COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force

 
COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force

Comprised of multidisciplinary experts and industry leaders in the field of vaccines, the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force (VTF) provides invaluable insight, on a volunteer basis, to help the Government of Canada make sound evidence‑based decisions to protect the health and safety of Canadians during the pandemic.

Mandate

Supported by a secretariat hosted at the NRC, the VTF's mandate is to:

  • prioritize vaccine projects seeking support for activities in Canada;
  • attract to Canada promising non‑Canadian vaccine candidates, or partnerwith developers of non‑Canadian vaccine candidates;
  • optimize the tools needed to develop vaccines;
  • support effective research and development, and supply chain coordination for COVID-19 vaccine projects;
  • facilitate solutions to manufacture the most promising COVID-19 vaccines in Canada; and
  • identify opportunities to enhance business connectivity globally to secure access to vaccines with key commercial sponsors.

As experts with deep experience in vaccines, members of the VTF may have ties to various companies in their field of expertise. The Government of Canada has a robust process in place to manage potential conflicts of interests. The process related to this advice is in line with similar task forces around the world. All members are committed to ensuring the integrity of the process and will continue to recuse themselves from providing advice on projects where there is a conflict. This protocol is in line with members who are not public office holders and embodies international best practices. To ensure the utmost transparency, a registry of interests is available and will be updated following all announcements by the government on the Task Force's recommendations.

The VTF will be in place for a period of at least 12 months, subject to extension at the discretion of the Government of Canada.

COVID-19 Task Force members

COVID-19 Task Force core members

The COVID-19 Task Force currently has 11 members, including 2 co‑chairs and 4 ex‑officio members.

Joanne Langley

Joanne Langley, Co‑chair

Professor of Pediatrics and Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine, Head, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases IWK Health

J. Mark Lievonen

J. Mark Lievonen, C.M., Co‑chair

Principal, JML Advisory Services and former President, Sanofi Pasteur Limited

Alan Bernstein

Alan Bernstein

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Robert Brunham

Robert Brunham

Head, Vaccine Research Laboratory, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control; Professor of medicine, University of British Columbia

Michel De Wilde

Michel De Wilde

Owner, MDWConsultant, llc; former Senior Vice President, Research & Development, Sanofi Pasteur

Bartha Knoppers

Bartha Knoppers

Professor, Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine; Director, Centre of Genomics and Policy, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

Christopher Procyshyn

Christopher Procyshyn

Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Vanrx Pharmasystems

Benjamin Rovinski

Benjamin Rovinski

Managing Director, Lumira Ventures

Lorne Tyrrell

Lorne Tyrrell

Founding Director, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology; Distinguished University Professor, University of Alberta

Sylvia van drunen Littel-van en Hurk

Sylvia van drunen Littel-van den Hurk

Professor, Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology, College of Medicine; Program Manager, VIDO-InterVac, University of Saskatchewan.

André Veillette

Professor, Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal; Director, Molecular Oncology Research Unit, Montréal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM)

COVID-19 Task Force ex-officio members

COVID-19 Task Force Secretariat

Alan Bernstein, O.C., OOnt, FRCS, FCAHS

Alan Bernstein

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Alan became CIFAR's President and Chief Executive Officer in May 2012. He served previously as executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York, an international alliance of researchers and funders charged with accelerating the search for an HIV vaccine.

From 2000 to 2007, he served as the inaugural president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada's federal agency for the support of health research. In that capacity, he led the transformation of health research in Canada.

After receiving his PhD from the University of Toronto, and following postdoctoral work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, Alan joined the Ontario Cancer Institute in 1994. In 1985, he joined the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, named Director of Research from 1994 to 2000.

Author of over 225 scientific publications, Alan has made landmark contributions to the study of stem cells, blood cell formation (hematopoiesis) and cancer. He chairs or is a member of advisory and review boards in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Italy and Australia. Alan serves as co‑chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up 2 Cancer Canada, is a member of the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science and Policy Group, and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Alan's contributions to science and science policy have been recognized with numerous awards and honorary degrees, including Officer of the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and the 2017 Henry Friesen International Prize in Health Research.

More information is available on the CIFAR website.

