Sponsored by
Merck CellCarta

HQP Day

Register for HQP Day here

HQP Development Day will be taking place on Friday November 19th!

HQP Development Day is an excellent opportunity to learn from inspiring leaders, connect with a variety of experts to discuss career and professional development, and win some exciting prizes.

This year, HQP Development Day will include industry talks hosted by Merck and CellCarta, a keynote address by Karine Morin (NSERC) about equity, diversity, and inclusion in science, and a panel discussion on career insights in clinical translation.

HQP day will also include a Meet the Experts speed networking event where HQP will have the opportunity to speak with various experts representing different sectors, such as government, industry, academia, and other NGOs, and expertise, such as policy, science, regulatory, commercialization, etc.

Please note these sessions will only be available live and will not be recorded.

HQP Development Day Agenda – Friday November 19th

12:00pm-12:10pm Opening Remarks
12:10pm - 12:40pm Industry Talks by Merck and CellCarta
12:40pm - 12:45pm Break
12:45pm - 1:25pm Keynote Address: EDI in Science
1:25pm - 2:10pm Panel: Career Insights in Clinical Translation
2:10pm - 2:45pm Break
2:45pm - 4:00pm Meet the Experts Session
4:00pm - 5:00pm Virtual Cocktail Hour (hosted via Toucan)
All times displayed are in EST.

Speakers and Panelists

  • Rebecca Auer, MD, Surgical Oncologist and Translational Researcher at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • Edie Dullaghan, PhD, Scientific Director of adMare Academy at adMare BioInnovations
  • Mélissa Mathieu, PhD, Senior Scientist at CellCarta
  • Karine Morin, Director of Policy and Interagency Affairs at NSERC
  • Brad Nelson, PhD, Distinguished Scientist and Director at Deeley Research Centre, Scientific Co-Director of Immunotherapy Program at BC Cancer
  • Christopher Nicholls, PhD, Associate Director of Patient Access at Merck

Experts – Meet the Experts

Register for HQP Day here

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom with log-in details and an option to add the event to your calendar. Please note, it is the same zoom link throughout the day, so you can come and go.

If you register but are then unable to attend the session, we kindly ask you to cancel your registration for planning purposes, and for curtesy of our many speakers and experts attending.

Speakers & Experts

Gloria Assaker

Gloria Assaker

Medical Science Liaison, GSK Canada

I am a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) in Oncology at GSK Canada since June 2020 –Covering Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces.

I hold an MSc in Pathology and Cell Biology and a PhD in Molecular Biology from the Université de Montréal. My graduate studies involved basic cancer research using various animal models.

In 2018, I completed a post-doc fellowship in Oncology at McGill University, focusing on a retrospective clinical study in triple-negative breast cancer.

Throughout my years in Academia, Ienjoyed sharing my research through oral and poster presentations at key national and international conferences.

Before joining GSK, I contributed for 2 years as a clinical research data coordinator and then as a medical writer in immuno-oncology.

My motivation is to leverage my knowledge of the oncology therapeutic area and my passion for scientific exchange in order to make an impact on cancer patients' journey in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Career Advice
Cultivate perseverance. If you keep trying and never give up, you will eventually reach your goals.


Rebecca Auer

Rebecca Auer

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, The Ottawa Hospital, University of Ottawa

Dr. Rebecca Auer is the Scientific Director for the Cancer Therapeutics Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. She is a Surgical Oncologist specializing in Colorectal Cancer Surgery and Retroperitoneal Sarcomas at The Ottawa Hospital and a Professor in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Auer completed her BSc at the University of Toronto, where she was awarded the prize for the highest marks among female graduates. She then completed medical school at Queen's University where she received the Gold Medal for the highest standing in medicine. She finished her residency in General Surgery with a concurrent MSc in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Ottawa. Following this Dr. Auer completed her Surgical Oncology Fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Auer returned to the University of Ottawa in 2008.

