//Scientific Advisors
Scientific Advisors 2020-10-06T11:50:36-06:00


Did you know? The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) includes internationally-renowned scientists who meet twice each year to help set research priorities for Alberta’s Tomorrow Project.

Scientific Advisory Committee Chair

Dr. Paul Burton, MD, MRCP(UK), CStat, FFPH
Dr. Paul Burton, MD, MRCP(UK), CStat, FFPHSAC Chair
Paul Burton is Professor of Data Science for Health at the University of Newcastle.

Professor of Data Science for Health

Institute of Health and Society,

University of Newcastle,

United Kingdom

His current research program concentrates on infrastructural development in contemporary population bioscience. This includes the theory and practice that underpins the design, set-up and harmonization of major biobanks and cohort studies. He also has a particular focus on the challenges and opportunities to be addressed if streamlined access is to be enabled to large-scale data and samples in a manner that broadens the user-base while maintaining reliable information security.

He leads the international DataSHIELD project (EU FP7, MRC, WT) which provides a novel approach to secure utilisation of data based on parallelized mathematical modelling and distributed computing. He is PI of 58-READIE (MRC and WT) that maintains and enhances the infrastructural platform underpinning data and biosample release from the Biomedical Resource of the 1958 Birth Cohort and is lead of the technical group METADAC (MRC, ESRC, WT) that now oversees access to the biomedical components of 1958, 1970 and Millennium Cohorts and Understanding Society. He is co-PI (leading on infrastructural development) of ALSPAC (the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, also MRC and WT). He sits on the Expert Advisory Group on Data Access (WT, MRC, ESRC, CRUK) and chairs the Scientific Advisory Committee of Alberta’s Tomorrow Project, and the International Steering Committee of P3G (the Montreal-based Public Population Project in Genomics in Society).

Scientific Advisory Committee Member

Bartha Maria Knoppers, PhD
Bartha Maria Knoppers, PhDSAC Member
Bartha Maria Knoppers, PhD, is Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University, Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine 2001-present and the holder of Chaire d’excellence Pierre Fermat (France) (2006-2008).
Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy

Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine

Faculty of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University

She was named Distinguished Visiting Scientist (Netherlands Genomics Initiative) (2009-2012). Formerly, Professor at the Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal (1985-2009) and Senior Researcher at the Centre de recherche en droit public (C.R.D.P.) (1996-2009). Graduate of McMaster University (B.A.), University of Alberta (M.A.), McGill University (LL.B., B.C.L.), Cambridge University, U.K., (D.L.S.), Sorbonne Paris I (Phd.). She was admitted to the Bar of Québec in 1985.

Professor Knoppers was the former Chair of the International Ethics committee of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) (1996-2004), and member of the International Bioethics Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which drafted the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (1993-1997). Co-Founder of the International Institute of Research in Ethics and Biomedicine (IIREB) (2000 – 2009), she founded the Population Project in Genomics (P3G) and CARTaGENE in 2003. From 2000-2006 she served on the Board of Genome Canada, became Chair of the Ethics Working Party of the International Stem Cell Forum, Co-Chair of the Sampling/ELSI Committee of the 1000 Genomes Project (2007-) and a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) (2009-). In 2013, she became Chair of the Regulatory and Ethics Working Group and Member of the Steering Committee (TSC) of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health.

Professor Knoppers received a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from the University of Waterloo (2001), a Doctor of Medicine Honoris Causa from Université de Paris V (René Descartes) (2002), a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from McMaster University, Ontario (2007) and a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from the University of Alberta in 2008. In 2002, she was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, selected as one of the 50 Nation Builders in Canada by the Globe and Mail, and named Officer of the Order of Canada. In that same year, she was elected Fellow of The Hastings Center (Bioethics), New York, member of the International Ethics Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency and in April 2005, Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS). She was elected Governor of the Quebec Bar in 2006 and in 2007 was elected Advocatus Emeritus. In 2011, she received the ACFAS Prix Jacques Rousseau for interdisciplinarity. In April 2012 she was name Officer of the Ordre national du Quebec and in June received an award “Prix Montreal In Vivo: Secteur des sciences de la vie et des technologies de la santé”. In 2013, she was named “Champion of Genetics” by the Canadian Gene Cure Foundation. In 2014, she was named “Great Montrealer”, Scientific Sector, Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.