Robert Brunham

Robert Brunham

Head, Vaccine Research Laboratory, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control; Professor of medicine, University of British Columbia

Dr. Robert C Brunham is an emeritus professor of Medicine at the University of British

Columbia and Head of the Vaccine Research Laboratory at the UBC Centre for Disease Control. He is an internationally recognized leader in infectious disease prevention and control. Using epidemiology, immunology and genomics he defined the population biology of important sexually transmitted pathogens including Chlamydia trachomatis, Neiserria gonorrhoeae, Haemophilus ducreyi, Treponema pallidum and Human Immunodeficiency virus that improved control programs provincially, nationally and globally. While Head of the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control he pioneered genomic approaches for emerging infectious diseases including SARS, pandemic Influenza, Cryptococcus gattii and tuberculosis which influenced how other disease control centres approach the problem of emerging infectious diseases. His contribution to prevention and control of Chlamydia trachomatis and SARS has been widely recognized with honours and awards including the Order of British Columbia. He has over 300 peer‑reviewed publications with an H‑index of 83 and over 27,000 citations.

More information is available on the  BC Centre for Disease Control website.

Michel De Wilde

Michel De Wilde

Former Senior Vice President, Research & Development, Sanofi Pasteur

Michel De Wilde has a long career in vaccine research and development. He currently consults for the vaccine community.

From 2001 to June 2013, Michel De Wilde was Senior Vice President, Research & Development, at Sanofi Pasteur.

While at Sanofi Pasteur, Michel drove the development and licensure by the FDA and other regulatory bodies of a number of products. Michel was also instrumental in driving the acquisition of and defining the integration model for two biotech companies: Acambis and VaxDesign.

Prior to joining Sanofi Pasteur, De Wilde was at SmithKline Beecham Biologicals (now GSK Vaccines) where he held positions of increasing responsibility to become Vice President, Research & Development. De Wilde has played a key role as a research scientist in the development of several new vaccines, most notably the recombinant Hepatitis B vaccine, as well as GSK's malaria vaccine.

Michel De Wilde received is Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1976, from the Free University of Brussels.

Twitter: @Micheldewilde

Bartha Maria Knoppers

Bartha Maria Knoppers

Professor, Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine; Director, Centre of Genomics and Policy, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

Bartha Maria Knoppers, PhD (Comparative Medical Law), is a Full Professor, Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine and Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. She was the Chair of the Ethics and Governance Committee of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (2009-2017). She is currently Chair of the Ethics Advisory Panel of WADA (2015- ), and was the Co‑Chair of the Regulatory and Ethics Workstream of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (2013‑2019). In 2015‑2016, she was a member of the Drafting Group for the Recommendation of the OECD Council on Health Data Governance and gave the Galton Lecture in November 2017. She holds four Doctorates Honoris Causa and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Hastings Center (bioethics), the Canadian Academy Health Sciences (CAHS), and the Royal Society of Canada. She is also an Officer of the Order of Canada and of Quebec, and was awarded the 2019 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research, and was appointed to the International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing.

More information is available on the Centre of Genomics and Policy website.

Joanne Langley, Co‑chair

Joanne Langley

Professor of Pediatrics and Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine, Head, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases IWK Health

Dr. Langley is a pediatric infectious disease physician based at the IWK Health Centre and the Canadian Center for Vaccinology (CCfV) at Dalhousie University. She is the Associate Director for Vaccine Evaluation Group at CCfV, and works with collaborators in academia, public health, industry, and non-governmental organizations to conduct phase 1 through 4 trials. She holds the CIHR-GSK Chair in Pediatric Vaccinology at Dalhousie University. She is an active investigator in the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN) and is the lead investigator for its Clinical Trials Network (CTN). Dr. Langley's work also focuses on vaccine policy and evidence-based decision making in immunization programs. She is a member of the COVID-19 Science Expert Panel for the Chief Science Advisor of Canada, and a former member of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care and Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (Chair, 2007-2011), and serves as an advisor on several immunization decision making expert groups.
Dr. Langley's publications can be found here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1hmsDRqKP-wAL/bibliography/public/

Twitter: @jmllhfx

J. Mark Lievonen, C.M., Co‑chair

J. Mark Lievonen

Principal , JML Advisory Services and former President, Sanofi Pasteur Limited

Mark Lievonen is the Principal of JML Advisory Services and the former President of Sanofi Pasteur Limited, the Canadian vaccine division of Sanofi. He served as Chair of the Board of Directors of BIOTECanada, Rx&D (now Innovative Medicines Canada), the Ontario Genomics Institute, the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation and the Centre for the Advancement of Health Innovation, as Vice-Chair of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and as a member of the Board of Oncolytics Biotech, Acerus Pharmaceuticals, Quest PharmaTech, the Public Policy Forum and York University. Currently, he is a member of the Board of OncoQuest Pharmaceuticals Inc., Biome Grow Inc. and the Gairdner Foundation.