Dr. Auer holds a Tier 1 Clinical Research Chair in Perioperative Cancer Therapeutics and leads a translational research program focuses on understanding the promotion of metastatic disease in the perioperative period, following surgical stress. She had defined a mediating role for Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells and effector Natural Killer and T cells in the cancer recurrence and the development of postoperative metastases. Using surgically relevant preclinical animal models, Dr. Auer has identified candidate immunotherapies capable of counteracting the effects of surgery. Dr. Auer has led four translational clinical trials of perioperative cancer therapies based on this preclinical research. She has authored over 90 peer-reviewed publications and received over $6 million dollars in per-reviewed funding to support her work.

Dr. Auer is an international leader in surgical oncology and translational research in surgery. She currently serves as the Chair of Rectal Disease Oncology Group for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group and the Canadian representative to the NIH US Anal and Rectal Oncology Task Force. She is also on the executive of the Society of Surgical Oncology and the Canadian representative on the Global Forum for Cancer Surgeons. Dr. Auer also serves as the Chair of the Research Committee for the Canadian Association of General Surgeons and the Canadian Society of Surgical Oncology.


Andrew Casey

Andrew Casey

President & CEO, BIOTECanada

In his role as President & CEO of BIOTECanada Andrew is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Association. In this capacity, he is the primary spokesperson for Canada's biotech industry communicating on the industry's behalf with government, regulators, international bodies, media and the Canadian public. He also ensures BIOTECanada plays a central role in partnership with Government in the development of policy relating to Canada's biotech sector and the member companies of BIOTECanada.

Prior to joining BIOTECanada, Andrew served from 2004-2012 as Vice President, Public Affairs and International Trade and Vice President, Government Relations and Communications for the Forestry Products Association of Canada. In those roles he held responsibility for the Association's government relations, communications, media relations, advertising and international trade undertakings. From 1993-2004 he held the position of Assistant Vice-President, Government Relations with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. Between 1989 and 1993 Andrew held political assistant positions with a Member of Parliament and the Minister of State (Finance). Andrew Casey is a native of Montreal, Quebec. After attending Loyola High School (Montreal) and St. Lawrence CEGEP (Quebec City) he graduated from Carleton University (Ottawa) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.


Edie Dullaghan

Edie Dullaghan

Scientific Director, adMare Academy, adMare BioInnovations, Vancouver BC

As the Scientific Director of the adMare Academy, Dr. Edie Dullaghan plays a direct role in the developmentand advancement of scientific talent within the Canadian life sciences ecosystem. At adMare, Dr. Dullaghan supports the Academy's programs, including The BioInnovation Scientist Program, a one-of-a-kind program for early-careers cientists looking to build a drug development and commercialization career in Canada's life sciences industry.

Previously, Dr. Dullaghan worked at CDRD–The Centre for Drug Research and Developmentas the Director of Target Validation, where she spent over ten years advancing made-in-Canada innovations while also mentoring the next generation of drug developers. Prior to joining CDRD, Dr. Dullaghan served as the Pathogenomics Project Leader for Inimex Pharmaceuticals Inc., developing robust animal models of human infections with a focus toward host defense peptides and small molecules. Over the course of her career, she has managed several large-scale R&D programs, including leading a global collaboration with LifeArc and The Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (DSTL) in the United Kingdom using a novel approach in drug target discovery that capitalises on areas of commonality across pathogens.

Dr. Dullaghan obtained her PhD in the U.K. at the National Institute for Medical Research, studying the molecular genetics of the SOS response in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of TB.


Tina Gruosso

Tina Gruosso

BoD Science & Policy Exchange, Scientist at Forbius

Tina is a passionate scientist who completed her PhD at the Institut Curie in Paris and her postdoctoral fellowship in at McGill University in Montréal in oncology and tumor microenvironment. She is now a scientist in translational research at Forbius, a clinical stage biotech company in Montréal. Tina is an advocate for evidence-based policymaking, innovation, science diplomacy, science communication as well as equity, diversity and inclusion. Tina represents early career scientists as president for the student-led non-profit organization Science & Policy Exchange devoted to engaging the next generation in science advice, science communication, and evidence-informed policy. Tina is also a member of the Global Young Academy, the Montréal chapter of Women InBio and the redaction committee of the Acfas magazine.


