Our Team

CoVaRR-Net brings together some of Canada’s most eminent researchers and experts in a variety of disciplines linked to emerging variants. By connecting this country’s best variants of concern-related research labs, this network ensures a rapid and coordinated response to this complicated facet of the pandemic.

Our team is structured by theme or “Pillars” which study and analyze a different biological aspect of variants. Pillar Leads are responsible for overseeing all Pillar activities and are supported by Deputies, who are experts in varied relevant disciplines, as well as research coordinators and research associates.

We also have a team organizing shared resources and a team providing outreach, policy, and public health communication.

Our Executive Committee is comprised of the Executive Director, the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), the Communications Director, and the eight Pillar Leads.

We all work together

We work collaboratively with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML), the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), provincial and territorial public health labs, and other national and international bodies. Each CoVaRR-Net Pillar will work intimately with research teams from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) to accelerate the pace of discovery.

To bridge the gaps in our Network ecosystem and address immediate research needs regarding variants, CoVaRR-Net will conduct open calls for multidisciplinary research proposals to tackle specific scientific questions.

Our Leadership Committee

Marc-André Langlois

Dr. Marc-André Langlois

Executive Director

Professor, University of Ottawa
Canada Research Chair in Molecular Virology and Intrinsic Immunity

Ninan Abraham

Dr. Ninan Abraham

Director, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)

Professor, University of British Columbia
Associate Dean, Equity and Diversity, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Science

Cecilia Jenkins

Dr. Cecilia L. Jenkins

Network Operating Officer

Pillar 1
Immunology & Vaccine Protection

Investigating how the immune system responds to emerging variants and assessing the effectiveness of vaccines against them.

Jennifer Gommerman

Dr. Jen Gommerman

Immunology & Vaccine Protection Pillar Co-Lead

Professor, University of Toronto
Canada Research Chair in Tissue Specific Immunity

Ciriaco Piccirillo

Dr. Ciriaco Piccirillo

Immunology & Vaccine Protection Pillar Co-Lead, T cell responses

Professor and Graduate Program Director, McGill University
Senior Scientist, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre

Mark Brockman

Dr. Mark Brockman

T cell epitopes

Professor, Simon Fraser University

Scott Halperin

Dr. Scott Halperin


Professor, Dalhousie University
Nominated Principal Investigator, Canadian Immunization Research Network

Manish Sadarangani

Dr. Manish Sadarangani


Director, Vaccine Evaluation Center, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia
Sauder Family Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Pillar 2
Host-Pathogen Interactions

Exploring the interactions between SARS-CoV-2 variants and different host species to understand infection and disease, both in the laboratory and the field.

Angela Rasmussen

Dr. Angela L. Rasmussen

Host-Pathogen Interactions Pillar Lead

Research Scientist III, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, University of Saskatchewan
Affiliate, Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security

Dr. Arinjay Banerjee

Emerging Zoonotic Viruses and Comparative Immunology

Early Career Investigator & Research Scientist, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO)
Adjunct Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Jason Kindrachuk

Dr. Jason Kindrachuk

Molecular Pathogenesis

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Molecular Pathogenesis of Emerging and Re-Emerging Viruses
Assistant Professor, University of Manitoba

Dr. Samira Mubareka

Zoonotic and Respiratory Virus Transmission, One Health Framework

Clinician scientist, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto

Dr. Brad Pickering

Zoonosis, virus-host interactions, One Health Framework, emerging diseases, high consequence pathogens

Research Scientist, head of Special Pathogens, National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Adjunct Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba

Selena M. Sagan

Dr. Selena M. Sagan

RNA Biology, Virology, MicroRNAs, Host-virus Interactions

Canada Research Chair in RNA Biology and Viral Infections
Associate Professor, Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Biochemistry, McGill University

Pillar 3

Evaluates the virus’ features in cells and animals. These include measuring infectivity, pathological effects, and vaccine and immune resistance in animals.