Scientific Advisory Committee Member

Nancy Pedersen, PhD
Nancy Pedersen, PhDSAC Member
A graduate of the University of Minnesota (B.A. Magna cum Laude) and the University of Colorado (M.A., Ph.D.), Professor Pedersen has been at Karolinska Institutet (KI) for 35 years. She has served as the vice chair and chair of the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and as the vice dean of research at KI. She is a member of the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, which awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Research Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California

As PI of the Swedish Adoption Twin Study of Aging, which has been ongoing for 30 years, and co-PI on other twin studies of aging and the Study of Dementia in Swedish Twins, she has demonstrated how genetic influences decrease in importance late in life for some cognitive abilities whereas genetic influences for Alzheimer’s disease remain substantial. Her current research efforts are focused on both gene-environment interplay in healthy aging as well as on the etiology of chronic diseases of the elderly including dementia, Parkinson’s disease, late onset depression and other diseases with neuropsychiatric components in midlife such as chronic fatigue. Key to her research is the study of comorbidity and the extent to which there are pleiotropic and epistatic effects explaining these cormobidities and associations. She is currently identifying the mechanisms by which changes in methylation patterns in the brain and blood are reflected in cognitive decline, dementia and cardiovascular disease.

Pedersen has over 520 peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals and has been supported by funds from the NIH since the 1980’s (NIA, NIEHS, NIDDK, NINDS). She has mentored 22 PhD students and 15 postdocs.

Through Nancy Pedersen’s efforts, the Swedish Twin Registry has been rejuvenated and expanded to include essentially all twins born in Sweden since 1886 and with prospective information that has and will continue to be a foundation for numerous research efforts in the field of genetic epidemiology. She is now the Scientific Director of LifeGene, a prospective cohort study that will collect phenotype, exposure, and biobanking materials on 250,000 Swedes.

Scientific Advisory Committee Member

Dr. Kim Raine, PhD, RD
Dr. Kim Raine, PhD, RDSAC Member
Dr Raine’s research program, Promoting Optimal Weights through Ecological Research (POWER), explores the social and environmental determinants of the emerging obesity epidemic
Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta
Her team’s research explores the ways in which social conditions and people’s behaviours (particularly food and eating behaviours) interact to transmit obesity and chronic diseases through social means.

Although her expertise is primarily in qualitative methods, such as ethnography, she collaborates with colleagues who bring diverse quantitative methods to the team, so that they are able to explore how social factors such as policies, commercialization of food, and the built environment of communities where people live may invisibly structure people’s choices.

With knowledge of how social forces may be shaping the health of people and communities, her current research priorities are on intervening on the social conditions contributing to obesity and chronic diseases. Her contribution to intervention development and evaluation includes conducting large-scale, community-based and population policy-level health promotion initiatives to address chronic disease prevention.

Her philosophy has always been to make the healthy choice the easy choice, and this can best be accomplished if stakeholders are made aware of the relationships demonstrated through research initiatives and stimulated to act on them. Therefore, a priority of all of her research endeavours is an integration of practitioners and policy decision-makers into the research/ intervention team to facilitate rapid action.


PhD, Dalhousie University, 1993

MA, Mount Saint Vincent University, 1988

RD, Victoria General Hospital, 1983


Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (FCAHS), 2012

Applied Public Health Chair, Canadian Institutes of Health Research / Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 2008 – 2013

Health Senior Scholar, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, 2005 – 2010

Health Scholar, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, 2000 – 2004

Scientific Advisory Committee Member

Stephen Robbins, PhD
Stephen Robbins, PhDSAC Member
In addition to his role as Scientific Director of the Institute for Cancer Research at CIHR, Dr. Robbins is a Professor in the Departments of Oncology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Calgary.
Scientific Director, Institute of Cancer Research, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Professor, Departments of Oncology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, University of Calgary

He joined the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary in 1996 after training at the University of California, San Francisco in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Dr. J. Michael Bishop. His research activities include deciphering how extracellular signals are recognized by cells to control cellular proliferation and differentiation. During his research career, he favoured a more translational approach, which led to defining new therapies for malaria, the discovery of a novel class of anti-inflammatory agents and new therapeutic targets for brain tumours. He has also developed and fostered the use of the Microarray Technology to define molecular blueprints of various childhood cancers. He has served on and chaired several national grant panels including the National Cancer Institute of Canada, Cancer Research Society and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee on Research for the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute and the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Terry Fox Research Institute.

