Networking Reception 2020


Date - 26/02/2020
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Life Sciences Career Development Society
2020 Networking Reception

The Purpose

This event aims to provide students with a structured and targeted opportunity to network with professionals outside academia in a range of life-science industries.

Why Participate?

Graduate Students/Trainees

This is a great opportunity to network with and gain insight from professionals in the field. You will have the chance to ask questions directly to our guests about their jobs and career paths at the roundtables or during the open networking period.

Professional Guests

This reception provides maximum impact on our attendees as you will share your experiences thus far. You will also have the opportunity to network with a diverse group of professionals across a range of industries.


The event is formatted to include four unique round table sessions, which bring together 1 guest and 6 students in an intimate setting. This is followed by two traditional open networking sessions between all students and guests. Students may choose which their guests to sit with at the round table in advance to help facilitate meaningful interactions.

Guest selection will be optimized on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The event consists of:

  • 4 X 20-minute round-table interaction sessions between each guest and students (1:6 ratio),

  • A light serving of hors-d’oeuvres throughout the evening,

  • 2 X 30-minute open networking sessions.

Some of the industries typically represented by our guests include:

  • R&D
  • Scientific consulting
  • Management consulting
  • Medical affairs
  • Scientific communication
  • Intellectual property
  • Biotechnology


Medical Affairs

Helen completed her PhD in the LMP department of U of T, studying pathogenesis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. During this time she was part of the LSCDS committee and exploring alternative careers. After graduation, she spent a year traveling around the world. She then relocated to Winnipeg for a MSL role in cardiology with Medicure for 2 years. Then she returned to Toronto and joined Valeant (now Bausch Health) as a MSL in dermatology for 2 years. Recently she joined Pfizer as a Field Medical Advisor in dermatology.

Hi everyone! I am a medical science liaison (MSL) with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada and I have been in my current position about 3 years. Prior to that, I completed my Ph.D. at McGill University and my B.Sc. in MGY and BCH at the University of Toronto. Medical affairs is a great department to work in; my focus is on how can we leverage science and our data to make an impact on physicians. Our roles are constantly evolving as well – it is a very dynamic work environment. I look forward to speaking with everyone at the event!

Dr. Alessandra Ferzoco holds a Bachelor of Medical Science, Honors Specialization in Microbiology and Immunology, from Western University and a PhD in Immunology from the University of Toronto. Dr. Ferzoco joined GSK in 2017 as a Scientific Advisor within Medical Affairs, overseeing the pediatric vaccine portfolio. Through this role, Dr. Ferzoco is responsible for providing expert scientific capability and leadership while managing a broad range of Medical Affairs activities associated with her assigned products and therapy area. She aims to provide key stakeholders with scientific, evidence-based medical information to aid in making informed decisions regarding the use of GSK vaccines.

Brett completed his BSc in Biochemistry and PhD in Immunology within the Faculty of Medicine at the University under the supervision of Dr. Rupert Kaul.

During his PhD tenure he conducted clinical trials to uncover the biological determinants of HIV susceptibility in women leading to a number of peer-reviewed publications. He subsequently worked in analytics for a market research firm.

Brett joined GSK Canada in March of 2019 as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) covering the Respiratory portfolio in Toronto and Northern Ontario.


Dr. Zepeda-Velázquez earned his B.Sc. degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from La Salle University and his M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry from National Autonomous University of Mexico in 2003 and 2006 respectively. Subsequently, he worked as a process chemist at Signa, S.A de C.V. (Apotex Pharmachem INC). For his doctoral studies, he moved to Canada in 2009 and joined the group of Dr. McNulty at McMaster University where he completed the total synthesis of the anticancer natural product (+)-trans-Dihydrolycoricidine. He then moved to the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research with Dr. Rima Al-awar, working on novel anti-tumor agents and in 2016 he was promoted to Research Scientist. His research focuses on the chemical biology of chromatin regulation and drug discovery.

I am a goal-oriented professional with 30 years of experience in the Bio-pharmaceutical industry. Over the course of these 30 years I have developed a strong knowledge of biopharmaceutical product development and manufacturing processes. I graduated from University of Havana with a B.Sc with Honor in Biology and did my PhD in Madrid, Spain studying the transcriptional regulation of the Pyruvate Carboxylase gene in S. cerevisiae and P. pastoris. I moved to Canada in 2002 and started as a Post Doc at U of T until I moved back to work in the industry in 2006. I joined Sanofi Pasteur in 2013 and I have demonstrated achievements in project management and skills in complex problem solving, negotiation, and root cause investigations within GMP environment.

