Idea Exchange

We are taking our Idea Exchange speaker event series online

Join Idea Exchange online

Idea Exchange is our opportunity to engage with our community of alumni, leaders and visionaries about topics that concern and inspire us and areas where the university is leading in research and discovery.

Join us online to hear about our most relevant work, research and ideas and ask questions about what matters to you as our communities evolve during this challenging and significant time.


Engineering Thriving Cities

Date: Sept. 29, 2021

Time: 4 - 5:30 p.m. MDT

Format: Webinar  

The world is facing an existential crisis: climate change. 

With an energy challenge touching every aspect of society, the time for action is now, and the world is watching. An upcoming United Nations global summit on climate change – COP26 – will see participating countries discussing urgent action to effect positive outcomes. 

It takes a village of expertise to imagine, design and engineer cities, with sustainability, cleaner energy goals and innovative social design all keys to creating communities that will thrive in the future. 

Join this inspiring conversation spotlighting future-forward research and design.

Meet the Panel Experts

Associate professor of economics and scientific director of the Energy and Environmental Policy research division at The School of Public Policy

Jennifer Winter is an associate professor in the Department of Economics and scientific director of the Energy and Environmental Policy Research Division at The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary. Her research evaluates climate policies and examines the consequences and trade-offs of government regulation and policy on energy development. She has testified to the Senate of Canada on emissions pricing policies and has advised governments in Canada in numerous capacities. Dr. Winter is actively engaged in increasing public understanding of energy and environmental policy issues and serves on several boards and advisory committees.

Dean, UCalgary School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

John Brown is a professor of architecture and dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary. He is a registered architect and a founding principal of both Housebrand, a Calgary-based residential design build firm, and Garden Loft, a startup enterprise offering a prefabricated age-in-place housing option to Alberta seniors. John currently serves as president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and is a recognized authority on residential practice, new models of architectural practice, and age-in-community design. 

President and CEO, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation 

Kate Thompson is the president and CEO of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) – the development agency charged with the redevelopment of Calgary’s Rivers District. Under Kate’s leadership, CMLC has led the successful transformation and urban revitalization of Calgary’s East Village, major city-building projects like the award-winning Central Library and is now overseeing the development of more than $1 billion in major projects, including the $500-million BMO Convention Centre Expansion, $400-million Arts Commons Transformation, and critical infrastructure projects as part of the vision for Calgary’s Culture & Entertainment District. 

Kate’s exceptional leadership has been instrumental in the success of many of Calgary’s major infrastructure and development projects. She is highly regarded in the industry for her deep expertise, uncompromising standards and unwavering commitment. Kate is a registered member of the Alberta Architects Association (AAA) and active Member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (MRAIC).

Professor, Department of Civil Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering, and director of the AMA Active Traffic and Demand Management Laboratory

Lina Kattan is a professor of Civil Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary. She is currently the director of the NSERC CREATE program in Integrated Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities (IISC), which focuses on finding systematic solutions to understand the multifaceted needs of tomorrow’s cities. She also holds the Urban Alliance Chair in Transportation Systems Optimization.

Lina ‘s research program focuses on developing solutions to urban transportation problems with a special focus on ITS, Emerging Vehicular Technologies, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle; Equity and Fairness in transportation, traffic flow theory and control; optimization of transportation network; public transport operation; Dynamic Demand Modelling; and Traveller’s Behavioural response to Emerging Transportation Technologies.

Lina is a member of the College of Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada. She is also twice the recipient of NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement (DAS), and the 2014 Killam Emerging Research Leader Award – NSERC category.

Meet the Host

President and vice-chancellor, University of Calgary 

Dr. Edward McCauley is the ninth president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. He has served the university for more than three decades as a professor, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, and the vice-president (research).

Ed is deeply committed to supporting excellence in innovation, and he holds a record of cultivating strong national and international partnerships with industry, community and government towards this goal. 

