Board of Directors
Life Sciences BC is governed by a Board of Directors, whose members represent leaders in British Columbia’s biopharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices and digital health sectors, and the greater life sciences community. Our board provides guidance, sets policy and ensures that the organization operates effectively in achieving its mandate.
Ali Ardakani is a technical and entrepreneurial corporate development & operations biotech executive, with over 20 years of experience in managing life science projects and companies. His work includes; managing R&D projects in the areas of oncology, respiratory, infectious disease, CNS therapeutics and medical devices as well as fundraising, licensing and M&A. He is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of Novateur Ventures, a premier global advisory group with over 100 senior life science advisors.
Until recently he was Senior Vice President Device & Business Development for Beyond Air (NASDAQ:XAIR), where he was involved with the company from early stage until Nasdaq public offering and several rounds of financing and licensing. He is the CEO and co-founder of Optigo Biotherapeutics, an ophthalmology R&D company. He is the Vice Chair of LifeSciences BC, Entrepreneur in Residence at Innovation Boulevard and Calgary Innovation. He is an Associate at Creative Destruction Labs. He was the Co-Founder and COO of Niiki Pharma, which was acquired in 2013 by Intezyne Technologies, of which he became the Vice President.
To date, he has taken several projects from concept to FDA approval (several successful 510ks and a PMA filing) for medical devices in addition to several FDA IND approvals. He has also worked on commercialization and pharma partnerships and several global mergers and acquisitions.
Ms. Stevens is currently Head of Business Partnering at AbCellera. Ms. Stevens is also the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of Northview Lifesciences, an entity which invests in and provides strategic advisory services to a number of life sciences companies. Ms. Stevens currently serves on the Board of Directors of LifeSciences BC and Aequus Pharmaceuticals. Previously, Ms. Stevens served as the Chief Operating Officer for Aequus Pharmaceuticals and as Corporate and External Affairs Analyst for Cardiome Pharma Corp., where she was responsible for strategic planning and value analysis of internal R&D. Ms. Stevens’ earlier experience includes five years with Bayer HealthCare, where she was responsible for the commercial success and business development of a portfolio of products within several key therapeutic areas.
Ms. Stevens holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Health Administration degree from University of British Columbia and is a past winner of Business in Vancouver’s “Top 40 Under 40 Award”.
Rajveer Hundal is a Partner in the Assurance practice at PwC Canada. She is the BC Region Technology Leader.
Rajveer works with a diverse portfolio of businesses and has over 20 years of experience providing assurance and accounting advisory services to both public and private companies in the technology, life sciences (including medical devices), entertainment and media, and cleantech industries. She has significant experience bringing value to early-stage, high-growth, and large multinational companies. Rajveer advises clients on financial, reporting and business impacts of growth and acquisitions in a practical and proactive manner, including resolving complex accounting issues and advising on internal controls and corporate governance. She is experienced in transaction work, including debt financings, initial public offerings, offering memorandums, and prospectuses, and is familiar with both Canadian and US regulatory requirements.
Rajveer holds a Bachelors in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University and a Masters in Professional Accounting from the University of Saskatchewan. She is also a designated Chartered Professional Accountant (CA). In 2021, Rajveer was recognized by Business in Vancouver as a top forty under 40 award winner.
Max Blouw is deeply committed to progress through strategic partnerships and the power of positive relationships. His experience spans service with the federal government, running private companies, and long term leadership in the post-secondary sector in Canada. He is currently president of the Research Universities Council of British Columbia and serves on the board of Canada’s oldest mutual insurer, Gore Mutual, as well as on a number of non-profit boards. Among other honors he has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal is a member of the Order of Canada. He enjoys supporting his wife’s talent for gardening by providing the heavy labor, fly fishing, and spending as much time as possible with grandchildren.
Kevin joined Kardium in 2008. He has been active in many areas at Kardium, including product development, marketing, clinical development, business development and financing. Prior to Kardium, Kevin held product management, marketing and technical positions at Kodak, Sierra Wireless and Accenture. He started his career working as an engineer at the deepest gold mine in the world. Kevin has a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cape Town.
Jennifer is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at LifeLabs Medical Laboratory, a Canadian-owned company that provides laboratory diagnostic information and digital health connectivity systems, supporting 20 million customer visits annually and conducting over 100 million laboratory tests through cutting-edge technologies.
