About Us

About Us

Who We Are

The Canadian Covid Care Alliance is a volunteer-run organization with over 700 Canadian physicians, researchers, healthcare practitioners, and legal & ethical professionals. These include virologists, vaccinologists, immunologists, psychologists, coroners, medical ethicists, medical doctors from a variety of specialties,  professors from Canadian universities, allied healthcare professionals, and lawyers from across Canada. There are hundreds of additional members with diverse areas of expertise beyond healthcare and medical sciences.

History

In early 2021, after nearly a year of crisis, a number of Canadians were actively researching the science underlying the Covid-19 pandemic, seeking information and evidence from world experts. In response to communications from Canadians, Dr. Peter McCullough connected several Canadians, and within 3 days in March 2021, that reach out resulted in the first weekly meeting of Canadians in the group that became Canadian Covid Care Alliance (CCCA).  Within a month, the CCCA was named, and adopted its charter and mission statement. Shortly after, it was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. The CCCA has grown in membership and reputation, attracting Canadians and people around the world who are seeking balanced, unbiased views about the issues related to Covid-19. 

Our Mission

Independent Canadian scientists and doctors providing top quality, balanced, evidence-based information to educate the public about Canada’s response to Covid-19, to overcome fear, reduce hospitalizations, save lives, restore our country, and give people a sense of hope.

Our Priorities

Research
Prevention
Treatment
Education
Advocacy

Our Directors

Mr. David Ross

David is a Chartered Professional Accountant. Active in the ethics leadership of his profession, nationally for more than 20 years, and provincially for more than 25 years, David also served as the sole Community Representative on the New Brunswick Horizon Health Care Research Ethics Board from 2018 – 2022.

Ms. Karen Levins

Dr. Steven Pelech

Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee (SMAC)

Profiles of 24 SMAC Members

Dr. Byram W. Bridle

Associate Professor of Viral Immunology in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph

BSc in Biomedical Sciences (University of Guelph); MSc and PhD in Immunology (University of Guelph)

Dr. Bridle received his post-doctoral training in viral immunology at McMaster University. As a professor at the University of Guelph, his research program focuses on the development of vaccines against infectious diseases, engineering immunotherapies for cancers, and studying host immune responses against viruses. Dr. Bridle teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels on the topics of immunology, virology, and cancer biology. He holds multiple patents related to viruses and virus-vectored vaccine technology, received funding from his provincial and federal governments to develop COVID-19 vaccines, and has served as an expert witness in international court cases related to COVID-19. Among Dr. Bridle’s accolades are the Terry Fox Research Institute New Investigator Award, the Zoetis Award for Research Excellence, the Carl J. Norden Distinguished Teaching Award, and multiple citations as an outstanding reviewer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He has authored over 80 publications in scientific journals and 2 book chapters.

Dr. Philip Britz-McKibbin

Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University

BSc in Chemistry (University of Toronto); PhD in Analytical Chemistry (University of British Columbia)

Dr. Britz-McKibbin undertook a Japan Society for Promotion of Science PDF position in Japan (Hyogo University, 2001-2003) prior to starting his academic position at McMaster University. His research group is an affiliate member of The Metabolomics Innovation Centre (TMIC) – Canada’s national metabolomics laboratory. His research interests in bio-analytical chemistry, separation science, mass spectrometry and metabolomics include the design of novel analytical strategies to identify and quantify unknown metabolites of clinical significance in complex biological samples via untargeted profiling. Dr. Britz-McKibbin’s laboratory aims to discover objective biomarkers that support early detection and prevention of chronic diseases with emphasis on improved newborn screening programs for cystic fibrosis.  His research interests include the development of high throughput screening methods for large-scale epidemiological studies to better understand the roles of modifiable dietary habits and chemical exposures on human health outcomes. He has authored more than 130 scientific publications.

