Speakers 2017-11-25T14:01:15+00:00

Here is the list of confirmed speakers for the 17th Annual National Scleroderma Conference

Dr. Jean-Luc Senécal    KEYNOTE SPEAKER Scleroderma Research: from patients to the lab and back

Dr. Senécal holds an MD degree from University of Montreal. As a rheumatologist, he developed his interest for scleroderma during his fellowship at the University of Connecticut Health Center. He is Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Montreal Faculty of Medicine. He is also founder and Director of the Laboratory for Research in Autoimmunity and the Connective Tissue Diseases Clinic, Division of Rheumatology, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).

Dr. Senécal holds the University of Montreal Scleroderma Chair, resulting from a joint initiative with Sclérodermie Québec. He heads the CHUM Scleroderma Research Group, a team of 15 researchers, graduate students and research personnel. The strength of this team lies in the close collaboration between basic scientists and clinician researchers. Dr Senécal’s research interests are focused on the autoimmune pathogenic mechanisms of SSc, with the ultimate goal of discovering new therapies. He also studies a large cohort of patients with the aim of improving the diagnosis of scleroderma and its manifestations.

Over 125 peer-reviewed articles have been published by Dr. Senécal in international journals. His research funding includes the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Sclérodermie Québec, Scleroderma Society of Canada and Scleroderma Society of Ontario. He is recipient of the Distinguished Investigator Award of the Canadian Rheumatology Association (2006) and the Jeff Shiroky Research Award of the Laurentian Conference of Rheumatology (2007).

Dr. Susan Barlett – Managing the ups and downs of Living with Scleroderma

Susan Bartlett PhD is an Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal and Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Bartlett is a clinical psychologist and a member of the SPIN steering committee.  Her research focuses on behavioral and social consequences of living with rheumatic diseases and patient-centered approaches to research and care. Her work has been funded by the CIHR, NIH, PCORI, the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation, and The Arthritis Society.

Mr. Jean-Michel Boileau 

graduated from pharmacy school at Université de Montréal in 2003. Over the past 13 years, he has worked in different settings: hospital, academic and community pharmacy. He currently is a pharmacist at Pharmacie Michael Assaraf in Montreal, a specialized pharmacy where he has worked for the past 5 years. His areas of expertise range from medications used for Crohn’s disease, arthritis, high cholesterol, multiple myeloma as well as pulmonary hypertension and scleroderma.

Dr. Arthur Bookman – Sjögren’s Syndrome

Dr. Bookman will explore the different aspects of Sjogren’s and enrich your understanding the syndrome. Dr. Bookman will incorporate results from the Toronto Multidisciplinary Sjogren’s Syndrome Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital where he is the Coordinator. Dr. Bookman is Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto. He is President and Chairman of the Board of The Journal of Rheumatology; former Founder and Chair, of the Canadian Arthritis Society Medical Advisory Committee; former President of the Canadian Rheumatology Association and serves as Co-Chair of the Sjogren’s Society of Canada Medical Advisory Board

Ryan Clarke – How to be your own best Advocate

Ryan Clarke is the President of Advocacy Solutions, a business committed to providing a voice to organizations and individuals through the development and implementation of impactful advocacy strategies.

After practicing law, working in government and being a corporate lobbyist, Ryan founded Advocacy Solutions in 2003.  Since that time, he has taught and trained thousands of individuals to be more effective advocates, across Canada and internationally.

Dr. Gerard Cox – Research on Pulmonary Fibrosis

He joined the faculty at McMaster University in 1992 where he continued his research into the basic mechanisms that control inflammation during respiratory diseases. Currently, he is Head of Acute Clinical Services at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health, at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. In addition, he is President of the Canadian Thoracic Society. Dr. Cox’s research interests focus on mechanisms of disease and development of novel strategies for diagnosis and therapy based on improved understanding of how respiratory diseases arise. Current projects examine the accumulation of cells during pulmonary inflammation and the structural consequences of chronic inflammation.

Vanessa Delisle – Support Groups

Vanessa Delisle is a PhD student in Counselling Psychology at McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec. Vanessa has worked with Dr. Brett Thombs and the Behavioural Health Research Group since 2010 and has been a trainee member of the Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN) since 2012, working with the emotional distress intervention team. Vanessa’s research focuses on how to increase the accessibility and effectiveness of Scleroderma support groups. As part of her research, Vanessa has developed a survey that assesses Scleroderma patients’ experiences with support groups and how they can be improved.

