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Past Keynote Speakers


Timothy Caulfield
Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy
Professor, Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director, Health Law Institute, at the University of Alberta
Author, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash
Host and Co-Producer, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death

Timothy Caulfield is an unrivaled communicator who debunks myths and assumptions about innovation in the health sector—from research on stem cells to diets to alternative medicine—for the benefit of the public and decision-makers.  He is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.

Caulfield’s interdisciplinary research on topics like stem cells, genetics, research ethics, the public representations of science and health policy issues has allowed him to publish over 350 academic articles. He has won numerous academic and writing awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Trudeau Foundation and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He contributes frequently for the popular press and is the author of two national bestsellers: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness (Penguin 2012) and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash (Penguin 2015)His most recent book is The Vaccination Picture (Pengiun, 2017). Caulfield is also the host and co-producer of the documentary TV show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, which has been shown in over 60 countries and is currently streaming on Netflix.


Dr. Janet Smylie
Director, Well Living House Applied Research Centre for Indigenous Infant, Child and Family Health
Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Dr. Janet Smylie is a family physician and public health researcher. She currently works as a research scientist in Indigenous health at St. Michael’s Hospital, Centre for Urban Health Solutions (CUHS), where she directs the Well Living House Applied Research Centre for Indigenous Infant, Child and Family Health. Her primary academic appointment is as a Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She maintains a part-time clinical practice with Inner City Health Associates at Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto.

Dr. Smylie has practised and taught family medicine in a variety of Aboriginal communities, both urban and rural.  She is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario, with Métis roots in the prairies. Her research interests are focused in the area of addressing the health inequities that challenge Indigenous infants, children and their families through applied health services research. Dr. Smylie currently leads multiple research projects in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities/organizations.

She holds a CIHR Applied Public Health Research Chair in Indigenous Health Knowledge and Information and was honoured with a National Aboriginal Achievement (Indspire) Award in Health in 2012.

A Métis woman, Dr. Smylie acknowledges her family, teachers and lodge.


Dr. Paul Thagard
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Waterloo

Dr. Paul Thagard is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, where he founded the Cognitive Science Program.

He has written many papers and books, including The Cognitive Science of Science (MIT Press, 2012) and How Scientists Explain Disease (Princeton University Press, 1999). He is now working on a 3-book Treatise on Mind and Society to be published by Oxford University Press. 

Dr. Thagard’s main research areas are philosophy of science and medicine, cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Specific topics include analogy, coherence, decision making, conceptual change, explanatory reasoning, theoretical neuroscience, discovery and innovation, emotions and consciousness, moral psychology, and theories and explanations in biomedicine.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Cognitive Science Society and the Association for Psychological Science. The Canada Council awarded him a Killam Research Fellowship in1997, a Molson Prize in 2007 and a Killam Prize in 2013.


Dr. Peter Libby
Cardiovascular Specialist, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Mallinckrodt Professorship of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Libby is a cardiovascular specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds the Mallinckrodt Professorship of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He served as Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at BWH from 1998 - 2014. His areas of clinical expertise include general and preventive cardiology.

His current major research focus is the role of inflammation in vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. He has a longstanding interest in the pathophysiology of acute myocardial infarction ranging back to his doctoral thesis performed under Professor Eugene Braunwald, entitled "Protection of the Ischemic Myocardium". Dr. Libby has particular experience in translating laboratory studies to pilot and then large-scale clinical cardiovascular outcome trials.

As author and lecturer on cardiovascular medicine and atherosclerosis, Dr. Libby has published extensively in medical journals including Circulation, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New England Journal of Medicine, and Nature. He is an editor of Braunwald's Heart Disease, having served as the editor-in-chief of the 8th Edition. Dr. Libby has also contributed chapters on the pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of atherosclerosis to many editions of Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. He has held numerous visiting professorships and delivered more than 80 major named or keynote lectures throughout the world.