Mr. Glenn Chan
Patient-Advocate
BAA in Radio and Television Arts (Ryerson University)

Mr. Chan was injured by his second shot of Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b2 in June 2021.  He could not walk more than 5 minutes without experiencing a flaring of symptoms.  In addition, he lost his ability to multi-task and lacked the cognitive capacity to engage in computer programming.  As he faced limited access to healthcare in Ontario, he adopted the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ approach and obtained access to treatment options.  Fortunately, he was lucky enough to recover most of his health.  Having gone through the lived experience of vaccine injury, he has applied his Python data analysis skills to patient-led surveys that investigated the Post COVID Vaccination Syndrome that he suffered from.  His work has been presented at the inaugural FLCCC Educational Conference on diagnosing and treating spike protein-induced diseases.  In addition to patient-led research, he maintains resources for the vaccine injured at LongHaulWiki.com.

Dr. Claudia Chaufan

Associate Professor in the School of Health Policy and Management at York University

MD (National University of Buenos Aires); BA in Community Studies and Journalism (University of California Santa Cruz); MA and PhD in Sociology/Philosophy (University of California Santa Cruz)

Dr. Chaufan was trained as a physician in Argentina, and after a decade in medical practice, and upon earning her PhD in Sociology/Philosophy at the University of California, transitioned to an academic career in the social sciences. She is an Associate Professor of Health Policy and Global Health at York University. She previously held the positions of Graduate Program Director in Health, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Public/Global Health. She has published widely in her field of expertise with over 52 research articles and commentaries in peer-review journals, 5 books and 4 book chapters, and serves as an editorial board member and ad-hoc reviewer of leading refereed journals. As a sociologist specialized in health, illness, and the institutions of medicine/public health, and informed by her training in medicine, she works in the tradition of critical social, health, and policy studies. She teaches and researches comparative health policy, the geopolitics of global health, medicalization and social control, and critical pedagogy in higher education. Her research engages the implications of expert health narratives for perceptions of disease risk, practices of stigmatization, strategies of legitimation, and policies of exclusion. Her current projects include the politics of sanctions policy, the geopolitics of Anti-Asian racism, and medical social control in the COVID-19 era. She is also an active member of the Canadian Academics for Covid Ethics.

Dr. Stefan Eberspaecher

Chiropractor (clinical practice), Project Manager for development of an interdisciplinary clinic in Ottawa

BSc in Psychology (University of Guelph); Doctor of Chiropractic degree (Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College)

Dr. Eberspaecher has extensive experience implementing health care programs in developing nations including working with local health care systems, governments, and communities.  His peer-reviewed publications focus on the development and implementation of sustainable, evidence-based models of care for musculoskeletal conditions.  He recently served as a member of the Peer Review Group for the World Health Organization’s Rehab 2030 packages for Low Back Pain, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fractures. After seeing the extreme psychological and physical toll the public health measures and the associated barrage of propaganda were taking on his patients and the broader community, he became active with the Canadian Covid Care Alliance in 2021.

Dr. L. Maria Gutschi

Research Pharmacist, Drug Assessor, Hospital Pharmacy Manager, Antimicrobial Stewardship

BScPhm (University of Toronto); Doctor of Pharmacy (Wayne State University)

Dr. Gutschi  is an expert pharmacotherapeutic specialist with extensive experience in evidence-based medicine, critical care, antimicrobial therapy, mentoring and teaching pharmaceutical care. She has been involved in pharmaceutical drug assessment and formulary management, and the preparation of educational materials and research reports for the Canadian Pharmacist Association and for regulatory agencies. She has been employed as a scientific officer for the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board in Canada, and as a clinical pharmacist for the Canadian Forces Health Service Centre, Canada Chemists, and the North West Company at Hawkesbury District and General Hospital.

Dr. Ondrej Halgas

BSc and MSc in Biochemistry (Comenius University in Bratislava); PhD in Structural Biology and Biomedical Research (University of Toronto)

Dr. Halgas has been involved in numerous international collaborative projects in areas of cancer and infectious diseases (particularly prion diseases and tropical diseases – trypanosomiases). His protein structure of a novel anti-cancer target with a drug that is being tested in numerous clinical trials was featured on the cover of prestigious scientific journal Cancer Cell. He has been very active since early 2021 in promoting early COVID-19 treatment, particularly the use of repurposed medications in Slovakia and Canada.

