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. Arnold Naimark (Chairman)


Dr. Arnold Naimark, Chairman of the Board
OC, BSc (Med), MSc, MD, LLD, FRCP (C), FRSC

Dr.Naimark is a distinguished medical researcher, educator, and administrator. He is currently Professor of Medicine and Physiology at the University of Manitoba and Director of its Centre for the Advancement of Medicine and is the Founding Chairman of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation and of the Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee. Dr. Naimark, and serves on the Council of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, on the National Statistics Council of Canada, and as a Director of the Robarts Research Institute and Genome Prairie. Dr. Naimark was the Founding Chairman of the North Portage Development Corporation and currently serves as a director of several voluntary, public and private sector organizations.

Dr. Naimark was formerly Head of the Department of Physiology, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manitoba –his alma mater. He has served as President of the Canadian Physiological Society, the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and as Chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Dr. Naimark is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is recipient of the G. Malcolm Brown Award of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and Medical Research Council of Canada, the Osler Award, the Distinguished Service Award of Ben Gurion University, the Symons Award of the Association of Commonwealth Universities; and of honorary doctorates from Mount Allison University and the University of Toronto - and of several other awards and distinctions related to his professional, academic and civic activities.

Dr. Mitchell Abrahamsen

Mitch Abrahamsen 1

Dr. Mitchell Abrahamsen is the 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.

Dr. Gerald Brown


Dr. Gerald L. Brown, Ph.D.

Dr. Brown was originally trained in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology, and spent 17 years in various agriculturally-related corporate settings providing him with a broad background in agricultural biology, agronomy, the protection of intellectual property, 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 in 1998 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 responsible for: i) Bova-Can Labs, a joint venture partnership focused on purebred certification, genomics and genetic diagnostics for livestock and companion animal breeds, ii) the Fermentation Business Unit, a pilot plant facility providing process development expertise and pilot plant production of veterinary and human vaccines and therapeutics, and microbial inoculants, and iii) GenServe Laboratories, a high-throughput sequencing genetics/ genomics facility servicing the animal, plant and microbial sectors.

Gerry is currently the Director of Commercialization with the PanProvincial Vaccine Enterprise, a national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research focused on the development and commercialization of vaccines for infectious diseases that have a significant impact on human health.

Gerry grew up near Ottawa and pursued advanced studies at the University of Western Ontario (cell biology and immunology), Carleton University (biochemistry), and York University (molecular biology). He is married, with five children within a blended family situation, and he and his wife Connie spend much of their spare time playing tennis within a particularly vibrant local tennis community.

Mr. John Cross


Mr. John Cross

John 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. David Gauthier


Dr. David Gauthier BSCH, PHD, MBA

Dr. David Gauthier is a private consultant specializing in business investment and technology commercialization. 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. He has gained an appreciation for the entrepreneurial spirit in the Province and the business atmosphere was a primary factor in his decision to move to Saskatchewan with his wife and two children. From 2008 until 2011, David was Chief Executive Officer of the Entrepreneurial Foundation of Saskatchewan. David has served on a number of boards for both profit and not-for-profit organizations and has contributed to numerous committees. He is currently a Board Member for several organizations, including AgWest Bio Inc., Genome Prairie and its subsidiary, Interra Biosciences Inc.

Ms. Susan Gorges


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


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.

Dr. Grant Pierce


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 175 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 4000 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 is currently Co-Editor of the Canadian Journal of Physiology and pharmacology. He has been invited to give over 150 lectures at meetings and Universities throughout the world.

In collaboration with the Faculties of Pharmacy, Agricultural and Food Sciences, Human Ecology and Medicine, he has initiated the Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM) at St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre 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 Research Centre. 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 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


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 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 300 M$, and has developed a commercialization centre, Biomedical Commercialization Canada (Winnipeg, MB), to mentor biomedical 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 boards of directors of various companies and agencies, including the Manitoba Premier’s Economic Advisory Council and the Manitoba Innovation Council.  He is an adjunct professor at the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg.

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.