After receiving his PhD in Neuropharmacology at the University of Toronto in 2015, Maurice joined BenchSci as the first employee. Within the ever-changing startup environment, Maurice’s focus ranges from user acquisition and relationship management with academic stakeholders, to liaising with industry clients to support product development.

Sophie Ash, BSc (Hons), DipION, NNCP is a former Dietitian and Nutritional Therapist from England, UK. Sophie counseled countless patients in the National Health Service before emigrating to Canada in 2016. In Toronto, she founded a private nutritional consulting practice that later evolved into an online education company.

Now, Sophie runs two other successful businesses. At Prospology, she works alongside an Occupational Psychologist to help people figure out what they want to do in their career and support them in navigating this path. At MedComms Solutions, she writes educational and marketing materials for pharmaceutical companies, advertising agencies, and biotech start-ups.

Linda is a scientist-turned-business professional with a background in immunology. She establishes drug discovery partnerships with biotech and academic groups with a focus on North American, European and South American markets. Linda also supports and manages multiple projects with big pharma partners.

I am a Senior Scientist at Vital Biosciences leading clinical assay development efforts. Prior to joining Vital, I worked in Boston as a Scientist developing a diagnostics platform for screening cancer patients into clinical trials. I completed my PhD in Biological Chemistry at the University of Toronto in Prof. Shana Kelley’s lab, and my BSc in Biochemistry Co-op at the University of Waterloo. In my spare time, I enjoy playing volleyball, painting, and traveling the world in search of new food adventures.

Jonathan is a Medical Science Liaison at Bristol-Myers Squibb in the Cardiovascular field. Prior to his role, Jonathan completed a Honours BSc from the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and a PhD from the School of Biomedical Engineering at McMaster University. His doctoral thesis focused on the mechanism of thrombosis on blood-contacting medical devices and development of antithrombotic surfaces. He then completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at St. Michael’s Hospital wherein his work used genetically modified mice to investigate the mechanism of arterial thrombosis.

Abhiram has Worked at Roche & Sanofi for the last 7 years, where he was responsible for various therapeutic areas including Oncology, Haematology & Biomarkers. Abhiram held multiple roles as Biomarker Manger, Medical Director, Medical Adviser in Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics. He has extensive experience and expertise in Medical Affairs & Personalized Medicine.

Abhiram has a medical doctor degree from India and worked and trained around the globe.

Natalie obtained her PhD from the Institute of Medical Science at UofT. During her graduate studies she obtained 11 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and over 60 abstracts/presentations from national and international conferences. In addition, she founded a scientific journal at the University of Toronto (UofT) called the IMS Magazine. Following her degree, she worked as an intern at a medical devices company, BD and as a consultant in Design Research and Biomedical Science at a service design company, Bridgeable. She is currently a Medical Science Liaison in Oncology at Merck Canada.

Wendy works in the Business Intelligence team of GSK Pharma where she supports the GSK pharma leadership team with making data driven business decisions that support getting GSKs medications to the patients that need them most.

Prior to GSK, Wendy worked for the IQVIA consulting team helping various pharmaceutical companies make key strategic decisions around sales and marketing strategy, market access and HEOR submissions and evidence collection and pricing strategy.

Wendy holds an PhD in the area of immunology and infectious disease from the University of Toronto and a MBA with a focus in the Health Sector from the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Regulatory Affairs

Linda is a Senior Regulatory Affairs Specialist at Boston Scientific. Prior to joining Boston Scientific, Linda completed her Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of Toronto and worked in regulatory affairs in the pharmaceutical, vaccine, and medical device industry.

Management Consulting

Andrew Millar is the Founder and Managing Partner of Iris Scientific – specialist recruiters for the Scientific Instrumentation Industry in North America. Andy is a graduate of the University of Toronto (MSc Physiology/Zoology, HonsBSc Biology), and has 20 years experience working at the intersection of science and business.