Nathan Wolfe, PhD
Lorry I. Lokey Business Wire Consulting Professor in Human Biology, Stanford University

Founder and CEO of Metabiota
Chairman of Global Viral

"Virus Hunter" Nathan Wolfe rethinks pandemic control for our globalized world. By concentrating on how epidemic diseases—such as HIV, SARS, and West Nile—all stem from human contact with infected animals, he is able to discover new threatening viruses where they first emerge. According to Wired magazine, "Wolfe's brand of globe-trotting echoes an almost Victorian scientific ethic, an expedition to catalog the unseen menagerie of the world." His debut book, The Viral Storm, is an "engrossing and fast-paced chronicle of medical exploration and discovery" (Publisher's Weekly) that take readers from the jungles of Africa to Wolfe's state-of-the-art labs, shedding light on the often overlooked but ultimately critical field of microbiology. It was published in six languages and shortlisted for the Royal Society’s Winton Prize.

Wolfe is the Lorry I. Lokey Business Wire Consulting Professor in Human Biology at Stanford University; the Founder and CEO of Metabiota, a company that specializes in microbiological research, products, and services; and the Chairman of Global Viral, a non-profit that promotes understanding, exploration, and stewardship of the microbial world. Wolfe was named a Rolling Stone "100 Agents of Change," a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. He is also the winner of the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. Wolfe has received over $60m in grants and contracts from Google, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US Department of Defense, among others—making him a man poised to eradicate pandemics before they even happen.


Terry Kenakin, BS, PhD
Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Beginning his career as a synthetic chemist, Terry Kenakin received a PhD in Pharmacology at the Unversity of Alberta. After a Postdoctoral Fellowship at University College London, UK, he joined Burrough-Wellcome as an Associate Scientist. From there, he continued working in drug discovery at Glaxo Inc, GlaxoWellcome and GlaxoSmithKline Research and Development Laboratories at Research Triangle Park, NC.

Currently he is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC. Kenakin has been involved in drug discovery for more than 30 years. Today, he is engaged in studies aimed at the optimal design of drug activity assays systems as well as the discovery and testing of allosteric molecules for the treatment of diabetes. He is a member of numerous editorial boards as well as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Receptors and Signal Transduction and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Current Opinion in Pharmacology. In addition, he has authored numerous articles and has written nine books on pharmacology.


Dr. Jon Stoessl, CM, MD, FRCPC, FAAN, FCAHS
Canada Research Chair in Parkinson’s Disease
Director, Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre and National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence
Acting Head, Division of Neurology
Professor, Neurology, University of British Columbia

Originally from London, UK, Dr. A. Jon Stoessl moved to Canada in 1960 and obtained his MD from Western University in 1979. His postdoctoral work focused on movement disorders, PET technology, Alzheimer's disease and neuropharmacology. Dr. Stoessl's current research is focussed on understanding basal ganglia disorders, particularly Parkinson's disease, including complications of long-term therapy. His lab uses positron emission tomography (PET) to study the natural history and progression of Parkinson' s disease, compensatory changes that take place during the course of the disease, and changes associated with the development of motor complications. He and his colleagues have used PET to demonstrate dopamine release as a mechanism underlying the placebo effect in Parkinson's. His lab is now interested in the application of PET to study gene expression. These studies are supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


Margaret McCarthy, PhD
Professor, University of Maryland, School of Medicine

Chair, Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, University of Maryland

Margaret McCarthy received her PhD in Behavioral and Neural Sciences from the Institute of Animal Behavior at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey in 1989. Upon completion of her PhD, she spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University in New York, New York and one year as a National Research Council Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, before joining the faculty at the University of Maryland. McCarthy is a member of the University of Maryland Graduate School, the Center for Studies in Reproduction, the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, the Society for Neuroscience, the American Physiological Association and the Endocrine Society.

McCarthy’s research program focuses on the influence of steroid hormones on the developing brain. During perinatal life, there is a sensitive period for hormone exposure during which permanent cytoarchitechtural changes are established. Males and females are exposed to different hormonal milieus and this results in sex differences in the brain. These differences include alterations in the volumes of particular brain nuclei and patterns of synaptic connectivity. The mechanisms by which sexually dimorphic structures are formed in the brain remains poorly understood.