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Ed holds a BSc and MSc from the University of Ottawa, a PhD from McGill University, and was a Postdoctoral Scholar and Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, leading a U.S. National Centre. 


Transforming Cancer Care: Research, Innovation and Collaboration

Anyone who has experienced cancer themselves or sat bedside with a loved one through treatment wishes we could do better. That means earlier cancer detection, more effective treatment, improved patient experience and more positive outcomes. To get there, we need innovative research and collaboration — and discoveries that translate to new treatments and standards of care. 

Our moment is almost here. 

Join the conversation about cancer treatment and research in Alberta and learn more about the Calgary Cancer Centre, a leading-edge facility and research centre opening in 2023.

Meet the Panel Experts

Institute director, Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute; associate professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Jennifer Chan is director of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute (ACCI) and an associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UCalgary. She received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Dartmouth College and her MD from McGill University. She then completed clinical training in anatomic pathology and neuropathology at Harvard University. Following a research fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she became a staff neuropathologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the pathology leader of the Biological Samples Platform at the Broad Institute. 

Dr. Chan joined UCalgary in 2008, where she has clinical duties in neuropathology at Foothills Medical Centre and Alberta Children's Hospital and has a research lab in the ACCI. Her research program focuses on the intersection of growth factor signalling and intrinsic determinants such as transcription factor function in cell fate determination and proliferation in neural development and brain cancers. She also directs the Clark Smith Brain Tumour and Pediatric Tumour Bank and is involved in several collaborative projects to molecularly characterize pediatric and adult brain tumors.

Assistant professor, Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Disease

Dr. Doug Mahoney is a leading immunotherapy researcher, running a lab focused on developing novel virus and T cell-based immunotherapies for treating pediatric solid tumours and other cancers. His research encompasses the study of both the cancer and its environment, including secondary lymphoid organs and the gut microbiome.

Assistant professor, Community Health Sciences

Dr. Darren Brenner is a molecular cancer epidemiologist in the departments of Oncology and Community Health Sciences at UCalgary. His research is focused on the intersection of lifestyle, genetics and molecular pathways in the development of several cancers, and he is currently leading studies to examine the utility of biomarkers in the prediction of cancer risk. Brenner is also examining the impact of lifestyle (obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, poor nutrition) and environmental factors on relevant genetic and molecular pathways in colorectal, breast and lung cancer risk. 

Department head, Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine; Calgary Zone clinical department head, Oncology, Alberta Health Services; facility medical director, Tom Baker Cancer Centre; AHS medical lead, Calgary Cancer Project; Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada

Dr. Don Morris joined the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (TBCC) in 1997 as a medical oncologist after completing his residency in Calgary. He obtained his MD from the University of Calgary in 1992 after completing a PhD in immunology at Queen’s University in 1989, where he also obtained his undergraduate degree.

Dr. Morris held the role of chief of the Division of Medical Oncology in UCalgary’s Department of Oncology from 2013 to 2020, and was also head of the Section of Medical Oncology for Alberta Health Services (AHS). He has also been a senior staff scientist in the TBCC Translational Laboratories since 2001 and, in 2011, took on a role as its director, which he held until 2019. His research has focused on using viruses in the treatment of various cancers.

In March 2020, he accepted the positions of department head of the Department of Oncology at UCalgary’s Cumming School of Medicine; facility medical director of the TBCC; and medical lead of UCalgary’s new Cancer Centre. He is also an associate senior medical director of CancerControl Alberta with AHS.


Revolutionizing agriculture: Tech, policy and the economy

As grocery stores strained to keep shelves stocked with essentials at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, society’s reliance on a strong supply chain and safe food production was brought to light. Many started thinking more about food — how it’s grown, transported and regulated and what part it plays in our economy. 

The agriculture sector is fast evolving to protect global food security, ensure crop and animal health and form a more sustainable relationship with the environment. Join us at Idea Exchange to explore the ground-breaking technology, policy reform and research that is innovating the agri-food and agri-tech sector to stimulate economic growth, strengthen food supply chain integrity and put safe, healthy food on your table.

