If you ask any of our staff they will tell you we are accountable to the patients and families in the communities we serve. However, we do have a dedicated group of stakeholders that give us guidance and make sure things run smoothly.
Board of Directors
Christopher Dyrda – Chair of the Board
Having spent his early years in rural Manitoba, Chris graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelors of Commerce degree (1980) and subsequently from Queen’s University in Kingston (1981) with an MBA in Finance. He went on to enjoy a career spanning almost four decades with the TD Bank Financial Group and as a member of the Senior Management Team was, in his last several roles, responsible for the Business Banking operations in the four western Provinces, the three northern Territories, Ontario District, and Quebec. He earned the ICD.D designation in 2009. Chris has been actively involved in charitable work his entire adult life and is currently is the Chair of the CHEO Research Institute board, a Member of the Investment Committee of the CHEO Foundation, a member of the joint Governance Committee between CHEO Research Institute and CHEO, a member of the Investment Committee at Carleton University and a member of the Finance Committee at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club. Additionally, Chris is a twenty year board member of First Nations Bank of Canada, a chartered bank with offices across the country with a major focus in the far north, that caters to the needs of Indigenous peoples, First Nations, and various Indigenous enterprises. Chris and his wife Karen split their time between their home in Ottawa and their lake home outside of Perth, Ontario. They have three adult sons each with wonderful partners.
Parm Gill – Vice Chair
Managing Partner, Gill Group
Mr. Parm Gill is a serial entrepreneur with a myriad of start-up experience having launched several technology businesses over his career. As Managing Partner of the Gill Group, he acts as a strategic advisor, mentor, investor, and connector for start-up companies. He brings with him the experience and expertise of guiding the growth and development of numerous startup companies, with a focus on strategic planning, business development, fundraising, and intellectual property development and commercialization. His passion for entrepreneurship is equally matched by his passion for giving back to the community through active involvement with a number of charitable and non-profit organizations. You can find out more about him at LinkedIn.com/in/ParmGill, where he can also be contacted, and he can be found on Twitter @ParmSGill
Catherine Eckenswiller- Secretary
Legal Counsel, Research Legal Services, Partnerships and Innovations, Vice Principal Research, Queens University
Catherine Eckenswiller is a lawyer with over 20 years of experience advancing commercialization of technology in the public and private sectors. She is currently legal counsel with Queen’s University. Prior to joining Queen’s in 2021, Catherine established and led the legal group of an Ottawa-based vaccines company (VBI Vaccines Inc.) from its early stage in discovery research to regulatory approval of its first commercial product. Prior to joining VBI, Catherine spent 6 years with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), where she was leader of the Intellectual Property Portfolio Management group. Prior to NRC, Catherine was in private practice with two national law firms, focussing on business, financing and intellectual property transactions. She is a fellow of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC) and former chair of the IPIC Technology Transfer Committee. She has extensive experience working with non-profit organizations and has served as a member of the Board and Corporate Secretary of UNICEF Canada and as a member of the Board and Corporate Secretary of the Caring and Sharing Exchange. Catherine is a graduate of the University of Waterloo (B. Sc. Hons. Co-op, M. Sc.) and received her law degree from Western University. She is called to the Bar of the Province of Ontario and is a registered patent and trade-mark agent.
Martin Zablocki – Treasurer
Partner at Gowling WLG
Martin Zablocki is a retired public service executive, having spent 30 years leading a variety of organizations within the Federal Government. Martin continues to provide advice to businesses looking to access government markets globally. Martin has significant experience working in international markets with companies in the infrastructure, aerospace and defence sectors. He also has a notable track record of work with business leaders in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Prior to retiring from the public service, Martin was the President and CEO of Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). CCC is a Canadian Crown corporation focused on international trade, facilitating approximately $2B in exports to foreign governments on an annual basis. Mr. Zablocki is a Fellow within the Chartered Professional Accounting profession and is a Chartered Business Valuator. Martin has served on a number of volunteer Boards and Committees.
