Judges 2020-2021 Competition


NADINE AFARI, MSc, is Manager of Research Programs at Children's Hospital Orange County (CHOC) and the University of California (UCI), Irvine working closely with CHOC's Chief Scientific Officer and the Vice Dean for Research at UCI. 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 the University of Southern California (USC).

Ms. Afari's 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 USC Viterbi School of Engineering 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 medical device development, from customer-focused concept generation through design, prototyping and protocol and pilot studies, implementation, 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, move basic science discoveries more quickly and efficiently into practice and address barriers that can curb productivity and the swift translation of research into new health care advances.


MARCEL BEHR, MD, M.Sc., FRCP(C), FAAM, FASCI, FACHS, FRSC, is Co-Director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity. He is Professor of Medicine at McGill University and was the Founding Director of the McGill International Tuberculosis (TB) Centre. Based at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), he is Chief of Infectious Diseases and Associate Leader of the Program on Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health. His training included a BSc (Biochemistry) from the University of Toronto, an MD from Queen’s University, Residency training in Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology at McGill, an MSc (Epidemiology) from McGill, and then post-doctoral studies in Molecular Epidemiology and Bacterial Genomics at Stanford University.

Dr. Behr’s research uses genetic tools to study the epidemiology and pathogenesis of diseases caused by mycobacteria, including tuberculosis (caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and non-tuberculous mycobacteria (which cause chronic infections in patients with lung disease). His work is funded by a Foundation Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, by a Tier I Canada Research Chair and by Cystic Fibrosis Canada. He is an elected fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Academy of Microbiology and the Royal Society of Canada


RAYMOND HAKIM, MDCM’76, is Adjunct 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 the “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 sciences degree program at McGill University.


JEREMY LEVETT is a medical student at McGill University, and recipient of a J. W. McConnell Scholarship. He is heavily invested in cardiovascular research, with an aspiration for cardiovascular surgery and minimally invasive interventions, and is the recipient of federal and institutional research bursaries. Jeremy has been involved in basic science and clinical research since a young age, and has had the privilege of working with eminent fundamental and clinical research mentors. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stenoa Inc., a machine-learning start-up striving to make fundamental breakthroughs in real-time video analysis for guiding the invasive diagnosis and intervention of cardiovascular disease. He sits on the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's Simulation Accreditation Committee, and is Chair of the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning’s Simulation Interprofessional Learners’ Committee and World Restart a Heart Campaign. Jeremy is fascinated by research, innovation and magic.


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.

DAO NGUYEN, MDCM ’97, MSc, is Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill and physician in the Division of Respirology at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). She received her MDCM at McGill, internal medicine training at the New England Medical Centre, respirology training and M.Sc in epidemiology at McGill, and post-doctoral research training in microbiology at the University of Washington. She is a clinician-scientist at the RI-MUHC within the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases and Meakins Christie Laboratories. Since 2020, she serves as the Director of the new Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Centre at McGill.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a FRQS Chercheuse-boursier clinicienne, CIHR Clinician Scientist award, Cystic Fibrosis Canada scholar award, Vertex Cystic Fibrosis Research Innovation award, and Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientist. Her research is focused on fundamental and translational aspects of respiratory infections, particularly in cystic fibrosis lung disease, as well as the pathogenesis and mechanisms of antibiotic tolerance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She also contributes to many collaborative projects on the discovery of antibacterial compounds and materials, and novel diagnostics for bacterial infections.


BRENT NORTON, MDCM ’84, is an accomplished business leader with operational and director experience across several successful enterprises which have achieved significant product sales and returns for investors, and positively impacted hundreds of thousands of lives. 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 an IPO and listings on both TSX and AMEX. Operationally, he has built R&D and commercial operations, led transactions with AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, L’Oreal, etc., and taken products through the FDA to global out-licensing with Johnson & Johnson. He was a founding Director of Novadaq Technologies, which was sold to Stryker Corporation. In 2020, Dr. Norton was named to the Board of Directors and Research & Innovation Committee of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC). The AFMC represents Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine and is the voice of academic medicine in Canada.

In addition to his medical degree from McGill University, Dr. Norton holds an MBA from the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business and is a certified director from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Dr. Norton has been an active member of several boards of directors, public and private, in both Canada and the US, and an active volunteer. His involvement on boards has commonly been extended to working with the owners, founders or CEOs through a significant inflection point, transition, or the commercial validation and monetization of one or more of the company’s assets. He is a Director and Chair of the Nominating, Governance and Compensation Committee of Tetra Bio-Pharma, a Director of Ortho Regenerative Technologies Inc, a Research Committee member for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto), and an Associate at the Creative Destruction Lab (Rotman School of Management, University of 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 site of the National Institutes of Health’s Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network and for the Data and Research Center for the AllofUs initiative. He directs the Vanderbilt DNA databank BioVU, a discovery resource that includes 250,000 samples linked to de-identified electronic medical records. He is a leader in Vanderbilt’s PREDICT project that since 2010 has pre-emptively embedded pharmacogenomic variant data in the electronic medical records of more than 20,000 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 has served 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.


DONALD SHEPPARD, MD, FRCPC, FECMM, FAAM, FASCI, FCAHS, is a Professor and Chairman of the McGill University Department of Microbiology & Immunology and Founding Director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4). He brings a wealth of experience from his role as a Scientific Advisor on the Canadian Therapeutic Task Force to inform and educate healthcare providers and the public on COVID. With over 150 publications on infectious disease and as a talented speaker, he is regularly sought after by CBC, CTV and the Canadian Press to explain cutting-edge science on COVID in understandable terms for the lay audience.

Dr. Sheppard practices clinical infectious diseases at the McGill University Health Centre where his primary area of interest is human fungal disease. His research interests focus on elucidating the mechanisms by which the fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus causes human disease as a means to develop new therapeutics for these infections. He has published over 100 research papers and book chapters and has delivered over 150 invited lectures worldwide. Dr. Sheppard has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Clinician-Scientist award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. He is an elected fellow of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the American Academy of Microbiology.


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 (MUHC). 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.

In 2019, she was elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada and she was appointed Director of the Division of Clinical Epidemiology at the MUHC.


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