Meet the Expert Panelists

Scientific director, One Health Consortium; professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine; NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Infectious Diseases of Dairy Cattle.

Dr. Herman Barkema completed his DVM degree at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, in 1988. He spent 2.5 years as manager of a large dairy and beef herd in Costa Rica, then taught bovine herd health at Utrecht University and worked as an epidemiologist for the Dutch Animal Health Service while completing his PhD. In 2001, Dr. Barkema moved to the University of Prince Edward Island. He subsequently moved to the University of Calgary, where he founded the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Production Animal Health. He is currently a professor in epidemiology of infectious diseases in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and NSERC Industrial Research Chair in infectious diseases of dairy cattle, with a joint appointment in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the Cumming School of Medicine. He is also a guest professor at Ghent University (Belgium) and foreign expert at the China Agricultural University in Beijing.  

The over-all goal of Dr. Barkema’s research program is to ensure a safe and economical food supply with reduced risks of transmission of zoonotic diseases to farm families and the general public. Dr. Barkema has two main research interests; the first is to prevent and control infectious diseases on dairy farms, primarily mastitis and Johne’s disease, including both animal and public health perspectives. New prevention and control programs in Canada, The Netherlands, and other countries have been introduced or changed based on results of his research. His second main research interest involves interactions among hosts, microbes and the environment in antimicrobial resistance. Dr. Barkema has published more than 350 scientific manuscripts and has lectured all over the world. He leads One Health at UCalgary, the Antimicrobial Resistance – One Health Consortium, the UCalgary Biostatistics Centre, the Environment research theme in the Canadian Bovine Mastitis Research Network, and the Alberta Johne’s Disease Initiative.

Professor, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering; founder and director, Unmanned Vehicle System Robotarium Research Lab; founder and CEO, 4Front Robotics  

Dr. Alex Ramirez-Serrano is a full professor at the University of Calgary, where he has served on diverse roles including director of the Manufacturing program and director of the graduate program within the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. He is the founder and director of the Robotarium research laboratory where he performs research and development activities in aerial and multi-legged robotic systems. Dr. Ramirez-Serrano is also the founder and CEO of 4Front Robotics, a Calgary based robotic company that develops highly maneuverable drones and custom field unmanned vehicles for deployment in highly confined spaces such as collapsed buildings. 

Dr. Ramirez-Serrano has a BSc degree in Mechanical Engineering (Mexico), a MSc degree in Mechanical and Aerospace engineering (USA), a MSc degree in Computer Science/Artificial Intelligence (Mexico), and a PhD degree in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (Canada). 

His industrial experience includes mechatronic engineer at ABB Corporate Research (Sweden), and research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory (USA). His areas of expertise are in the design, control, navigation, and modeling of robotic systems with applications to urban search and rescue, agriculture, and humanitarian aid. 

In 2012 his work on highly maneuverable drone technology was selected from across Canada to be part of a six-month exhibit at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. In 2014, his work developing artificial intelligence humanoid control tools led to top awards at the Price of Excellence World Innovation Competition: Innovation for Health. He is also the recipient of the 2014 ASTech award (Alberta's highest Science and Technology honour) in the category of Applied Technology: Outstanding Achievement in Applied Technology and Innovation, for work in game-changing robot technology. 

His work has also led to other prestigious awards including the 2015 Indra's International Community Award: From Idea to Reality, the 2016 and 2017 UAE Drones for Good award competition, and nomination for the 2020 Falling Walls breakthrough of the year in engineering and technology.

Director, Simpson Centre; Associate Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Guillaume Lhermie is the recently appointed director of the Simpson Centre for agricultural and food innovation and public education, located at the University of Calgary, School of Public Policy. 

