Tina B. MarvastiPresident
I completed my undergraduate degree in Physiology and Biochemistry and my Masters training in Vascular Imaging at the University of Toronto. As a fourth year MD-PhD student at the University of Toronto, I am conducting my PhD research in the field of Cardiac Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology at the Toronto General Research Institute. My interests outside academia and medicine include paddling, training for a half-marathon and spending quality time with my friends and family. "I have been involved with CITAC as an executive member for the past 2 years. As the mentorship chair, I have helped initiate the mentorship survey, results of which will be published as a commentary in early 2019. I also proposed and initiated the establishment of a national mentorship database for clinician-scientist trainees across Canada. As the CFMS Liaison, I have also had the experience of working with the Canadian Federation of Medical Students to advocate for MD-PhD medical students and update the trainees on how changes in the upcoming 2021 electives will effect our members at large. I am passionate about advocating for re-instating the federal funding for MD-PhD programs, better integration of research for clinician-scientist trainees during residency and mentorship within the clinician-scientist trainee communities across Canada. I look forward to the opportunity to serve as the president-elect of CITAC in 2019."
Adam PietrobonPresident Elect
Hello hello! My name’s Adam and I’m a 4th year MD/PhD student at the University of Ottawa, and I’m very excited to be your President-Elect! We have a wonderful team of leaders here at CITAC and I’m really looking forward to all the incredible work to be done. Please do reach out if you’re interested in hearing more about what we do or would like to get involved! A little bit about myself: I’m a big foodie, love to café hop around the city, and could easily get caught up discussing the plot line of any Marvel film. Science-wise (because realistically that’s how I spend most of my waking hours!) I study a rare tumor forming disease called Tuberous Sclerosis using a combination of cell and molecular biology. My PhD is focused on developing new disease models and identifying novel therapeutic targets.
Valera CastanovVP Internal
Valera is a HBSc and PhD alumnus of the University of Toronto, and is now a second-year MD student at Queen’s University. His current research is focusing on the normal and pathological composition of the microbiome of the eye and its effect on ocular health. Valera is simultaneously pursuing his previous research interests, which involve using the novel digitization and 3D modelling methodology to investigate volumetric architecture and functional characteristics of human musculotendinous structures. As VP Internal, he is looking forward to collaborating with the CITAC team in ensuring that CITAC has a successful 2020/2021 year!
Ellen ZhouVP Internal Elect
Ellen obtained her B.Sc., M.D., and Ph.D. degrees at McGill University. She is pursuing her Ophthalmology residency at Université de Montréal. Her research focuses on Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a blinding eye disease that affects many premature infants. She currently serves as the President of the Trainee Committee of Réseau de recherche en santé de la vision du Québec, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Education Column of AME Medical Journal and Annals of Eye Science. Her objectives are to enhance trainees’ leadership abilities with an emphasis on research integrity, patient advocacy and equality, and to provide guidance throughout a trainee’s career with a focus on longitudinal mentorship. Ellen's research and advocacy work were supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) MD/PhD grant, Fonds de Suzanne Véronneau-Troutman and Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé (FRQS) award, as well as the 2017 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Student Award.
Bahar BehrouziVP External
I am currently a second-year MD/PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, where I intend to answer questions that will ultimately enable me to serve as both a physician and clinical trial methodologist. Through my PhD in Clinical Epidemiology, I will be working on innovative prospective cardiac clinical trials to develop novel methods for measuring clinical outcomes using big data. I also currently sit on the MD/PhD Class Council as Co-Vice-President of Communications and External Affairs, as well as on the organizing committee for UofT’s Medical Student Research Day, which is the largest Canadian student-run research conference for medical students. I have a longstanding interest in further solidifying collaborations and partnerships with a wide variety of international physician-scientist training programs, beginning with the US and then expanding beyond. In my previous role at a large multinational company, partnerships were integral to achieving my team’s objectives, and so I want to leverage the skills and networks that I developed in that context to push forward the recommendations made by Strong et al., (2018) at the Canadian National Consensus Conference addressing the challenges currently faced by our domestic training programs. I am specifically interested in developing capacity for funding and mentorship support, developing coherent networks across a broad range of clinician-scientists to reflect the interdisciplinarity of health research, as well as transferring established and successful curriculum elements and programs from other parts of the world over to Canada, to continue our growth and expand our footprint both locally and globally.
Sophie HuVP External Elect
Sophie Hu is a first year MD student at the University of Calgary. She completed her MSc in Epidemiology focusing on neuropsychiatric indicators of dementia. Her interests lie in international research partnerships, epidemiology and entrepreneurship. As the VP External Elect, she aims to connect trainees with clinician scientists globally through the International Consortium of Clinician Scientist Trainee Organizations (ICCSTO) and to develop a national study of MD-PhD/MSc programs to identify needs in training. Globally she has led research projects in the Dominican Republic and China and advises on partnerships on the university’s China Regional Advisory Council. She is also the Alberta Medical Association Informatics Committee student representative. Outside of school, she enjoys serving at her church, exploring restaurants and travelling.
Mark TrinderSecretary
I am a 4th year MD/PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. My research focuses on using genetics to understand the biology of critical illnesses such as severe infections and heart attacks. The overall goal of this work is to improve the practice of preventative medicine for metabolic and infectious illnesses which are associated with a large proportion of human morbidity and mortality. Additionally, I am interested in establishing resources to improve the development of aspiring clinician-scientists. I am optimistic that my involvement with CITAC will have a positive influence on current and future MD+ trainees.
