CDRD is governed by an independent Board of Directors comprised of a cross-section of public and private sector stakeholder groups.
Dr. David Dolphin – Chair
Dr. Dolphin is an internationally-renowned scientist and entrepreneur, and is the creator of Visudyne™, the world’s most widely used ophthalmic drug, which has saved the vision of more than 700,000 people. Visudyne™ is the lead product for QLT, Inc, where Dr. Dolphin served as Vice President of Technology Development.
Previous appointments include CEO of the BC Innovation Council, Acting Vice President, Research and Acting Dean of Science at UBC. Dr. Dolphin, Professor Emeritus, is the author and editor of 18 books on spectroscopy, chemistry and biochemistry, and has published over 400 research papers. He holds more than 160 patents in Canada and the United States. Dr. Dolphin is the recipient of numerous awards including, most recently, the 2005 Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. His honors include being named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Royal Society (London), a Guggenheim Fellow, and the Order of Canada 2006. Dr. Dolphin has been designated a Hero of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society. Dr. Dolphin is Past Chair, Genome BC, and a former board member of CFI and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.
Dr. Samuel Abraham
Vice President Research, BC Cancer Agency
Vice President Strategic Relationships, BC Cancer Agency
Executive Lead, Business and Intellectual Property Development, Provincial Health Services Authority
As VP Strategic Relationships and VP Research, Dr. Abraham works to enable high quality discovery research and to create linkages between the BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) and both the public and private sectors that will help the BCCA to achieve its mandate of cancer control for the province of British Columbia. Both sets of responsibilities are involved in the development of intellectual property arising from research activities at the BCCA and its partner institutions, and the translation of those discoveries into clinical practices or products that will benefit patients. Dr. Abraham works closely with senior scientific, clinical and administrative staff to provide both scientific, business and policy expertise in supporting targeted, high-value research and determining patient-focused development strategies.
BCCA is a branch of the Provincial Health Services Authority, where Dr. Abraham has an additional role as Executive lead, Business and Intellectual Property Development. In this expanded role, he is instrumental in advising branches of the PHSA on issues related to IP development and commercialization for technologies resulting from research programs at member agencies. These agencies include the BC Cancer Agency, BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Children’s and Women’s Hospitals, mental Health & Addiction, Renal, Transplant and Cardiac Services.
Dr. Abraham received his PhD in Genetics from the University of British Columbia. He joined Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals as a Senior Scientist in 1996, and later became Project Leader for the Transplant Program, as well as Division Leader for Cell and Molecular Biology. He has been with the BC Cancer Agency since 2000 and also serves as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Quest Pharma. Dr. Abraham has been VP Strategic Relationships for the BCCA since 2007 and was appointed Executive Lead, Business and Intellectual Property Development for PHSA in 2010 and Interim VP Research in 2011.
Ms. Natalie Dakers – President and CEO, CDRD Ventures Inc.
Ms. Dakers is a leading figure in the Canadian biotechnology industry and currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of CDRD Ventures Inc. after having spent the last seven years as the founding CEO of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), an innovative national organization with a mandate to address the commercialization gap between early-stage technologies arising out of university-based research and private sector investment opportunities. Under Ms. Dakers’ leadership, CDRD signed affiliation agreements with more than 20 major research institutions in Canada and around the world, and forged important strategic relationships with public and private sector partners including Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Genome British Columbia and the Governments of British Columbia and Alberta. With over 20,000 square feet in specialized lab space and more than $15 million invested in state-of-the-art equipment, under Ms. Dakers leadership, CDRD built a team of over 85 employees, engaged close to 500 individual investigators, raised and secured approximately $115 million in funding, and was named a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) by the Federal Government.
Ms. Dakers brings to the organization many valuable years of experience in the commercialization of technology, licensing, and intellectual property protection. Prior to leading the establishment of CDRD, Ms. Dakers was President and CEO of Neuromed Pharmaceuticals (Technologies) Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for chronic pain, anxiety, epilepsy and cardiovascular diseases. As co-founder and CEO, Ms. Dakers built the company from inception and raised three rounds of venture financing totaling approximately $70 million. Prior to this, Ms. Dakers managed technology transfer for the Life Sciences sector at the University Industry Liaison Office (UILO) at the University of British Columbia, where she was involved in the creation and spin-off of more than a dozen start-up high-tech and biotech companies.
Ms. Dakers is active in a number of business and scientific organizations, including Past Chair of BC Biotech (now LifeSciences British Columbia), the association supporting and representing the province’s biotech, medical device and life sciences community. Currently, Ms. Dakers is a board member of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), BIOTECanada, the International Science and Technology Partnership Canada (ISTP Canada) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Life Sciences Advisory Board. Previously, Ms. Dakers also served on the Boards of Genome Canada, Genome BC, and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. Ms. Dakers is an Adjunct Professor in UBC’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and a member of the Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on Business Innovation. Ms. Dakers received a Peak Award for Performance and Excellence in 2004. In 2009, Ms. Dakers was the recipient of BIOTECanada’s Gold Leaf Award for Industry Leadership.
