Genome Prairie

Board Members

Our Board of Directors is composed of prominent members of the Prairie research community.  Board members have a diverse range of experience and expertise that spans across science and business.  

Click the names below to view full profiles.   

Dr. David Gauthier (Chairman)

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Dr. David Gauthier BSCH, PHD, MBA

Dr. David Gauthier is the Regional Director (NPC-West) of Natural Products Canada—a National Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research focused on the natural products sector.  David was educated at Queen's University where he obtained BSCH (Biology), PhD (Biology) and MBA degrees. He previously served as Director of Business Development with Performance Plants Inc. and as Vice-President with Foragen Technologies Management Inc., which managed a national venture capital fund specialized in advanced agricultural technology investments. David moved to Saskatoon in May 2005 when he joined the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program as Regional Director.  From 2008 until 2011, David was Chief Executive Officer of the Entrepreneurial Foundation of Saskatchewan.  He has operated a private consulting firm focused on business investment and technology commercialization since 2012.  David has served on a number of boards for both profit and not-for-profit organizations and has contributed to numerous committees, including Ag-West Bio Inc.

Dr. Gerald Brown

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Dr. Gerald L. Brown, Ph.D.

Dr. Brown was originally trained in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology, and spent over 30 years in various corporate settings providing him with a broad background in agricultural biology, agronomy, intellectual property protection, and the development and commercialization of new and innovative products. During his career he has worked with the Plant Cell & Molecular Group, and the Microbial Inoculants Division of Allelix Crop Technologies, the Ag Biologicals Team within the Esso/Exxon environment and Agrium Biologicals, and was the Principal Research Scientist, and Innovation and Intellectual Property Manager – New Products for Agrium Inc.  Gerry joined the Saskatchewan Research Council as the Director of SRC’s Business Development Branch with responsibilities ranging from marketing and communications, to new product development, technology mentoring, investment, licensing and commercialization. He was subsequently Vice-President of SRC’s Agriculture & Biotechnology Division. Most recently, Gerry was the Director of Marketing and Commercialization with the Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise, a national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research focused on the mid-stage development and commercialization of vaccines for infectious diseases.  Gerry has served on a number for non-profit boards including Genome Prairie and AgWest Bio.

Dr. Mitchell Abrahamsen

Mitch Abrahamsen 1

Dr. Mitchell Abrahamsen

Dr. Mitchell Abrahamsen is the Senior Vice President, Research and Development for Cobb-Vantress Inc. He leads the company’s research and development effort and strategic programs for bringing innovation and new technologies to the poultry industry. Dr. Abrahamsen has an extensive background in research and development, project design, management and implementation of state-of-the-art innovation programs within the animal health and production industry. Much of his experience in academic, governmental and biotechnology environments has involved developing integrated, cross-functional research programs that utilize large-scale, high-throughput genomic and genetic technologies to develop new products and tools for improving animal health.

Commercialization as a result of these programs has been supported by in-depth field studies and information packages demonstrating product performance and support product claims. Throughout his career he has worked with many diverse interests and partner organizations to establish intellectual property and technology solutions for product development and commercialization.

Dr. Abrahamsen earned his BSc degree in biochemistry at the University of Minnesota and his PhD degree in biochemistry at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has held faculty positions at Montana State University and in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota where he was a recognized international authority on animal genomics, animal health and molecular basis of host/pathogen interactions. He has served on advisory boards for numerous private and government funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture and Genome Prairie.

Mitch previously worked with Hills Pet Nutrition as Vice President Research and as Chief Scientific Officer/Vice President - Research and Development for Pyxis Genomics. In these roles he was responsible for developing corporate research strategies that supported global business goals and managed research programs dedicated to driving business growth through new technology development and scientific evidence that demonstrated performance and product claims.

Mr. John Cross

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John Cross

Trained as a chemical engineer John Cross joined the Food Research and Development Department of John Labatt Ltd. in London, Ontario in 1965. His work centered on the development and commercialization of new products in the fermentation, food, beverage, dairy and animal feed industries.

From 1975-1980 he served as founding Executive Director of POS Pilot Plant Corporation in Saskatoon.