As COO, Jennifer is accountable for all areas of operations including lab operations, client services, supply chain and procurement, employee health and safety and environmental sustainability, logistics and specimen management, medical science and quality management, agile transformation, and business continuity.
Jennifer’s previous roles at LifeLabs include Senior Vice-President, British Columbia where she was responsible for fostering relationships with leaders in the B.C. healthcare sector, government, and business community to drive business development and growth for LifeLabs. She was also the President of Excelleris Technologies Inc., a health technology company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of LifeLabs. Before joining LifeLabs, Jennifer held the position as CFO of BC Biomedical where she led the successful sale of the organization to LifeLabs in 2013.
Jennifer holds a CPA, CGA designation and has earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and finance from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. In 2021, Jennifer was recognized as a top leader in the Biotech and Life Sciences category by the Business in Vancouver (BIV) BC 500 list which recognizes the 500 most influential business leaders in British Columbia.
Jennifer is passionate about giving back to her community. In 2022, she received a Distinguished Service Award from the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) for her significant contributions as a volunteer and currently services on the board for Life Sciences BC.
Bob is the executive lead for Pfizer Canada’s reimbursement public payer engagement initiatives and health policy strategies for all provinces and territories. His responsibilities include contract negotiations, pipeline, and pricing discussions.
Bob has over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical and life sciences sector. Since 2000, he has strategically guided Pfizer through disruptive changes in the Canadian reimbursement landscape and supported new reimbursement models for Pfizer products. He has also worked to construct a life sciences leadership position in Canada and led the establishment of several flagship investment partnerships.
Bob is a graduate of the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and a Master of Arts in political science. He has served on several community and industry association boards. Bob received the W.E. Upjohn Award for Innovation and was a member of the Specialty Care Star Performance Award, the Pfizer Impact Award and the General Manager’s Award for delivery of outstanding results.
As President and Chief Executive Officer, Suzanne Gill leads Genome BC in applying the power of genomics in ways that better the lives of all British Columbians. Suzanne has been at the forefront of catalyzing sustainable, public-private partnerships across the life sciences ecosystem for more than 20 years. She provides a wealth of experience in the Canadian innovation environment, including economic development and stakeholder relations, and in helping to shape and implement strategy for organizations at the nexus of research, innovation and commercialization. Suzanne is passionate about the important work of integrating genomics into society by supporting responsible research and innovation and fostering an understanding and appreciation of the life sciences, helping BC rise to the challenges of the 21st century. Working with our partners, Suzanne’s focus is on building upon Genome BC’s successes in precision health, natural resources and education while growing BC’s thriving life sciences research and innovation ecosystem. Genomics has proven to be an important tool in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, rare diseases and the prevention of adverse drug reactions. Genomics is also providing new and transformative ways to address BC’s environmental challenges, such as determining which plants and trees will be better able to adapt to new environmental conditions as well as identifying and managing invasive pests and disease-causing pathogens that pose threats not only to forests but also many fruit crops. Previously, Suzanne was a founding executive as the Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs with the Digital Supercluster (2018-2022), an industry-led organization that aims to accelerate economic growth and position Canada for global leadership in transformative digital technologies. In addition to fostering an essential relationship between industry, academia and government, she also led the development and launch of Digital Supercluster’s inaugural Capacity Building Pilot Program aimed at connecting employers to job ready digital talent. Prior to joining the Digital Supercluster, Suzanne was at Genome BC for over a decade and last held the role of Vice President, Corporate Development, responsible for corporate strategy, corporate performance management and government relations. She moved to BC following her work at the Ontario “Genomics empowers us to take control of our health, better manage our resources and keep our planet healthy. Imagine the opportunities – not yet foreseen – for future generations.” 08/2022 Genomics Institute as part of the start up team and was responsible for oversight of a $300 million research portfolio at the time when Canada was making its first large scale investments in research in the sector. Suzanne holds an MSc degree from the University of British Columbia and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. She has been on the Board of Directors of Innovate BC since 2018.
David is a software entrepreneur who co-founded Thrive Health, a software company with a mission to improve the delivery of healthcare in Canada and beyond by empowering patients to be more informed and engaged in their journeys through specialist care.
An important element of Thrive Health’s focus is measuring and enhancing the wellbeing of patients and caregivers, leading to improved levels of physical and mental health. Thrive Health is the official developer of the B.C. and Canada COVID-19 apps, which have provided over 10 million risk assessments to Canadians during the pandemic.
DR. BEV HOLMES, Ph.D.
Bev is a health research system leader with experience in practice
and academia and a commitment to their integration. She has more
than two decades of experience in the funding, production and use
of research evidence to improve health.
Working in the field of health and risk communication, Bev
championed stakeholder involvement and sees it as key to bringing
evidence into practice. Her doctoral degree focused on knowledge
translation: the use of research evidence to improve health and
health care. Her academic studies fueled her passion for “evidence
on evidence use” and she continues to contribute to this body of
knowledge, while learning from and applying it.
Bev chairs and sits on various research advisory groups across Canada and internationally, serves as an associate editor at Implementation Science Communications and represents her organization in the National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations. She is an adjunct professor at SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and UBC’s School of Population and
Public Health, and holds a Chartered Director designation from the Degroote School of Business Directors College at McMaster University.
Bev is an advisor to funders interested in embracing their role as change agents to ensure citizens get maximum benefit from research investments. She publishes on and speaks about the importance of research systems, and the need for all stakeholder groups to play their part in the generation and use of knowledge to improve health and health care. In all this work, her intent is to be respectfully – but insistently – provocative.
As CEO of Michael Smith Health Research BC, Bev feels privileged to work with an outstanding Board, leadership team and staff group, and is committed to bringing evidence to her organization’s own practices towards strengthening British Columbia’s health research system. Bev was previously the CEO of Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and has held a number of management positions in non-profit agencies. She received her MA and PhD from SFU’s School of Communication. Her research interests are knowledge translation, discourse analysis, health and risk communication, and public involvement in health research.
Wendy Hurlburt, a passionate global executive with more than 25 years of experience in the Life Sciences and Technology sectors, is the President & CEO of Life Sciences BC. Wendy has held leadership positions in Johnson & Johnson, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, and Lexmark International where she provided strategic leadership across Finance, Business Development, Operations, IT, Privacy, Compliance, Regulatory, Quality and Risk Management. Her global experience includes leadership roles across Canada, the United States, Europe and South Asia.
Wendy has a BA in Finance & Economics from Western University Ontario, an MBA from Queen’s University, a Certificate in Strategic Leadership from the Sauder School of Executive Education and is a certified Privacy Professional (CIPP). Wendy serves on the Clinical Trials BC Advisory Board, the External Advisory Committee of the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcomes Science and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Government, Budget and Finance Committee. Previously Wendy served on the Board of the Centre for Research and Drug Discovery (adMare BioInnovations) and chaired CDRD’s Finance & Audit Committee, co-Chaired of the International Association of Privacy Professionals Vancouver Chapter and was on the GVBOT Women’s Leadership Council, most recently serving as the WLC Policy Chair.
DR. LANA JANES, Ph. D.
Dr. Lana Janes is a biopharmaceutical industry veteran with over 20 years of pharmaceutical development experience that spans the full life cycle of therapeutic product development. She is currently a Venture Partner at adMare BioInnovations and Interim Chief Executive Officer at Abdera Therapeutics.
Before joining adMare, Lana served as Senior Vice President, Intellectual Property and Technology Development and Chief Patent Officer at QLT Inc. where, for 12 years, she oversaw all aspects of global R&D and IP strategy for the company’s commercial, clinical and pre-clinical stage therapeutic programs. She has also served as COO of Retinagenix Therapeutics, a Seattle-based privately held ophthalmology company focused on rare diseases of the retina. Earlier in her career, Lana worked as a registered Canadian and US patent agent in the Toronto office of Ogilvy Renault LLP (now Norton Rose Fulbright) and at F. Hoffman-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland, where her practice focused on the strategic IP and regulatory protection for numerous therapeutic and medical device products. Lana sits on the Boards of Directors for several entrepreneurial start-up bio-techs in Vancouver, and is an associate at Creative Destruction Labs in Vancouver, providing her with valuable experience and insight in strategically and cost-effectively advancing pre-IND stage and semi-virtual companies. Lana received her AB in Chemistry with honors from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from McGill University, where she also conducted post-doctoral work in the field of antiviral therapeutics. She also worked for several years as a synthetic organic chemist in the chemical and food industries in the US and UK.
DR. DAVID LLEWELLYN, Ph. D., MBA
Dr. David Llewellyn is Chief Commercial Officer at STEMCELL Technologies, Canada’s largest biotechnology company. David is a champion of STEMCELL’s mandate to advance science, which he supports at the executive level by ensuring the company is well positioned for long term growth and profitability.
David started his career at STEMCELL in 2006 as a Business Development Officer. Today he oversees the company’s Commercial Operations, Marketing Department, Pricing, Project Management Office, eCommerce Division, Services Division and several of its Product Teams.
David has a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Northern British Columbia, a PhD in Organic Chemistry from McGill University and an MBA in Strategic Management from the University of British Columbia.
MICHAEL R. MARTIN
Mr. Martin is currently Chief Operating Officer and Head of Global Business Development at Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. He was formerly CEO, director and co-founder of the privately held Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. which was acquired in 2013 by the former Isotechnika Pharma Inc. In his current role with Aurinia, Mr. Martin is responsible for managing company functions such as corporate and business development, alliance management, and the company’s intellectual property portfolio. Mr. Martin is a biotech/pharmaceutical executive with over 20 years of global industry experience and offers a solid mix of strategic planning, marketing, commercial operations, business development, licensing and people management skills.
Mr. Martin joined Aurinia from Vifor Pharma where he held the position of Director, Global Business Development & Licensing. Prior to Vifor, Mr. Martin was a key member of the business development team that saw Aspreva sold to Galenica for $915M. Upon joining Aspreva in 2004, Mr. Martin initiated the strategic launch planning process for CellCept® in “less-common” autoimmune diseases. These included such indications as Pemphigus Vulgaris, Myasthenia Gravis, and Lupus Nephritis. Prior thereto, Mr. Martin held a variety of progressively senior commercial positions at Schering-Plough. Most recently, Mr. Martin has spent time in Europe where he was responsible for the Rheumatology business unit for Remicade® in France. There, Mr. Martin had full profit and loss responsibilities and had direct responsibility for the sales team, the marketing team and the infusion access team. In addition, while at Schering-Plough, Mr. Martin was the brand manager responsible for the Canadian launch of Remicade (infliximab), which ultimately became the most successful product launch in Canadian history. Mr. Martin started his career in the industry in the sales organization of Schering-Plough where he received multiple achievement awards. Mr. Martin is also a member of the Board of Directors of Zucara Therapeutics based out of Toronto Canada.
DAVID POON, Ph.D.
Dr. David Poon is a life sciences executive with over 15 years of experience in corporate development and translating platform technologies into clinical therapeutic candidates.
David served as the Chief Business Officer at Gandeeva Therapeutics and as Vice President, Business Development and Alliance Management at Zymeworks, where he was instrumental in establishing key therapeutic program and platform partnerships with multinational pharmaceutical companies totaling over USD$10 billion. In addition, David made foundational scientific contributions to the development of the Azymetric™ and EFECT™ therapeutic platforms at Zymeworks.
David serves on the Board of Directors for BioCanRx, Canada’s Immunotherapy Network and advises several Vancouver-based biotechnology start-ups on financing, partnering, and scientific strategies.
David obtained his B.Sc. in Biology and Chemistry, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of British Columbia.
Scott holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of British Columbia. Prior to starting StarFish, he worked in diverse areas such as lithium battery development and manufacturing, UV spectroscopy instrumentation and hi-fi audio speakers. Under his leadership, StarFish has grown into a diverse professional organization with clients around the world and 100% focus on medical devices. Scott is a Fellow of The Canadian Academy of Engineering, 2017 recipient of the VIATEC Technology Champion award, and volunteers with Junior Achievement, Entrepreneurs Organization, UBC and Life Sciences BC. He is an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year, & 2017 Pacific Awards finalist.
Peter Simpson has extensive experience over a 34-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, including the past 23 years as Senior Manager of Government Affairs with GlaxoSmithKline based in British Columbia. Peter’s expertise is based on professional experiences in Sales, Marketing, Strategic Planning, Government Relations, Health Policy Development, Benefit Plan Design and Patient Access. He has previously served on Life Science BC’s Industry Policy Committee and has been the Vice-Chair of the Innovative Medicines Canada’s BC Committee for the past 4 years.
Peter has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Chemistry with a Minor in Business from the University of Guelph.
Peter consistently demonstrates a passion for advancing the life science ecosystem in British Columbia to ensure patients have access to life saving and life sustaining treatments.