Dr. Lhermie came to Calgary from the University of Toulouse, where he was associate professor in animal health and veterinary public health economics. He also held an adjunct assistant professor position at Cornell University for the last two years. 

Dr. Lhermie is a veterinarian by training; he also has an MSc in Economics and a PhD in pharmaco-epidemiology and innovation.  

Before working in academia, Dr. Lhermie worked in mixed veterinary private practice for few years, as well as in veterinary pharmaceutical industry as research and development project manager and medical director for more than eight years.  

Dr. Lhermie’ s research interests are in planetary health and infectious diseases challenges, specifically the interface between animal agriculture and human health. His research focuses on the economics of antimicrobial use and resistance at the farm, supply chains, and global levels. Most recently, his research has been concentrating on sustainability challenges, developing qualitative and quantitative models aiming to analyze the impact of antimicrobial use on social-ecological systems, and evaluating the impact of policies. Dr. Lhermie also serves as expert in animal health economics for international organizations, national agencies and NGOs. Overall, Dr. Lhermie’s activities intend to inform policymakers, helping them to design sound and acceptable policies.

Founder and CEO, CNSRVX-Inc.; founding partner, CDL-Rockies 

Formerly as CEO and Co-Founder of GrowSafe Systems Ltd., Alison Sunstrum led the team that developed an advanced data acquisition and analytics platform improving animal agriculture’s profitability and reducing livestock’s carbon footprint. Previously, Sunstrum led the development of one of Canada’s first electronic data interchange projects with a Canadian railroad. Alison holds patents for innovative technology and has presented widely on Big Data, the Internet of Livestock Things, and commercializing early-stage technology ventures. 

Sunstrum is a founding partner and fellow in the Ag Stream of the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL); CDL delivers an objectives-based mentorship program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science technology-based companies. She is a venture partner at Builders VC, a San Francisco/Calgary-based venture capital fund, and an investment committee member of The51 investing in women-led companies.


Child Health and Wellness

Join us at our virtual Idea Exchange as we explore how UCalgary, in partnership with Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, is transforming the way we care for children by uniting researchers, health-care providers, community organizations, children and families to identify and address critical gaps in child health and wellness.

We will delve into results from the All Our Families Study, which has been following a cohort of children for 10 years beginning at pregnancy to better understand their mental health, behaviour, growth and development. Data from this study is currently informing policy, programs and practices to improve the health and well being of families and communities in Alberta.

Don’t miss this illuminating conversation about how, together, we can translate research and knowledge into better care and outcomes for our children.

Meet the panelists

Dr. Susa Benseler, PhD is a paediatric rheumatologist at the Alberta Children's Hospital. She is a Professor of Paediatrics, a clinical epidemiologist and clinician investigator in rare inflammatory diseases and child precision health. She serves as the Director of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. She is Husky Energy Chair in Child and Maternal Health, and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Pediatric Research. Dr. Benseler trained at SickKids, Toronto and joined the University of Calgary in 2013.

Dr. Benseler focuses on the transformation of care for children with inflammatory diseases. She previously established the first Childhood CNS Vasculitis and Inflammatory Brain Diseases Clinic and Research program and built BrainWorks, an international Childhood Inflammatory Brain Diseases Investigator Network. Past Chair of the Canadian Pediatric Rheumatology Investigator Network, she co-leads the Canadian translational childhood arthritis projects UCAN.CURE and UCAN.CAN-DU, the latter in partnership with the Netherlands. Both research projects aim to understand the biology of childhood arthritis and translate biological evidence into optimal treatments to achieve best possible outcomes for children living with arthritis.

Dr. Suzanne Tough, MSc, PhD is a Professor with the Departments of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences in the Cumming School of Medicine. She is the Principal Investigator of the All Our Families Study and the ABCD Alberta Births Cohort Harmonization Initiative.