In 1980 Mr. Cross was a founding partner and later President, CEO, and Chairman of Saskatoon-based Philom Bios Inc. This company develops, manufactures, and markets high value inoculants which increase farmers’ profits by enhancing the fertility efficiency of crops in an environmentally benign way. Products include the world’s first commercial phosphate inoculant and the world’s first combination phosphate and nitrogen inoculant for pulse crops. The leading inoculant supplier to Western Canadian farmers, market expansion is well underway into the US Great Plains, the US MidWest, South America, and Australia. Philom Bios was acquired by Novozymes S/A, a Denmark based bio-innovation multinational in December 2007.

Dr. Jenisa Naidoo

Dr. Jenisa Naidoo

Dr. Jenisa Naidoo  is a successful healthcare executive, physician and medical educator with more than 30 years of experience in the health care environment including 15 years of medical director experience. She has demonstrated a strong performance in shaping healthcare policy, providing health care solutions and teaching with an excellent track record of obtaining results through strong interpersonal skills, business acumen, clinical knowledge and team building.

In capacity as a Lab Director, she designed and led the project to build a world class laboratory facility in Winnipeg, successfully merged 3 laboratory organizations and cultures, project lead in the introduction and implementation of a leading edge technology, liquid-based cytology in Manitoba. She is also Black Belt Certified in Lean, six Sigma.

As Medical Educator, she helped shape the MD undergraduate program and received overall teaching awards in the MD program.

Dr. Naidoo serves as medical advisor/provincial representative in Manitoba where she is able to influence and shape patient safety, regulatory requirements and policy in healthcare (laboratories and DI), provide medical expertise (laboratory physician) in various provincial projects and initiatives provincially with positive outcome for providers and patients.

In her spare time she enjoys travelling the world, appreciating cultural and political diversity and active in anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

Ms. Susan Gorges

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Ms. Susan Gorges

Susan has a proven track record for commercialization of technologies having worked with two technology commercialization organizations, one in Santa Fe, New Mexico and one in Regina, Saskatchewan.  She has been an executive with a start-up software company as well as a manufacturing company, both of which were grown to over $200 million in revenue.  Her leadership style has supported international teams of consultants as well as expeditiously accomplishing a turnaround to profitability of a $90 Million business unit.  Susan has worked in North America, Europe and Asia.  An accomplished public speaker, Susan has presented to audiences large and small around the world.

Dr. Digvir Jayas

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Dr. Digvir S. Jayas, P.Eng., P.Ag., FAZRA, FASABE, FCSBE, FAIC, FCIFST, FCAE

Dr. Digvir S. Jayas is Vice-President (Research), Distinguished Professor, and Canada Research Chair in Stored-Grain Ecosystems at the University of Manitoba. Prior to assuming this position, he was Associate Vice-President (Research), Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Department Head of Biosystems Engineering. He has also served as the Interim Director for the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at theUniversityofManitoba. He is a Registered Professional Engineer and a Registered Professional Agrologist.  He has taught courses in the areas of food engineering, finite element method, and instrumentation and controls.  He conducts research in the areas of physical properties of agricultural products; modified atmosphere storage of grains, oilseeds, potatoes, and meats; mathematical modelling of biological systems; and digital image processing for grading and processing operations in the Agri-Food industry.  His research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through Operating and Strategic Grants and by the Agri-food industry through Operating Grants and Contracts and covers a broad spectrum between basic and applied research.  He has authored or co-authored over 650 technical articles in refereed scientific journals, conference proceedings, and books.  He is co-editor of two books entitled “Stored-Grain Ecosystems” and “Insect Pests of Stored Products: A Global Scenario” and co-author of a book entitled “Grain Drying: Theory and Practice.”  He has received professional awards from the Canadian Society of Bioengineering (CSBE), the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST), the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE),  the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (APEGM), the Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC), Manitoba Institute of Agrologists (MIA), Engineers Canada (formerly Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE)), and the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE). 