Stephen Haley

Stephen Haley

Vice President AMER and Global Strategic Liaison, Immudex

PhD University of South Carolina where I was born. Post-Doc in the Lee lab at the University of Miami. Recruited to join the original tetramer group at Beckman Coulter in 2002 where I worked in sales and product management. Started the US subsidiary of Immudex in 2010 where I have served as head of Immudex USA and vice president of the overall company.

Career Advice
I hear so much talk about "finding your passion" these days. Passion is transient. Find your purpose, and you will set yourself on a life long path.


Terry Hawrysh

Terry Hawrysh

Terry Hawrysh is a cancer survivor and advocate for a healthcare system that consistently delivers superior patient outcomes. Trained as a professional engineer, he also dedicates himself to health care initiatives that incorporate and find relevance in the views of patients with lived experience. Terry is a patient advocate and volunteer with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Canada and has contributed as a patient partner / advisor to a wide range of programs funded by government authorities, research institutions and charitable organizations. Recently, he has been active as a patient partner engaged in the development of an early phase CAR T clinical trial program centered at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.


Joanne Jordan

Joanne Jordan

Manager of Business Development at BioTalent Canada

Joanne Jordan is the Manager, Business Development at BioTalent Canada, where she is the point of contact in building and maintaining relationships with the partners and partner’s members. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. With 10+ years experience in board management, fundraising and event planning, she then gained experience working with two start-ups in Ottawa. As a STEM grad, with two children in post-secondary school and experience with the challenges facing start-ups, she is very passionate in her role at BioTalent Canada – connecting talent to the jobs across Canada.


Pascale Lajoie Kostka

Pascale Lajoie Kostka

Director, Health Policy, BIOTECanada

Pascale brings over ten years of experience in healthcare policy, clinical programs, digital health technology, and population health research.

Before joining BIOTECanada, Pascale was Senior Engagement Manager at Think Research, a health technology company, where she led the Client Success team's long-term care initiatives, the data strategy team, and managed strategic partnerships. Prior to this work, Pascale acted as Senior Funding Specialist at Cancer Care Ontario (Ontario Health), where she leveraged her skills in health policy analysis, stakeholder engagement, and project management to lead numerous initiatives stemming from the province's Health System FundingReform.

Pascale holds a Graduate Diploma in Population Health Risk Assessment and Management from the University of Ottawa and a Master of Science Degree in Epidemiology from Queen's University. Throughout her graduate studies, she held the role of Technical Master's Student at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. Her peer-reviewed publications focused on the study of hazards of cancer and occupational risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

Career Advice
I started my career in epidemiology, landed in healthcare policy, and worked for a digital health tech start up before joining BIOTECanada. I've never been one to excessively plan ahead. Rather, I've relied on my curiosity and relationships to lead me in a direction that felt right and aligned with my values.My advice to anyone is to always embrace change and get comfortable with its likely discomforts, because learning something new is the best part of career growth. Your skills are transferable, so be open to the range of brilliant opportunities in the lifesciences sector.


Mélissa Mathieu

Mélissa Mathieu

Senior Scientist, CellCarta

Dr. Melissa Mathieu is a senior scientist at CellCarta where she develops and validates complex immunoassays for multiples applications such as CAR-T cell monitoring, immune monitoring for immunotherapy, vaccine response and autoimmune response. She is a passionate and experienced scientist who obtained a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at the University of Montreal in 2014, studying the requirement for T cell activation by antigen presenting cells in murine model under the supervision of Dr. Nathalie Labrecque at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Center. Being fascinated by breakthroughs in cancer immunotherapy, she pursued a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Simon Turcotte at the Centre de Recherche du CHUM (CRCHUM) where she studied the T-cell immune response against tumor neoantigens and gained knowledge about human immunology.

Career Advice
Study a subject that you find interesting, that you believe will be important for mankind. As scientists, we are building a big puzzle of knowledge and every piece is important. Diversify your skills by getting engaged in non-scientific activities, this will teach you important soft skills and keep you motivated. If you love and believe in what you do, you will certainly find a rewarding career path.