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. Dr. Tough is a Policy Fellow with the MaxBell Foundation/Burns Memorial Fund and has served as the Scientific Director of Provincial organizations and Strategic Clinical Networks. She has been recognized for her innovation and leadership through numerous awards including the United Nations and as a Women of Vision. She participates as a member of national and international committees including those convened by WHO and the Canadian Maternal Infant Child and Youth Network (MICRYN). 

Saifa Koonar, MA, is President and CEO of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. As a passionate advocate for the health and well-being of children and families, Ms. Koonar has helped to bring our community together around transforming Calgary’s pediatric health landscape. This has and continues to make possible crucial advancements in research and care, including the creation of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and construction of the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Rotary Flames House and the new Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health set to open in 2021. 

Ms. Koonar serves on leadership and advisory committees for Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations, Children’s Healthcare Canada, the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and the Woodmark Group. She was recently appointed to the Premier’s Council on Charities and Civil Society. She is a proud University of Calgary alum having received her Master’s of Business Administration and her Bachelor of Commerce degree at UCalgary.


Accelerating Economic Recovery and Growth

Canada’s most entrepreneurial university is transforming research and scientific discovery into new business ventures that stimulate economic activity. UCalgary is bridging the gap from the lab to the market with UCeed, a new seed-stage investment fund to convert research and ideas into thriving companies, while also connecting students with real-life business opportunities.

Join us at our virtual Idea Exchange to explore how initiatives like UCeed are accelerating innovation in Alberta by attracting, developing and retaining talent and connecting game-changing ideas with the funding and expertise to bring them to life.

Following a panel discussion with business experts, we’ll hear directly from company founders, whose research and innovation took flight with support from UCalgary.

Meet the Moderator

BSc’99, MBA’03, Site Lead, Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies, UCalgary

Alice Reimer is a successful technology entrepreneur and dedicated community leader and mentor.

Currently as Site Lead of Creative Destruction Lab Rockies, Alice works with Canadian academic, government and investment organizations to help accelerate technology companies with the potential to transform the world’s social, industrial, and economic landscape. 

As a technology entrepreneur, Alice led ground-breaking SaaS companies for global retail giants such as Walmart, Home Depot and LEGO earning her national recognition with PROFIT W100’s designation as one of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs, and Alberta Venture as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People.

Alice is a co-founder and director of The51, a financial platform for democratized access to female capital for female led businesses, serves on the board of Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, Syantra Diagnostics Inc. and is the former Board Chair of Startup Calgary and The A100.

Meet the Panelists

CEO, Innovate Calgary

As President and CEO of Innovate Calgary, John Wilson leads a team of professionals, contributing to the design and delivery of the University of Calgary’s innovation agenda.

John has an extensive background in knowledge transfer with over twenty years of experience. He has held positions as the Innovation Director at Brock University and the University of Oxford, where he served as the liaison with the TTO at Yale University. John is a strong advocate for developing critical talent that drives economic growth.

He also managed a research and development team at Unilever in the United Kingdom and Holland. He was also the CEO of a Unilever-based spin-out, where he developed software and hardware for the computer games industry.

John’s credentials include a PhD in Chemistry from Bristol University (UK) and post-doctoral research experience at Bristol University (UK) and Virginia Tech (USA).

MBA’90, President, Bluesky Equities, UCeed Health Funds Investment Advisory Group

Derrick is the CEO of Bluesky Equities  - an investment management company with interests in real estate, energy, distilling, technology and alternative strategies. Bluesky was recognized as a top 10 Canadian angel investor by the Canadian Venture Capital Association in 2018 and 2019.  Derrick was also named Canadian Angel Investor of the Year for 2019 by the National Angel Capital Organization as well as Technology Investor of the year by Start Alberta.

Derrick chairs the External Advisory Committee of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking at the University of Calgary and sits on the board of the Hunter Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Haskayne School of Business.  He is also a Fellow of Creative Destruction Lab (Rockies), an advisor to UCEED and a member of the Innovation Capital Working Group which has been advising the Government of Alberta during 2020.

