Team

Brain Canada is a national registered charity, headquartered in Montréal, Quebec. We play a unique and invaluable role as the national convenor of those who support and advance brain research. A greater understanding of how the brain works contributes to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of disorders of the brain, ultimately improving the health outcomes of people in Canada and around the world.

Brain Canada Team

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Alison’s professional mission is to translate scientific research and help put it to use. Before joining Brain Canada, she was the Executive Director of CAREX Canada, a research program based at Simon Fraser University studying Canadians’ exposures to cancer-causing substances. Alison led strategic efforts to mobilize CAREX research and influence policy impacts that reduce exposures and ultimately help to prevent cancer. Prior to this, she was a Communications and Training Manager at PrioNet Canada, a Network of Centres of Excellence focused on protein folding diseases of the brain, and the lead science writer at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) in Toronto. Alison holds an MSc in chemical biology from McGill University and a BSc in chemistry from the University of British Columbia. She lives in Vancouver with her young family.

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With more than 15 years of experience with all administrative tasks at the executive level, Angelina skillfully manages the many administrative duties with ease and confidence. Over the years, her experience in various fields including tourism, prestige cosmetics, education, and convenience, have allowed her to tailor her skills to meet the needs of not only her colleagues but the organization as a whole. Angelina provides support to the President and CEO in her leadership role while ensuring the smooth operation of the office. She appreciates spending time with family and friends and has enjoyed her travels to Europe, particularly visiting the country of origin of her family roots.

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Anneliese has a PhD in Social Sciences from McMaster University and brings over 13 years of experience in stakeholder engagement for opportunity identification and co-creation of solutions. Anneliese has experience in knowledge mobilization, program management and change management. Anneliese has authored guides, book chapters, and an online course on topics related to knowledge mobilization and research impact. As Senior Manager of Knowledge Mobilization for Brain Canada, Anneliese utilizes her skills in expert facilitation, relationship building and project management to support researchers towards creating real and positive changes for brain health.

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Anne-Marie joined Brain Canada in 2020, after more than 20 years in the entertainment industry. With a background in commercial and corporate law acquired notably at Cirque du Soleil, she has since joined the science world where she is responsible for drafting and negotiating Brain Canada’s contracts, advising and assisting her colleagues on the various legal aspects of the organization and ensuring that Brain Canada carries out its activities in compliance with the law and its agreement with Health Canada.

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Barbara has spent her entire career in the non-for-profit sector. She has worked in large shops and small in a variety of sectors (relief field, education, social services, and health). Barbara has been fundraising for 16 years in various leadership roles with a focus on major gift fundraising. Prior to joining Brain Canada, Barbara was the Director of Development, Major Gifts at Diabetes Canada since 2016. Her strong background in relationship building, strategic fundraising and her donor-centered approach strengthened and grew the revenue of her previous employers.

Barbara is the mother of three amazing kids and a practicing office nomad known to work from the local coffee shops, libraries, and parks just as much as her home office.  When she is not working, she enjoys various sport activities with her kids. She’s an adventurous eater, world traveler and book lover.

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Holder of a bachelor’s degree in administration from Romania, and of a certificate in accounting from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, Gloria Friedrich has worked in the financial services sector for the last 17 years, where she acquired a solid background as she held several positions including cash supervisor, assistant team leader and accounting analyst.

In her role as Accountant in the Finance department, Gloria reports directly to the Director, Finance and Operations, Jean-Martin Strati. Gloria is responsible for producing accurate and efficient financial reports, analysis and statements, and for executing different tasks related to the general accounting of the Brain Canada Foundation.

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Brielle is a graduate of the Media, Information, and Technoculture program at Western University and the Public Relations postgraduate program at Humber College. After graduation, she began her career in influencer relations and social media at a lifestyle Public Relations agency in Montreal before joining a corporate PR firm in Toronto. She has also played a role in coordinating various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. She is passionate about engaging new audiences in both philanthropic and activist efforts. Brielle also holds a certificate in Digital Communication from Western University.