Scientific Advisory Committee Member

Richard P Troiano, PhD
Richard P Troiano, PhDSAC Member
Richard (Rick) Troiano, PhD, is a Program Director in the Risk Factor Assessment Branch of the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), and is currently serving on a detail to the Office of the Surgeon General.
Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch, Applied Research Program

US National Cancer Institute

Richard (Rick) Troiano, PhD, is a Program Director in the Risk Factor Assessment Branch of the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), and is currently serving on a detail to the Office of the Surgeon General. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in nutrition from Cornell University. His research interest is improved understanding of the relationship between health and physical activity, with a particular focus on the measurement of physical activity. Dr. Troiano promotes the use of accelerometer-based devices in the assessment of physical activity in research and population surveillance and improved understanding of the information obtained from devices and self-reports.

In 1993, Dr. Troiano entered government service and the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He joined the Division of Health Examination Statistics of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, where he helped design the body composition, physical activity and physical fitness components of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Since moving to the NCI, Dr. Troiano has extended his work with the NHANES by implementing the use of devices to obtain measures of participants’ physical activity, sleep, and body strength. Captain Troiano is the author of more than 70 publications and has been a member of the Interagency Work Group for the Healthy People 2010 and 2020 Nutrition and Overweight Focus Area and the Healthy People 2020 Physical Activity and Fitness Focus Area. During an earlier detail to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Dr. Troiano was the Coordinator of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) development of 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Scientific Advisory Committee Member

Shelley Tworoger, PhD
Shelley Tworoger, PhDSAC Member
Dr Tworoger’s research focus is to enhance ovarian cancer prevention, using an integrative approach involving collaborations with biostatisticians, pathologists, and oncologists; this constitutes a powerful method for improving understanding of ovarian carcinogenesis.
Associate Epidemiologist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

She leads the ovarian cancer research efforts in the Nurses’ Health Studies (NHS/NHSII) and NHS P01 Ovarian Cancer Project. Additionally, she co-leads a new international, NCI-sponsored research effort, the Ovarian Cancer Cohort Consortium. Her work in ovarian cancer falls into three primary areas: (a) identifying new risk factors, (b) evaluating disease heterogeneity, and (c) elucidating early carcinogenic changes. Most known risk factors for ovarian cancer are not easily modifiable; however, this cancer’s poor prognosis makes it important to identify methods for prevention. Her interests in this area include diet (flavonoids, acrylamide) and novel risk factors, such as beta-blocker medications, stress, and inflammation.

A common thread in her research is a strong interest in optimal integration of biologic markers into epidemiologic studies through her role as Director of the BWH/Harvard Cohorts Biorepository. This core (annual budget ~$1.5 million) maintains the scientific integrity of and uses nearly two million biospecimens from over 120,000 NHS/NHSII women. Her primary responsibilities include assisting investigators with the scientific aspects of incorporating biomarkers into their studies, managing laboratory and data management personnel, overseeing new sample collections, and investigating new technologies.


Did you know? The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) meets at least three times each year, to develop and implement research strategies and protocols for priorities set by the SAC

Scientific Steering Committee Member

Lawrence de Koning, PhD, DABCC
Lawrence de Koning, PhD, DABCCSSC Member
Lawrence (Larry) de Koning is a clinical biochemist and epidemiologist.
Clinical Biochemist, Calgary Laboratory Services

Clinical Associate Professor, Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics, and Community Health Sciences

Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

He is board certified in clinical chemistry from the American Board of Clinical Chemistry (ABCC), and holds a PhD in Health Research Methodology from McMaster University. Lawrence completed post-doctoral fellowships in epidemiology and clinical chemistry at Harvard University, and has numerous publications in cardiovascular epidemiology, biochemical markers and nutrition. Current projects include the assessment of maternal lifestyle on childhood outcome through analysis of pregnancy cohort data, modeling novel relationships between laboratory test data on health outcomes through analysis of administrative data, and developing biochemical methods for assessing dietary intake.