Dr. John Hardie

Retired, Oral Pathologist

Bachelor of Dental Surgery (University of Glasgow); MSc  in General and Anatomic Pathology, (University of Western Ontario); PhD Thesis: AIDS, Dentistry and the Illusion of Infection Control. Mellen University; Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists Canada

Dr. Hardie completed the necessary fellowship examinations to qualify as a consultant in Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine, which resulted in positions as the Head of Dentistry at the Ottawa Civic Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital.  He served in a similar capacity at hospitals and health trusts in Saudi Arabia and Northern Ireland. In 1983, he became aware of the developing controversies associated with HIV/AIDS and published the first paper in the world to discuss the effect of systemic immunodeficiency on oral and dental diseases. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s he was a spokesperson on HIV/AIDS for the Canadian Dental Association and represented Canada on this topic at meetings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. For the past thirty years, he has lectured throughout the world on the transmission of infectious diseases within clinical environments and related topics. He has published more than 200 articles on oral diseases, and infection prevention and control. In 2000, Dr. Hardie was commissioned by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario to prepare, A Literature Review, Recommendations and Guidelines Regarding Infection Control in the Dental Office. Although he has retired from clinical practice, he remains interested in the transmission of infectious diseases and has continued to publish in this area.

Dr. York N. Hsiang

Retired, Full Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of British Columbia

MB; ChB in General and Vascular Surgery (University of British Columbia); MHSc in Health Care and Epidemiology (University of British Columbia); FRCSC

Dr. Hsiang completed a research fellowship at Harbor-University of California Los Angeles and later undertook a mini-endovascular fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic to develop an endovascular program at the University of British Columbia. He is now Professor Emeritus of Surgery and was the Former Head of Vascular Surgery at the University of British Columbia and Consultant Surgeon at the Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, B.C.  Born in Taiwan, educated in the United States, New Zealand, and Canada, Dr. Hsiang has diverse interests in vascular engineering, vascular biology, lasers, and clinical epidemiology. He has extensively published over 127 research articles in these areas. Dr. Hsiang was also the Director of Surgical Research in the UBC Department of Surgery and has a special clinical interest in Wound Care. He is a Distinguished Fellow member of the Society for Vascular Surgery, Past President of the Western Vascular Surgery Society, and the current President of the Canadian Society for Science and Ethics in Medicine.

Dr. Niel A. Karrow

Full Professor in Department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph

BSc (University of Guelph); MSc in Toxicology (University of Waterloo); PhD in Immunotoxicology (University of Waterloo)

Dr. Karrow completed a Post-doc in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia- Virginia Commonwealth University, which involved serving as Study Director for several immunotoxicity studies conducted for the National Institute of Health Sciences (NIEHS). Dr. Karrow completed a second Post-doc in immunogenetics in the Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph, and joined the Department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph in 2002, where he now holds Full Professor status. Dr. Karrow also holds Adjunct Professor status in Sichuan Agricultural University, China, and is a Chaired Professor at Yangzhou University, China. Dr. Karrow’s research interests focus on the immunoregulation, immunotoxicology and immunogenetics of livestock and fish species. This includes identifying genetic markers associated with inflammatory diseases, assessing the effects of maternal stress on the developing fetal neuroendocrine-immune system, immunonutrition, and the immunotoxicity of microbial toxins. Dr. Karrow lectures in senior-level undergraduate courses in the areas of comparative immunology and animal health and has over 228 scientific research publications.

Dr. Bonnie Mallard

Full Professor of Immuno-Genetics in the Department of Pathology at the University of Guelph; Chief Executive Officer of ImmunoCeutica Inc.

BSc, MSc in Quantitative Genetics and Immunology (University of Guelph); PhD in Immunogenetics (University of Guelph)

Dr. Mallard has published over 100 full length publications in referred journals, and has presented hundreds of abstracts and oral presentations at scientific meetings. She has also published several book chapters on genetic regulation of the immune system and is a highly experienced university lecturer in immunology and medical genetics. She has held over $50 million in research funding over her career, and has been the recipient of numerous prizes including among others: the Pfizer Award for Research; the prestigious Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Innovation (2017); the University of Guelph Innovation of the Year Award (2018) and the Lifetime Achievement Award (2018); the YMCA Women of Distinction Award (2018); and she was the 2020-21 winner of the prestigious NSERC Synergy Prize. 

