The Grapevine - November 1, 2023

Mark Lowey
November 1, 2023


Dr. José Belizán (photo right), a principal investigator at the Institute for Clinical Effectiveness in Argentina, received the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Award. Dr. Gelareh Zadeh (photo bottom right) professor of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, won the Canada Gairdner Momentum Award.  Belizán’s pioneering health research has led to innovative, evidence-based and low-cost global interventions in maternal and child health during the perinatal period that improve well-being and care during pregnancy, reduce morbidity and mortality, and promote equity in vulnerable populations. Zadeh’s game-changing work has advanced our understanding of brain tumours, leading to better ways of discriminating, classifying and managing brain tumour subtypes to transform diagnosis and clinical management of brain tumours and give hope to individuals affected by brain cancer. Gairdner Foundation

Former Edmontonian Charity Weeden (being sworn in, at centre, photo at left) was appointed the associate administrator for NASA’s office of technology, policy and strategy. Weeden, who has always been interested in policy and space, once worked a stint as a page at the Alberta legislature. That work as a teenager helped pay her way to Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. Weeden served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, getting an engineering degree, training as an air navigator, and flying around the world for more than six years. In 2003, she earned her master’s degree in space science from the University of North Dakota and later attended the International Space University Summer Session Program. Her career has seen her working at North American Aerospace Defence Command in Colorado, the Canadian Space Agency as a flight support readiness manager, the Canadian Embassy as a staff officer for air and space operations, and in the private sector with Astroscale U.S. and the Satellite Industry Association. Edmonton Journal

Karsh Chauhan, a fourth-year MD student at the University of Alberta and John Mackey, a breast cancer medical oncologist and professor emeritus of oncology, have developed a new statistical tool to evaluate the results of clinical trials, with the aim of allowing smaller trials to ask more complex research questions and get effective treatments to patients more quickly. The UAlberta research team included postdoctoral fellow Kaiqiong Zhao, now an assistant professor of mathematics and statistics at York University, and John Walker, head of medical oncology for northern Alberta at the Cross Cancer Institute. The Kaplan-Meier estimator, the standard tool since 1959, limits researchers because it can only assess binary questions, such as whether patients survived or died on a treatment. It can’t include other factors such as adverse drug reactions or quality-of-life measures like being able to walk or care for yourself. The new tool, called the Chauhan Weighted Trajectory Analysis, allows simultaneous evaluation and visualization of multiple outcomes in one graph. UAlberta

Shahed Khalili was hired as chief product officer for Toronto-based Boast, a platform for research and development tax credit intelligence. Khalili has over 20 years of experience designing and delivering SaaS products in the governance, risk, compliance and banking industries. Prior to joining Boast, he served as vice president of product at Galvanize (now Diligent). Boast

Sir Ron Kalifa was appointed vice-char and head of financial infrastructure investments at Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management. Brookfield’s experience includes more than two decades of building and transforming businesses in the global payments space, and as a non-executive director of the Bank of England’s Court of Directors. Brookfield

Dan Reitzik was appointed interim CEO of Vancouver-based Bigg Digital Assets, which owns and operates Web3 and blockchain companies. Reitzik most recently served as CEO of TerraZero, a subsidiary of Bigg, and the founder and former CEO of DMG Blockchain Solutions. He will replace current Bigg CEO Mark Binns, who’ll continue as a consultant for six months. BIGG Digital Assets

Katherine Mayer was named new CEO of Web Summit, one of the world's largest technology conferences (including the Collision conference in Toronto), after previous CEO and company founder Paddy Cosgrave resigned and apologized amid the backlash triggered by his comments on the Israel-Hamas war. Maher is chair of the Signal messaging platform's board of directors and a former CEO Wikipedia parent Wikimedia Foundation Inc., along with roles she held at Unicef and the World Bank. Globe and Mail 

John Chen is retiring as executive chair and CEO of BlackBerry effective November 4, 2003. Richard (Dick) Lynch will succeed Chen as board chair and will also serve as interim chief executive officer while BlackBerry completes its search for a permanent CEO. Lynch joined BlackBerry's board in 2013 and serves as a member of its compensation, nomination and governance committee. BlackBerry 

The Royal Canadian Institute for Science awarded the 2023 Sandford Fleming Medal for Excellence in Science Communication to independent science writer Terry Collins, and the William Edmond Logan Award to the team behind CBC Radio's national weekly science program, Quirks & Quarks.  The awards celebrate the unsung heroes of science communication who work behind the scenes to make science engaging and accessible. A public ceremony to celebrate the winners' contributions to science communication will be held November 29 in Toronto. RCIScience 

Ground News, a startup from the University of Waterloo's Velocity incubator,  launched an AI-powered tool to help readers gain a more comprehensive understanding of news stories from multiple perspectives. The tool doesn't produce news but rather collects articles from various sources and political leanings. Each user's news feed shows how different news outlets cover the same story, along with information about the publication's political leanings and reporting factuality, based on external fact-checking methods. The goal is to empower readers to spot media bias and have access to the same information, thereby making well-informed, balanced decisions. University of Waterloo


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