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.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Hertzel Gerstein

Professor, Department of Medicine 
Director, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism 

Dr. Hertzel C. Gerstein is a Professor at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, where he holds the Population Health Research Institute Chair in Diabetes and is the Director of the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism, Director of the Diabetes Care and Research Program and Deputy Director of the Population Health Research Institute.  Dr. Gerstein’s research has been published in over 350 papers, spans 50 countries, and has been funded by the NIH, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Diabetes Association and the pharmaceutical industry. His research focuses on: a) the prevention and therapy of diabetes and its many consequences; b) the relationship between dysglycemia (a term he coined in 1995), cardiovascular outcomes, cognitive impairment, other diabetes-related chronic consequences, and new diabetes; c) strategies for type 2 diabetes remission; d) novel biomarkers for cardiovascular disease in diabetes; and e) the biologic basis of glucose-related health consequences. In 2016 he produced and distributed a music video to mitigate the impact of diabetes on affected people and their families. In 2012 he received the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Alfonso Iorio 

Professor, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (HEI) 
Professor, Divisions of Hematology and Thromboembolism and General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine 

Dr. Iorio is the chief of the Health Information Research Unit, McMaster. His main research interest is in targeting research results to individual specificities, joining knowledge translation, risk stratification, and usage of individual patient data databases. He is the principal investigator of three multicentric intitiatives: CHESS (Canadian Hemophilia Surveillance Scheme), the Canadian “branch” of the EUHASS surveillance scheme for adverse events of haemophilia treatment; CBDR (Canadian Bleeding Disorders Registry), the new clinical management software of the network of hemophilia clinics in Canada.

Guest Speakers

Laura Banfield
MLIS, M. Sc.

Health Sciences Librarian, McMaster University

Ms. Banfield’s is a Liaison Librarian to the School of Nursing, Midwifery Education Program, and Global Health with informal responsibility to other interdisciplinary programs and units. This includes the provision of instruction (embedded, seminar series, on-demand, workshops), research support, and assistance in curriculum development. Engaged in research as a mediated searcher, methodologist, co-investigator, and consultant in projects related to knowledge synthesis, guideline development, resource content analysis, practice competencies, EBM/EIDM, and educational program development. She is also pursuing her PhD. in the School Of Geography & Earth Sciences.

Philip Britz-McKibbin
BSc, PhD

Professor, Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Cystic Fibrosis Canada Researcher
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.

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.

 Lisa Schwartz

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

Lisa Schwartz is the Arnold L. Johnson Chair in Health Care Ethics, Professor in the department of Health Research Methods, Evidence & Impact (HEI), and associate member of the Department of Philosophy at McMaster University.
Between 2012-2017, Prof Schwartz was the Director of the PhD in Health Policy, and co-Associate Director of the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis (CHEPA). She completed her PhD in Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, where she then held the position of Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Medicine in the Department of General Practice, Faculty of Medicine. Between 2008-2017 she was the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Ethics at CIHR, and a member of the device expert review panel for CADTH. Currently she is a member of the Ethics Committee at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada.
Dr Schwartz’s research background is in ethics and human research, evaluation of ethics education in medicine, and advocacy in health care. Dr Schwartz is the senior Primary Investigator on a program of R2HC funded studies on humanitarian health ethics. Two active studies focus on Research Ethics during times of Ebola, and Palliative Care in complex humanitarian emergencies. Dr Schwartz is a member of the Ethics Review Board of Medecins Sans Frontieres, and consults for the World Health Organization’s Ethics and Global Health office, for which she co-chaired the WHO Public Health Ethics Consultative Group on the Guidance for Managing Ethical Issues in Infectious Disease Outbreaks.