Dr.Michael M. Burgess

Michael M. Burgess is Professor and (research) Chair in Biomedical Ethics at the W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, in the School of Population and Public Health. He also has an appointment in the Department of Medical Genetics. He works from the Southern Medical Program on the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia to help facilitate interdisciplinary research and learning collaborations between the Kelowna and Vancouver UBC campuses. He was previously Principal of the College for Interdisciplinary Studies.

Burgess’ recent research has been the development of a model for public engagement to inform health and biotechnology policy, collaborating closely with Kieran O’Doherty. The model has been used in Australia, Canada and the US. The most common topic has been biobanks and epidemiology. Other topics include newborn screening, salmon genomics, environmental remediation and biofuels. Practical effects of this research includes the creation of a community advisory at the Mayo Clinic (Minnesota), changes in recruitment practice at the BC BioLibrary, and informing state policy for biobanks in Western Australia.

In 2016, working with colleagues Stuart Peacock and Julia Abelson, a hybrid model has been developed with the McMaster Health Forum for regional and pan-Canadian deliberations on funding decisions for cancer drugs.

Funders for Burgess’ and his colleagues’ research on deliberative public engagement include Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Genome Canada, Genome BC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the and the US National Institutes of Health. This work has been published in books and journals including Biopreservation and Biobanking; Genomics, Society and Medicine; the Journal of Personalized Medicine; the Journal of Public Deliberation; Public Health Genomics; Public Understanding of Science; Research Ethics, Sage Open; and Social Science and Medicine.




Dr. Barbara A. Koenig



Barbara A. Koenig, R.N., Ph.D., is Professor of Bioethics and Medical Anthropology based at the Institute for Health & Aging, University of California, San Francisco.  Currently, she co-directs an NHGRI “Center of Excellence in ELSI Research” that focuses on translational genomics, co-leads an NCI ROI on return of results in genomic biobanks, and directs the ELSI component of an NICHD award focused on newborn screening in an era of whole genome analysis.  Prof. Koenig pioneered the use of empirical methods in the study of ethical questions in science, medicine, and health.  Previously she was the founding executive director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University; she created and led the Biomedical Ethics Research Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. 




Dr. Emily Christofides


   Dr. Emily Christofides is a research associate in the Psychology Department at the University of Guelph. Emilycompleted her PhD in Applied Social Psychology      and  her Master’s in Consumer Behaviour, both at the University of Guelph and was a postdoctoral researcher with the Discourse, Science, and Publics research    group. Her research focuses primarily on understanding both the theory and applications of privacy. She has worked with other members of DSP to explore the    social and ethical implications of involving children in biomedical research. She and Dr. O'Doherty also examined the privacy implications of Direct to   Consumer Genetic Testing, with funding from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. For her dissertation she used grounded theory methodology to   develop  theory that helps us better understand the way people deal with privacy in their everyday lives. Her other main line of research examines the social    implications  of new media, such as social, relationship, employment, and gender issues. Many of the issues that apply to new media also apply to emerging    technology such  as genetic testing, and advances in both scientific technology and media change the implications of any given privacy decision.


Dr. Kim Chuong


 Dr. Kim Chuong completed her doctoral study in the Applied Social Psychology program at the University of Guelph in 2015. Her dissertation focused on  sociocultural issues related to multiculturalism, immigration and refugee policy, and acculturation of immigrants and ethnic minorities in Canada. As a PhD  student, she had worked in the DSP lab examining ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of human microbiome research. She was the lead author of a  peer-reviewed journal article that investigated media coverage of fecal transplants from a social constructionist perspective. Currently, Kim is collaborating  on a project that looks at ELSI of biobank and biomedical sharing, and a project on learning health care system and integration of human microbiome  research into clinical practice. Kim can be contacted at




 Dr. Jennifer Reniers


 Dr. Jennifer Reniers (Dobson) is an Educational Analyst working in Open Learning and Educational Support at the University of Guelph. She recently  received her PhD in the Applied Social Psychology program at the University of Guelph. Jennifer was a member of the Discourse, Science and Publics Lab  from 2013 – 2016 as a graduate student and post-doctoral researcher. Jennifer worked with Kieran O’Doherty, Emily Christofides and Claudia Barned to  study chronically ill children’s experiences with participating in research related to their illness. Jennifer also collaborated with Kieran O’Doherty and  Kelly Bronson to conduct a public engagement regarding the use of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick.


Dr. Shannon Cunningham 


Shannon was a post-doctoral researcher in the Applied Social Psychology program in the Department of Psychology, University of Guelph under the supervision of Dr. Kieran O'Doherty. She focused on various projects related to the Human Microbiome Project, with a main focus on the Vaginal Microbiome Group Initiative and the Asthma Microbiome Group Initiative. Shannon undertook her undergraduate training at the University of Calgary, with a major in psychology. She subsequently completed her Master's degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Applied Social Psychology. She completed her PhD at the University of Guelph in Applied Social Psychology in August 2012. Shannon's dissertation is the examination of doctor-patient communication in palliative care using conversation analysis. Shannon has several publications in diverse research topics (e.g. sexuality, genital perceptions and pornography consumption; hopes and fears of caregivers of individuals with cancer, ageism in birthday card messages) using both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies (e.g., correlational research, narrative analysis, discourse analysis, content analysis).




