Network Leadership

Governance and Scientific Oversight Committee (GSOC)

The GSOC is responsible for the overall coordination, accountability & administration of the Network.

Jason Berman

Jason Berman is the CEO and Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute and the Vice-President Research at CHEO. He is a Full Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa. ... Jason is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and clinician scientist internationally recognized for pioneering research using zebrafish to study leukemia and cancer predisposition syndromes. He has had leadership roles in several national and international clinical trials for childhood cancer, including chairing the most recent Children's Oncology Group trial for the myeloid leukemia of Down syndrome. He sits on a number of provincial and national cancer research advisory boards. He is passionate about translating research findings from the bench to the bedside to improve the outcome and quality of life for individuals suffering from blood cancers. Show full bio

Sonia Cellot

Sonia Cellot is a pediatric hematologist and principal investigator at CHU Sainte-Justine (CHUSJ). Her research focus is on hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) biology and the development of human synthetic leukemia models to identify therapeutic vulnerabilities in high fatality pediatric leukemia. ... She is responsible for the institutional acute myeloid leukemia (AML) program, part of the HSC transplantation team, and assistant director of the Immune disorders and Cancer research axis at CHUSJ. Since 2010, she is co-investigator of the pediatric branch of the Quebec Leukemia Cell Bank, in collaboration with Dr Josée Hébert, hematologist at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont. The mandate of this provincial biobanking initiative is to collect highly annotated pediatric AML and infant leukemia samples to promote research projects. Show full bio

Jennifer Chan

Jennifer Chan is the Director of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute at the University of Calgary. As a pathologist-scientist, Dr. Chan's ability to traverse between the lab and the clinic has enabled her to bring together investigators from across the cancer research continuum. She has contributed to projects to discover new genes and therapeutic targets in a range of cancers, with a particular emphasis on brain tumours. In her work, she develops and uses cancer models that include genetically engineered mice, syngeneic models, patient-derived tumour organoids, and patient-derived xenografts of brain tumours and sarcomas. ... She also currently directs the Clark Smith Tumour Bank at the University of Calgary, is the principal investigator of the Alberta Cancer Research Biobank, serves on Canadian Tissue Repository Network's Executive Committee, and is a member of the Correlative Sciences and Tumour Biology Committee of the Canadian Cancer Trials Group. Dr. Chan earned a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Dartmouth College, an MD from McGill University, and completed her clinical training in Anatomic Pathology and Neuropathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital Boston. She completed her research training at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, after which she was the Pathology Leader at the Broad Institute's Biological Samples Platform. Show full bio

Kirsten Efremov

Kirsten Efremov is a childhood and young adult cancer survivor having had cancer 3 times before the age of 30, being diagnosed first in 1998 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. ... Kirsten has completed her Bachelor of Science in medical sciences and masters in public health. As both a pediatric and adolescent and young adult (AYA) survivor Kirsten feels she has great advocacy skills and a powerful story to inspire others. Outside of her advocacy work she enjoys hiking and travelling. Show full bio

Jessica Hill

Jessica Hill is the Executive Director of the Guelph Wish Fund for Children. Jessica brings over two decades of healthcare experience and a profound commitment to pediatric care. Jessica's personal experience navigating her daughter Addy's rare cancer diagnosis of angiosarcoma has fueled her advocacy for change. ... Addy's passing in July 2022 has inspired Jessica to ensure every child's wish is fulfilled, replacing pain and suffering with laughter and joy. Jessica's dedication to child advocacy is evident through her leadership in major fundraising events, raising over $365,000 for Sarcoma research. She resides in Elora with her husband Dave, daughter Alyssa, volunteering her time with various charities and the Centre Wellington Celtics Basketball community. Show full bio

Tobias Karakach

Tobias Karakach holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Dalhousie with a concentration on Bioinformatics for Functional Genomics. After his post-doctoral work, Tobias worked as Research Officer (RO) at the National Research Council of Canada focusing on developing computational methods to analyze large multi-omics data to answer questions ranging from aquaculture to metrology. ... He later pivoted his career from a government scientist to an academic by taking up a role as a staff scientist at Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB) in Belgium, before returning to Canada and to Dalhousie University as an Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics and Pharmacogenomics. His lab focuses on developing novel bioinformatics methods to access information in -omics data to address questions related to cancer biology, specifically the etiology of pediatric neoplasms, their diagnosis and progression and, their heterogeneous response to pharmacotherapeutics. Show full bio

