Study Team

Karen Menard

Chief Planning and Administrative Officer

Karen oversees the operational leadership of the Ontario Health Study’s Science, Communications, Assessment Centre and IT teams and manages the Study’s day-to-day operations. She serves as the chief liaison between the OHS and its Scientific Steering Committee, international Scientific Advisory Board and key external partners. Before joining the OHS, Karen was Associate Vice-President, Institutional Research and Analysis, at McMaster University. Her extensive career in the academic and research worlds includes positions at Harvard University as Director of Research and Analysis and at Massachusetts General Hospital as Project Director.
"I am looking forward to working with the OHS team to continue to grow the number of Ontarians taking part in the Study while expanding into new areas that will enrich the value of the data we provide to researchers around the world. The second phase of the OHS is the collection of physical samples through assessment centres around the province. It’s a very exciting time for the OHS and I’m pleased to be a part of it."

Operations

Nina Chan

Senior Manager, Clinical Operations and Quality Assurance

Nina completed her Bachelor of Nursing Science and B.A. in Psychology from Queen’s University and is a member of the College of Nurses of Ontario as a Registered Nurse (RN). Nina brings many years of experience in clinical research and management in both public and the private sector. Prior to joining the OHS team in 2012, she worked as Manager in Clinical Research and Clinical Research Coordinator at INC Research, Clinical Research Coordinator at University Health Network and a Staff Nurse at the Hospital for Sick Children. Nina also obtained the CRC certificate from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) back in 2005.
"As a health care professional, I see how various diseases such as cancer, stroke, hepatitis and diabetes impact the lives of individuals, families, communities and our health care system. I am a strong believer in the upstream approach in health promotion where emphasis is placed in catching the disease at the source by ways of health promotion, disease prevention and early detection. I strongly believe the Ontario Health Study will create a platform to allow researchers to identify new risk factors and detection tools to improve the health of all of us."

Kelly McDonald

Manager, Policy and Research Operations

Kelly completed a B.Sc. in Psychology from McMaster University and an M.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto. She worked as a Research Assistant in a neuroimaging lab before joining the Ontario Health Study Science Team in March 2008.
“The opportunity to work on something with this much research potential is invigorating. The Ontario Health Study could improve our prevention and detection tools, which would have a significant impact on health care for all Canadians.”

Rahma Kerim

Research Associate

Rahma completed a Masters of Arts degree in Development Studies and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science and African Studies both from York University. Prior to joining the OHS team, Rahma worked as a Research Assistant with the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and as a Research and Program Evaluation Assistant with Family Service Toronto.
"I am very excited to be a part of the OHS team. I have a particular interest in health research that reflects the complex needs of diverse communities. As one of the largest population-based studies of its kind, the wealth of data collected by the OHS has great potential to support sophisticated and impactful research studies that can advance our knowledge on the social determinates of health in Canada."

Christine Kowal

Research Associate

Christine completed an Hon B.Sc. majoring in Biological Sciences and French and an M.Sc. in Epidemiology. Christine has earned certification as a Clinical Research Professional (SoCRA) and previously worked as a Research Coordinator for an international multicentre randomized controlled trial. Christine is currently on maternity leave.
“The Ontario Health Study involves research from many disciplines. I have a strong interest in maternal and child health and am looking forward to the discoveries that will lead to healthier mothers and babies.”

Mason LeVon

Communications Officer

Mason recently completed an Honours B.A. in Political Science from the University of Ottawa. Prior to joining the OHS in December 2010, Mason worked as a Junior Communications Officer at Industry Canada and as a Junior Business Analyst for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
“My family, like many in Ontario, has had a high incidence of cancer. To be part of such a large-scale, ambitious study with the potential for breakthroughs in prevention and treatment is very gratifying.”

Monica Mo Yu

Research Associate

Monica completed an Honours B.Sc. majoring in Life Sciences and an M.Sc. in Health Services Research from the University of Toronto. She worked as a research coordinator at the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital prior to joining the Ontario Health Study Team.
"The Ontario Health Study is a fantastic resource for understanding environmental and genetic determinants of diseases. I’m privileged to be part of the OHS and have the opportunity to contribute to the future of health research."