Dr. Digvir S. Jayas has served as a member and chaired the Strategic Grant Selection Panel and Research Network Selection Committee of NSERC, has served on the Executive of the Genome Prairie and TRLabs, has served as President of the Canadian Engineering Qualifications Board of the CCPE, CIFST, CSBE and APEGM.  Dr. Jayas serves on the committees and boards of many organizations including:  Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, Composite Innovation Centre, Agriculture Institute ofCanada(AIC), Manitoba Institute of Agrologists (MIA), Manitoba Health Research Council, St. Boniface General Hospital Research Enterprise Committee, University Advisory Group of IndustryCanada, and the International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID).  He is also chair of the board of directors of RESOLVE, a prairie research network on family violence, and of the advisory board of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, a research centre dedicated to the discussion, discovery, and development of functional foods.

Digvir S. Jayas was educated at the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar,India; University of Manitoba,Canada; and the University of Saskatchewan,Canada.

Ms. Daphne Arnason

Ms. Daphne Arnason

Daphne Arnason is a Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA, FCA) .  Daphne attended the University of Saskatchewan, where she obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in 1977.  From 1977 - 1988, Daphne worked for the accounting firm, Deloitte, (and predecessor accounting firms) where she practised in the areas of audit, small business, and taxation.  From 1988 until her retirement in 2014, Daphne served in various senior management and executive roles at PotashCorp,  a publicly traded global integrated fertilizer company.  She was actively involved in the privatization of that company, as well as in a number of corporate acquisitions and related restructuring. Her areas of corporate expertise included taxation, audit,  global risk management and corporate governance.  Daphne has served as a Director on the Boards of a number of organizations, and has chaired and served as members of various board committees.  She is presently a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Saskatchewan, where she is a member of the Audit Committee, and is Chair of the Land and Facilities Committee.  As well she is a member of the Board of Directors for the Saskatoon and Area United Way, where she is a member of the Governance Committee and is chair of the Finance Committee and Treasurer.

Dr. Grant Pierce

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Dr. Grant N. Pierce, *Hon B.P.H.E., (Lakehead University), M.Sc. (Dalhousie University), Ph.D. in Physiology, (University of Manitoba)

After completing postdoctoral training at UCLA (1983-86), Dr Pierce obtained his first faculty appointment in the Dept. of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. Dr. Pierce has published over 225 research manuscripts and written or edited 7 textbooks on a variety of topics concerning metabolism, nutrition and cardiovascular health. His research papers have been cited well over 8000 times. His work on the diabetic cardiomyopathy and ischemic heart disease has been pioneering and highly cited.

Dr. Pierce has served on the Editorial Boards of the top basic science cardiovascular journals in the world including Circulation Research, the American Journal of Physiology and the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology. He has served as Assistant Editor of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry for more than 20 years. He was Co-Editor of the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology for 13 years. He has been invited to give over 200 lectures at meetings and Universities throughout the world.

In collaboration with the Faculties of Pharmacy, Agricultural and Food Sciences, Human Ecology and Medicine, he initiated the Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM) at St. Boniface General Hospital to investigate the health-related benefits of nutraceuticals and functional foods. This has now been expanded to a formal agreement with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada to include their researchers in the Centre on a permanent basis. CCARM is now the only research group in the world to investigate the health-related benefits of nutraceuticals and functional foods that operates out of a state-of-the-art medical research facility and a new Clinical Trial Institute and is associated with a teaching hospital. This offers distinct opportunities in advancing our knowledge of the effects of these products in clinical populations.

Dr. Pierce is currently the Executive Director of Research at St. Boniface Hospital. He has received many awards (including those from the American Heart Association, the International Society for Heart Research, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, CIHR) in recognition of research excellence. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of several health-related institutions. He is the past Chair of the Scientific Review Executive Committee for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Dr. Ian Smith

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Dr. Ian C.P. Smith, O.C., OFS, Ph.D., D.Sc., FRS(C)

Senior Scientist, Innovative Biodiagnostics Inc.

