Biographies of new Chairperson and new members of CIHR Governing Council

From: Canadian Institutes of Health Research


Mr. Don Ferguson holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of New Brunswick. He joined the New Brunswick Public Service in 1977 as a geologist with the Department of Natural Resources. From 1981 to 1987, he worked as a compensation officer at the Board of Management. He became manager of the Pension Programs at the Department of Finance in 1987 and remained there for five years. In 1992, he joined the then Department of Income Assistance as director of programs and was promoted in 1996 to Assistant Deputy Minister of the Income Security Division of the Department of Human Resources Development. Mr. Ferguson was Deputy Minister of Training and Employment Development from 2001 to 2003, Deputy Minister of Family and Community Services until September 2007, and Deputy Minister of Health from 2007 to 2012.

Recent appointments have included that of technical advisor to the Pan-American Health Organization, Chief Strategy Officer for the New Brunswick Institute of Research, Data and Training, and temporary board member of the National Energy Board. In 2016, Mr. Ferguson received an honourary doctorate in public administration from the Université de Moncton. He is fluent in English, French, and Spanish.

Ms. Debbie Fischer, BSc, MHA, is an Executive-in-Residence at the Rotman School of Management and has taught at the Rotman Executive Leadership Development Program at the University of Toronto and is an academic mentor for business students who are interested in a career in health care.

Debbie has held senior leadership positions in professional consulting services, hospitals and government. She is currently an Executive Associate with KPMG where she consults on organizational change and large-scale system transformation in health care and public sectors. Debbie also serves on several boards, including North York General Hospital, the Health Care Advisory Council of GS1, and Prodemnity. She was the inaugural Chair and currently sits on the Board of Joule – a subsidiary of the Canadian Medical Association. Past governance positions include: Chair of Plexxus, director on the Board of the Ontario Centres of Excellence and a member of the Executive Committee of the Genetics Secretariat.

She was most recently an Executive Vice President, Strategy and Organizational Development, at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. In this role, she was responsible for clinical and corporate services, and spearheaded strategic partnership initiatives and programs that led to the hospital’s national recognition for organizational quality and wellness, diversity, and corporate culture. While continuing to maintain an active role at Mount Sinai, she had a secondment to Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care as Assistant Deputy Minister, Transition, to lead a major transformation of the entire Ministry.

Ms. Fischer has a BSc (Neurobiology and Comparative Physiology) from McGill University and a Master’s of Health Administration from the University of Ottawa. She also holds Certified Human Resources Leader and Institute of Corporate Directors designations.

Mr. Dominic Giroux serves as President and CEO of Health Sciences North and the Health Sciences North Research Institute, one of Canada’s top 40 research hospitals and Northern Ontario’s largest hospital. He has more than 20 years of senior executive experience in two Ontario school boards, as a former Assistant Deputy Minister in two Ontario ministries and as Laurentian University’s longest-serving President and Vice-Chancellor.

Under his leadership, Laurentian’s federal research funding increased by 143% compared to a 13% national increase. The university rose from 18th to 10th on Maclean’s rankings in its category.

He received in 2011 one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 awards and served as Vice Chair and Chair-Elect of Universities Canada.

Mr. Giroux chaired the board of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, co-chaired the Consortium national de formation en santé and served on or led more than a dozen other boards in education, health, mining innovation, public policy, community and economic development.

He served on the Drummond Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services and on advisory panels for the Bank of Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Finance, The Globe and Mail, Hydro One and the Mowat Centre.

Mr. Giroux holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Public Policy and Management and Political Science, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa, as well as an MBA from the École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) in Montréal.

He was named by the French government as “Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes académiques de la République française” for his contribution to the influence of the French language in Canada and received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Dr. Brianne Kent, PhD, is a Research Fellow at the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as well as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia. Her research focus is Alzheimer’s disease and specifically how disrupted circadian rhythms and sleep contribute to the memory loss associated with the disease.

Dr. Kent trained as a neuroscientist, earning her PhD from the University of Cambridge, as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, following the completion of Masters of Science and Masters of Philosophy degrees from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from Simon Fraser University.

Dr. Kent’s postdoctoral training at the University of British Columbia was supported by a CIHR Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Trainee Award, and Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She is currently funded by a Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, an institute within the National Institutes of Health in the United States, to complete her postdoctoral training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Kent is also Chair of the Early Career Advisory Group at eLife Sciences, which is a non-profit organisation and open access journal working to catalyse broad reform in the evaluation and communication of science.

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