Olivia Dubois – Uro-gynecological Conditions

Olivia Dubois graduated from the University of Sherbrooke in physiotherapy Master program. She quickly distinguished by her great interest in the perineal rehabilitation. She has also honed her expertise through the Perineal and Pelvic Rehabilitation Program of the University of Montreal. PhD candidate, her research focuses on the sexual pain in women. Ms. Dubois has international recognition as well as expertise in the treatment of Peyronie disease. She is also assistant to the marketing department and development in the Cigonia clinic.

Dr Gaëlle Chédeville – Transitioning from pediatric to adult care

Dr Gaëlle Chédeville is an assistant professor at McGill University, and pediatric rheumatologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, McGill University Health Center since 2003. She has an interest in all pediatric rheumatic diseases, especially Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Systemic Vasculitis. She is the coordinator of the combined dermatology-rheumatology clinic which is held regularly to evaluate children with localized scleroderma.

Dr. Gornitsky

Dr. Mervyn Gornitsky – Oral Manifestations in Scleroderma

Dr Gornitsky is the principal investigator on a CIHR Operating Grant entitled “Oral Manifestations of Systemic Sclerosis and its Impacts on Quality of Life.” This Canadian multi-site study involved 180 scleroderma patients and 360 matched controls. Between 2008 and 2012, he has given numerous presentations and participated in knowledge transfer activities on systemic sclerosis throughout Canada and abroad. Dr Gornitsky was awarded the Micheline-Blain award for lifetime achievements and exceptional involvement in oral health research from the Network for Oral and Bone Health Research – (RSBO – FRQS) for 2013-14. He has 5 recent  publications on Systemic  Sclerosis.


Stephanie Gumuchian – Support Groups

Stephanie completed her BSc Honours in Psychology degree from Acadia University in May, 2014 and just completed her MSc in Psychiatry degree from McGill University this August (2016). This Fall, she will be starting her doctorate degree in Counselling Psychology at McGill University. Prior to her Masters, Stephanie was a research assistant for Dr. Brett Thombs at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research. It is here that she was first introduced to the scleroderma community and began to work alongside Ms. Vanessa Delisle on the Scleroderma Support Group Project. The goals of this project are to assess the effectiveness of support groups for individuals with scleroderma and to develop a training program for the peer leaders of these groups.

Danièle Henkel – Motivational Speech

Danièle Henkel, CEO, Daniele Henkel Inc. Seasoned entrepreneur, passionate woman, admired media personality and devoted advocate to the women’s socio-economic contribution, Mrs. Danièle Henkel inspires and influences both men and women of the business world. Pioneer of the non-invasive approach to the beauty and health in Canada, Mrs. Henkel currently responds to the increasing demand of non-surgical health care using the greatest products as well as the most efficient and world-renowned technology. These specialized treatments are lavished by professionals, including doctors, beauticians, massage therapists, chiropractors and other specialists.

Lisa Jewett – Body Image Distress

Lisa Jewett is a PhD student in Counselling Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. She completed her Masters Degree in Psychiatry and Bachelors Degree in Psychology also at McGill University. Her research focuses on body image and appearance-related concerns among people with visible differences from scleroderma. As part of her research, Lisa has identified important body image concerns for people with scleroderma and developed questionnaires that address common issues related to appearance experienced by patients. Lisa continues to pursue her research and clinical interests related to psychosocial issues in scleroderma as a member of the Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN).

Dr. Dinesh Khanna – Gastrointestinal issues

Dinesh Khanna, MD, MSc, is Professor of Medicine and Director, University of Michigan Scleroderma Program.  He holds the Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professorship in Rheumatology.  Dr. Khanna has published over 250 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is the Principal Investigator on National Institutes of Health and industry-sponsored clinical studies. He is currently leading trials of abatacept (http://umich.edu/~asststdy/), riociguat, pirfenidone, and tociluzimab  in scleroderma.  Dr. Khanna also serves as a reviewer for several professional journals, society committees and training programs, and grant applications and has published in Lancet and JAMA.  His current research focus on developing, validating, and refining outcome measures in rheumatic diseases and designing controlled trials.  He received the 2011 Doctor of the Year award from the Scleroderma Foundation and the prestigious 2015 Henry Kunkel Young Investigator Award from the American College of Rheumatology . More information is available at www.med.umich.edu/scleroderma