Tharsiya Nagulesapillai

Data Analyst

Tharsiya completed an Honours B.Sc. in Health Sciences from the University of Toronto and a M.Sc. in Epidemiology from University of Calgary. She has extensive research and analytical experience from academic and public health settings.
“Population-based studies like OHS have the potential to address complex research questions and examine diseases of importance to public health and I am excited to be involved with this innovative study.”

Sally Stasi

Clinical Operations Coordinator

Sally completed an Honours B.Sc. in Biochemistry and a graduate certification in Clinical Research. She brings many years of experience in biospecimen collection, processing and storage. In her previous position she worked diligently to provide researchers with access to high quality biospecimen derivatives, including DNA and RNA extracted from tissue and peripheral blood specimens, as well as Tissue Microarrays.
"Having worked for a leading cancer research institute for a number of years, I am passionate about clinical research and the role it plays in the development and marketing of therapeutic interventions. While working for a tumour biorepository, I experienced first-hand how invaluable a resource biospecimens, annotated with high quality clinical data, are to researchers. It is with great excitement that I join the OHS, in their second phase of the trial, as they strive to provide researchers with access to high quality biospecimens."

Bronwyn Thompson

Research Associate

Bronwyn obtained her Honours B.Sc. in Life Sciences at Queen’s University and is in the final stages of her MPH from the University of Waterloo. Bronwyn completed her public health practicum with the OHS before joining the Study full time. She has worked and volunteered in diverse public health settings.
"The OHS has the potential to influence prevention and treatment of diseases that have touched all our lives. I feel very privileged and excited to be a part of it."

Information Technology

Brian Allen

Software Developer

Brian completed an M.Sc. at University of Toronto and a PhD at University of Waterloo in computer science. He has many years of experience with algorithm design and analysis and with the development of database systems.
“I am committed to making whatever contribution I can to the success of the Ontario Health Study. This study serves an important purpose in our society’s multi-faceted attack on a range of diseases that continue to affect us all.”

Frank Chou

Software Developer

Frank completed an M.Sc. in Computer Systems Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Before joining the OHS, Frank worked as a software developer at the Bank of Montreal and BPS Resolver.
“It’s my privilege to be part of a study that will have so many positive impacts on the lives of people throughout the world. I’m very excited to make my contribution and at the same time collaborate with our dynamic team to successfully achieve our research objectives.”

Igor Koganov

Quality Assurance Technician

Igor completed a Bachelor of Economics and Business at Moscow University of Commerce. He has more than 15 years experience in Information Technology in the field of Quality Assurance.
“I am excited to have an opportunity to work for a non-profit organization and I am very grateful to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause as health research.”

Bob Zurowski

Technical Analyst

Bob is an accomplished IT professional with more than 30 years experience implementing innovative business and technical solutions.
“I have twin sisters, one of whom was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer while her identical twin has nothing. My sister with cancer served around the world as a U.S. Navy officer while her twin has lived in a major metropolitan city. My father-in-law lived most of his life in southern Ontario, and died eight months after he was diagnosed with colon cancer. His identical twin brother living in Holland is cancer free. The time has come when we need to study and understand the role that environment plays in our health.”

Administration

Cindy Gayle

Executive Assistant

Cindy has worked at many large corporations in an EA capacity, including Siemens Canada and Symantec Corporation. Prior to joining the Ontario Health Study, Cindy worked at an architectural interior design firm, supporting the president.
“I lost my Mother to breast cancer in July of 2008 and because of the advanced research available, my sister Tiffany is alive today. I feel extremely privileged to be part of something as impactful as the Ontario Health Study and encourage everyone to do their part by completing the Study.”

Nazanin Khobzi

Community Liaison/Administrative Assistant

Nazanin completed her Hon B.A. in Sociology from the University of Toronto. Nazanin has always had an interest in working for non-profit organizations. Prior to joining the Ontario Health Study in 2013, she worked in both private and public sector organizations.
“I feel very excited to be part of this commendable Study. I feel honoured to serve as a liaison between the OHS and its Study participants, whose participation and enthusiasm play an important role in making a difference in the health of all Ontarians.”