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Fiona has a PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children, where she investigated the parallels between brain development and the initiation and progression of malignant brain tumours. After obtaining her doctorate degree, Fiona worked as a Scientific Program Manager at SickKids, managing collaborative research programs aimed at understanding and unravelling the molecular biology of adult and pediatric brain tumours. In her role as Program Manager at Brain Canada Foundation, Fiona brings a passion for brain research, and expertise in brain oncology and the Canadian academic and healthcare sectors. Fiona lives in the Greater Toronto Area and enjoys spending time with her young family, travelling, taking walks, listening to podcasts, and playing dodgeball.

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A member of l’Ordre des CPA du Québec, Jean-Martin holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting as well as a Master of Business and Administration from Université du Québec à Montréal’s school of business (ESG UQAM).

In his role as Director of Finance and Operations, Jean-Martin oversees the entirety of the accounting and operational financial management of the organization. He develops processes and supports all internal departments, ensuring that the Foundation has the resources and systems necessary to carry out its mission successfully.

Before starting his studies in accounting, he lived his passion, travelling and operating restaurants as an Executive-Chef. Jean-Martin holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a discipline he practices and teaches recreationally with his family.

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Julia holds a BSc in Neuroscience from McGill University, during which she worked as a research assistant on projects related to chronic pain and circadian rhythm. She then went on to pursue a PhD in Biomedical and Molecular Science at Queen’s University, studying the circadian rhythm of pain and neuroinflammation in multiple sclerosis. Julia also served as an adjudicator for undergraduate research competitions, sat on several graduate committees, and completed a Science Writing Internship funded by NSERC and the Laurier Centre of Women in Science. As a Program Manager at Brain Canada, Julia is committed to supporting brain research to make an impact on the brain health of all Canadians. In her free time, Julia loves to read science fiction novels and create handmade pasta.

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Karen holds a BA in Industrial Relations, from McGill University. During her time as an undergraduate student, she worked as a research assistant in the Department of Sociology and in the Faculty of Management MBA department. Karen has been an active volunteer in the community whereby she was nominated and received the Federation CJA Community Merit Award. Karen has over 15 years of administrative experience in the non-profit sector. She loves spending time with her family, friends and her golden mountain doodle, as well as traveling around the world.

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Kate Shingler joined Brain Canada in 2020, and is an experienced communications professional with a background in journalism, impact storytelling and translating complex ideas to the broader public in an accessible, meaningful way. Kate worked for more than a decade with Global Television as a Reporter, Senior Producer, and Associate News Director. For 5 years, she was the Director of Communications at the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), a non-partisan, national think tank. Prior to joining Brain Canada, Kate was the Associate Director of Communications at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation, where she led the team’s digital strategy, and helped to enhance the MUHC Foundation’s profile in Montreal, and across Canada.

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Mario Chartrand joined the Brain Canada Foundation in 2015 and has over 30 years of experience as a finance and operations leader in the business and charitable sectors. He began his career at Deloitte in the public company sector and has participated in several public offerings. He is an expert in wealth management and Family Office as he serves as a financial and philanthropic advisory for a prominent Canadian family for more than 18 years.

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Melissa has a multifaceted educational background, holding dual Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology/Public Affairs and Communications/Cultural Studies from Concordia University. She holds a certificate in Fundraising Management from Ryerson University. Upon graduating, Melissa worked at a magazine in Vancouver before joining a national Public Relations firm where she managed numerous accounts in various industries including non-profit, health and beauty, product retail, and food and beverage. As a Senior Digital Communications & Stewardship Officer at Brain Canada, Melissa is fueling her passion for philanthropy while leveraging digital platforms to optimize Brain Canada’s presence and championing the significance of Canadian brain research.

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Melissa Russo comes from an educational background in Behavioral Neuroscience and Pharmacology & Toxicology and brings career experience from industry with knowledge of clinical research ethics and the management of medical education program development. As a Senior Program Manager at Brain Canada, Melissa leverages her passion for learning about the brain, her desire to make a positive impact on the research community, and the skills from her combined academic and professional history to support the organization’s vision and mission. In her free time, Melissa loves to exercise with her dog, read, knit and spend time with her loved ones.

