Transforming Discovery into Opportunity

The Centre for Drug Research and Development Announces Appointment of New Directors

VANCOUVER, Canada – November 5th, 2012: The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), is pleased to announce the appointment of the following new Directors to its Board effectively immediately: Mr. Gordon C. McCauley (President and CEO, Allon Therapeutics Inc.);  Ms. Dawn Graham (Svoronos) (former President of Europe/Canada II for Merck & Co. Inc.); Dr. Peter Nicholson (Founding President (Retired), Council of Canadian Academies); and Dr. Sam Abraham (Vice President Research and Strategic Relationships, BC Cancer Agency; and Executive Lead, Business and Intellectual Property Development, Provincial Health Services Authority) (see Backgrounder following for short bios of each).

These individuals have been specifically recruited for their vast experience in and knowledge of translational research and the national and international life science industries; and to effectively represent CDRD’s broad stakeholder base ranging from academic institutions and researchers, to local and international industry, to clinicians and patients.

Chair of CDRD’s Board of Directors, Dr. David Dolphin commented, “We are delighted to have these incredibly talented individuals join our Board of Directors. They are certain to bring valuable new perspectives and insight to CDRD as we embark on implementing our newly-developed five-year Business Plan.”

CDRD President and CEO, Karimah Es Sabar added, “This slate of new Directors will complement the already diverse expertise of our existing Board members, and further strengthen CDRD’s leadership ability and position amongst Canada’s drug development commercialization landscape.”

The Board and management of CDRD would also like to acknowledge and sincerely thank retiring Directors Dr. Charles Blanke, Dr. Michael Abrams, and Mr. Paul Hastings for their long-standing and valuable contributions to the organization.


About CDRD
The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is a national not-for-profit drug development and commercialization centre that provides expertise and infrastructure to enable researchers from leading health research institutions to advance promising early-stage drug candidates. In doing so, we de-risk discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research and transform them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector — successfully bridging the commercialization gap between academia and industry, and translating research discoveries into new therapies for patients and economic returns for British Columbia and Canada. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).

For further information, please contact:
Barry Gee
Director, Communications
The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)
604-221-7750 ext. 223



Vice PresidenResearch, 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.

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.

President and CEO
Allon Therapeutics Inc.

Gordon McCauley was appointed President of Allon in 2004.  Mr. McCauley is an accomplished business executive with successful leadership experience with an institutionally-based biotech venture capital fund, two Canadian healthcare companies, and a multinational energy company.  Mr. McCauley served in a staff capacity to two Prime Ministers and former Ontario Premier David Peterson.  Mr. McCauley serves on the Boards of Hallmark Insurance (Chair), Epiomed Therapeutics, Inc., AceTECH (Past Chair), BIOTECanada, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Washington, DC, and LifeSciences British Columbia (Chair).

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.

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