Since joining Shift Health in 2015, Dr. Marni Williams has supported clients from across multiple sectors in developing and renewing their corporate and research strategies, evaluating organizations and programs against performance metrics, and conducting market assessments and opportunity evaluations. Prior to joining Shift Health, Marni was a post-doctoral fellow at Yale University, where she worked on novel approaches to drug discovery against malaria. She graduated with an MSc and PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and has an MBA from the Rotman School of Management. Marni has authored 11 publications, two of which were invited reviews.

Blackline Consulting is a boutique management consultancy based in downtown Toronto. As a Senior Consultant, I work with clients from public, not-for-profit and private sectors across a variety of industries. I am passionate about assisting clients through change – from strategic planning to operational improvements and applying modern technology solutions to business problems. The greatest thing about what I do is getting to meet new people and continuously learn about unique industry needs!

Amal’s experience ranges from global digital transformation programs, medical affairs communication strategies to innovative marketing road maps. Her strategic management and consulting of larger scale multi-national projects and programs focus primarily within the life sciences and healthcare industry. Amal has worked with many notable companies including Novartis, Sanofi, Amgen, UCB, Johnson & Johnson, CVS, SickKids and Sidewalk Labs. Amal holds an MSc in Medicine, Science & Society from King’s College London, University of London, and Bachelors of Arts & Science from McMaster University.

Jenia is a Senior Consultant in the Digital Health practice at KPMG. She has 10 years of experience as a scientist, life science professional, and consultant. At KPMG Jenia has been involved in a range of engagements including digital technology platforms assessments, development of digital strategy, and current-state due diligence to inform mergers and acquisitions in the private and public sector, both in Canada and the US. Prior to her time at KPMG, Jenia worked as an Industry Liaison Officer at IBBME. Jenia holds a PhD in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology from the University of Toronto.

Since joining Shift Heath in Natasha has supported a wide variety of projects, including creating strategies to guide research investment and activities, developing access strategies for multinational companies and international consortia and assessing the performance and impact of public and private sector organizations. Natasha’s clients have included the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ontario’s Patient Oriented Research Support Unit, Roche, Sanofi Pasteur and the US Military HIV Research Program.

Prior to joining Shift Health, Natasha was part of the Business Development team at a management consulting firm, where she focused on identifying opportunities, devising strategies and writing proposals. She graduated with a PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Toronto, conducting research on virus-host interactions in the Epstein-Barr virus in cancer, and has published 6 original research articles.

Scientific Consulting

Kwamaa Duah is a Science & Strategy Analyst at Sixsense Strategy Group, a boutique life sciences consulting firm in Toronto. At Sixsense, Kwamaa is responsible for researching, analyzing, and interpreting scientific and business intelligence data for a wide variety of pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients. Prior to joining Sixsense, she completed a MSc in Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. She also holds an Honors Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science from the University of Ottawa.


Ann supports the implementation of strategic initiatives aimed at bringing new genomic-derived solutions to Ontario’s key sectors. Ann helps build effective relationships by connecting, enabling and working with leading academics and diverse partners and partner organizations to advance collaborative investment opportunities, and she is the main point of contact for several funded projects. Previously, Ann was the Manager, Knowledge and Research Exchange at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and a postdoc in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph. Ann has a PhD in Plant Agriculture, Crop Breeding and Genetics and a BSc Honours in Biological Science from the University of Guelph.

Aileen has a background in Neuroscience working on the translation of cell therapies. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Molly Shoichet’s Lab, University of Toronto and completed her graduate studies at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden. She worked for Medtech and Biotech startups in Sweden focused on market research and business development. She currently works as a Technology Analyst at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine where she leads the technology sourcing activities, conducts diligence and participates in company creation efforts to support incubation activities.

Area: Commercialization

Steven received his PhD (Biochemistry, 2016) from U of T under the supervision of Christine Bear at SickKids, where he was involved with drug discovery efforts for rare Cystic Fibrosis mutations. During his PhD he also co-founded NeuroBlot, a startup company that developed a personalized memory test for individuals at-risk for dementia. Following his graduate studies, Steven joined Cyclica (Toronto-based drug discovery software company) as an Application Scientist, where he was responsible for business development, project design, client delivery, and internal research projects using Cyclica’s proprietary computational tools. Two years later he became Senior Solutions Scientist, Business Development, where he was responsible for global business development, contract drafting and negotiation, corporate strategy, and investor relations. Currently, Steven is the Contract Services Manager at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), responsible for business development activities relating to CCRM’s unique process development and cGMP manufacturing capabilities for global biotech/pharma companies developing cell and gene therapies. To date, Steven has co-authored 20+ peer-reviewed publications and three US provisional patent applications.


