SPOR Summit 2016 - Plenary Speaker Biographies


Mr. Niall Brennan

Chief Data Officer
Director, Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Washington, DC, USA

Niall Brennan is CMS' Chief Data Officer and the Director of the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA). In this capacity, he oversees improvements in data collection and dissemination at CMS and efforts to help CMS better harness its vast data resources to drive higher quality, patient-centered care at a lower cost. Niall directs leading-edge research and analysis published by CMS, as well as efforts to make its considerable data sets available to external researchers seeking to promote better understanding of health care in the United States. He also manages CMS' extensive data and information product portfolio. Prior to joining CMS, Niall worked at the Brookings Institution, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the Congressional Budget Office, The Urban Institute, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. He is a graduate of University College Dublin, and earned a master's degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Dr. Heather Davidson, PhD

Assistant Deputy Minister
Partnerships and Innovation Division, Ministry of Health, Province of British Columbia
Victoria, BC, Canada

Heather has worked for the BC government since 1991 in a series of progressively senior positions, mostly in the Ministry of Health. She is currently Assistant Deputy Minister of the Partnerships and Innovation Division. She was an early advocate for evidence-based policy and decision making and has maintained strong linkages with the research community throughout her government career. She is currently the Ministry's executive lead for the SPOR support Unit and the Academic Health Science Network.

Heather holds a PhD in Psychology (Adult Development and Aging) from the University of Victoria. Prior to joining the provincial government, she worked as a gerontologist in a variety of clinical settings in Alberta and Ontario.

Mr. Tal Golesworthy, CEng, MEI, MRSC

Technical Director
Exstent Limited
Tewkesbury, UK

A Chartered Engineer, Member of the Energy Institute and Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry with 38 years of research & development experience, 14 years at British Coal's Coal Research Establishment, 3 years of training as a patent agent and 21 years as a director of Environmental Development Technology Ltd running R&D projects in combustion and flue gas cleaning/air pollution control.

Winner of 2 DTI SMART awards for innovation and an €840,000 EU craft project developing low-cost pollution control solutions for domestic scale coal combustion in Poland, his current work is dominated by Exstent Ltd, running the Personalised External Aortic Root Support Project.

As a Marfan syndrome patient with aortic dilation, Tal was unimpressed with the options of a Total Root Replacement (TRR or Bentall) or Valve Sparing Root Replacement (VSRR) so he set about engineering an alternative. 12 years after receiving the first personalised external aortic root support himself, he is now working to extend this surgical option to a wider group of patients with aortic dilation.

December 2011 saw the (PEARS) project win The Engineer's Medical & Healthcare innovation award at the Royal Society. With NICE IPAC approval, 7 surgical centres up and running, 78 patients successfully treated, and a collective 300+ postoperative patient years, PEARS continues to progress.

Articles & Awards

Dr. Michael Schull, MSc, MD, FRCPC

President and CEO, Core Scientist
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES)
Department of Medicine, University of Toronto
Toronto, ON, Canada

Dr. Schull is President, CEO and Senior Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, and Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on health service utilization, quality of care, health system integration and patient outcomes, and the evaluation of health policy. His studies use administrative health datasets and linkages with clinical data, and he works closely with health system decision and policy makers. Dr. Schull practices as an Emergency Medicine specialist at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Dr. Joe Selby, MD, MPH

Executive Director
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
Washington, DC, USA

After obtaining his MD Degree from Northwestern University, Dr. Selby moved to Northern California for internship and a family medicine residency, and eventually an MPH at UC Berkeley. His fellowship project concerned Behavioral Factors in Cardiovascular Disease. He stayed in the Bay area at Kaiser Permanente for 27 years, including 13 as Director of Research supervising up to 50 investigators and 500 staff members. He has had academic appointments at UC Berkeley, UCSF and Stanford University. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed articles on far-ranging topics such as quality measurement and improvement, primary care delivery, colorectal cancer screening and many studies that could be classified under the heading of "comparative effectiveness" – largely in the areas of diabetes, hypertension (HTN) and cardiovascular disease. He has received honors from the Public Health Service, the American Epidemiological Society, Kaiser Permanente, and in 2009 he was elected into the Institute of Medicine. In July 2011, Dr. Selby became the first Executive Director of the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI). PCORI’s mandate is to improve the quality and relevance of the evidence available in order to help patients, caregivers, employers, insurers and policy makers make informed health care decisions.

Dr. Robyn Tamblyn, BScN, MSc, PhD

Scientific Director
CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research
Department of Medicine and Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University
Montreal, QC, Canada

Dr. Robyn Tamblyn is a Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University. She is a James McGill Chair, a Medical Scientist at the McGill University Health Centre Research Institute, and the Scientific Director of the Clinical and Health Informatics Research Group at McGill University. Dr. Tamblyn’s ground-breaking research on educational outcomes has elucidated important relationships between health professional training, licensure and practice that have subsequently guided credentialing policies. Her work on prescription drug use, its determinants, and computerized interventions to improve drug safety (MOXXI) has been recognized internationally. She leads a CIHR-funded team to investigate the use of e-health technologies to support integrated care for chronic disease, and co-leads a Canadian Foundation for Innovation Informatics Innovation Laboratory to create advanced technologies to monitor adverse events in populations and create new tools to improve the safety and effectiveness of health care. Her work is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Annals of Internal Medicine, the British Medical Journal, Medical Care and Health Services Research, among others. She has been awarded the CHSRF KT award for her research in improving the use of medication as well as the ACFAS Bombardier award for innovation in the development of a computerized drug management system. As of January 2011, she became the Scientific Director of the Institute of Health Services and Policy Research at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Tamblyn was appointed to the Order of Canada in December 2014 for her contributions to patient safety, notably through her research on physician training, health system monitoring and prescription drug management. In June 2015, she received the annual Outstanding Achievement Award from the Medical Council of Canada.

Dr. Peter Vaughan, MD

Deputy Minister
Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness
Halifax, NS, Canada

Dr. Peter W. Vaughan, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School trained health care executive, is the Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness, Government of Nova Scotia, where he consolidated nine health authorities, redesigned the Health Ministry, flattened the health cost curve, and introduced the first province-wide digital personal health record in Canada.

Peter is a well-recognized visionary leader in health innovation, the future of health, health care delivery and medicine.

He was former Chair of the Accreditation Canada board, and founding board member of Accreditation Canada International. He was CEO and Medical Director of a health authority in Nova Scotia, CEO of the Canadian Medical Association, and President of WebMD Canada. He is an adjunct professor, Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University, and he has served on numerous non-profit health care organizations.

He is an author with numerous publications including fiction, nonfiction, international news, new media and television.

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