Physician, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, The Ottawa Hospital Scientist, Centre for Innovative Cancer Research, OHRI; Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa
Harold Atkins MD is a physician of The Ottawa Hospital Transplant and Cell Therapy Program, an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and a scientist in the Center for Innovative Cancer Research. He received his Bachelor of Medical Science degree and Medical Degree from the University of Ottawa followed by a rotating internship year at the Victoria General Hospital in Victoria BC. Specialty training in Internal Medicine was done at the University of Ottawa. Clinical and research fellowships in Hematology, Stem Cell Transplantation and Experimental Hematology followed at the University of Washington and at the Ontario Cancer Institute. He specializes in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and has spearheaded the use of stem cell transplantation for immune repair to treat patients with severe autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, myasthenia gravis and others. The outcome of a trial in Multiple Sclerosis was published in the Lancet in 2016. He ran a clinical trial exploring the role of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in preventing organ transplant rejection. He is a member of a BiocanRx funded, pan-Canadian consortium to develop and improve the accessibility of new chimeric antigen receptor T lymphocytes for the treatment of hematological cancers. He was awarded the OHRI’s Dr. Michel Chretien Researcher of the Year in 2016, the Till and McCulloch Award from the Stem Cell Network in 2017 and was the co-recipient of the Canadian Blood Services Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
Legal counsel with the Department of Justice Canada
Sacha is legal counsel with the Department of Justice Canada. Prior to joining the public service, he was a litigator in private practice in Ottawa as well as on Bay Street. His litigation experience includes having been seconded to both the RCMP and the Competition Bureau to manage complex commercial and regulatory litigation on behalf of the Crown. Sacha is a recognized resource on access to justice. In his current role, he helps craft access to justice policy, drawing upon his particular expertise relating to official language minority communities. He is a member of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages, as well as the Justice Canada National Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba and a Juris Doctor from the Université de Moncton. He is a former Associate Editor of both the Revue de la common law en français as well as the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). Sacha has considerable experience in health policy and systems governance. Prior to joining the CHEO Board, he was most recently a board member of the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre and chaired its Quality and Safety Committee. He is a former Board Chair of Carlington Community Health Centre, having played a leading role in securing funds for its current capital project aimed at creating a primary care, wellness and affordable housing service hub. He currently serves on the board of Centretown Community Health Centre. For his commitment to legal excellence and community service, Sacha was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. He is the proud father of two daughters, both of whom are CHEO kids.
Vice-President, Research, University of Ottawa
Sylvain Charbonneau was appointed Interim Vice-President, Research, at the University of Ottawa for a term starting July 1, 2017. He previously held the position of Associate Vice-President, Research at the University. Mr. Charbonneau received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Physics from the University of Ottawa and a Ph.D. in Photonics – Semiconductor Physics from Simon Fraser University, B.C. He joined the Institute for Microstructural Sciences at the National Research Council (NRC) in 1988. At the NRC, he led a number of research and development initiatives, including the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre and the Printable Electronics flagship program. In late 2000, he co-founded Optenia Inc., an NRC spinoff in the communications technology sector. Mr. Charbonneau has published over 180 papers and has 17 patents and licences in the fields of photonics, nanotechnology and ICT.
Founder and CEO, Business Sherpa Group
Margo Crawford is a Canadian thought leader on small and mid-sized businesses (SMB), including SMB leadership, succession and strategy. She values knowledge sharing and often speaks both as a key note speaker and panelist for national events. As the Founder and CEO of the Business Sherpa Group (BSG), a business management solutions company, she has grown BSG over the past 14 years to support over 400 small and mid-sized businesses throughout Canada and internationally. Prior to BSG, Margo was co-founder of Meriton Networks, an optical telecom start-up, and was instrumental in raising over $75M in equity financing and M&A expansion strategies. She currently sits on the board of the Ottawa Network for Education (Chair of Governance/HR Committee) and CHEO Research Institute and previously served on the boards of Digital Opportunity Trust and the Canadian Museum of Nature Foundation. She is also a member of the ICD Executive Committee – Ottawa Chapter, the Venture Development Committee of Invest Ottawa and the Ottawa Board of Trade SME Council. She mentors several business peer groups as well as individual CEOs. Margo was named Businesswoman of the Year, Women’s Business Network and HR Professional of the Year by the HR Vision Awards.
Director, Cell Therapy Manufacturing, Turnstone Biologics
Partner and Head of Assurance at GGFL LLP, Chartered Professional Accountants
Natalie Evans is a Partner and Head of Assurance at the Ottawa accounting firm GGFL and is a member of the firm’s Partner Executive Committee. She joined GGFL in 2001 and during the past 20 years has worked with clients and families in a wide range of industries, to provide tailored advisory services to owner-managed businesses. She was named a GGFL partner in 2016 and the firm’s Head of Assurance two years later. Natalie also served for seven years as Treasurer and executive board member of The Ottawa Food Bank. As a Partner in a public accounting firm and a business owner, she brings extensive business and accounting expertise to the CHEO Research Institute’s diverse governance team. A mother of two, Natalie is proud to be contributing to the CHEO RI mission and the opportunities in medical advancements it brings to families for both life-changing and life-saving opportunities.