Ms. Dawn Graham (Svoronos) - Former President of Europe/Canada II, Merck & Co. Inc.
Ms. Dawn Graham has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry in Canada, the United States and abroad. In March 2011, Ms. Graham retired from Merck & Co. Inc., one of the world’s leading healthcare companies, where she worked in the commercial side of the organization for 23 years. Ms. Graham is the former President of Europe/Canada II for Merck & Co. Inc., where she oversaw commercial operations in ~ 30 EU and EU accession countries. Before moving to Europe, Ms. Graham was President of Merck in Canada and prior to that, she was Vice-President of Merck for Asia Pacific where she spent a lot of time advancing the commercial interests of Merck in Japan and China.
Ms. Graham was the Chair of the Board of Rx&D, the Canadian pharmaceutical industry association and she has served on a number of Boards in Canada including the Conference Board of Canada and the Rx&D Health Research Foundation. In 2009, Ms. Graham was elected “one of the most powerful women in Canada” by the Canadian Women’s Executive Network.
Ms. Graham resides in Montreal, Quebec.
Dr. Patrick Griffin, Chair, Dept. of Molecular Therapeutics; Director and Head, Translational Research Institute, The Scripps Institute, Florida
Dr. Griffin received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia under the direction of Professor Donald F. Hunt. In collaboration with Professor Hunt and John R. Yates, III, Pat was involved in ground breaking technology and methodology in the field of Biological Mass Spectrometry which set the stage for what we now know as Proteomics.
After graduating from UVa, Dr. Griffin worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratories of Professor Lee Hood at Caltech where he was involved in the application of mass spectrometry to systems biology. Dr. Griffin entered industry as an Associate Scientist at Genentech and he later joined Merck Research Laboratories where he worked as a protein chemist in the fields of inflammation and metabolic disorders.
In his most recent position at Merck, Dr. Griffin was Senior Director of Basic Chemistry and directed a group of over 40 scientists focused on the application of technology in several areas of drug discovery including proteomics, drug metabolism, and pharmacokinetics. Dr. Griffin and his group made significant contributions to the discovery and development of DMP-777 and MK-0431 (Januvia).
In 2002, Dr. Griffin left Merck to head a biotech startup in the Princeton area (ExSAR Corp) as the Chief Scientific Officer. In June 2004, Dr. Griffin came to The Scripps Research Institute, Scripps Florida as Professor of Biochemistry and Director of Drug Discovery. In June 2006, he was named Director and Head of the Translational Research Institute and in March 2007 was named Chairman of Molecular Therapeutics. Dr. Griffin is a member of the Scripps Florida steering committee, TSRI-Pfizer joint steering committee, and Co-PI of The Scripps Research Institute Molecular Screening Center.
Dr. John Hepburn – Vice President, Research and International, University of British Columbia
John Hepburn was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo, graduating in 1976 with his BSc. He continued his education at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Prof. John Polanyi (Nobel Prize, 1986), and obtained his PhD in 1980.
Following two years as a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Y.T. Lee (Nobel Prize, 1986) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he began his academic career back at the University of Waterloo, where he was appointed an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics in 1982, and ultimately Chair of Chemistry in 1998.
In 2001, he moved to the University of British Columbia as a Professor of Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy, and Head of Chemistry. He became Dean of Science in 2003, and Vice President, Research in 2005. His title was revised to Vice President Research & International in 2009.
Dr. Hepburn has been a Fellow of the A.P. Sloan Foundation, a Foreign Research Fellow of the CNRS (France), and a Canada Council Killam Fellow. He has been awarded the Rutherford Medal and the Noranda Prize and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Physical Society, and the Canadian Institute for Chemistry. He is internationally renowned for his research in laser spectroscopy and laser chemistry, and has delivered 200 invited lectures at international conferences and research institutions in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He is currently carrying out research in atmospheric chemistry, surface science, laser spectroscopy, and quantum control of atoms and molecules.
Mr. Jeffrey Lowe – Managing Partner and Practice Leader, Advanced Education and Research Group, Richards, Buell, Sutton
Jeff Lowe is Managing Partner of the law firm Richards Buell Sutton LLP. He is also the practice leader for the Advanced Education and Research group and a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Group, practicing in the preferred areas of Intellectual Property, Corporate and Commercial Law. Mr. Lowe also represents Richards Buell Sutton LLP as Vice-Chair of the Pacific Rim Advisory Council (PRAC) and is Chair of its Policy and Planning Committee. In 2012 Mr. Lowe was appointed to the Board of Governors of Langara College by the Lieutenant Governor in Council for a two year term. His Directorships include Smartcool Systems Inc. and Magnum Energy Inc.
Mr. Lowe has a long association with British Columbia life sciences companies, and has been a strong supporter and champion of the local industry.