Mark was appointed to the Order of Canada, named a Chevalier de l'Ordre National duMérite by the Government of France, and inducted into the Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from Life Sciences Ontario and the Pharmaceutical Sciences Group, and the Canada Medal from The Chemical Institute of Canada.

Mark holds a BBA in accounting and a MBA in finance and marketing from the Schulich School of Business, and received a Honourary Doctor of Laws from York University. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant and was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario.

Christopher Procyshyn

Christopher Procyshyn

Chief Executive Officer and co‑founder, Vanrx Pharmasystems

Chris Procyshyn is the Chief Executive Officer of Vanrx Pharmasystems, a founder, and member of its Board of Directors. With over twenty‑five years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Chris has led teams in the development of complex injectable products in the fields of ophthalmology, oncology and reproductive health. Globally experienced, he has negotiated the implementation of new technologies with many major regulatory agencies. Previously with QLT Inc., a pioneering Canadian biopharmaceutical company, he led the Manufacturing, Engineering and Process Sciences groups in the development of many advanced pharmaceutical processes and their implementation into manufacturing facilities in multiple countries. Chris is a microbiologist by education and training, and a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan.

More information is available on the  International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering website.

Benjamin Rovinski

Benjamin Rovinski

Managing Director, Lumira Ventures Toronto, ON

With over 30 years of investment, operational, managerial and research experience in the health care industry, Beni has helped build life sciences companies at all stages of development. Known both as a senior scientist and as an achievement-oriented executive, with demonstrated success in strategic planning, drug development, and operational management of global multifunctional teams, Beni has established a sound reputation built on his clarity of objectives, leadership, judgement and integrity. Beni's investment focus is primarily on North American mid- to late-stage private and public companies involved in drug discovery and development, biological and small-molecule therapeutics, drug delivery, specialty pharmaceuticals, genomics, proteomics and diagnostic devices.

With a proven track record of delivering results both as a senior scientist and a business executive, Beni has held several senior management positions in the biotechnology sector, including 13 years at Sanofi Pasteur (formerly Aventis Pasteur) where he was a senior scientist and director of molecular virology, with a particular focus in the areas of virology, vaccine development, recombinant protein production, and functional genomics. While at Aventis, Beni led global research and development programs in the areas of HIV/AIDS and therapeutic cancer vaccines, bringing several of them through to clinical stage.

Beni is fluent in English, French and Spanish. He has published over 25 scientific articles and reviews and is the recipient of 32 issued patents. Beni's current and past board roles and investment responsibilities include: Antiva Biosciences, Antios Therapeutics, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AUPH), Bright Angel Therapeutics, G1 Therapeutics (Nasdaq: GTHX), KAI Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Amgen); Morphotek (acquired by Eisai), and Notch Therapeutics. Beni also serves on the Board of Directors of Life Sciences Ontario, Ontario Genomics, and he volunteers for various personal career mentoring programs targeting young adult entrepreneurs.

More information is available on the Lumira Ventures website.

Lorne Tyrrell

Lorne Tyrrell

Founding Director, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology; Distinguished University Professor, University of Alberta; Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology Edmonton, AB

Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, OC, AOE, MD, PhD, FRCPC, FRSC, FCAHS holds the GSK Chair in Virology in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Alberta. He is also the Founding Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology. He has focussed his research since 1986 on viral hepatitis. His work on the development of antiviral therapy was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Glaxo Canada. It resulted in the licensing of the first oral antiviral agent to treat chronic hepatitis B infection – lamivudine – in 1998. Today, lamivudine is licensed in over 200 countries worldwide for the treatment of HBV. He has also been involved in the establishment of a biotech company―KMT Hepatech Inc. based on the first non-primate animal model for HCV in 2003. KMT Hepatech was sold to PhoenixBio in 2017.