Area: Business Development

Dr. Nav Kaur has a background in life sciences research, business development, working with technology start-ups, and retail innovation. Currently, Nav is leading a team focused on evaluating new products, services and partnerships for Canadian Tire Bank. In addition, she acts as a Strategic Advisor to the Baycrest Innovation Office, a Mentor for Hacking Health Hamilton and as a Judge for the Synapse Life Sciences Competition in Hamilton. Her previous role was in Business Innovation and Partnerships at Loblaw with a focus on retail, financial and health portfolios. Nav also held a Business Development position where she led the Fintech and Health Technologies portfolios at a funding agency called the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). At OCE, she worked with academia, government, industry and the innovation ecosystem to develop and deliver innovation funding programs and to identify technology commercialization opportunities from start-ups and academia.

Nav was born and raised in Montreal and holds a BSc and PhD in the Life Sciences from Concordia University and the University of Montreal, respectively.

Nav is a mom of 3 and has a passion for travelling, food and staying active.

Area: Clinical Biochemist

I completed a Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology and a Ph.D. in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at UofT, with a focus on diabetes and lipid research. Following this, I continued my studies at UofT and completed the Clinical Biochemistry postdoctoral training program. I started my job as a clinical biochemist at Mount Sinai Hospital in July 2019 where I am responsible for ensuring the quality of laboratory tests and acts as a liaison between the laboratory and physicians. I have a particular interest in quality improvement initiatives, laboratory test utilization and big data analysis.

Area: Commercialization

Sean leads OBIO’s Health to Business Bridge™ (H2BB) program, where we help recent graduates from undergraduate or graduate programs find early career positions in health science companies. Once hired we provide training and a subject matter expert advisor to help the hire succeed.

Sean also works with companies to help them raise investment for product development and commercialization through OBIO’s Health MINT and CAAP programs.

Sean has spent 23 years in the health science industry, building and leading teams in clinical product development. Sean holds a Ph.D. in Oral Biology and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in tissue engineering.

Area: Medical advertising

Sophie is a medical communications professional with an academic background in human physiology and experience creating ideas and writing copy across a vast range of disease states and public health issues, for non-for-profit, academia, and pharmaceuticals. She helps grow brands through meaningful insights and impactful messaging – and most importantly, through her innate passion for all things science and health. When she’s not writing, Sophie spends her free time playing soccer, baking cakes, and drinking coffee.

Area: Pharmaceutical Marketing

Hamza completed his undergraduate education at the University of Toronto at Mississauga and then pursued a PhD in Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. Hamza has extensive science communications experience through science outreach and writing for various science-based organizations. Currently, Hamza is a Medical Editor at Klick Health where he provides medical and regulatory oversight of pharmaceutical marketing materials.

Area: Start-up Founder

Michael Do is a practicing community pharmacist who in 2018 founded MedEssist, a digital health start-up. MedEssist not only facilitates convenient medication orders for local pharmacies, but actively guides patients through their treatments with images, videos, dose reminders, and medication information. MedEssist is currently in use at over 100 hospital and community pharmacies in Ontario. Michael’s other passion is teaching others. He was awarded the 2018 preceptor of the year from the University of Toronto. Michael is also the founder of The Toronto Pharmacy Club and The Pharma-CR Podcast.


Registration will open at 9 AM, Feb 5 2020 and close at 11:59 PM, Feb 19 2020.

Registration might close sooner when the capacity (186 seats) is reached.

Time and Date

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM


6:00 – 6:30 pm Registration/Open-Networking Session
6:30 – 6:35 pm Opening Remarks
6:35 – 6:55 pm Round-Table Session A
6:55 – 7:15 pm Round-Table Session B
7:15 – 7:45 pm Open Networking Session #1
7:45 – 8:05 pm Round-Table Session C
8:05 – 8:25 pm Round Table Session D
8:25 – 8:30 pm Closing Remarks
8:30 – 9:00 pm Open Networking Session #2


Great Hall, Hart House, 7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S 3H3


$5 for U of T students, postdoc fellows and alumni. $25 for non-U of T members.


This event is fully booked.