Chris Maxwell

Chris Maxwell is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia and a Researcher at BC Children's Hospital, where he is the Lead of the Childhood Cancer and Blood Research group. ... Chris received his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from the University of Alberta and completed post-doctoral studies at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Catalan Institute of Oncology. His research program studies cell division and genome stability at the molecular level and applies that knowledge to the understanding, prevention, and treatment of hereditary and childhood cancers. Show full bio

Callum Mullen

Callum Mullen is a childhood cancer survivor and Ph.D. student in Epidemiology at McGill University. He is a member of McGill’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology where he studies time to diagnosis and treatment in children living with cancer. ... As a survivor-turned-researcher, Callum is uniquely positioned to combine his lived and learned experiences to contribute to the improvement of cancer care for future generations. Show full bio

Emily Nakada

Emily Nakada is the Project Manager of the Cancer Biology Theme of ACCESS, providing support for its projects and activities, including the PCMM Network. ... Emily completed her Ph.D. in Experimental Medicine at McGill University, and her post-doctoral studies at McGill University and the University of Vermont. She worked as a biobank manager for a pediatric neuro-oncologist before moving into her present role. She grew up in the Toronto area, but currently calls the South Shore of Montreal, home. Show full bio

Sanja Rogic

Sanja Rogic is a Research Associate and the Lab Manager in the Bioinformatics Lab of Dr. Paul Pavlidis at the University of British Columbia. She is also the manager of the Bioinformatics Core of the Rare Disease Models and Mechanisms Network. ... Sanja earned her PhD in Computer Science at the University of British Columbia and pursued her post-doctoral studies at the BC Cancer Research Centre. Her research interests lie in the area of human disease genetics and genomics, with a particular focus on leveraging diverse high-throughput datasets to understand the causes and mechanisms of complex disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. Show full bio

Donna Senger

Donna Senger is an Associate Professor in the Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology at McGill University, a Senior Scientist at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Oncology at the University of Calgary. ... Dr. Senger has had a long-standing interest on the development of pediatric and adult central nervous system (CNS) tumors focusing on molecular characteristics of invasive glioma, cancer stem cells as therapeutic targets, and targeting the brain immune microenvironment and how it impacts the growth and progression of brain tumors. In addition, Dr. Senger’s research program focuses on the establishment of preclinical models for in vivo drug-screening and a “live” pediatric tumor bank that establishes pediatric-patient-derived-xenografts from rare and hard-to-cure cancers. Show full bio

Anita Villani

Anita Villani is a Staff Oncologist at The Hospital for Sick Children and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. She has a clinical and research interest in cancer genetics and predisposition, and in the translational implementation of genomic sequencing technologies into clinical oncology care. Anita is the Co-Director of the SickKids Precision Oncology Research Program (“KiCS”) and an active member of the Canadian national precision medicine program, PROFYLE. ... She is co-Principle Investigator of the Consortium for Childhood Cancer Predisposition (C3P) and of a multicentre, longitudinal registry study, the Childhood Cancer Predisposition Study (CCPS). She is co-chair of the Pediatric Cancer Predisposition Working Group within the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). Anita received her medical degree at the University of Ottawa. She completed both her Paediatric residency training and Haematology/Oncology fellowship at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She obtained her Master’s of Science degree in Genetics and Genome Biology through the Clinician Investigator Program and Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Show full bio

Franco Vizeacoumar

Franco Vizeacoumar is a Senior Scientist and an Associate Professor at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and University of Saskatchewan. Franco received his Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of Alberta and pursued post-doctoral training in systems biology at the University of Toronto. ... The overarching objective of his research group is to construct a comprehensive human genetic network, to unravel the genetic dependencies of cancer cells. The impactful research conducted in his lab has received support from various prestigious granting agencies, including CIHR, CRS, SCA, CFI to name a few. This diverse support reflects the significance and potential impact of his work in advancing our understanding of cancer genetics, fostering the development of targeted therapeutic strategies. Show full bio

Bioinformatics Core(BIC)

The BIC manages the Network Registry which is used to identify scientists that can be invited to submit proposals to interrogate preclinical research questions. Register as a Preclinical Investigator.

Chair: Dr. Paul Pavlidis
Core Manager: Dr. Sanja Rogic