Heather WhittakerMembership chair
I’m in my 3rd year of McGill University’s MDCM & PhD program, currently researching the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on memory processes as a therapeutic approach for people with neurocognitive decline. My previous studies took place at the University of Winnipeg (BSc Biopsychology) and University College London (MSc Clinical Neuroscience). This is my first year on the CITAC executive team, and I’m excited to work with my peers from across Canada to advance our collective goals. As Membership Chair for 2020, my primary aim is to expand our current membership base beyond students enrolled in MD-PhD and CIP programs, in order to reach trainees who are pursuing a clinician investigator career in other ways.
Jillian MacklinPR Chair
I did my undergrad at Western University in clinical biochemistry and completed my MSc in cardiac immunology at the University of Toronto. I am now in my third year of the combined MD/PhD program at University of Toronto. I started my PhD in fall 2019 in Health Services Research, focusing on Outcomes and Evaluation at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. I study the ethics of artificial intelligence and how to best engage patients in a meaningful way when developing AI-based tools that will impact their clinical care. Outside of school, I am an avid soccer player, people-person, and coffee lover! As this year’s Public Relations Chair, my ultimate goal is to foster research and clinical relationships through social media. I hope to highlight the inspiring achievements and adventures of fellow CITAC colleagues and increase the exposure of CITAC trainee work in various "non-conventional disciplines”. #CITAC
Matthaeus WareFinance Chair
I am a third-year MD/PhD student at the University of Toronto. Before coming to Toronto, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Honours Neuroscience at McGill University. During my undergraduate years, I was immersed in a community of peers and faculty genuinely fascinated by the brain. Now, for my doctoral research, I am exploring how the brain’s environment contributes to the genesis/development of a deadly brain cancer called glioblastoma. I am grateful to be part of such an exceptional national community of clinician-scientist trainees. It has been my privilege to serve as CITAC's Finance Chair and Treasurer this past year, during which I strengthened our partnerships with sponsors, expanded our financial support, and helped deliver our AGM in Banff. This year, I plan to expand upon my work, having already established a clear finance documentation system, created sponsorship packages for financial outreach, and built strong rapports with university and organizational partners. It is a pleasure to continue helping bring CITAC’s mission to fruition.
Cory LefebvreCFMS Liaison
I am currently in my 5th year of the MD/PhD program at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry pursuing a PhD in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. My research is focused on studying the contributions of the kinome to development of resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in triple negative breast cancer using a mass spectrometric based approach. As CFMS (Canadian Federation of Medical Students) liaison, my objective is to improve the working relationship between CFMS and CITAC so to benefit MD+ trainees.
Christopher BalestriniCIM Liaison
I recently completed by BSc. in Kinesiology and MSc. in Anatomy and Cell Biology at Western University. Currently in my 3rd year of the MD/PhD program at Western University, in my research I explore peripheral and cerebral vascular dynamics, focusing on how arterial modifications influence structural and functional brain outcomes. In my spare time, I am actively involved in endurance athletics (running, cycling, triathlon), playing music, and enjoying the outdoors. I am also an assistant coach of the Western University Cross-Country team. With my role as CITAC CIM Liaison, I am interested in developing upon the foundation that the Journal of Clinical and Investigative Medicine has established. By promoting internal submissions while improving engagement through social media and other outlets, I aim to raise both the interest and impact of our home journal. While the academic landscape becomes increasingly competitive, I strive to enable clinician-scientist trainees’ academic development by establishing collaborations that can lead to multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research opportunities. While working closely with CIM Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Bortolussi, as well as the Senior CIM Assistant Editor, my role is to facilitate the submission, review, and publication process to showcase the unique research perspectives of Canadian Clinician-Scientists.
Sivakami MylvaganamAGM Chair
I am a 4th year MD-PhD student at the University Toronto, in the 3rd year of my PhD in the department of Biochemistry. Previously, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Immunology at McGill University. For my doctoral work, I use imaging approaches to study how cytoskeletal networks regulate cellular structure and responses in the vasculature, both in physiology and disease. I have always found attending the CITAC-AGM to be a valuable experience and am looking forward to working with my co-chair, Anum, and the rest of the CITAC team to put together a great meeting this year!
Joel Neves BriardTreasurer
Joel Neves Briard obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and management at McGill University and his medical degree at Université de Montréal, where he is currently a resident physician in neurology. Enrolled in epidemiology graduate studies and the clinician-investigator program, his research focuses on the prognostic value of transcranial Doppler ultrasound for clinical and functional outcomes in aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. As CITAC Treasurer, he aims to contribute to the association’s mission of supporting Canada’s future clinician-scientists, who are already contributing today to the medicine of tomorrow.
Julieta Lazarte CITAC Mentorship Chair
Julieta Lazarte is a BSc and MSc alumnus of the University of Toronto and currently a fourth year MD-PhD student at Western University. In her research, Julieta utilizes next-generation sequencing to unravel the genetic burden of complex human diseases such as atrial fibrillation. Her goal is to run a genetic research lab to advance knowledge and treatment solutions in the field of cardiology. As Mentorship Chair, she aims to improve access to Clinician-Scientist mentors nationwide by creating a robust mentorship program that all trainees can access and that has substantial positive impact in the career path of Clinician-Scientist trainees.

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