Dr. Barry D. Kurtzer – Medical Marijuana 101

Dr. Barry Kurtzer is President, CEO, Director and Medical Director for DelShen Therapeutics Corporation, an applicant to become a Licensed Producer of Medical Marijuana under Health Canada Regulations. As a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine in 1975, Dr. Kurtzer has been practising Occupational Medicine for almost 40 years. Dr. Kurtzer’s expertise spans issues relating to workplace substance use and testing programs from fitness for duty to labour law, privacy, and human rights. He is a member of the Executive of the Ontario Medical Association’s Section on Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and holds Medical Review Officer specialist certification through the American Association of Medical Review Officers in compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation drug testing regulations.

He has served as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Group at Toronto-Pearson International Airport, and as Occupational Medicine Consultant to the Government of Ontario’s workforce. He is a member of the Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the Canadian Medical Association.

Dr. Kurtzer has been Medical Director for large and small corporations alike, including a company operating as one of Canada’s first mail-order pharmacies. He is currently Medical Director and Chief Medical Review Officer Emeritus for DriverCheck Inc., a company providing comprehensive workplace drug and alcohol testing programs and occupational health services to more than 5000 corporate clients across Canada.

As a result of his broad knowledge, Dr. Kurtzer has been invited to speak across Canada on matters including the use of medical marijuana. Engagements with the University of Toronto, various medical and safety associations and others have primarily focused on the health benefits and issues relating to medical marijuana use for patients, workers, employers, healthcare professionals, and communities alike. As an expert in the field of medical marijuana from safe and responsible use to patient rights, Dr. Kurtzer is a perfect fit for DelShen Therapeutics, whom he joined full time in March 2016.

Dr. Linda Kwakkenbos – Managing Fatigue

Dr. Linda Kwakkenbos completed her PhD in Social Science at Radboud University, the Netherlands, in 2012 and began a postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University, Montreal. She is the Co-Director of the Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN), an international team of more than 50 researchers, clinicians, and people with scleroderma from 8 countries, which is devoted to developing online tools to support well-being among people with scleroderma. Dr. Kwakkenbos received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Fonds de la Recherche en Santé Québec (2013-2015) and was recently awarded the prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2015-2017).

Dr. Maggie Larché – Evaluation and treatment of scleroderma

Dr Maggie Larché holds the position of Associate Professor, Divisions of Rheumatology and Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine McMaster University. She is Past-President of the Canadian Rheumatology Ultrasound Society and Chair of the Hamilton Scleroderma Group. Her major clinical interest is in scleroderma and early inflammatory arthritis with research interests in cellular biomarkers and ultrasonographic and MR imaging. She completed a BSc (honours) in 1988 and a Medical degree from University of Bristol, UK in 1993. This was followed by a PhD in immunology/cellular biology, at the National Heart and Lung Institute of Imperial College, London, UK. Her Rheumatology training (2001-2006), was completed in London, UK, and included 2 years of a post-doctoral fellowship at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College, London. Dr Larché has 57 peer reviewed publications to date.

Dr. Ronald Laxer – Juvenile scleroderma 

Dr. Laxer, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Toronto and Staff Rheumatologist at The Hospital for Sick Children has been running a pediatric localized scleroderma clinic for over 25 years and has published extensively on the subject. He is one of the editors of the Textbook of Pediatric Rheumatology and has published over 250 peer-reviewed papers and 38 book chapters. He has won prestigious awards from the Canadian Rheumatology Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Rheumatology.

Valerie Maisonneuve – Friday Panel on Drug interactions and natural products in scleroderma 

Mrs. Valérie Maisonneuve is a practicing nurse. Her 10 years of professional experience as Head Nurse cover a broad spectrum of activities, but has focused mainly in emergency nursing, obstetrics as well as endoscopy. She has been working as a nurse for Scleroderma Quebec since January 2016.

Dr. Maureen Mayes – Closing keynote Research: what does it mean to me?