In the not-for-profit sector, he is a member of the Management Advisory Council at the Haskayne School of Business and serves on the boards of Futurepreneur Canada and the Beakerhead Creative Society.

Derrick is a graduate of Queen’s University and the University of Calgary. He is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). He was the 2018 recipient of the Management Alumni Excellence (MAX) award from the Haskayne School of Business.

Chairman, Venturion Oil, UCeed Haskayne Student Fund Investment Advisory Group

Vincent Chahley brings 30 years of experience in the investment banking and oil and gas industries. Vincent is currently Chairman of Venturion Oil and is a corporate director of Velvet Energy, OSUM Oilsands, and the Aequitas NEO Stock Exchange. Vincent was a career investment banker - Burns Fry (Toronto/Calgary), RBC Capital Markets (Co-Head of Investment Banking), Tristone Capital (Head of Investment Banking), FirstEnergy and KERN Partners (Co-Founder).    Vincent is an Associate in the Creative Destruction Lab Rockies and is a graduate of the University of Alberta.


Business as (Un)usual – The Economic Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges around the world. Every week brings higher unemployment numbers as businesses close doors, global supply chains continue to crumble and sectors previously seen as stable are teetering on the verge of collapse. In the face of all this, governments are announcing extraordinary measures aimed at staving off a complete breakdown of the global economy.

The negative impact on Canada’s economy has been compounded by the collapse in oil prices as a result of a struggle for market share initiated by members of OPEC. The way we work and live has been significantly changed and the question in the minds of many is what this means for every sector of the economy – from public to private and not-for-profit, in the short, medium and long term.

Chancellor Deborah Yedlin will lead a thought-provoking conversation on the current and potential future economic landscape in Alberta, our country, and beyond. Chancellor Yedlin will be joined by Jack Mintz, UCalgary President’s Fellow of The School of Public Policy and Chair of the Premier’s Economic Recovery Council, and Mac Van Wielingen, LLD'14, an energy executive, private equity investor, corporate director and philanthropist. 

Meet the panelists

Dr. Jack M. Mintz is the President’s Fellow of The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary after serving as the Palmer Chair and founding Director from January 1, 2008 to June 30, 2015. He also serves on the boards of Imperial Oil Limited and Morneau Shepell and is the National Policy Advisor for Ernst & Young.  Dr. Mintz was recently appointed Chair of the Alberta Premier's Economic Recovery Council and has consulted widely with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, federal and provincial governments in Canada, and various businesses and non-profit organizations in Canada and abroad. Dr. Mintz became a member of the Order of Canada in 2015 as well as receiving the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for service to the Canadian tax policy community.

Mac Van Wielingen is an energy executive, private equity investor, corporate director and philanthropist. He is the founder and chair of Viewpoint Group, a founding partner of the Creative Destruction Lab and is the vice chair and founding member of the Business Council of Alberta. Most recently, he was appointed to serve on the Alberta Premier’s Economic Recovery Council. Mac’s knowledge, expertise, and primary experience is the product of over 35 years in the financial and energy sectors. He is a founder, director (1989-2018) and partner of ARC Financial Corporation, the largest private equity investment management company in Canada focused on the energy sector. Mac is also a Founder and former Chair (1996-2016) of ARC Resources Ltd. In addition to the above, he has served as a director for approximately 15 different companies in the energy sector and is active in various capacities in the community and not-for-profit sector.

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Left to right: Mac Van Wielingen and Jack Mintz


Public Health Lessons of COVID-19

All over the world, public health systems are navigating the dramatic effects of COVID-19 and adapting to the changing landscape through focussed research, treatments, planning and responses.