Ian C. P. Smith is the founder and former Director General of the National Research Council of Canada’s Institute for Biodiagnostics. His research is dedicated to early detection and treatment of human disease and using this knowledge to advance the state of medicine and the economy. He is a passionate mover for the commercialization of the products of research, has started nine companies with a present value of 1.4B$, and has developed a commercialization centre, Manitoba Technology Accelerator (Winnipeg, Manitoba), to mentor young entrepreneurs.  Dr. Smith is Past President of the International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB), Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization (London and Toronto, Ontario), and a member of the executive committees of a number of company boards such as 3D Signatures (Winnipeg, Manitoba), Biomark (Vancouver, British Columbia), Medical Device Commericialization Centre (Ottawa, Ontario), Innovative Biodiagnostics (Sydney, Australia and Winnipeg, Manitoba) and agencies, including the Ontario Centres of Excellence, the  Manitoba Premier’s Economic Advisory Council, Genome Prairie and the Manitoba Innovation Council.  He is an adjunct professor at the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg (where he retains a laboratory).  He was inducted in 2008 as an Officer of the Order of Canada for his endeavours in medical research and the innovative stimulation of small Canadian companies.

Dr. Janice (Cuthbert) Duguid

Dr. Janice (Cuthbert) Duguid

Dr. Janice Duguid is a senior canola breeder at DL Seeds in Morden, MB, with extensive experience in plant science working previously with Novartis/Syngenta Crop Protection Canada Inc. in Portage la Prairie. Janice attended the University of Manitoba, where she received a BSA (Plant Science), an MSc (Plant Breeding & Genetics), and a PhD (Plant Breeding & Genetics). Janice has received multiple awards and recognition, which includes becoming the first female recipient of the prestigious Manning Canadian Youth Award for Innovation in 1992, and a feature in Macleans Magazine Canada’s “Leaders of Tomorrow” in 2003. Janice was also inducted into “Women of Invention” exhibit at the National Museum of Science and Technology, and sits on the Board of Directors with the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium.

Dr. Curtis Rempel

Dr. Curtis Rempel MBA, PhD, PAg

Vice President, Crop Production and Innovation, Canola Council of Canada, Adjunct Professor, Dept of Food & Nutrition Science, Richardson Centre for Functional Foods, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba

Curtis joined the Canola Council of Canada in July 2012. Curtis is responsible for (i) directing the Crop Production Team Agronomists with a mandate to optimize profitability for producers and the supply chains they serve while minimizing production risk, (ii) developing research priorities for canola production, oil and meal utilization, (iii) developing sustainability and production stewardship guidelines, (iv) liaising between producers, industry and academia to optimize extension activity as it pertains to canola production and innovation, (v) manage the coordination of the trials and budget for the Western Canada Canola/Rapeseed Recommending Committee (WCCRRC) and the Canola Performance Trials, (vi) monitor and manage issues related to domestic and global biotechnology acceptance and regulation, (vii) manage the CP&I budgets ($2 million) and direct GF2, ARDI, MITACS and CARP research activities and budgets ($20 million), (viii) represent Canadian canola’s best interests with industry and professional groups and numerous other activities.

Curtis was raised on a farm specializing in dairy and special crops in southeastern Manitoba and is still involved with commercial farm production. Education includes a B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Manitoba, PhD obtained at the University of Guelph, and an MBA from Athabasca University / University of Guelph. Prior to joining the Canola Council of Canada, Dr. Rempel has worked as a research scientist for Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, has taught at numerous Universities and community colleges in Canada, and has operated his own consulting company for 10 years, primarily providing business and marketing strategy and scientific counsel to Fortune 500 companies. In the corporate sector, Dr. Rempel worked for 8 years in R&D, corporate finance and business strategy and development at Monsanto Corp, as a senior consultant for Meyers, Norris, Penny focusing on commodity marketing, renewable energy, intellectual property protection, enterprise software applications, and scientific competitiveness and most recently as the Business Development Manager at the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals, Dept of Food Science, University of Manitoba. Dr. Rempel is also an adjunct faculty member in Dept. of Food Science and his current research interests include (1) “green” extraction technology; 2) extraction and characterization of bioactive molecules from oilseed crops and medicinal plants of the tall grass prairie and boreal forest; 3) development of functional foods, biopharmaceuticals, drug delivery platforms, and bioindustrial products from co-streams of crop processing.