Meet the Speakers

Speakers from McMaster’s Population Genomics Program (PGP)

Sonia Anand
MD, PhD, F.R.C.P(C)

Professor, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine
Associate Member, Dept of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Director, Population Genomics Program, Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Canada Research Chair in Ethnic Diversity and Cardiovascular Disease
Heart and Stroke Foundation / Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Population Health Research McMaster University

Dr. Anand’s research involves the environmental and genetic determinants of vascular and peripheral vascular disease in populations of varying ancestral origin. She is most recognized for her research on women’s health issues, particularly in the area of cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Anand has helped give women the tools they need to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. Studying the differences associated with each gender’s symptomatic experience of heart disease, Dr. Anand’s work aims to clarify the way in which social factors interact with biological factors to impact cardiovascular health.

Dr. Anand teaches clinical epidemiology courses in methodology and cardiovascular disease at McMaster University, with the hope of influencing future generations of doctors to be mindful of women’s health matters.

Guillaume Paré

Associate Professor, Pathology and Molecular Medicine (primary),
Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Canada Research Chair in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology
Cisco Professorship in Integrated Health Systems

Dr. Guillaume Paré’s main research focus is genetic and molecular epidemiology. In his work, he aims to identify genetic determinants of complex disease such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease and other types of chronic disease. Another area of research involves the development and validation of novel biomarkers of disease, given that genetic and molecular markers of disease are expected to lead to better understanding, prediction, and ultimately, prevention of diseases.

Joseph Beyene
BSc, MSc, PhD

Professor, Dept of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact
John D. Cameron Endowed Chair in Genetic Epidemiology

Dr. Beyene’s interests are in the areas of systematic reviews/meta-analyses, predictive modeling; health technology assessment, and clinical research. Additionally, he is highly interested in exploring the genetic factors relevant to illness and behaviour. His current work focuses on multi-level modeling in linkage and association analysis (applications of statistical techniques in genetics), pediatric early warning system, pain management in infants at risk for neurological impairment, and development of statistical methods for genomic data.

David Meyre

Associate Professor, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact

David Meyre’s work is focused on the genetic bases of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

He is currently developing an ambitious and multidisciplinary obesity genetic research program at McMaster University. His aim is to provide an exhaustive picture of the etiology of this complex disorder and to equip the decision makers with the appropriate tools in order to tackle obesity and its complications worldwide. His current research interests include gene identification in diverse ethnic groups, gene x environment interactions, evolutionary genetics, integrative biology, scientific watch and development of new guidelines and methods, knowledge synthesis and translation, and evidence-based personalized prevention and medicine.

Zena Samaan

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences

Dr. Samaan completed psychiatry and research training in Ireland and the UK. In addition to her medical degree, she holds a Masters in Science from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and a PhD in psychiatric genetics from the Institute of Psychiatry and Kings College London, UK. Dr. Samaan is a psychiatrist specialized in mood disorders and the comorbidity of depression with medical disorders and addiction. Her clinical and research interests are focused on complex depression, predictors of suicidal behaviour and substance use disorders with emphasis on biological markers including genetic variants.

Russell de Souza
BA, BASc, MSc, ScD

Assistant Professor, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact

Dr. de Souza is a registered dietitian and nutrition epidemiologist. His current research interests lie in advancing methodology for systematic reviews and meta-analysis and clinical trials in the field of nutrition, with an interest in the contribution of dietary patterns and macronutrients (specifically fructose, saturated and trans fats) to cardiovascular disease risk throughout the lifespan. He is a co-investigator on the INMD-funded Birth Cohort Alliance, which seeks to explore associations among maternal nutrition, infant feeding patterns, and epigenetic/epigenomic determinants of maternal and child health; and the Alliance for Health Hearts and Minds cohort examining neighborhood-level factors that contribute to cardiovascular risk. He is also interested in the reproducibility and validity of current methods of assessing nutrient intakes.