Dr. Bernard Massie

Retired, Independent biotech consultant; Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Université de Montréal

PhD in Microbiology (University of Montreal)

Following his Ph.D. training, Dr. Massie undertook a three-year postdoctoral stage at McGill University studying DNA tumour viruses. Dr. Massie joined the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) in 1985 as a research scientist in the Virology Group. He was appointed Leader of the Animal Cell Engineering Group in 1992 and then the R&D Director of the Antibody and Bioprocessing Department of Human Health Therapeutics in 2006. His work focused initially on viral expression vectors (adenovirus, baculovirus and lentivirus) and their application to protein production and gene delivery. He has also dedicated a significant portion of his career to the development of integrated bioprocesses from vector construction and cell engineering to large-scale culture, for industrial production of therapeutic antibodies and other biotherapeutics such as adenovirus vaccines. He became the Acting Director General of the Therapeutics in Human Health Center from 2016 to 2019 at the NRC. His responsibilities were managing resource allocation, strategic planning and budgeting of several R&D departments leading teams deployed in goal-oriented research programs in partnership with biopharma industry. He has published over 138 peer-reviewed papers and has 12 issued patents. Many of his technologies have been licensed to industry and, over the years, he was involved in numerous industrial projects generating several million dollars in revenue. Concurrently, he was also an associate professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of Université de Montréal from 1998 to 2019. Since 2016, he has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of C3i (dedicated to the commercialization of cell and gene therapy for cancer immunotherapy), from 2019-2022, on the SAB of CQDM (a research consortium that funds the development of innovative tools and technologies that will accelerate the discovery and development of safer and more effective drugs) and from 2021, on the SAB of BioDF (dedicated to the development of platform enabling technologies for the production of added-value products from wastes and greenhouse gases).

Ms. Deanna McLeod

Principal of Kaleidoscope Strategic Inc.

HBSc in Immunology and Psychology, Biology/Biological Sciences (McMaster University)

Deanna McLeod is the principal and founder of Kaleidoscope Strategic Inc., which was incorporated in 2000. Kaleidoscope is an independent medical research firm that supports Canadian clinicians in preparing world class evidence-based reviews that advance patient care nationally and internationally in the areas of oncology, premed immunology and psychology. In March 2021, she launched COVID Sense to equip the non-scientific person with the skills required to interpret COVID-19 data and make informed choices for themselves and others. She has authored over 46 scientific publications. Ms. McLeod is also the Chair of the Strategic Advisory Committee of the CCCA.

Dr. Kanji Nakatsu

Professor emeritus, Pharmacology – Queen’s University

MSc in Pharmacology (University of Alberta); PhD in Pharmacology (University of British Columbia)

Dr. Nakatsu completed his post-doctoral studies at Stanford University, and subsequently joined the faculty in the Department of Pharmacology at Queen’s University in 1973. He retired in 2017 after 44 years of teaching graduate and undergraduate students in the Life Sciences, medical and nursing students, and conducting an active research program that included the study of agonists and inhibitors of adenosine receptors, and development of heme oxygenase inhibitors. He has authored around 200 scientific research publications. Dr. Nakatsu also serves as a co-chair of the Therapeutics Committee at the CCCA, and previously served as a president of the Pharmacology Society of Canada.

Dr. Philip R. Oldfield

Retired, Clinical Biochemist, Immunologist

BSc in Biochemistry (University of Sussex); DPhil (University of Sussex)

Dr. Oldfield has over 30 years of post-graduation pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industrial research experience, specializing in specializing in ligand binding and hybridization assay techniques, and clinical immunology.  In the last decade, he had worked as an independent Scientific/Regulatory Consultant, both writing and reviewing technical reports, clinical protocols, and NDA submissions as well as giving presentations at numerous major scientific conferences related to therapeutics, clinical immunology and prion disease. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, an Associate Member of the Royal College of Pathologists (until the end of 2020), and a Member of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) until 2023.  Dr. Oldfield chaired the (AAPS) Ligand Binding Assay Bioanalytical Focus Group in 2008 that was involved in scientific and regulatory discussions with members of the focus group, the US Food & Drug Administration, as well as other regulatory authorities resulting in the publication of White Papers, setting the standards for industry.  Through linkages with local universities, he was involved in supervising postgraduate students, lecturing students, and was a founder committee member of the Drug Development Program at the University of McGill. He has published 24 peer-reviewed scientific papers (including 3 White Papers), 2 book chapters, and authored around 1500 confidential scientific reports in support of regulatory submissions for the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.

Dr. Eric T. Payne

Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary; Pediatric Neurologist

MD (University of Calgary); FRCPC (Neurology), MPH (Harvard University)

Dr. Payne completed medical school and pediatric neurology residency at the University of Calgary and Alberta Children’s Hospital. He then pursued fellowship training in pediatric neurocritical care and epilepsy at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He obtained a Master of Public Health from Harvard University. He is board certified in Neurology (Fellow – Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada) and Clinical Electroencephalography (Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists). He worked as an epilepsy and pediatric neurology consultant at Mayo Clinic from 2014-2020. His research has focused on neuroinflammation, the use of ICU continuous EEG monitoring to manage and detect seizures, and improving long-term cognitive outcomes among children with refractory epilepsy and critical brain injury. He has authored over 59 publications in scientific journals.

Dr. Steven Pelech (Co-chair of SMAC)

Full Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia; President & Chief Scientific Officer of Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation

BSc (Hon) and PhD in Biochemistry (University of British Columbia)

Dr. Pelech undertook his post-doctoral training at the University of Dundee with Sir Philip Cohen, and at the University of Washington in Seattle with Nobel laureate Dr. Edwin Krebs. He was one of the founding scientists of the immunology-based institute, The Biomedical Research Centre, at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a founder and president of Kinetek Pharmaceuticals Inc. from 1992 to 1998, and the founder, president and chief scientific officer of Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation from 1999 to the present. Kinetek was engaged in the development of drugs that inhibit protein kinases, primarily for oncology application and diabetes. Kinexus has produced over 1600 antibodies against cell regulatory proteins and employs these in novel high throughput methods to monitor cell communication systems in biological specimens from over 2000 academic and industrial clients in over 35 countries. Dr. Pelech has authored over 250 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters about cell communication systems important for immune function and implicated in the pathology of cancer, diabetes, neurological and immunology-related diseases. Over the last 3 years, he has lead a clinical study 4000 participants to monitor their antibody levels to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  His accolades include the 1993 Martin F. Hoffman Award for Research at UBC, and the 1993 Merck Frosst Canada Prize from the Canadian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He was also the 2001 Distinguished Lecturer for the Faculty of Medicine at UBC for the basic sciences. Dr. Pelech was one of the founders of the CCCA, and also serves as its vice-president.

Dr. Patrick Provost

Full Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Université Laval

BSc in Biochemistry (L’Université du Québec à Montréal); Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences (University of Montreal)

Dr. Provost is a biochemist and molecular and cellular biologist, who undertook his post-doctoral training at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden before joining the Faculty of Medicine of Université Laval, and becoming a Researcher at the CHU de Québec Research Center/CHUL Pavilion. He is a co-discover of the ribonuclease Dicer, which catalyzes the formation of microRNAs that are now recognized as key regulators of ~60% of the genes in humans. His current research aims to improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the biogenesis, function and transfer of small non-coding RNAs (e.g., microRNAs) between cells and species through extracellular vesicles in the context of health, nutrition and disease. This has included the study of microRNAs in bacteria and viruses. He has authored over 90 scientific publications.

Dr. Denis Rancourt

Co-Director, CORRELATION Research in the Public Interest (correlation-canada.org); Researcher, Ontario Civil Liberties Association (ocla.ca)

BSc, MSc and PhD in Physics (University of Toronto)

Dr. Rancourt was formerly an NSERC University Research Fellow, and held post-doctoral research positions at prestigious institutions in France and The Netherlands, before becoming a physics professor and lead scientist at the University of Ottawa for 23 years. He is an interdisciplinary research scientist and social theorist, who has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. His work spans the gamut of medicine, COVID-19, individual health, climate change, biogeochemistry, theoretical and experimental physics, geopolitics, civil rights, political theory, and sociology. He is an experienced self-represented litigant at several levels of court and in many administrative tribunals, in both Ontario and Quebec.  He has also served as a volunteer Researcher with the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (ocla.ca) since 2014. 