Dr. Maureen D. Mayes is a Professor in the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunogenetics in at the University of Texas McGovern School of Medicine in Houston and holds the Elizabeth Bidgood Chair in Rheumatology. Her research interests include the study of genetic susceptibility factors in scleroderma . She has published over 200 articles in medical journals and is the author of The Scleroderma Book: A Guide for Patients and their Families. She participates in multiple clinical trials to establish the best treatment approach for this disease. Professor Mayes serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the Scleroderma Foundation; she is a founding member of the World Scleroderma Foundation and she currently serves on the Arthritis, Connective Tissue and Skin Diseases Study Section at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Nancy Morency, RHN – Friday Panel on Holistic Nutrition

Nancy is a Scleroderma Canada volunteer, Vaughan (ON) Support Group leader and Event Chair for the Spirit of Blue. As a nutritionist and scleroderma patient herself, Nancy brings a unique approach to healing. Her focus is on achieving optimal health so that the body can best support the challenges of the disease.  Nancy works with other scleroderma patients through her support group in Vaughan, Ontario where they discuss nutrition, recipes and natural health remedies.  She is also working on the first national fundraiser and awareness campaign for Scleroderma Canada.  The Spirit of Blue event on February 21, 2017 will take place at The Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts and will feature Canada’s own, Chantal Kreviazuk.

Dr. Janet Pope – Treatment of scleroderma informed by Canadian research

Dr. Janet Pope is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology and also Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Western Ontario, Schulich School of Medicine, London, Ontario, Canada.  She is the Division Head in Rheumatology at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, London.  She obtained her MD, and Fellowship in Internal Medicine at UWO and a Fellowship in Rheumatology and Masters of Public Health were acquired at Boston University.  She then completed a Canadian Arthritis Society Research Fellowship in Scleroderma.  She is a founding member in the Canadian Scleroderma Research Group (CSRG) and is Vice President of CaNIOS (Canadian Network for Improved Outcomes in SLE).

Audrey Potvin – Friday Panel on Nutrition

Audrey Potvin is trained as a Dietary Technician and member of the Société des technologues en nutrition (Society of Technologists in Nutrition). She also attended classes in Food Sciences and Technology at Laval University (Université Laval). Her professional experiences cover a wide range of areas including: Normal and Therapeutic Nutrition, Management, Quality control, Microbiology and Food Chemistry. She is currently involved with Scleroderma Quebec as a volunteer in charge of patients’ support networks and as a public relations officer for collaborators to Le Bulletin magazine where she also writes a column on nutrition.

Dr. Steeve Provencher – Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 

Dr Provencher has performed a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship in pulmonary hypertension in France. Since 2005, he is now director of the PH program at Laval University. His main research interests are the exercise pathophysiology and mechanisms leading the pulmonary vascular remodelling in PH.

In 2011, Dr Provencher received the Prix reconnaissance Marc Julien, awarded by the internal medicine residents in recognition of outstanding work done in teaching hospitals, dedication to his patients, clinical skills and quality of care.Over his short career, Dr Provencher has published >90 scientific papers and was invited to speak at over 150 provincial, national or international congress or symposium.

Dr. Shane Shapera – Interstitial Lung Disease

Director of the Interstitial Lung Diseases Program at the University Health Network. Shane Shapera attended medical school and completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Toronto. He was the chief medical resident at the Toronto Western Hospital before starting his sub-specialty training in Respirology at U of T. He was the 2009 recipient of the Cameron C. Gray fellowship and studied interstitial lung diseases during that year. This funding also allowed him to spend a couple of months in San Francisco working with Drs. Hal Collard and Talmadge King Jr. who are leaders in the field. Dr. Shapera research interests include the relationship between Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Methods: clinic research – database analysis

Dr. Brett Thombs – Making though Healthcare decisions to optimize you health and well-being: a toolkit

Dr. Thombs’ research focuses on developing strategies to improve quality of life and reduce disability among people living with scleroderma. He has received grants for research in scleroderma from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and Fonds de Recherché Santé Québec and has authored or co-authored more 50 peer-reviewed articles related to scleroderma. Dr. Thombs is the Founder and Director of the Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network, a CIHR-funded collaboration of more than 50 investigators and more than 35 recruiting sites from 8 countries.

Session in French Only

Dr. Marie Hudson

Physician-Scientist, Lady Davis Institute, Jewish General Hospital

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, McGill University

Dr. Ariel Masetto

Associate professor, Division of Rheumatology of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sherbrooke University

Dr. Eric Rich

M.D., FRCPc, Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal