Duncan Stewart – President and Scientific Director

Dr. Duncan StewartDuncan is a pioneering Canadian cardiovascular researcher who is recognized for his many important discoveries in blood vessel biology, as well as his dedication to translating these discoveries into benefits for patients and society. After beginning his career in academic cardiology at McGill University in Montreal, he moved to Toronto as Head of Cardiology at St. Michael’s Hospital and later became Director of the Division of Cardiology and Executive Director of the McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine at the University of Toronto. He was recruited to lead the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in 2007.Duncan has made a number of seminal discoveries elucidating the importance of endothelial factors in health and disease, notably the role of the nitric oxide system in angiogenesis and of endothelin-1 in pulmonary hypertension.

Duncan is also a leader in developing cell and gene based therapies for cardiovascular disease. He led the first Canadian clinical trial to test an angiogenic gene therapy – using VEGF to try to stimulate heart repair in people who had suffered heart attacks. He also led the world’s first clinical trial of a gene-enhanced cell therapy for pulmonary hypertension, using endothelial progenitor cells engineered to over-express the endothelial nitric oxide synthase. He also leads the world’s first clinical trial of a similar therapy for post heart-attack repair, and he has played a key role in initiating the world’s first trial of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of septic shock.

Duncan has published more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has received a number of distinctions and prizes, including the Dexter Man Chair of Cardiology and Research Achievement Award of the University of Toronto, and the Research Achievement Award of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Throughout his career, Dr. Stewart has demonstrated leadership in bringing diverse groups of clinicians and scientists together to put Canada on the world stage for translational cardiovascular and regenerative medicine research.

As well as serving as President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Duncan is Executive Vice-President of Research at The Ottawa Hospital and CEO and Scientific Director of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, an active senior scientist in The Ottawa Hospital’s Regenerative Medicine Program and holds the Evelyne and Rowell Laishley Chair. He is also a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, Scientific Director of the Canadian Vascular Network and a practicing cardiologist.

Sandra Donaldson – Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Sandra DonaldsonSandra has over 25 years of experience in network development and scientific research and has fulfilled several roles at OIRM including, Vice President, Strategy & Partnerships and Associate Director. Prior to working with OIRM, she was the Program Manager for the Ontario Stem Cell Initiative where she expanded a Toronto-based initiative into a virtual network of 145+ stem cell research programs across the province, leading to the establishment of the OIRM. She also managed a clinical research program in spinal deformity, benign bone tumors and club foot deformity in Orthopaedic Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children. During this time, she collaborated to develop a North American Clinical Trials Network in paediatric orthopaedic surgery and managed its first international, multi-centre clinical trial across 50 institutions, overseeing all scientific, ethical and regulatory approval processes (A RCT comparing intralesional bone marrow and steroids for simple bone cysts). Previously, Sandra worked in orthopaedic research programs at several Ontario hospitals including Women’s College, Mount Sinai, Princess Margaret and London Health Sciences Centre. She has published clinical research in a variety of orthopaedic journals and was also a freelance health columnist for CBC News Online. Sandra has a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario, a Certificate in Medical Writing and Editing from the University of Chicago, and is a member of the Canadian Society of Association Executives.

Robin Harkness – Vice President, Operations

Robin Harkness

Robin joined the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) as Vice President Operations in November 2018. He brings more than 25 years of experience in industry, not-for-profit and academia to the role, all drawing on his interest in supporting translational research and development that benefits society.

Prior to joining OIRM, Robin was Vice President Research at Ontario Genomics, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to stimulating, enabling and nurturing genomics innovation.  While at Ontario Genomics, he led a team managing a portfolio of 100 projects working with academics, industry, government and other funding partners to secure over $260M funding for genomics-based research and development in Ontario.

Previously, Robin was at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer where he was Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA), an alliance of the major research funding organizations and agencies in Canada working together to maximize the impact of their cancer research investments.  While at the CCRA, he played a key leadership role in the creation of the first multi-stakeholder pan-Canadian cancer clinical trials network.

Robin held a number of senior and executive positions at Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi SA. Most recently as Associate Vice President, Programs with responsibility for an emerging diseases portfolio that included projects in all stages of the pre-commercialization continuum from research to clinical testing.  Prior to this, Robin was Associate Vice President, Research, where he led a department supporting 15 preventative and therapeutic vaccine projects including several that advanced to testing in clinical trials.  While at Sanofi Pasteur, Robin led several global cross-functional project teams involving multiple stakeholders from industry, biotech, research institutions and the not-for-profit sector.

After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Munich, Germany, Robin held a position at the University of Tübingen, Germany, for several years.  Robin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Victoria and a B.Sc. from Carleton University.

Stella DeSouza – Administrative Lead

Stella DeSouzaStella has more than 20 years of experience in administrative leadership, support and improvements that were primarily focused in the health care, government and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining OIRM, Stella worked with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences where she managed, reported and provided support on a number of initiatives and multiple assignments in privacy, data, technology and security. She is a certified programmer, with a strong background in privacy principles and practices, information, project management and administrative processes.

Marc Frigault – Senior Manager, Business Operations

Marc FrigaultMarc brings over 13 years of experience managing research operations in private and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining OIRM, Marc worked at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research where he was responsible for managing business operations and the financial oversight of 14 research programs, as well as leading several Institute projects. Previously, Marc held the position of Director, Research Administration at NoAb BioDiscoveries where he managed the company’s overall operations, conducting contract discoveries studies for the pharmaceutical industry. Marc also held management positions at several contract research organizations where he was primarily responsible for heading the industry-leading patient recruitment and medical screening operations for hundreds of clinical research trials. Marc holds certifications as a Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP) and is a member of the Canadian Association of Research Administrators.

Krista Lamb – Director, Communications and Marketing

Krista LambKrista has more than 15 years of experience working in communications and marketing, most recently at Diabetes Canada. Krista began her career as an entertainment journalist, before transitioning to first entertainment and then non-profit communications. She has worked extensively in media relations, social media strategy and contentious issues management. She is also a blogger and podcast host. Krista received her B.A. in Journalism from Ryerson University.