West Coast Consortium for Technology and Innovation in Pediatrics (CTIP), an FDA-funded pediatric MedTech accelerator based at USC. Her career in research, medical devices and engineering has spanned 20 years, including a teaching position at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto where she was a three-time recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award. She was lecturer with the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California for a decade. She has 10 years of medical device R&D experience at increasing levels of responsibility in academic, corporate and hospital environments. She has experience at the engineering, functional management, program management and executive levels spanning the full spectrum of product development, from customer-focused concept generation through design and development to production ramp-up and commercialization. She is driven by the desire to translate basic research into new diagnostic and therapeutic technologies that directly and positively impact people’s lives.


STEVEN ARLESS, BSc’71(Chemistry), is a prominent McGill alumnus who returned to his alma mater in the fall of 2016 as Professor of Practice in the Faculty of Medicine (now Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences) in the Department of Surgery’s cutting-edge Surgical Innovation Program. More recently, he joined one of Canada’s fastest growing medical technology accelerators, Centech, as Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

After graduating from McGill, Mr. Arless worked for 17 years at Smith & Nephew Inc., serving as President for close to five years. His experience includes extensive involvement in technology transfer and strategic acquisition projects across the United States and Canada.

His innovative talent led him to CryoCath Technologies Inc., a catheter-based cryoablation technology for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation, which he nurtured from a startup to commercial success, serving as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from 1996 to 2006, ultimately selling this to Medtronic Inc. for $400 million. Mr. Arless completed an MBA at Concordia University in 2008. He maintained his interest in the diagnosis of and minimally invasive therapies for rhythm disorders of the heart, assuming the position of CEO of Cleveland-based CardioInsight, from 2009 to 2012, with the Company ultimately being sold to Medtronic for over $100 million.

Mr. Arless is the Co-Founder and past CEO and Chairman of the Board (2015-2019) of Soundbite Medical, a Montreal-based shockwave technology company, also in the field of cardiovascular disease therapy.

His most notable award was Ernst & Young’s 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year in the life science category.


CARMELA DE LUCA, PhD’99, JD’05, is a partner with Bereskin & Parr LLP. Carmela is a lawyer and registered patent agent in Canada and the United States and practices in all areas of intellectual property, focusing on patent matters, including advising clients on strategic global aspects of obtaining and managing patent portfolios, as well as in the preparation and procurement of patents and industrial designs. She works closely with clients including startups, universities as well as multinationals in preparing and prosecuting patent applications relating to biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biologics, diagnostics, green technologies and other areas in the life sciences. Carmela is also active in the analysis of patent issues such as validity, infringement and freedom to operate. In addition, Carmela has experience advising on regulatory compliance and on plant breeder's rights.

While obtaining her Ph.D. from McGill University, Carmela conducted research in the areas of inflammation, signal transduction and virology. Prior to earning a law degree from the University of Toronto, Carmela worked as a post-doctoral fellow at a research institute of an international biotechnology company where her research focused on cancer cell biology, knock-out technologies, genetic screens and genomics.

She regularly presents at conferences, has written and presented on various aspects of intellectual property law and co-authored a number of peer-reviewed scientific publications. She has been listed as a leading practitioner in the area of patent law and has received media coverage for her novel work in the biotechnology field.

Carmela is the founding and Emeritus Co-chair and steering committee member of the Greater Montréal Chapter of Women in Bio (WIB). She is also the current chair of the Young WIB (YWIB) committee organizing STEM events for high school students. She is a faculty member of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada's (IPIC) Patent Drafting Course since 2017, and has been active with the organization for a number of years. She is involved with the Women in IP Networking Group (WING) of IPIC and previously chaired the IPIC Young Practitioner’s Committee, and was also a Board member of the Canadian charity, Meal Exchange.


THOMAS FEVENS, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Computer Science and Software Engineering, at Concordia University, and an Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Surgery, at McGill. He is a Director for the Surgical Innovation Program, a collaboration between McGill, Concordia and the École de technologie supérieure. While at Queen's University, Dr. Fevens obtained a BSc in Astrophysics with honours in 1990, an MSc in Physics in 1993 specializing in General Relativity, an MSc in Computing and Information Science in 1994 specializing in Numerical Analysis and a PhD in Computing and Information Science in 1999 specializing in Computational Geometry. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill from 2000 to 2001 in the School of Computer Science. An expert in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Deep Learning and Medical Imaging, he has published articles in top venues such as ICCV, MICCAI, and IEEE TMI on Computer-Aided Breast Cancer Malignancy Classification, Clinical Image Segmentation, and Deep Learning for Medical Imagery. His areas of research also include Biometrics Analysis, Assistive Technology, and Computer Networks.


NICHOLAS FRANCO, BSc, MBA has almost 30 years of pharmaceutical leadership and experience in research, marketing, sales and business development across several therapeutic areas and geographies. He is part of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, a member of the Janssen Business Development Leadership Team, and Site Head of the Allschwil, Switzerland Campus of Johnson & Johnson.

Prior to joining Actelion as Executive Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer, he was Senior Vice President, International Commercial Operations at Axcan Pharma based near Paris, France where he was responsible for ex-North American operations (including Marketing, Operations and Partnering). Prior to that, he was Head of Market Access Region Europe for Novartis Pharma AG in Basel, Switzerland, where he held various management positions since 1991, including President of Novartis Ophthalmics, Global Head, Business Development and Licensing Negotiations, Global Head, Neuroscience Franchise and Global Brand Director for gastrointestinal products. Prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry in 1991, Nicholas spent 6 years at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute.

Nicholas holds a BSc in Biochemistry and a Master’s in Business Administration, Strategic Planning and Marketing from McGill University.


RAYMOND HAKIM, MDCM’76, is Professor of Medicine in the division of nephrology and hypertension at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He received a Master of Science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and worked in Montreal as a research engineer for Hydro-Québec. He then attended medical school at McGill University and performed his residency in internal medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the MUHC. He carried out his renal fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. From 1980 to 1987, he served on the faculty of Harvard University and was Associate Professor of Medicine and attending nephrologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In 1995, Dr. Hakim was one of the founders and the Chief Medical Officer of the Renal Care Group, a provider of outpatient dialysis services with excellent patient outcomes. The group merged with Fresenius Medical Care in 2007, and Dr. Hakim became the Chief Medical Officer, serving from 2008 to 2012. He has published extensively (200+) on clinical and basic research in chronic kidney disease, dialysis and plasmapheresis, and has contributed more than 35 chapters to medical books.

Dr. Hakim is the recipient of numerous awards, including being listed among “Best Doctors in America” and “America’s TOP Physicians” for multiple years, the Medal of Excellence from the American Association of Kidney Patients Award, and the prestigious Belding H. Scribner Award in 2017. In addition to the Hakim Family Prize for Clinical Innovation in Health Care, Dr. Hakim also funded the Catherine McLaughlin Hakim Chair in Medicine and, more recently, the Hakim Family Bursary for newly arrived immigrants and refugees entering or enrolled in a health science degree program at McGill University.


STUART KOZLICK, Eng, MASc, is a Strategic Advisor, Executive-In-Residence within the Emerging Technology & Startup practice at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. An engineer and entrepreneur specializing in medical technologies, devices and healthcare systems, Stuart is called upon to lead strategic initiatives to integrate and develop complex medical device systems in the clinical field. He is passionate about early stage ventures and opportunities that require market analysis, needs assessment, product and business model discovery and definition, corporate strategic positioning and planning, and go-to-market execution. As part of his practice, Stuart works and collaborates with industry developers and innovators, government bodies, healthcare institutions, as well as academic and research institutions, among others.

With 20 years of experience, Stuart has developed and accrued subject matter expertise in medical device development, innovation, research and commercialization. Over the course of his career, Stuart has led and launched several research, product development and clinical engineering programs and products globally. Stuart also serves as Professor of Practice in McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Surgery, and as Faculty Lecturer in the university’s Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering.

In 2019, Stuart became CEO of Puzzle Medical Devices Inc., a Montreal-based startup company that specializes in the development of cardiovascular medical devices to treat advanced heart-failure patients. Previously, Stuart was Vice President of Medical Robotics at Kinova Robotics Inc., a Montreal-based robotics company that specializes in the robotics industry. Prior to this, he served in several leadership and engineering roles at CAE Healthcare, Medtronic Inc., and the former CryoCath Technologies Inc. Stuart continues to support the growing medtech ecosystem of Montreal through various board positions and in an Advisory/Mentor capacity for entities such as L’institut TransMedTech, CTS Santé, RTI Inc., and TechStars Montreal AI, to name a few.

Stuart’s experience and expertise span multiple medical specialties and areas of concentration including electrophysiology, structural heart, cardiovascular, endovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, orthopedics and minimally invasive therapeutics.


MICHAEL MEE, PhD, is a Principal with Amplitude Ventures, an emerging Canada-based and focused biotechnology venture capital fund. Amplitude's mission is to ensure that the exceptional science Canadian institutions (academic and commercial) are pursuing has an ability to impact patients’ lives at home and abroad. In doing, so we also aim to establish and foster a vibrant entrepreneurial biotech ecosystem in Canada. Amplitude is a fund being "spun out" of the BDC where some of our prior successful venture creations include Clementia Pharmaceuticals, Zymeworks and Imagia.

Following his PhD research in Biomedical engineering in George Church’s lab at HMS, Michael has been working as an associate at Flagship Pioneering since 2015. His time at Flagship has been focused on the development of two microbiome companies in the agricultural (Indigo) and therapeutics (Kaleido) domains, co-founding and launching a new therapeutic delivery platform and gene therapy company (Cobalt Biomedicine/Sana Therapeutics) and most recently developing new ventures in AI-based drug development and gene editing areas. A long-term goal of his has always been to bring learnings from Boston back home to help contribute to the Canadian biotech ecosystem. To that end, he has recently relocated to Montreal and is excited to be able to achieve that goal along with the growing team at Amplitude.


DAVID-DAN NGUYEN, MCDM’22, is completing his medical degree at McGill University as an Azrieli Loran Scholar. He is currently on a leave of absence, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as well as a fellowship at the Center for Surgery and Public Health (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School).

Fascinated by how we deliver care, David-Dan is passionate about health services research, community health and medical technology. He has worked with Dialogue Technologies, a telemedicine startup that has recently completed a $12M Series A, and is a Co-Founder of the CHASM Incubator, an accelerator for sustainable student-led community health projects targeting the needs of historically marginalized populations of Montreal. His research interests include costs, patterns, and outcomes of surgical care, disparities in care, surgical innovation and medical education. David-Dan has received various distinctions for his research and has presented his work at multiple events. David-Dan aspires to later work at the intersection of clinical care, medical innovation and health policy.


BRENT NORTON, MDCM ’84, is a visionary business leader in the Life Science industry with operational and Director experience across several successful enterprises which have achieved significant product sales and returns for investors. He uses his cross functional knowledge to develop strategy, raise capital and build important relationships in the academic and business community. Dr. Norton founded PreMD, completing IPO’s and listings on both TSX and AMEX. Operationally, he has built R&D and commercial operations, led transactions with AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, L’Oreal, Parke Davis/Pfizer, etc., and taken products through the FDA to global out-licensing with Johnson & Johnson. He is a founding Director of Novadaq Technologies, which was one of Canada’s most valuable medical companies and sold to Stryker Corporation. Dr. Norton has been an active member of several BOD’s in Canada and the US. He is a Venture Partner at Lumira Capital, a Director of Aeterna Zentaris and Ortho RTI, a member of the Research Committee for CAMH, an Advisory BOD member for the Ivey International Centre for Health Innovation, a Director of Alpine Ontario and Past-President and Director of the Osler Bluff Ski Club. His contributions to six companies have allowed early investors the opportunity to crystalize investment gains of over $2.5B and has positively impacted hundreds of thousands of lives.

In addition to his medical degree from McGill University, Dr. Norton holds an MBA from Ivey Business School at Western University and was granted the ICD.D designation by the Institute of Corporate Directors following the completion of the Directors Education Program at the Rotman School of Business in Toronto.


DAN RODEN, MDCM’74, received BSc and medical degrees from McGill University, and trained in Internal Medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. He then went to Vanderbilt University where, after fellowships in Clinical Pharmacology and Cardiology, he joined the faculty. His initial career focus – that he has maintained – was the clinical, genetic, cellular, and molecular basis of arrhythmia susceptibility and variability responses to arrhythmia therapies. Dr. Roden served as Director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology from 1992 to 2004 and in 2006 was named to lead Vanderbilt’s broader efforts in genomics and pharmacogenomics discovery and implementation. He is Principal Investigator for the Vanderbilt sites of the National Institutes of Health’s JUDGES” 12 Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) and the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network. He directs the Vanderbilt DNA databank BioVU, a discovery resource that as of spring 2018 included 250,000 samples linked to de-identified electronic medical records. He is a leader in Vanderbilt’s PREDICT project that since 2010 has preemptively embedded pharmacogenomic variant data in the electronic medical records of more than 14,000 Vanderbilt patients. Dr. Roden has received many awards including the Distinguished Scientist Award and the Douglas Zipes lectureship from the Heart Rhythm Society and the Distinguished Scientist Award and the inaugural Functional Genomics and Translational Biology Medal of Honor from the American Heart Association. He currently serves on the Advisory Council to the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Science Board of the FDA. He has been elected to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


ROBYN TAMBLYN, BScN, MSc, PhD, CM is a Professor of Medicine, a James McGill Chair, and a Medical Scientist at the McGill University Health Centre. She is Scientific Director of the McGill Clinical and Health Informatics Research Group. She was appointed Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research in 2011 and served in this position until her term ended in December 2018. In 2005, Dr. Tamblyn received the CHSRF KT award for research in improving medication use and in 2006, she received the ACFAS Bombardier award for innovation in the development of a drug management system. In 2014, she received the John P. Hubbard Award for outstanding achievement in the assessment of professional competency in health care and medical education and she was appointed to the Order of Canada. In 2015 she received the Outstanding Achievement Award in the evaluation of clinical competence for sustained excellence in Canadian health care and research from the Medical Council of Canada. Dr. Tamblyn was selected as the 2018 Justice Emmett Hall Laureate in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the health ideals extoled by Justice Hall and she was named the recipient of the 2018 Peggy Leatt Award in acknowledgement of her work in improving outcomes in Canada’s health care system. Recently, in 2019, she was elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada.


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