Louis Flamand

Dr. Louis Flamand

Virology Pillar Lead

Professor, Université Laval

Stephen Barr

Dr. Stephen Barr

Reverse Genetics and In Vivo Characterization of VOC

Associate Professor, Western University

Jennifer Corcoran

Dr. Jennifer Corcoran

In Vitro Characterization of VOC

Assistant Professor, University of Calgary

Darryl Falzarano

Dr. Darryl Falzarano

VOC Pathogenesis and Vaccine Development

Research Scientist, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, University of Saskatchewan

Denis Leclerc

Dr. Denis Leclerc

Vaccine Protection Against VOC

Professor, Université Laval

Dr. Silvia Vidal

Pathogenesis of VOC

Professor, McGill University
Canada Research Chair in Pathogenesis of Infection and Inflammation

Pillar 4
Functional Genomics & Structure-Function of VOCs

Studying different areas of the viruses & how they interact with cells, investigating viral protein structures and functions & how they interact with human proteins.

Anne-Claude Gingras

Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras

Functional Genomics & Structure-Function of VOCs Pillar Lead

Senior Investigator, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System
Professor, Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto
Canada Research Chair in Functional Proteomics

Dr. Etienne Caron

Systems Immunology, immunopeptidomics, HLA, T cell epitopes

Assistant Professor, Université de Montréal
Director, Mass Spectrometry Platform, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center

Jason Moffat

Dr. Jason Moffat

High-throughput Genetic Interaction Network Mapping in Human Cells

Professor, University of Toronto
Canada Research Chair in Functional Genomics of Cancer

James Rini

Dr. James Rini

Structural Investigation of Cell Membrane and Secreted Proteins and Glycoproteins

Professor, Departments of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Toronto

Dr. Nozomu Yachie

Cell Engineering, Genome Editing and Computational Biology

Associate Professor, University of British Columbia
Canada Research Chair in Synthetic Biology

Pillar 5
Viral Genomics & Sequencing

Reads each variant’s genetic code and looks at the relationships between the sequences of the parent virus and the variants.

Ioannis Ragoussis

Dr. Ioannis Ragoussis

Viral Genomics & Sequencing Pillar Lead

Professor, McGill University
Head of Genome Sciences, McGill Genome Center

Dr. Robert Delatolla

Wastewater-Based Epidemiology

Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Ottawa
Associate Director, Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Environmental Engineering

Caroline Quach

Dr. Caroline Quach

Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology

Professor, University of Montreal
Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist, Medical Microbiologist, CHU Sainte-Justine

Terrance P. Snutch

Dr. Terrance P. Snutch

Genomics, Sequencing Technology

Professor, Michael Smith Laboratories
Director of Translational Neuroscience, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia

Dr. Jeff Wrana

Genomics, Functional Genomic Technology

Senior Investigator, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI), Sinai Health Systems, Toronto
Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto

Pillar 6
Computational Biology and Modelling

Using computer modelling and calculations to evaluate the genetic evolution of variants and how quickly they propagate in the Canadian population.

Jesse Shapiro

Dr. Jesse Shapiro

Computational Biology and Modelling Pillar Lead

Associate Professor, McGill University & Genome Center

Dr. Fiona Brinkman


Distinguished Professor, Simon Fraser University

Caroline Colijn

Dr. Caroline Colijn


Professor, Simon Fraser University
Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health

Jörg H. Fritz

Dr. Jörg H. Fritz


Associate Professor, McGill University

Dr. Morgan Langille


Associate Professor, Dalhousie University
Canada Research Chair in Human Microbiomics

Sarah (Sally) Otto

Dr. Sarah (Sally) Otto


Killam University Professor and Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia

Indigenous Involvement

Indigenous communities in Canada have disproportionately borne the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. CoVaRR-Net’s Pillar 7, Indigenous Engagement, Development, and Research (CIEDAR), works to build strong partnerships with and be relevant to Indigenous communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast. CIEDAR’s goal is to actively collaborate with Indigenous community collaborators to develop potential solutions to halt the spread of COVID-19 VOCs. We aim to answer questions about how health, socioeconomic, and cultural factors either reduce or increase the spread of VOCs and communicate that information widely so that Canada’s Indigenous communities can make informed decisions. We focus on success stories, as well as support grassroots efforts and policies. We will also work collaboratively with other VOC Indigenous Networks, as they are created, in multiple areas.