Guest Speakers

Peter Kraft

Professor of Epidemiology (Harvard)

Peter Kraft’s research concentrates on the design and analysis of genetic association studies, with particular emphasis on studies linking variation in germline DNA to cancer risk. Kraft has played a key role in multiple international consortia studying genetics and other exposures in relation to cancer risk over the last ten years. His current methodological research focuses on 1) efficient and interpretable “gene x environment interaction” analyses, 2) genetic risk prediction using common and rare genetic variation, biomarkers (including metabolites), and clinical and environmental risk factors, and 3) methods linking low-frequency variation, emerging functional annotation, and risk of complex disease.

Andrew Paterson

Senior Scientist, Genetics and Genome Biology, The Hospital for Sick children Institute

Andrew Paterson is a Senior Scientist in the Program in Genetics and Genome Biology at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto, and also a Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

His scientific interests concentrate on the genetics of human diseases. Specifically, he is the lead investigator on large study to investigate the genetic determinants of risk for long-term complications of type 1 diabetes, including retinopathy and nephropathy and their quantitative risk factors. He dreams of using the results from genetic studies to improve population health.

Andrew McArthur

Cisco Research Chair in Bioinformatics
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Andrew McArthur is McMaster’s inaugural Cisco Research Chair in Bioinformatics and an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences. He has had a 20-year research career in the US and Canada, including postdoctoral experience at the National Museum of Natural History and NIH-funded faculty positions at the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, MA) and Brown University, plus 10 years experience in the private sector.

He is also also faculty in McMaster’s Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization (BDC) program. The McArthur laboratory’s research program spans complex informatics approaches to the functional genomics of microbial drug resistance, development of biological databases, next generation sequencing for genome assembly and molecular epidemiology, automated literature curation approaches, controlled vocabularies for biological knowledge integration, big data in the biomedical sciences, and functional genomics approaches in environmental toxicology.

Philip Britz-McKibbin
BSc, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
Principal Investigator, Britz-McKibbin Research Group

Philip Britz-McKibbin’s research explores both fundamental and applied studies of modern separation science for rapidly expanding metabolomics initiatives.

His research group is interested in addressing several major obstacles that hinder progress in metabolomics, including the identification and quantification of unknown metabolites in complex biological samples. This research strives to contribute new advances in drug screening, early detection of disease states, as well as the assessment of various stressors on global metabolism.

Paul Moayyedi

Richard Hunt-Astra Zeneca Chair in Gastroenterology
Professor, Department of Medicine 

Dr. Moayyedi’s research interests focus on the applications of H Pylori screening and treatment. He is interested in how H. pylori testing and treatment can be used to manage different patient groups. This includes the evaluation of the efficacy H. pylori test and treatment in uninvestigated dyspepsia and functional dyspepsia.

Dr. Moayyedi has conducted population based clinical trial research on the health economics and medical benefits H. pylori test and treat in the community. Additionally, he has published a series of systematic reviews on therapy for gastro-esophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease and functional dyspepsia, performed as a Cochrane Editor for the Upper Gastrointestinal Disease Group. This work has led to involvement in a variety of guideline groups including the England and Wales National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) evaluation of dyspepsia and that American Gastroenterology Association Technical Review of dyspepsia management.

Dr. Moayyedi also has a specific interested in health economics and medical decision modeling. He is currently developing an interest in the early detection of malignancy and GI cancer chemoprevention.

Jennifer Stearns

Farncombe Family Chair in Microbial Ecology and Bioinformatics
Communication Officer for the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Research in Dr. Stearns’ lab aims to uncover the core processes, such as colonization, succession and stability, involved in microbial establishment within the human body. Her approach involves human cohorts and animal models and uses molecular methods, microbial culture and bioinformatics, with the ultimate goal of understanding how the microbiota contributes to infant development and long term health.

Michael Surette

Professor, Department of Medicine
Principal Investigator, Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute

Michael Surette’s primary area of research investigates the role of normal flora-pathogen interactions in health and disease in the area of respiratory infections with a focus in cystic fibrosis. A polymicrobial perspective on these infections has lead to identification of overlooked pathogens in airway disease as well as synergistic interactions between avirulent organisms and pathogens. This is a fundamentally different view of airway infections and has lead to direct benefits to patients through altered treatment strategies.