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 in Southern California.
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.
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. Most recently, Mr Arless co-Founded and is CEO of ViTAA Medical Solutions Inc., a precision medicine, AI-powered software company for the better management of patients with abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) disease.
His most notable award was Ernst & Young’s 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year in the life science category.
THOMAS FEVENS, PhD, is 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.
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.
MARIE HUDSON, MD, is Co-Director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity. She is a rheumatologist and epidemiologist at the Jewish General Hospital and Lady Davis Institute, and an Associate Professor and Member of the Division of Experimental Medicine in the Department of Medicine at McGill University.
Dr. Hudson pursues research in systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases, in particular, systemic sclerosis and autoimmune myositis. She has specific interests in epigenetic signatures of and cellular therapies for these diseases. Most recently, she has developed an interest in immune-related adverse events (irAE) secondary to cancer immunotherapies as a “human” model for classical autoimmune diseases.
DENIS KESERIS, B.A.Sc. (EE), Chartered Patent Attorney (GB), is a partner at Bereskin & Parr LLP, and a member of the Electrical & Computer Technology practice group. Denis is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of British Patent Attorneys and is qualified as a European Patent Attorney and a registered patent agent in Canada and the United States. He received a Postgraduate Certificate in Intellectual Property Law from the University of London’s Queen Mary School of Law. Denis completed his B.A.Sc. in Electrical, Electronics & Communications Engineering at the University of Ottawa. Denis has over 15 years of IP experience in Europe and North America. Before entering private practice, Denis was a member of the examination branches of both the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the U.K. Intellectual Property Office.
JEREMY LEVETT is a graduating medical student at McGill University, and recipient of a J. W. McConnell Scholarship. He is invested in cardiovascular research, with a passion 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., an early stage startup building mission-critical care coordination software. He sits on the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's Simulation Accreditation Committee, and is the Founding Chair of McGill University’s World Restart a Heart Campaign. Jeremy is fascinated by disruptive innovation, research, 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.
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 the Research & Innovation Committee, and in 2021 the Audit, Finance and Risk 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 member of the Ideator and National Committees of Arthritis Society Canada and an Associate at the Creative Destruction Lab (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto).
DAN RODEN, MDCM’74, received his 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.
In that role, he founded and directs the Vanderbilt DNA databank BioVU, a discovery resource that as of January 2023 included >300,000 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 >20,000 Vanderbilt patients. He served as Principal Investigator for the Vanderbilt site of the National Institutes of Health’s Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN, 2001-2021), and currently co-leads the Vanderbilt site of the NIH’s Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network, and the Data and Research center for the All of Us initiative.
Dr. Roden has received the Alumnus Lifetime Achievement Award and the Louis and Artur Lucian Award in Cardiovascular Research from McGill; the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics’ Leon Goldberg Young Investigator Award, Rawls Palmer Progress in Science Award, and the Oscar Hunter Career Award; the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Heart Rhythm Society; the Distinguished Scientist Award and the inaugural Functional Genomics and Translational Biology Medal of Honor from the AHA; and the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein prize in Cardiovascular Sciences from the Ohio State University. 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.
GILBERT TORDJMAN, CPA, holds the position of Chief Operating and Development Officer of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) since January 17, 2022. A Chartered Professional Accountant, Mr. Tordjman has held numerous executive level positions in major academic and hospital institutions. He was most recently Vice President – Finance and Administration at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM), and Treasurer of the IRCM Foundation. Before that, he served as Executive Director of the Development and Alumni Relations Office at Concordia University. Other past roles include Vice President - Administrative Affairs with the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQ-S), Director - Finance and Administration at the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation, and head of Financial Management at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at the Jewish General Hospital.
In addition to his notable professional career path, Mr. Tordjman is a committed volunteer. He is the past Chair of District 1 of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, which covers the northeastern region of the United States and eastern Canada. He was until recently a member of the Board of Directors of Federation CJA, where he received the Gertrude & Henry Plotnick Young Leadership Award.
Mr. Tordjman’s expertise and strengths are focused in the areas of leadership, innovation and management, which is pivotal in spearheading new initiatives while implementing strategies that leverage and align with the efforts of research. His bridge-building and problem-solving skills enhance relationships with partners. His skills enable him to seize new opportunities aimed at revenue growth, creation of partnerships, and venture philanthropy.
COREY ZANKOWSKI, PhD, is Founder and CEO of Primum Health, a startup that connects community oncologists to knowledgeable experts to make better-informed decisions about their most complex cases.
Prior to this role, Mr. Zankowski spent 23 years at Varian, a Siemens Healthineers Company. Recently, he was the Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, responsible for accelerating the rate of sustaining and breakthrough innovation by addressing the many challenges associated with innovating inside large, successful companies. Corey contributed to numerous innovations at Varian, including Eclipse, RapidArc, RapidPlan, Halcyon, and Ethos Adaptive Radiotherapy. He worked at the BC Cancer Agency before joining Varian in 1999.
Mr. Zankowski trained as a medical physicist and received his BSc, MSc, and PhD from McGill University. He is well-respected in the global oncology community and was one of the top patent holders at Varian.