Dr. Tyrrell was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry from 1994-2004. Since leaving the deanship in 2004, Dr. Tyrrell has held a number of important board positions in health care in Alberta and Canada. These include the Chair of the Board of the Institute of Health Economics (2004-2018) and the Chair of the Board of the Health Quality Council of Alberta (2003-2012). He was the Chair of the Gairdner Foundation Board (2009-2019) and serves on the Research Advisory Council for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, was appointed to the Science Advisory Board to Health Canada, and chaired the Board of Alberta Precision Laboratories (2018-2019).

For his studies on viral hepatitis, Dr. Tyrrell has received numerous prestigious awards including the Gold Medal of the Canadian Liver Foundation (2000), the Alberta Order of Excellence (2000), Officer of the Order of Canada (2002), Fellow of the Royal Society (2004), FNG Starr Award of the Canadian Medical Association (2004), and the Principal Award of the Manning Foundation (2005). He was awarded the University Distinguished Professorship at the University of Alberta and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in April 2011. In 2015, he was awarded the Killam Prize in Health Sciences.

Sylvia van drunen Littel-van den Hurk

Sylvia van drunen Littel-van den Hurk

Professor, Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology, College of Medicine; Program Manager, VIDO-InterVac, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. van den Hurk is Professor of Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology in the College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. She also is the Program Manager of the Viral Pathogenesis & Vaccine Development group in VIDO-Intervac. Dr. van den Hurk works on vaccine development against pathogens of high importance to human or animal health. Her research is/has been funded by international (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) national (Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Council) and provincial granting agencies. She developed several promising vaccine candidates, one of them against respiratory syncytial virus, one of the most serious diseases in infancy responsible for hospitalization and deaths in young children.

Dr. van den Hurk has authored over 225 peer-reviewed publications, review articles, and book chapters, and holds/contributed to 12 patents. She has mentored over 60 students and post-doctoral fellows, who are now pursuing careers in science, academia, industry or government. Dr. van den Hurk has served as reviewer in several national and international grant review panels. She is Associate Editor for the journal Vaccine, and is on the editorial board of the journal npj Vaccines (Nature Publishing).

More information is available on the VIDO-InterVac and University of Saskatchewan websites.

André Veillette

Professor, Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal; Director, Molecular Oncology Research Unit, Montréal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM)

After completing his medical training in 1981 at the Université Laval, Dr. André Veillette did a residency in Internal Medicine at the Montreal General Hospital and a specialization in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute in the United States. He subsequently received a training in basic research in immunology at the same National Cancer Institute. He joined the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University in September 1989 and, in 1999, relocated his laboratory to the Montréal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) and the Université de Montréal.

Dr. Veillette's research contributions have been recognized broadly both at the national and at the international levels. At the national level, in 1992, he won the Young Investigator Award from Bio-Méga Boehringer-Ingelheim. Dr. Veillette subsequently received in 1994 the William E. Rawls Award of the National Cancer Institute of Canada. In 1999, he was awarded the Young Investigator Award "André Dupont" from the Club de Recherches Cliniques du Québec. In 2000, Dr. Veillette was the recipient of the Merck Frosst Prize. In 2007, he received the Leo-Pariseau Prize. In 2008, Dr. Veillette was elected Member of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Veillette's research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Veillette's accomplishments have also been acknowledged at the international level. He has participated in numerous Editorial Boards of international scientific journals. Dr. Veillette was elected a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 1995 and a member of the Association of American Physicians in 2009. Furthermore, in 2007, he was awarded an International Scholar Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

Twitter: @VeilletteAndre

Roger Scott-Douglas

Secretary, Vaccine Task Force

Roger Scott-Douglas is Secretary to the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. He was previously the Secretary General of the NRC Council, and was responsible for the International Relations Office, the Policy, Strategy and Performance group, and the Corporate Secretariat. Dr. Scott-Douglas also held senior executive positions at the Treasury Board Secretariat and Employment and Social Development Canada (formerly Human Resources Development Canada), and a senior position at the Ministère du Budget, des Comptes publics et de la Fonction publique in France. He has undertaken assignments with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

Mr. Scott-Douglas has a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, England, and is a Commonwealth Scholar.