Doug McCarthy

Doug McCarthy

Senior Medical Scientist at Kite/Gilead

Doug is a Senior Medical Scientist with Kite, A Gilead Company, working In Medical Affairs supporting Kite’s CAR T cell therapiesin Canada. Doug has a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University and a PhD in Immunology from the University of Toronto. Prior to Kite, Doug worked at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto with the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and the Cancer Clinical Research Unit.

Career Advice
In your education and in your career, follow your interests and your passions. Identify people who do things that interest you and ask them about their work and their career path. If you have the opportunity to join a project outside your current role, go for it and learn as much as you can; these sorts of projects have opened up new areas of interest and expertise for me and helped toprepareme for my current role.


Karine Morin

Karine Morin

Director, Policy and Interagency Affairs, NSERC

In early 2019, Karine Morin joined NSERC as Director, Policy and Interagency Affairs where she is responsible for the implementation of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiative.

She recently returned to Ottawa after being an Executive Director at Alberta Innovates, overseeing a number of initiatives related to clinical research and ethics. Previously, she has served as Genome Canada's Director of the "GE3LS" program, overseeing activities related to the ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social aspects of genomics research. Earlier, she was a Senior Ethics Policy Advisor at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). She also conducted research on ethical, legal and social issues related to genomics at the University of Ottawa's Institute of Science, Society and Policy.

Karine is a graduate of McGill University School of Law; she also completed a Masters in Law at the University of Pennsylvania, and worked in the US for more than 10 years.

She has broad expertise in science policy, has published widely in bioethics and law, and has taught as an adjunct at several universities in the US and Canada.


Brad Nelson

Brad Nelson

Distinguished Scientist and Director, Deeley Research Centre
Scientific Co-director, Immunotherapy Program, BC Cancer, Victoria BC, Canada

Dr. Nelson is a native of Vancouver BC. He received his B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia in 1987 and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. He completed postdoctoral training with Dr. Phil Greenberg and held faculty positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in Seattle. In 2003, he became the founding Director of BC Cancer's Deeley Research Centre in Victoria BC. He is a Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia and a Professor of Biochemistry/Microbiology at the University of Victoria. Dr. Nelson's lab uses genomic and molecular approaches to study the immune response to cancer. As Scientific Co-director of BC Cancer's Immunotherapy Program, he is leading a phase I clinical trials program focused on CAR T-cell therapy for lymphoid cancers and novel T cell engineering strategies for gynecological cancers and other malignancies. Dr. Nelson is CEO and co-founder of Innovakine Therapeutics, which is using innovative protein and cell engineering approaches to improve the efficacy and safety of cell-based therapies.


Christopher Nicholls

Christopher Nicholls

Associate Director of Patient Access at Merck

Chris is currently Merck’s Associate Director for Patient Access in AB and MB. In this role, he is responsible for engaging stakeholders such as physicians, public payers, and private insurance companies, to facilitate timely accessto Merck medicines. Chris is a lifelong learner, strategic thinker, and exceptional communicator who enjoys collaborating with scientists, physicians, and business professionals alike.

Chris holds a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Calgary (2006) and has experience in drug development, technology transfer, medical affairs, business development, sales, and as a small business owner. In his spare time he enjoys coaching and spending time with his boys, date nights with his wife, spending time with friends, and collecting baseball cards.

Career Advice
Learn as much as possible in everything you do, and with every opportunity you have in your career. Always be a team player and collaborator of choice for others to work with. And do it all with a positive attitude.


Amanda Rickard

Amanda Rickard

Manager of Business Development at Notch Therapeutics

Amanda Rickard is Manager, Business Development at Notch Therapeutics, where she works to facilitate strategic partnerships to support the development of universal, off-the-shelf cell therapies. Her experience in drug discovery and pluripotent stem cell technologies has spanned the academic, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical sectors. She joined to Notch from the epigenetic therapeutics group at Pfizer Oncology where she prepared the lead indication package for First-in-Patient evaluation of a small molecule for treatment of solid tumors, previously developed pluripotent stem cell-based models of muscle disease at Genea Biocells, and led the team that discovered Rebastinib as a clinical candidate for FSH Muscular Dystrophy. She started her career studying molecular mechanisms of pathological gene activation at the University of Washington’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. Ms. Rickard holds a BSc in Biology from Western Washington University.