Dr. Wendi Roscoe

Full Professor in the Department of Health Science at Fanshawe College, London, Ontario

BSc (Hon) in Genetics; BEd (University of Western Ontario); PhD in Physiology (University of Western Ontario); Holistic Nutritionist

Dr. Roscoe’s Ph.D. research was focused on neuroinflammation in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. She has published in several peer-reviewed journals, such as Journal of Neuroimmunology and Journal of Neuroscience Research. Dr. Roscoe has been teaching physiology, biology, anatomy, and nutrition courses at the university and college level since 2004, and is currently teaching biology and physiology at Fanshawe College. She is the author of the textbook “Human Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology for the Health Sciences.” She is also a registered holistic nutritionist, graduating from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, in 2017. She is a very active producer and poster of over 71 educational videos on health and fitness at dr-wendihealth.com and YouTube. Recently, she spent 9 months at Griffith University on Australia’s Gold Coast researching active learning and flipped classroom teaching methods in higher education healthcare programs.

Dr. Christopher A. Shaw (Co-chair of SMAC)

Full Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia

BSc in Biological Sciences (University of California Irvine); MSc in Medical Physiology (Hebrew University); PhD Neurobiology (Hebrew University)

Dr. Shaw spent eight years at Dalhousie University (Psychology), first as a post-doctoral fellow, and then as a research associate, before beginning his affiliation with the University of British Columbia in 1988. His research focuses on Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) using several models of the disease to explore the possible environmental or genetic triggers of the disease, the various stages in disease development and emerging treatment options. A second main theme, related to the first, is to examine the role of aluminum in various neurological diseases, including autism spectrum disorder. He is the author of over 150 peer-reviewed articles, numerous book chapters and edited books, and has authored two books on neurological diseases and one on vaccine controversies.

Dr. David J. Speicher

Assistant Professor of Biology and Health Sciences – Redeemer University

MSc (Hons) Clinical Microbiology, PhD Virology (Griffith University, Australia)

Dr. Speicher’s research is in the area of molecular virology, especially the use of salivary biomarkers for the detection of infectious diseases. He has conducted research on infectious diseases diagnostics and antimicrobial resistance in Australia, India, Kenya, Cambodia, and Canada, including McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, and the University of Guelph. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Speicher examined the Government’s early pandemic response and served as director of Multiplex Genomics, a COVID-19 PCR testing facility. 

Dr. John Zwaagstra

Retired NRCC Research Scientist; Adj. Professor at McGill University

PhD in Medical Science and Virology (University of Alberta, 1988)

Dr. Zwaagstra undertook his post-doctoral training in Los Angeles, CA and Pennsylvania in the fields of virology and molecular biology. He was employed with the National Research Council Canada (NRCC, Montreal, QC) as a research scientist in biotechnology and spent 30 years devoted to the study and development of receptor-based and antibody-based biologics as cancer therapeutics. His research at the NRCC probed the mechanisms of binding of growth factors to their receptors, receptor complex internalization and cellular activation. His work primarily focused on transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and TGF-β-mediated diseases, such as cancer and fibrosis. He was a project and expertise lead in collaborations with Canadian biotech companies. Most notably, his research team designed a potent single-chain TGF-β receptor-based trap that exhibited anti-tumour efficacy when injected into animals. This was later licensed to a Montreal-based SME. One of the engineered TGF-β traps became the company’s lead therapeutic, AVID200, and was tested in Phase I/II clinical trials. Favourable clinical results enabled subsequent acquisition of AVID200 by Bristol Myers Squibb for successful testing in Phase III clinical trials. In recognition of his role in the development of this technology, Dr. Zwaagstra was one of the key team members awarded 2020 NRCC’s Value for Canada award for this success. During his employment with the NRCC, he was also adjunct professor at McGill University in the Department of Experimental Medicine. He retired in 2022