Public Health Ethics Consultative Group (PHECG) Biographies - 2020-2023 Term

Diego Silva (Chair of the PHECG)

Diego is a Lecturer in Bioethics at the University of Sydney, School of Public Health. Prior to that, he was an Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU) from September 2015 to August 2019, specializing in bioethics and public health ethics. He completed his PhD, which focused on ethical and political issues in the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in persons with severe and persistent mental illnesses, at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto in 2013. Diego's main research centres on ethical and political challenges associated with infectious diseases and health security, including COVID-19, anti-microbial resistance, and tuberculosis.

Beatrice Godard

Beatrice Godard, Ph.D. is a full professor at the School of Public Health of the Université de Montréal (ESPUM). She has extensive experience in capacity building in research ethics and ethics of health interventions locally and internationally. She has been actively involved in the establishment of health ethics teaching programs and the formation of several national and local research ethics committees in Africa and Central Asia. Since 2017, she has been responsible for a micro graduate program in global health and since June 2020 for a minor program in public health and globalization.

Prof. Godard directs the Quebec Population Health Research Network since 2013 ( She has been interested in the socio-ethical issues of population health research and interventions for several years. Her research interests focus on the development of decision-making capabilities of individuals or groups in vulnerable situations for health or socio-economic reasons (e.g., people with brain disorders, underprivileged populations). More specifically, her research aims to examine their concerns and needs in relation to the situation of vulnerability in which they find themselves and the ethical processes to be put in place to contribute to their empowerment. Her research work is centered on an empirical perspective and, to that end, she employs a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Since the beginning of her career, Pr. Godard has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and she is regularly invited to give oral presentations at local and international conferences. She also sits as an advisory member on several committees, boards and policy-making bodies.

Boluwaji Ogunyemi

Boluwaji Ogunyemi is a clinical assistant professor of medicine (dermatology) as well as assistant dean of social accountability at Memorial University of Newfoundland's Faculty of Medicine. As assistant dean, he provides oversight of the development and implementation of Social Accountability initiatives within the Faculty of Medicine in the areas of Health Equity, Indigenous Health, Global Health, and Community Engagement.

He completed his Honors BSc in Sociology and Medical Sciences at Western University, and his Doctor of Medicine diploma at Memorial University of Newfoundland where he also completed graduate training in medical teaching and a diploma in clinical epidemiology. He then specialized in dermatology at UBC, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College in 2018. Dr. Ogunyemi has recently completed a professional certificate in diversity and inclusion at Cornell University.

Dr. Ogunyemi has served on the board of directors for many national organizations including Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Canadian Dermatology Association, and Skin Research Group of Canada. He is a Canadian Medical Association Ambassador, serves on the Canadian Medical Association Journal National Practice Guidelines Panel and provides leadership to Equity in Medicine and Black Physicians of Canada. He serves on the Senior Management Committee of Memorial University's Faculty of Medicine and is helping to shape the 2021 – 2026 Memorial University Strategic Plan.

Dr. Ogunyemi has been published in a number of peer-reviewed scientific journals in addition to mainstream outlets including the New York Times, CBC, the Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, National Post and Vancouver Sun. A frequent keynote speaker, he delivered a TEDx talk in 2019.

Cassandra J. Opikokew Wajuntah

Cassandra J. Opikokew Wajuntah is from Canoe Lake Cree First Nation and was raised in Meadow Lake in Northern Saskatchewan. She graduated in 2009 from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (BAJ) and a Certificate in Indigenous Communication Arts (INCA). In 2012, she finished her Masters' of Public Administration (MPA) after completing a social impact assessment of the federal funding program for First Nations post-secondary students where she advocated for maximum funding for student recipients of the program. Now, as a PhD candidate in her final year studying Indigenous health and education policy, she has been the recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Doctoral Research Award worth $108,000 dissertation entitled "The Indian Solution to the Policy Problem: Developing an Indigenous Policymaking Model to Address First Nations Health Disparities." Cassandra is working with Indigenous health organizations in Saskatchewan and Hawai'i to examine how self-determined Indigenous health policymaking models are more effective at improving the health of Indigenous people than Western colonial models. She was most recently a Visiting Scholar at the U of Hawai'i's John A. Burns School of Medicine in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health while she worked with her community partners throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Cassandra served in various roles at the Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre (IPHRC) from 2010-16 under the late Dr. Jo-Ann Episkenew, whom she credits as a pivotal mentor and influence in her work. During her time at IPHRC, Cassandra assisted Dr. Episkenew with the creation of the Indigenous Research and Engagement Platform (IREP) for the Saskatchewan Centre of Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR) and the transition of IPHRC to the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. As Associate Director of IPHRC, she also serves as the Platform Lead for the IREP where she will lead a team of Indigenous researchers tasked with providing support and expertise to SCPOR projects seeking to engage in meaningful and impactful research with Indigenous communities. As Indigenous Research and Engagement Platform Lead, Cassandra brings years of experience building research relationships with Indigenous communities and government, advocating for improved Indigenous health policies and building capacity in Indigenous health research in Canada.

Maxwell J. Smith

Maxwell J. Smith, PhD, MSc, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health Studies at Western University, where he is also cross-appointed in the Department of Philosophy. At Western, Dr. Smith is the Co-Director of the Health Ethics, Law, and Policy (HELP) Lab and is a faculty member in the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion. Beyond Western, Dr. Smith is a Consulting Bioethicist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and has sat on advisory committees or otherwise served as a consultant to organizations such as the World Health Organization, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Institute for Health Information, and Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health. He completed a PhD in public health and bioethics from the University of Toronto, an MSc in bioethics from Union Graduate College and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and a BA in philosophy from the University of Toronto. His research interests are primarily in the area of public health ethics, where he bridges philosophical and social science research methods to examine the ethical and practical dimensions of core values animating public health policy and practice, such as 'health equity' and 'social justice', particularly in the area of infectious diseases.

A.M. Viens

A.M. Viens is an Associate Professor of Global Health Policy in the Faculty of Health at York University. He has degrees in philosophy and law from the Universities of Toronto, Oxford, and London. His research specialization focuses on the ethics and law of public health and global health, with a particular interest in demonstrating how philosophical analysis, legal epidemiology, and regulatory theory should shape how we approach different issues within health policy, practice, and research. He is also an Honorary Member of the UK Faculty of Public Health, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health, and Editor-in-Chief of Health Care Analysis.

Alice Virani

Alice Virani is the Director of the Clinical Ethics Service for the Provincial Health Service Authority of BC and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia. Alice serves on the Canadian Panel on Research Ethics and her research interests relate to genetic and genomic medicine and pediatric bioethics.

Before moving into ethics, Alice was a genetic counselor in the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. She has a masters in Human Sciences from Oxford University, a masters in Genetic Counseling from Sarah Lawrence College, a masters in Public Health from Columbia University, and a PhD in Genetics and Ethics from UBC.

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