General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, CHEO
Watson Gale is CHEO’s General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer. Watson brings over 30 years of experience in law and executive management to his role together with an extensive background in governance. Watson has a business background and a long history of working with not-for-profit and charitable organizations, including being on the board of directors of several key organizations in Ottawa. In addition to practicing law in Ontario, Watson was called to the bar in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories and has a strong interest in Canada’s amazing northern regions.
Director, Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace, Treasury Board Secretariat, Government of Canada
Sapna Mahajan is an executive leader with more than 15 years of national and international experience in the health field, specifically leading public affairs, research, policy, and program implementation. She is currently the Director of Genomics in Society at Genome Canada responsible for providing strategic leadership to enhance awareness of genomics across the country and bridge the research-policy nexus. For more than a decade, she was Director of Programs and Priorities at the Mental Health Commission of Canada, where she led ground-breaking work in the areas of workplace mental health, peer support, e-mental health, and suicide prevention. In 2018, she was recruited to spend two years at Treasury Board Secretariat leading government-wide efforts in the areas of diversity, inclusion, mental health, and wellness. Prior to joining the Commission, Sapna worked at the Queen’s Center for Health Services and Policy Research, as well as the William J Clinton Foundation and the Centre for International Health and Development. Sapna holds a Masters in International Public Health – Health Policy and Management from Boston University. She is a Canadian Healthcare Executive and a Project Management Professional. In 2015, she was chosen to participate in the Governor General Canadian Leadership Conference. She is an active community member volunteering with several charities and not for profit organizations, including as a Board member of the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre and Mindful Employer, founding member of the Guardian Council for the United Kingdom based organization Togetherall, and as an International Expert Advisory Committee member for Aga Khan University’s Brain and Mind Institute.
Acting President & CEO at the CHEO Foundation
Steve Read is the Acting President & CEO at the CHEO Foundation, bringing to the role over 25 years of executive leadership in healthcare and private industry. Prior to his current role, Steve was the Vice President Finance & Administration at CHEO Foundation, and held executive roles in the hospital sector, including Vice President Corporate Services & Chief Financial Officer of Brockville General Hospital, and Deputy Chief Financial Officer at CHEO. He joined the world of healthcare after holding CFO and Vice President of Operations roles for a large international manufacturing firm. Steve has served on many volunteer governance boards and advisory boards in the healthcare sector (hospitals, community care and long-term care), education and financial sectors. He is currently a Trustee and Treasurer for the CHEO School Authority, and sits on the advisory board for a junior golf tour. Steve’s community volunteer work also includes several years as head coach or assistant coach for minor hockey, minor soccer, and junior golf. He is a Rotarian and past president of the Rotary Club of the 1000 Islands. Steve is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Advanced Health Leadership Program, and the Ivey Business School’s CommunityShiftTM program. He is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (CA), holds a Bachelor of Accounting (BAcc, Honours) from Brock University, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Athabasca University in Alberta. He is currently enrolled in a certificate program in Fundraising Management.
Chief of Staff, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
Dr. Lindy Samson is the Chief of Staff and Chief Medical Officer at CHEO. Appointed in April 2016, she is responsible for organizing the activities of the medical staff and for ensuring the quality of clinical care and patient safety. In addition, she is a staff physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases, she holds an academic appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine and is a Clinical investigator at the CHEO Research Institute. Her academic and research work is focused on pediatric HIV, the impact of social on the health of children and youth and teaching/evaluating the Health Advocate and Leadership Roles across the continuum of learners.
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa
Lucie Thibault, PhD, is professor and dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. She has worked at Brock University, at The University of British Columbia, and has been a visiting scholar at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen and at the RheinAhr Campus of Koblenz University of Applied Sciences. In 30 years of teaching, Lucie has taught organizational theory, ethics in sport, globalization of sport, governance and policy, and social issues in sport. Lucie serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics as well as the European Sport Management Quarterly. She has previously held the role of editor of the Journal of Sport Management. She is a member of the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) and was named a NASSM research fellow in 2001. In 2008, Lucie was awarded the Earle F. Zeigler Award from NASSM for her scholarly and leadership contributions to the field. Her research interests lie in the formation, management, and evaluation of cross-sectoral partnerships in sport organizations. She also investigates the role of the Canadian government in sport excellence and sport participation and government involvement in developing sport policy. She has been an invited speaker featuring her research in many conferences around the world. Her research has appeared in numerous scholarly journals such as the Journal of Sport Management, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Human Relations, Leisure Studies, European Sport Management Quarterly, International Journal for Sport Policy and Politics, and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. She is co-editor of Contemporary Sport Management (2018, Human Kinetics) and Sport Policy in Canada (2013, University of Ottawa Press).
Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Ottawa Hospital
Dr. Mark Walker earned his Medical Degree from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario (1993). His Residency Training in OB/GYN was completed at the University of Ottawa, Ontario (1998); followed by this Fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Toronto. In 2003, Dr. Walker earned a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Toronto. He recently graduated from Harvard University with a Masters in Health Care Management. Dr. Mark Walker is a high risk Obstetrician and Clinical Epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa. He has published over 250 per reviewed articles and has made a significant impact in our understanding of folic acid in pregnancy, and thrombophilia in pregnancy. Dr. Walker is highly involved in public policy at the provincial and national levels advocating for women and children’s health. Since joining TOH in 2000, Dr. Walker has held several positions including Fellowship Director for Maternal Fetal Medicine and working closely with the Department of Medicine for the promotion of medical disorders awareness in prenatal care. Dr. Walker’s leadership roles include Chief and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Newborn Care at The Ottawa Hospital and University of Ottawa, the scientific Director and co-director of BORN (Better Outcomes Registry and Network), and the Medical Lead for Obstetrics and Gynecology for the Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program. He held a Tier 1 Chair from the University of Ottawa in Perinatal Research. He is co-founder of the OMNI Research Group (Obstetrics & Maternal Newborn Investigations) at The Ottawa Hospital.
Research Strategy and Management Team
Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director
Dr. Jason Berman is the CEO and Scientific Director of the CHEO Research Institute and Vice President Research at CHEO. He is also a Full Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Ottawa. Previously he served as Associate Chair, Research, Department of Pediatrics, and Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology at Dalhousie University and interim Vice President Research, Innovation and Knowledge Translation for the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has overseen the pediatric leukemia program for the Maritimes since 2005 and chairs an international clinical trial for children with Down syndrome and myeloid leukemia. He is internationally recognized for pioneering research using zebrafish to study childhood cancers and rare inherited diseases. His laboratory has served as the Atlantic node of the Centre for Drug Research and Development and a national hub for zebrafish modeling of orphan diseases. He has been co-chair of the C17 Childhood Cancer Network Developmental Therapeutics Committee and Director of the Clinician Investigator Program and Medical Research Graduate Program at Dalhousie. He is president of the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, vice president of the Canadian Hematology Society and a founding member of the Canadian Rare Disease Models and Mechanisms Network.
Chief Operating Officer
Rhonda Correll has been the Chief Operating Officer at the CHEO Research Institute since 2008. Prior to this, she was the founding Director of Operations for the CHEO Research Institute Clinical Research Unit (CRU). Her background in Nursing and Project Management of large multi-site clinical trials has helped CHEO Research earn an internationally respected reputation. In her role as Chief Operating Officer, Rhonda oversees all areas of the Office of Research Services. Additionally, she is responsible for the management of space allocation, risk management, research appointments and coordination of the conflict of interest program. She is also responsible for supporting the Governance and Nomination Committee of the CHEO Research Institute Board of Directors. Key to her role is the planning and execution of the CHEO Research Strategic Plan.
Chris St. Germain
Chief Financial Officer, CHEO Research Institute
Chris is the Chief Financial Officer of the CHEO Research Institute. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (Chartered Accountant) with more than 30 years of work experience. For over twelve years, Chris has provided leadership of the organization with the assistance of the Finance Officers and is responsible for the financial operations including budgeting, monthly financial reporting, year-end financials, and reporting to the Board of Directors. In addition to the financial operations, he assists researchers with potential commercialization opportunities. Chris began his career at Deloitte where he came a Trustee in Bankruptcy and assisted companies’ turnaround from financial distress. Following his work from Deloitte, he has worked with many different organizations and industries on a part-time basis as a Chief Financial Officer. These organizations include not-for-profit entities, private enterprises, publicly traded companies, and high net worth individuals.
Manager of Communications, CHEO Research
Jennifer Ruff is the Manager of Communications for the CHEO Research Institute. She oversees communication efforts at the RI, focused on optimizing external communications. Jennifer comes to the RI with a decade of municipal government communications and leadership experience. Jennifer served as the Manager of Communications, and more recently as Director of Business Development and Communications overseeing the Business Development, Culture and Tourism Department for the City of Orillia. Prior to her time with the city, Jennifer worked as a Communications Coordinator for the County of Simcoe, an upper-tier municipality in Central Ontario. Before transitioning to the world of municipal communications, Jennifer was an award-winning print journalist, working for both daily and weekly print newspapers, as well as interning with outlets such as CBC and RogersTV. She graduated at the top of her class in the University of Ottawa/Algonquin College journalism program.
Director of Human Resources
Melissa Bellocchi joined the CHEO Research Institute as the Director of Human Resources in December 2021 following a 26 year career in the private sector. Melissa holds a Bachelors in Human Resources and Labour Relations and holds her Certified Human Resource Leader (CHRL) and Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designations from the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA). In her role as Director of Human Resources at CHEO RI, Melisa provides a full range of human resource consultation services to researchers and research professionals. This includes direction on matters relating to employee relations, performance management, organizational development, recruiting, training, compensation, workforce and succession planning and organizational structure. Melissa and the HR team collaborate regularly with all members of the ORS to support the ongoing growth of the RI. Melissa enjoys giving back to her community and volunteers with the Human Resources Professional Association as a mentor and served on the Ottawa Board of Directors for many years, including being President of the Ottawa chapter in 2018-2019. Melissa also holds certifications in payroll through the Canadian Payroll Association and volunteers with the organization as a subject matter expert. Melissa is thrilled to be joining the CHEO Research Institute and is excited to get to know the people who make CHEO a great place to work!
Manager, Health and Safety and Appointment Program Coordinator
Michael Mills is the Health and Safety Manager for the CHEO Research Institute. With a decade of health and safety experience, an Advanced certification in Health, Safety and Environmental Management, and specializations in both auditing and policy and program development; Michael will help integrate a health and safety management system into the Research Institute that will reflect the RI’s current health and safety culture and meet the needs and values of its employees and management.
Manager, Grants and Pre-Awards
Samira Chamaa is the Manager of Grants and Pre-Awards with more than 15 years of experience specializing in the health research sector. She is responsible for the direction and overall management of pre-award grant and award administration, and post-award non-financial administration. She provides leadership for incorporating national best practices into institutional policies and procedures to ensure compliance with agency terms and conditions, and Institutional policy. Samira works with scientists, clinical researchers, trainees, administrative and finance teams to support the successful application and administration of research grants. From major competitions to internal grant programs, Samira advises and assists researchers at all levels of their careers to receive the essential funding that will propel health research forward. Prior to joining the CHEO Research Institute in 2011, Samira worked at the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Heart Institute supporting basic science, translational, clinical and industry sponsored research projects, contracts and educational programs.
Legal Counsel & Manager, Contracts Office
Megan is Legal Counsel to and Manager of the CHEO Research Institute’s Contracts Office. Previously, Megan built a regulatory, advertising and commercial law practice at Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP, where she focused on the drug, natural health and food/beverage sectors. In this role, she lectured at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, and authored and contributed to a number of publications. She has also worked in corporate law, advising Ottawa’s entrepreneurs and innovation community, and is an active member of CHEO Research Institute’s Innovation and Commercialization Core. In her academic studies, Megan conducted extensive research on the intersections between global trade, intellectual property and access to medicines, and participated in Open AIR, a global, collaborative research network that uncovers insights about access to knowledge. At CHEO Research Institute, Megan manages a team of legal professionals who draft, review, negotiate and manage all contracts between the Institute, and its governmental, institutional and industry partners. As Legal Counsel, Megan provides strategic legal advice and support to CHEO Research Institute, and works closely with CHEO General Counsel to ensure inter-organizational alignment.
Manager, Quality Assurance & Regulatory Compliance
Sabrina has 19 years clinical research experience with more than half of her experience in regulated clinical trials. Sabrina joined the CHEO RI team in 2016 as part of the Quality Assurance and Regulatory Compliance Program. Sabrina has vast knowledge in the areas of quality assurance, clinical trial management, Good Clinical Practice, Health Canada and FDA regulations, and other international best practice guidelines. Sabrina aims to provide the best support and service to the research community, and works collaboratively with various departments to navigate the complex and ever changing regulatory environment.
2021 CHEO RI Annual Report
2020 CHEO RI Annual Report
Past annual reports are available upon request. Please email [email protected].
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