DR. PETER ZANDSTRA
Dr. Peter Zandstra focuses his work on the progression of regenerative medicine and immunotherapy. His education includes a BEng in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, a PhD in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology from the University of British Columbia, and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Bioengineering from MIT.
Dr. Zandstra’s research, which incorporates engineering design principles, computational modeling, and stem cell biology, is geared towards understanding cell fate control mechanisms and developing new therapeutic strategies for diseases such as cancer and autoimmunity. His lab has produced 172 publications, garnered nearly 22,000 citations, and developed commercially applicable technologies for cell and gene therapies.
Recognized with over 30 awards, including as a Member of the Order of Canada, Dr. Zandstra’s influence is seen in his students and post-doctoral fellows who have achieved success in various sectors. Beyond his academic contributions, he co-founded the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), Medicine by Design (MbD), and helped establish UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering, demonstrating his commitment to interdisciplinary research and promoting Canadian Science and Engineering globally.
Joseph Garcia’s practice focuses on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions. He advises public and private companies, investment dealers, venture capital and private equity funds, and acts as independent counsel to boards of directors. Joe has extensive experience advising on all types of M&A and corporate finance transactions, including public and private equity and debt financing, take-over and issuer bids, share and asset acquisitions and divestitures, and regulatory and stock exchange compliance work.
Prior to his career in law, Joe worked in corporate finance with a national investment bank and in clinical research with a multinational pharmaceutical company. Joe has lectured extensively on corporate governance and advanced securities law topics. He chaired The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia corporate governance courses in 2011 and 2013, and participated in the advanced securities law courses in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014. Joe has been a director and corporate secretary of LifeSciences BC for more than 12 years and is a member of its Finance Committee. He is also a director of Genome British Columbia and chair of its Audit Committee, and a member of the BIOTECanada Legal Affairs advisory board.
Roger Kuypers has over 20 years’ experience as a lawyer, director and investor in the life sciences sector. His experience includes working in the biotech, medical device, diagnostics and functional foods fields. Roger has worked with start-up companies, large pharmaceutical companies, universities, centers of excellence and health authorities. Roger provides legal services in respect of a broad scope of life sciences activities, including pre-clinical and clinical research, licensing, finance and intellectual property.
On the business side, Roger has served and continues to serve on a number of corporate boards of biotech and medical device companies. On the biotech side, he served over 10 years as a director of KMT Hepatech Inc., which provides compound and vaccine testing services using its proprietary chimeric animal model. He also served as a Chairman of a local reagent and biotech company, helping to launch its translational research facilities in India. He currently serves on the boards of two BC medical device companies.
Roger also brings a broad geographic perspective to the table, being called to the British Columbia and Alberta bars. Roger practiced with Dentons in Edmonton for five years before returning to Vancouver, during which he worked closely with the Alberta life sciences community. He established the clinical trial agreement review and negotiation system for the Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre at the University of Alberta. Roger has also acted for foreign clients, including Takeda Pharmaceutical Company of Japan.
On the community side, Roger has served as a director of BC Medtech (prior to its merger with Lifesciences BC) and the BC Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (BCCRIN). He has hosted the Speaker Series of the Clinical Research Professionals of BC for the last 17 years and is a regular presenter on legal issues in clinical research.
HECTOR MACKAY-DUNN, K.C.
Hector MacKay-Dunn has over 25 years of practice experience in a broad range of industry sectors, advising on corporate and general matters, complex domestic and cross-border public and private securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, tender offers and international partnering and licensing transactions. He provides general and strategic advice to both senior and emerging public companies as well as early to later stage private companies, investment banks, and investors in public and private domestic and cross border equity and debt financing, mergers, tender offers, corporate reorganizations, and advises boards of directors and independent board committees on corporate governance. Hector is recognized by Lexpert, the most respected legal publication in Canada, as being among the Top 100 Canada/US Cross-Border Corporate Lawyers in Canada. He has consistently been named among The Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, and is recognized among Canada’s leading lawyers in mergers & acquisitions, technology and biotechnology. Hector has received the “AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5″ legal ability rating from Martindale-Hubbell, an authoritative and global source for identifying leading lawyers and law firms. Hector has advised clients in a variety of commercial industries, including semi-conductor, software, web-based and e-businesses, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, independent power production, medical equipment and devices, mining, manufacturing, transportation, and fitness services.