Career Advice
Solid relationships and trust built during any work-related (or extracurricular!) activity will yield mentoring, development, volunteer, and career opportunities that are beyond those that you could hope to identify alone. Simply talking with people and asking questions about their work or experience is enough to start, then build their respect by showing up prepared where possible, asking challenging questions, and offering your help when appropriate and feasible.


Risini Weeratna

Risini Weeratna

Senior Research Officer and the Team Lead for Cancer Immunology at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Center of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)

Dr. Risini Weeratna has >25 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry with a focus in the fields of vaccines and immunotherapeutics. She holds a MSc degree in bacteriology from University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA and a PhD in microbiology from Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada. Following a short tenure as a Postdoctoral Scientist at Dalhousie University working on molecular pathogenesis of Legionella pneumophila, Dr. Weeratna joint Coley Pharmaceutical group in 1996 where she was an Associate Director, Pharmacology R&D and was responsible for overseeing non-clinical pharmacology studies to support the development of both vaccines and immune therapies in various therapeutic areas including chronic infectious disease, oncology and autoimmune disease. Following the acquisition of Coley by Pfizer, Dr. Weeratna joint Pfizer Vaccine Research as a Senior Principal Scientist/Senior Manager Leadership and headed cross functional teams in an international matrix environment to investigate adjuvants and delivery systems and novel adjuvant combinations to support various vaccine projects. She also played a key role in supporting the development of vaccine based immunotherapy for oncology and allergic asthma both of which were transitioned into human clinical testing.

Dr. Weeratna is currently a Senior Research Officer and the Team Lead for Cancer Immunology at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Center of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). She is also leading the engineered cell theme of the Cell and Gene Therapy Challenge Program, a Canadian Federal Government initiative for developing novel and innovative cell and gene therapies that are affordable and accessible to all Canadians through the Canadian public health care system. In these roles, Dr. Weeratna is responsible for providing scientific and strategic direction for internal technology platforms and pipelines in the area of cancer immunotherapy as well as leading multiple academic, industry and clinical collaborations where NRC is providing research and technical assistance to advancing novel cancer immunotherapeutics from bench to the clinic.

Dr. Weeratna is a Fulbright scholar and a Sir Isaac Walton Killam scholar. She has authored over 60 manuscripts and book chapters. She has multiple patents on vaccine adjuvants and delivery systems and novel antibodies and is recipient of the NRC Corporate Intellectual Property Achievement Award and NRC Inventor Fixed Milestone Award.

Career Advice
  1. Put the time and dedication to find a career path that you enjoy. When you enjoy what you do; you never work a day in your life.
  2. Don't be afraid to speak up at meetings; ask questions if you do not understand something
  3. Find goodmentor to help you along the way and be a mentor to others

Genevieve Weir

Genevieve Weir

Director of Business Development at IMV Inc.

Dr. Genevieve Weir is the Director of Business Development at IMV Inc., and works to set strategy and develop collaborations to support IMV's corporate growth. Prior to this role, she engaged in exploratory preclinical research as part of the R&D team at IMV. Her research interest lies in mechanisms of T cell and B cell activation through vaccination for treatment of cancer or prevention of infectious disease. Dr. Weir was part of the team that developed IMV's lead product maveropepimut-S for oncoimmunology therapy. She has also worked for Avanda Biolabs in developing a Salmonella-based vector for DNA vaccination in cancer therapy. Dr. Weir obtained her MSc in Immunology in 2006 and PhD in Immunology in 2014, both from Dalhousie University.

Career Advice
Once you are done school, your continuing education will come from your experiences. Everything you do is an opportunity to learn and grow, and everyone you meet could help you on your path. Start with what interests you, and always seek opportunities to gain experience.