Dr. Kelly Edwards

Dr. Kelly Edwards


Dr. Edwards is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine and core faculty for the Institute for Public Health Genetics.  She received an M.A. in Medical Ethics and a PhD in Philosophy of Education from the University of Washington, Seattle.  Research and program responsibilities include serving as Director of the Ethics and Outreach Core for the NIEHS-funded Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health and also as Co-Director of the Regulatory Support and Bioethics Core for the Institute for Translational Health Sciences (CTSA), and lead investigator with the NHGRI-funded Center for Genomics and Healthcare Equality.  Special interests include community-based research practices, biobank governance, environmental justice, everyday ethics in research practice, feminist and narrative approaches to bioethics, and integrating ethics into training programs, public conversations about science, and public policy.  Dr. Edwards has been a member of the International “Making Connections” consortium that focuses on innovative governance strategies for biobanking research and practice, and as of 2010, co-chairs the Biobank Working Group within the CTSA Consortium.  She appreciates Washington wines, hiking, biking, and extreme picnicking. Feel free to visit Dr. Edwards' twitter account: @engagedethics. 




Dr. Stephanie Malia Fullerton

Dr. Stephanie Malia Fullerton


Dr. Fullerton is Associate Professor of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington in Seattle. She received a D.Phil. in Human Population Genetics from the University of Oxford and later re-trained in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications research with a fellowship from the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute.  Her work explores researcher and participant perspectives on data-sharing, research use, and result return in the context of genome-wide association studies and related forms of genomic research (especially as it involves the use of electronic health records and/or clinical specimens).  She is also interested in the use of racial and ethnic constructs, and increasingly genetic ancestry, in the research aimed at the elimination of health disparities.  She holds adjunct positions in the UW Departments of Genome Sciences and Epidemiology, is an affiliate investigator with the Public Health Sciences division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and serves as a member of the Regulatory Support and Bioethics Core of the UW Institute of Translational Health Sciences CTSA.





Dr. Alice Hawkins Virani

Dr. Alice Hawkins Virani

Dr. Virani is currently the Manager of Genomic and Societal Affairs at Genome BC. She completed her PhD research at the University of British Columbia in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Program (medical genetics and applied ethics) where she was awarded traineeships in both the Ethics of Health Policy and Research Training Program and the Child and Family Research Institute Graduate Studentship Program. She holds a MPH (policy and management) from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, an MS (Genetic Counselling) from Sarah Lawrence College, New York, and an MA Oxon (Human Sciences) from Oxford University, England. Prior to UBC, Dr. Virani worked as a genetic counsellor and clinical coordinator at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. She is also an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, the Canadian Society of Genetic Counselors and the American Board of Medical Genetics and has served on the Research Ethics Board (behavioural and clinical) at the UBC since 2008





Dr. Peter Watson

Dr. Peter Watson


Dr. Watson is a Professor in the Department of Pathology, BC Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia and he is currently  director of the BCCA Tumour Tissue Repository and Chief Physician for the BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre. Dr. Watson completed his medical training at the University of Cambridge, UK in 1983 and he completed his specialist training in Anatomic Pathology at the University of Manitoba in 1988. He combines a clinical practice as a breast pathologist with a research interest in the molecular pathology of breast cancer. His research program is characterized by the translation of tissue based observations into functional and clinical significance through analysis of laboratory models and clinical data. His research has included early contributions to approaches and application of molecular technologies to microdissected breast tissues. The program currently focuses specifically on markers of risk of early breast tumour progression and markers of response to endocrine therapies. His experience in Tumour Tissue Banking has included development and direction of the Manitoba Breast Tumour Bank (1993-Present) and ongoing leadership in provincial and national efforts to foster biobank resources and translational research (including the BC BioLibrary, the UBC Pathology Office of Biobank Education and Research, and CTRNet).




 Vogue Research Project (Vaginal Microbiome Group Initiative)

Vogue Research GroupWomen’s health and healthy pregnancies are intimately linked to the balance of bacteria and viruses that live in a woman’s body. The fine balance of microorganisms in a woman’s reproductive system is vitally important to the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease. For example, a healthy balance of bacteria can protect against infections such as Herpes and HIV, whereas an unhealthy balance can increase risk of infection in the uterus and fallopian tubes, and may ultimately result in cancer. We know that if the balance of bacteria in the vagina is not ideal in pregnancy, there are serious health consequences – one of which is risk of preterm birth. Preterm birth is one of the most serious complications facing infants, occurring in 7-8% of births in Canada but causing over 70% of newborn deaths and 50% of newborn health problems. This has been one of the hardest health problems to tackle worldwide with rates of preterm births increasing despite improvements in overall pregnancy care for women and their newborns. New advances in genomic research make it possible to study the composition of microbial communities in a women’s reproductive system. A team of researchers, lead by Dr. Deborah Money at the Women’s Health Research Institute, and the University of British Columbia, will be conducting pioneering research to define a healthy vagina. This will ultimately lead to the development of novel diagnostic tools and interventions that restore and retain health. Ultimately, our work will lead to significant breakthroughs in the care of women in Canada and around the world.