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Prior to joining Brain Canada, Monica was the Executive Director of the Jerusalem Foundation of Canada, from 2008 to 2018, where she helped rebuild and grow a dormant charitable foundation into a vibrant and successful Canadian chapter of an internationally recognized organization. Having initially joined Brain Canada in 2018 as a Development Advisor, Monica’s experience in crafting collaborations for the purpose of raising philanthropic dollars, creating and implementing fundraising events such as the first ever 20th Brain Canada anniversary event, meshes well with her personal dedication to support brain research.

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Nadia has a Bachelor in Psychology from the York University, and both a Masters and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She also holds a specialized Bachelor degree in Education at Université Laval, in Québec City. Nadia has worked as a Research Scientist for the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project) at the University of Waterloo for the last nine years. She was then acting as a Country Manager in this international collaboration of over 100 tobacco control researchers across 22 countries, whose mission is to evaluate the behavioural and psychological impact of national-level tobacco control policies of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first-ever international treaty on health.

Pamela Kanellis

Prior to joining Brain Canada, Dr. Kanellis was the Assistant Vice-President, Research at MS Canada where she accelerated research in multiple sclerosis by engaging researchers, clinicians, and other key stakeholders. In this role, she led a team to administer research funding and trainee awards, supported research workshops and conferences, and translated the latest research to the public. She also served as the administrative lead for the Canadian Prospective Cohort to understand progression in multiple sclerosis, working with partners from government, industry and not-for-profit sectors. Previously, she was Senior Director, Research at CIFAR, where she worked with interdisciplinary research networks to address questions of global importance, including the Child & Brain Development program. There, she also led the global academy with the development of the CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars program for early career researchers and a women in science leadership workshop series. Prior to this role, Dr. Kanellis worked at Grand Challenges Canada to pioneer a program in global mental health working closely with partners at the  World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health. She started her career as a health and life sciences strategy consultant working in Canada and abroad. Pamela received a BSc. in biochemistry from McMaster University and PhD in molecular genetics from the University of Toronto.

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Rebecca is a certified Raiser’s Edge/Raiser’s EdgeNXT Professional, focused on leading the enhancement and upkeep of our donor database. With a decade of experience in information processing, product marketing, and administration support, she became part of the Brain Canada team in August 2023. Originally from the east coast of Canada, Rebecca earned a Business Administration Diploma from the College of the North Atlantic before moving to Montreal ten years ago. In her free time, she indulges in making clothes, listening to podcasts, reading, traveling, and volunteering.

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Sabina Antonescu holds a BSc in Biology, with a minor in Psychology, from Queen’s University and an MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Ottawa. Her graduate research focused on enhancing post-stroke motor and cognitive recovery using novel rehabilitation and pharmacological approaches and explored sex differences in brain injury, treatment response, and recovery profile. Since joining Brain Canada’s Programs team in 2018, Sabina manages a portfolio of funded projects and has been involved in developing and launching several programs. She also works closely with the Communications team on outreach activities and serves as the primary liaison with Health Canada in relation to the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF).

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Holder of a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Concordia University, Sejal has over ten years of experience in administrative support in the healthcare sector. Her experience spans medical office and clinic management, facilities management, accounting tasks and customer service. She has experience supporting multiple surgeons, executives and managers. She is known for her ability to manage changing and competing priorities and using initiative to deliver outstanding performance.

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Prior to being appointed President and CEO of Brain Canada in September 2020, Dr. Poupon was the Director of Scientific Development and Partnerships at the Neuro – the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University. Responsible for the development of major new research initiatives and alliances for the Institute, including international initiatives, she spearheaded the transformation of the Neuro into an Open Science Institute. She was also Chief Operating Officer of the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute. Previously, Dr. Poupon was the Associate Director for Scientific Affairs at the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) where she managed the FRSQ’s scientific programs and liaised with provincial, federal and international scientific funding organizations. During the reorganization of the funding agency, she was named Interim Scientific Director and member of the Board.

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