Pillar 7
Indigenous Engagement, Development, and Research

Building partnerships with Indigenous communities and working collaboratively with the upcoming Indigenous Network for VOC in multiple areas.

Kimberly Huyser

Dr. Kimberly R. Huyser

Indigenous Engagement, Development, and Research Pillar Lead

Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

Michelle Johnson-Jennings

Dr. Michelle Johnson-Jennings

International Indigenous Engagement

Adjunct faculty, University of Saskatchewan
Professor, University of Washington

Katherine Collins

Dr. Katherine Anne Collins

Culture, Language, and Identity

Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Pillar 8
Public Health, Health Systems and Social Policy Impacts

Studying the impacts of the variants on public health, our healthcare system, and on social policy and reporting these findings to decision-makers and government officials.

Nazeem Muhajarine

Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine

Public Health, Health Systems and Social Policy Impacts Pillar Lead

Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Cheryl Camillo

Dr. Cheryl A. Camillo

Social Policy, Public Administration, Governance

Assistant Professor, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina

Doug Manuel

Dr. Doug Manuel

Public Health and Health Systems, Modelling

Senior Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Distinguished University Professor, University of Ottawa
Clinical Research Chair, Precision Medicine for Chronic Disease Prevention, University of Ottawa

Dr. Andrew Morris

Infectious Disease Physician

Medical Director, Sinai Health-University Health Network Antimicrobial Stewardship Program

Dr. Cory Neudorf

Public Health Physician, Lead, Urban Public Health

Lead Academic Medical Health Officer, Saskatchewan Health Authority
Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Brenda Andreas

Brenda Andreas

Patient Representative

Patient Partner, Saskatchewan

Pillar 9
Knowledge, Implementation and Training Team (KITT)

Connecting all activities from the other seven Pillars and quickly and efficiently sharing findings in order to best advance discoveries and inform decision and policymakers.

Melissa Brouwers

Dr. Melissa Brouwers

Knowledge, Implementation and Training Team (KITT) Pillar Co-Lead

Professor and Director, School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa

Jeremy Grimshaw

Dr. Jeremy Grimshaw

Knowledge, Implementation and Training Team (KITT) Pillar Co-Lead

Professor, University of Ottawa
Canada Research Chair in Health Knowledge Transfer and Uptake

John Lavis

Dr. John Lavis

Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact

Professor, McMaster University
Canada Research Chair in Evidence-Informed Health Systems

Justin Presseau

Dr. Justin Presseau

Health Systems

Associate Professor, School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa
Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Other Leadership Committee Members

Raphael Saginur

Dr. Raphael Saginur

Bioethics Co-Director

Chair of the Ottawa Health Science Network Research Ethics Board

Dr. James Robblee

Bioethics Co-Director

Cardiac anesthesiologist, University of Ottawa Heart Institute

Dr. Angela M. Crawley

Biobank Director

Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa
Adjunct Professor, Carleton University

Dr. Don Vinh

Biobank Clinical Associate Director

Associate Professor, McGill University
Medical Microbiologist, McGill University Health Centre

Dr. Curtis Cooper

Biobank Clinical Associate Director

Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa
Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Dr. Amy Hsu

Data Platform Director

Chair in Primary Health Care in Dementia, uOttawa Brain and Mind-Bruyère Research Institute
Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa

Guillaume Bourque

Dr. Guillaume Bourque

Data Platform Associate Director

Professor, McGill University
Canada Research Chair in Computational Genomics and Medicine


Fatima Tokhmafshan

Fatima Tokhmafshan

Community and Patient Engagement and Outreach Director

Geneticist, MD candidate