Mr. Gordon C. McCauley - Partner, NDI Capital
Gordon McCauley is a Partner of NDI Capital, an institutionally backed life sciences fund, that he co-founded in 2000. From 2004 to 2013, Mr. McCauley was President & CEO of Allon Therapeutics Inc., a publicly traded biotech company. Under his leadership, Allon raised approximately $100 million in capital, took novel products from pre-clinical through to Phase III human clinical studies and was sold to Paladin Labs. He has held similar leadership roles in national healthcare service firms, as well as serving in a staff capacity for two Prime Ministers and former Ontario Premier David Peterson. In addition to LifeSciences BC, Gordon is a Director of BIOTECanada, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Epiomed Therapeutics and Hallmark Insurance where he serves as Chair.
Dr. Peter Nicholson - Founding President (Retired), Council of Canadian Academies
Dr. Peter Nicholson retired as founding President of the Council of Canadian Academies in December 2009.The Council — a not-for-profit organization — supports studies by independent experts on issues of public importance.
Dr. Nicholson is a native of Nova Scotia and received degrees in physics from Dalhousie (1995) and a PhD in operations research from Stanford University in California (1969).
His varied career has included senior positions in academia (University of Minnesota); business (fisheries, banking and telecommunications); and public service (several federal government departments and the OECD in Paris). Dr. Nicholson was the chief policy advisor to Prime Minister Martin from 2003 to 2006 before assuming the presidency of the Council of Canadian Academies.
Dr. Nicholson has received honorary degrees from Dalhousie, Acadia, the University of Quebec and McMaster. He is a Member of the Order of Canada awarded in recognition of his contributions to business and public policy.
Dr. Mario Pinto – Vice President, Research, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Pinto was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and received his B.Sc. degree in Chemistry and Ph.D. from Queen’s University. Dr. Pinto served as Chair of Simon Fraser University’s Chemistry Department from 1999-2004, and is currently Vice-President, Research at the University. Dr. Pinto received the 1992 Horace S. Isbell Award of the American Chemical Society, the 1993 Merck Frosst Award of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC), the 2002 Bernard Belleau Award of the CSC, and the 2005 British Columbia Innovation Council Frontiers in Research Award. He is a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada, and was elected to the Academy of Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada in 2003. Dr. Pinto is a pioneer in the field of chemical biology having developed novel NMR/molecular modeling protocols for protein structure determination and the study of ligand topographies essential for drug and vaccine design. He was recently awarded a patent for his breakthrough on the effect of glycosidase inhibitors as novel therapeutic agents for Type 2 diabetes, which has proven effective in lowering blood glucose levels in rats. He is founder of the company, Mimos Therapeutics, Inc.
In order to ensure all projects are initiated and subsequently managed with the highest level of objectivity and scientific and commercial excellence, CDRD relies on the following committees to determine which projects are selected for development and funding within CDRD, and to provide oversight on the progress of all CDRD projects.
Project Development Committee (PDC)
The PDC is responsible for the peer review to determine which projects are undertaken within CDRD, and for assisting with the design and approval of Project Plans. It is composed of the following individuals with broad and considerable drug discovery expertise including CDRD Division Chairs, CEO, Scientific Director, and Director of Scientific Operations, as well as additional faculty members at affiliated institutions who serve as strategic advisors. Independent academic experts, including clinicians, are also called upon to provide additional input on specific proposals when needed.
- Dr. Michael Abrams, CVI; Cheif Innovation Officer and Vice President, Research and Development
- Dr. Theresa Allen, CDRD Co-Founder; Professor Emeritus, Pharmacology, University of Alberta
- Dr. Gregorio Aversa, CDRD Senior Vice President, Drug Development & Innovation Review Panel Chair
- John Babcook, Vice President, Biologics, CDRD
- Dr. Marcel Bally, CDRD Division Chair (Pharmacology/Toxicology); and BC Cancer Agency
- Dr. Jason Crawford, Senior Director, Scientific Operations, CDRD
- Dr. Pieter Cullis, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia
- Ms. Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO, CDRD
- Dr. Robert Hancock, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia
- Dr. Gary Lopaschuk, Departments of Pediatrics and Pharmacology, University of Alberta
- Dr. Corey Nislow, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia
- Dr. Michel Roberge, CDRD Division Chair (Screening); and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia
- Dr. T. Michael Underhill, CDRD Interim Scientific Director; CDRD Division Chair (Target Validation) and University of British Columbia
- Dr. David Wishart, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta; and Metabolomics Innovation Centre
- Dr. Robert Young, CDRD Division Chair (Medicinal Chemistry); and Department of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University
CDRD also utilizes separate panels to review, assess and recommend projects for funding by each of CDRD’s three Innovation Funds, and to provide valuable input into Project Plans. These panels are comprised of CDRD Division Chairs, independent members, and members of the respective industry partner. Panel membership is selected jointly by CDRD and the partner.