Scientific Steering Committee Member

Isabel Fortier, PhD
Isabel Fortier, PhDSSC Member
Dr Isabel Fortier is researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre where she leads the Maelstrom Research and DataSHaPER programs.
McGill University Health Centre
Dr Isabel Fortier is researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre where she leads the Maelstrom Research and DataSHaPER programs. These initiatives aim to develop and provide the research community from diverse disciplines with resources (expertise, methods and software) to leverage and support (1) data harmonization and integration across studies and (2) implementation of individual study infrastructures.

In addition, she serves as coordinator of data harmonization for the BioSHaRE (Biobank Standardisation and Harmonisation for Research Excellence in the European Union) project. This large scale FP7-funded project aims to ensure the development of harmonized measures and computing infrastructures enabling the effective pooling of data across large European cohorts studies including UK Biobank, Lifelines, KORA, Nord-Trøndelag Health Study, LifeGene, Estonian Genome Center, National Child Development Study, and National FINRISK Study. Dr Fortier also led the construction of the P3G (Public Population Project in Genomics) Observatory, a central internet repository of scientific resources and tools. Finally, at the Canadian level, Dr Fortier has been involved in the development and harmonization of a number of cohorts including the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (50 000 participants), CARTaGENE (20 000 participants) and Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (300 000 participants).

Scientific Steering Committee Member

Christine Friedenreich, PhD
Christine Friedenreich, PhDSSC Member
Over the past twenty years, Dr. Friedenreich has developed a multidisciplinary research program focused on the role of physical activity in the prevention and control of cancer.
Scientific Leader, Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research

AI-HS Health Senior Scholar

Adjunct Professor and ACF Weekend to End Women’s Cancers Breast Cancer Chair

Departments of Oncology, Community Health Sciences

Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Kinesiology

University of Calgary

Her research program includes observational and experimental studies that are population-based and that include provincial, national and international collaborators. Dr. Friedenreich held a leadership position within Alberta Health Services and helped establish core infrastructure units to support departmental research activities in epidemiology and biostatistics.

Dr. Friedenreich has conducted three population-based case-control studies of lifetime physical activity and cancers of the breast, prostate and endometrium that have used a new questionnaire that she developed, tested and published entitled the Lifetime Total Physical Activity Questionnaire. She and her colleagues found statistically significant reductions in risk of breast, prostate and endometrial cancers. Cohort follow-ups for each of the case groups have also been conducted: thus far they have found that recreational activity significantly improved survival after breast and prostate cancer. The endometrial cancer cohort study is on-going.

Dr. Friedenreich led the first intervention trial of exercise for breast cancer prevention in Canada, the ALPHA Trial (Alberta Physical Activity and Breast Cancer Prevention Trial). She and her colleagues found that the exercise intervention reduces endogenous estrogens, decreased insulin resistance, adiposity and inflammation, but had no effect on mammographic density. Dr. Friedenreich is now conducting the Breast Cancer and Exercise Trial in Alberta (BETA Trial) that has randomized 400 postmenopausal, healthy, inactive women into a year-long exercise intervention of either 150 or 300 mins/wk of aerobic exercise to determine what level of activity is optimal to impact breast cancer biomarkers.

Dr. Friedenreich is also involved in numerous randomized controlled exercise intervention trials among cancer patients aimed at understanding how exercise may improve well-being, coping, rehabilitation and survival after cancer. She and her colleagues are currently conducting a population-based cohort study of physical activity, health-related fitness and breast cancer survival known as the Alberta Moving Beyond Breast Cancer Cohort Study (AMBER study) in 1500 incident breast cancer cases in Alberta. Dr. Friedenreich is also a co-investigator on the first ever randomized controlled trial of exercise for colon cancer survival being conducted across Canada and Australia known as the Colon Health and Lifelong Exercise Trial (CHALLENGE Trial).

The ultimate objective of Dr. Friedenreich’s research program is to provide evidence for improved public health guidelines regarding the exact type, dose and timing of physical activity that is of greatest benefit for reducing cancer risk and improving prognosis and survival after cancer. Her research program has been very active and well-funded with collaborations worldwide for increasingly complex population health research in cancer focused on lifestyle risk factors.

