The Centre for Drug Research and Development Appoints New Chair and Director, Reinforcing Strong Leadership Team

February 06, 2014 – Centre for Drug Research and Development

Vancouver, British Columbia: The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), Canada’s national drug development and commercialization centre (a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR)) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Dawn Svoronos (Graham) as the incoming Chair of its Board of Directors following the retirement of founding Chair Dr. David Dolphin; and the additional appointment of Mr. Don Avison as a new Director.

Responsible for determining and overseeing the strategic direction of the organization, CDRD’s Board is composed of representatives from its affiliated academic institutions, the health sciences and biopharmaceutical industry, and the broad national and international health research and development stakeholder community — and both Ms. Svoronos and Mr. Avison are strong and highly-regarded leaders in that community, and will play a leading role in ensuring that CDRD continues to successfully realize its vision of transforming the culture of scientific innovation and commercialization impacting human health.

Ms. Svoronos is the former President of Europe/Canada II for Merck & Co. Inc., one of the world’s leading healthcare companies, where she worked in the commercial side of the organization for 23 years. She has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry in Canada, the United States and abroad. Currently a Victoria-based lawyer and consultant, Mr. Avison was previously the President of the University Presidents’ Council of BC (now the Research Universities Council) for 10 years. He has also served as Deputy Minister with the Government of British Columbia in the Ministries of Education, Skills and Training, Crown Corporations and Health. Mr. Don Avison has also been a member of numerous boards of governors including the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Providence Health Care, and LifeSciences BC.

CDRD President and CEO, Karimah Es Sabar commented, “David Dolphin’s remarkable commitment to CDRD as our founding Chair was instrumental in transforming CDRD from just an initial concept aimed at helping investigators advance and develop their discoveries, into the national centre that it is today, with broad global reach and recognition. I also want to officially welcome Dawn Svoronos as our new Chair who will be a driving force enabling us to reach the next level of success on a global scale. Since joining the Board just over a year ago, Dawn has proven to be a highly-valuable and powerful voice around our table. We are also delighted to welcome Don Avison as a new Director, bringing his broad and deep experience to our organization.”

Dr. Dolphin remarked, “Back in 2004, a group of community-minded scientists and business people came together with a shared vision to build a world-leading drug development and commercialization centre to address one of the most critical issues facing the global life sciences industry. Today, I share a great deal of pride in the resulting organization that we collectively built for the benefit of the community; and I want to recognize those original founders as well as my fellow Directors and the CDRD management team for the dedication and passion they contributed to ultimately make CDRD the success it has become.”

Ms. Svoronos added, “Through my years in the global pharmaceutical industry, I have seen first-hand how much we need a new way to bring innovative therapeutics to patients. With CDRD firmly focused on acting as a bridge between academia, industry, government, and ultimately patients, it is that new way forward – a model that fosters collaboration, the sharing of resources, leveraging of investment, and mitigation of risk. We now have a tremendous opportunity to build on our successful model, and I look forward to leading this next step forward.”


About CDRD
CDRD is Canada’s fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre, providing expertise and infrastructure to enable researchers from leading health research institutions to advance promising early-stage drug candidates. Its mandate is to de-risk discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research and transform them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector — thus successfully bridging the commercialization gap between academia and industry, and translating research discoveries into new therapies for patients. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).

For additional information, please contact:

Barry Gee
Director, Communications
The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)
Direct: (604) 827-1223