You are invited to join UCalgary President Ed McCauley for our first ever online edition of Idea Exchange, as he leads a panel of experts to discuss the public health and health system preparedness lessons learned so far from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet the panelists

An accomplished leader in the academic and healthcare sectors, Dr. Verna Yiu has been involved in public sector governance for over two decades. She is currently the President and CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS), Canada’s first and largest province-wide health system providing integrated care to more than 4.2 million Albertans. AHS has been recognized as a national and international leader in many clinical and administrative areas including: being named as one of the top 5 most integrated healthcare systems out of 40 countries, having one of the top 3 best health supply chain management systems in the world, and awarded one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for three consecutive years.

Dr. Yiu is guided by the principle that healthcare is a people business, built upon strong and collaborative relationships. Creating the stability and vision that people and organizations need to succeed, strengthened within the objectives of Quadruple Aim, have been hallmarks of her governance style – first in her role as Interim Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta and now in her current role. Since taking the reins of AHS in January 2016, Dr. Yiu has strengthened relationships with AHS’ many partners, including government; academic institutions; health foundations; the AHS workforce; patients, clients and families; and communities across Alberta. By doing so, AHS has bolstered community engagement, collaborated on world-class research, led the country in many health performance indicators and met budget targets – all with the most efficient and leanest healthcare administrations in Canada.

Dr. Yiu previously served as Vice President, Quality and Chief Medical Officer in AHS from 2012-2016. Prior to the role of Interim Dean in 2011, she was Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Medicine/Dentistry from 2008-2011 and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs from 2000-2008. She has won numerous awards for teaching and clinical excellence and also chaired the Specialty of Nephrology for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for 6 years. Dr. Yiu is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and continues to practice as a pediatric nephrologist.

Dr. William Ghali was appointed Vice-President (Research) effective March 1, 2020.

Dr. Ghali is a world-class researcher and Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary. Dr. Ghali is also a physician, specializing in General Internal Medicine (MD (1990) - University of Calgary, FRCP(C) (1994)) - Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario), and completed methodological training in health services research and epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health (MPH, 1995). Dr. Ghali was formally the scientific director of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Ghali has held millions of dollars of peer-reviewed research funding from a number of agencies through his research program, focused on evaluating and improving health system performance for better patient outcomes and improved system efficiency. He has held a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research for two five-year periods and has published more than 420 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

He is a Fellow of both the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada. He was featured by the Globe and Mail in April 2012 as the Canadian public health researcher with the highest publication H-index, and has also been named in the Thomson-Reuters listing of the top 1% of most highly cited researchers by discipline. He is co-director of the University of Calgary World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Disease Classifications and Health Information.

Dr. John Conly is a Professor and former Head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services - Calgary and Area, Canada. He is medically trained as a specialist in infectious diseases, and is a past President of the Canadian Infectious Disease Society, past Chairman of the Board for the Canadian Committee on Antibiotic Resistance and a past Vice Chair for the Canadian Expert Drug Advisory Committee. He is currently the Chair of the World Health Organization Infection Prevention and Control Research and Innovation Advisory Group, Co-Director for the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the University of Calgary, a member of the Canadian Expert Advisory Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and a member of the WHO Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance. He has published more than 300 papers and received multiple career honours in teaching, research, mentorship, innovation and service, including the Ronald Christie Award for outstanding contributions to academic medicine in Canada, the Medal for Distinguished Service from the Alberta Medical Association for outstanding personal contributions to the medical profession and the Order of Canada. He continues as an active consultant in clinical infectious diseases with current interests which focus on antimicrobial resistance and stewardship, prevention of hospital- acquired infections and novel innovations in healthcare.

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Left to right: Dr. Bill Ghali, Dr. Verna Yiu, Dr. John Conly


Previous topics covered in the 2019 Idea Exchange Calgary series:

Innovation is Infectious

Learn how the Idea Exchange panellist and UCalgary professor, Dr. Ian Lewis, PhD, took his life-saving medical device to market.

Eight Traits of Entrepreneurial Thinkers

What makes entrepreneurs tick? What do they do differently from anyone else?

Energetic Education

Dr. Ian Gates, BSc (Eng)’90, PhD, on what puts UCalgary on the leading edge of global energy solutions.