Scientific Steering Committee Member

Jeff Johnson, PhD
Jeff Johnson, PhDSSC Member
Jeff is currently a Professor in the School of Public Health, University of Alberta and a Fellow with the Institute of Health Economics in Edmonton.
Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta

Chair, Alliance for Canadian Health Outcomes Research in Diabetes (ACHORD)

From 2012-2014 Jeff served as the Scientific Director for Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition, Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services. He holds a University of Alberta Centennial Professor Award and a Senior Health Scholar award from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (now called Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions). Jeff leads many of the ACHORD research projects, including studies of the measurement of health-related quality of life in diabetes, epidemiologic studies of diabetes and major comorbidities and complications, pharmacoepidemiologic studies of drug therapy in diabetes, economic analyses of diabetes care, and in the evaluation of policies and alternative care delivery strategies to improve the efficiency and quality of care in diabetes.

Apart from his primary interests in diabetes health outcomes, Jeff collaborates with other colleagues in areas such as dialysis, osteoporosis, stroke and cardiology, often providing support in the assessment of patient-reported outcomes in these chronic medical conditions. As a pharmacist, Jeff is also interested generally in pharmaceutical policy and the formulary decision-making process.

Jeff received a B.S.P. with Distinction in 1988 and a M.Sc. in clinical pharmacy/pharmacoepidemiology in 1994, both from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada. He received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from The University of Arizona in 1996, majoring in pharmaceutical economics.

Scientific Steering Committee Member

Sharon Kirkpatrick, PhD
Sharon Kirkpatrick, PhDSSC Member
Dr. Sharon Kirkpatrick`s current research focuses mainly on advancing methodologies for assessing diet and dealing with measurement error in dietary intake data.
Assistant Professor, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo
Dr. Kirkpatrick’s work is needed to enable a better understanding of the diets of populations, relationships between diet and health, and the impact of interventions on diet.

She also has longstanding interests in food access among marginalized populations, with a particular focus on research aimed at informing policy and program interventions to reduce food insecurity. Work in this area focuses on a broad range of potential factors that might influence food security, including social policy, housing, and neighbourhood characteristics.

In addition, Dr. Kirkpatrick has interests in food policy, dietary guidance, and food environments, and is a registered dietitian.

Scientific Steering Committee Member

Karen Kopciuk, PhD
Karen Kopciuk, PhDSSC Member
Dr. Kopciuk is a Research Scientist in the Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research, Cancer Care Alberta, AHS and an adjunct Associate Professor in the Departments of Oncology and Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Calgary.
Research Scientist

Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research

Cancer Care Alberta, Alberta Health Services

Adjunct Associate Professor, Departments of Oncology, and Mathematics and Statistics, University of Calgary

Dr. Kopciuk’s research interests focus on families who carry a genetic mutation predisposing them to cancer and biomarkers measured from various metabolomic platforms that could be used for diagnostic, predictive, response or prognostic purposes. Her current research projects illustrate these themes:

• developing methods for estimating the impact of screening interventions on genetic and disease risks in members of families who segregate a major gene;

• extending methods for incomplete life history data and multi-state models to correlated data settings and with application to complex diseases;

• combining metabolomic data collected from disparate platforms by developing new methods that also reduce the measurement error and co-variation effects; and

• imputing censored values below the limit of detection to improve accuracy in biomarker identification.

Scientific Steering Committee Member

Suzanne Tough, PhD
Suzanne Tough, PhDSSC Member
Suzanne Tough is a Professor with the Departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, and a Health Scholar supported by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.
Professor, Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences

Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Dr. Tough is also the Scientific Director of the Maternal, Newborn, Child and Youth Strategic Clinical Network and of the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research, an organization whose vision is to improve child, family and community well-being through applied research.

Her research program focuses on improving health and well-being of women during pregnancy to achieve optimal maternal, birth and early childhood outcomes. Suzanne is the Principal Investigator of the All Our Babies Study, a cohort with 3,200 mother-child pairs that is investigating the impact of genetic and environmental factors on maternal-child health. The underlying aim of her research program is to optimize birth and childhood outcomes by creating evidence that informs the development of community and clinical programs and influences policy.

We hope you enjoyed reading about our team!

Each one of the individuals located on this page plays a crucial part in the direction of our study.