Leadership Team

John Valliant, PhD, CEO and Scientific Director

John played an integral role in conceptualizing and establishing CPDC and continues to drive the growth and success of the centre’s R&D and commercialization programs. In addition to his roles at CPDC, John is an Associate Professor in the department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, at McMaster University. He has an exceptional track record of securing funding for basic and translational research particularly as part of collaborative grants. Most recently, in partnership with the Cross Cancer Institute, John led a successful grant application to create a major training grant to educate the next generation of radiopharmaceutical scientists in Canada. He has also helped to secure funding for a prototype breast imaging camera which is being evaluated in Hamilton as part of a collaborative trial.

John is internationally recognized for his work in radiopharmaceutical chemistry, where his current research focuses on developing new radiolabeling methods and compound discovery strategies to create clinically relevant molecular imaging probes and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals. In recognition of his work and the emergence of the CPDC, John was asked to give the plenary lecture at the 2009 Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting. He was also selected as one of Canada’s 2009 Top 40 Under 40, a distinction that recognizes his exceptional work at CPDC and McMaster University to advance molecular probe technology, improve patient care and spur on economic growth. The award also acknowledges his commitment to education and training at McMaster and within the imaging industry.

John has published more than 75 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings, and has been invited to speak at scientific conferences and leading research centres the world over. He currently has six patents or patent applications under review.

John completed his PhD at McMaster University, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship under the joint supervision of professors Alun G. Jones (Harvard) and Alan Davison (MIT).

Eric S. Burak, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

As Chief Scientific Officer at the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), Eric Burak is responsible for the creation and successful development of new molecular imaging probes and therapeutics and for advancing the company’s existing portfolio of intellectual property.

Dr. Burak has more than 20 years of pharmaceutical research and development experience in both biotech and large pharmaceutical companies. Before joining CPDC, he was Vice President of Development at Theracos Inc., where he was responsible for all research, clinical development and manufacturing activities for a company developing drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes. Previous positions include Vice President of Preclinical and Early Clinical Development at Rib-X Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a venture-funded antibiotic company, and Director of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics at Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Burak’s research experience has focused on the application of drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics and mathematical modeling to discovery and development of therapeutics. He has submitted 13 Investigational New Drug Applications (INDs) and 1 New Drug Application (NDA) across multiple therapeutic areas including oncology, cardiovascular, antibiotics, diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, anesthesia/sedation, diabetes, and wound healing.

Dr. Burak holds a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Temple University and a BSc in Chemistry from Drexel University.

Anne Goodbody, PhD, Chief Regulatory Officer

Anne has extensive experience in translating scientific discovery into product development with over 20 years of research and development experience in the pharmaceutical industry. After receiving a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge (UK), she held positions of increasing responsibility in a number of biotechnology companies in Canada and the U.S. She has led the development of radiopharmaceuticals, managing teams responsible for manufacturing, clinical and regulatory affairs. She has published extensively, presented research at international conferences and is a named inventor on 15 issued patents.

Karin Stephenson, PhD, Director, Discovery

Karin leads CPDC’s chemistry group and oversees the discovery and development of new molecular imaging compounds. She brings over a decade of experience in both PET and SPECT probe technology. She received her PhD in Chemistry from McMaster University and subsequently completed two post-doctorial fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She has published and contributed to numerous scientific articles and has received national and international awards and scholarships for her outstanding work on the development of novel probes for both positron emission and single photon emission computed tomography. Her experience in this field will help the CPDC meet its goals to develop and commercialize new probes, bringing better tools to the clinic for imaging, diagnosis and therapy.

Travis Besanger, PhD, Executive Director, Business Development

Dr. Besanger joined the Centre in 2008 with a mandate to create quality systems for GMP radiopharmaceutical manufacturing and to lead the quality assurance, quality control teams. He later expanded his responsibilities to include process and analytical development programs. With a passion for science and business, combined with experience from his previous tenure, Dr. Besanger saw an opportunity to increase CPDC’s manufacturing capabilities to offer contract service in a field with few options. Since 2011, Dr. Besanger has been leading the CPDC business development initiative and has expanded the CPDC’s offerings to a full suite of pre-clinical, clinical, regulatory and GMP manufacturing services which have benefited the CPDC’s expanding list of clients in the US, Canada and Europe. Dr. Besanger holds a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from McMaster University and previously held positions in analytical and process development at Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals.

John Forbes, PhD, Deputy Director, Discovery

John Forbes brings to the CPDC more than 11 years of post-graduate and academic experience in cell biology and immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry and leading pre-clinical drug development studies. He leads the biological research activities of CPDC’s probe discovery and development efforts. Most recently, John was a project leader at Therapure Biopharma, focused on the design, development and management of multiple pre-clinical studies. Prior to that, he was a senior research scientist in pre-clinical research at Vasogen Incorporated. After receiving his PhD in medical genetics at the University of Alberta, John went on to complete post-doctoral work in chemistry at McGill University.

Joe McCann, PhD, Director, Radiopharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing

As Director of Radiopharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing, Joe McCann oversees Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) activities for new and existing products. Since joining the CPDC, Dr. McCann has directed the development, validation and technology transfer activities for several novel and generic agents including [F-18]-Fluorothymidine (FLT), [F-18]-Fluoroazomycin Arabinoside (FAZA) and [F-18]-Fluoromethylcholine (FMC), as well as directing process scale-up and validation activities for [F-18]-Fluorodeoxyglucose.

Prior to joining CPDC, Dr. McCann was a Scientist in Pharmaceutical Development at GlaxoSmithKline focused on formulation, process and analytical development activities for products spanning candidate selection to Phase III studies. He was involved in quality-by-design initiatives, playing a lead role in the development and implementation of process analytical technologies to support process understanding and control. Dr. McCann’s experience at GSK as a Project and Formulation Lead on Clinical Matrix Teams, Project Teams and Product Delivery Teams will enhance CPDC’s capability in the assessment of new molecules in the clinic.

Dr. McCann holds a PhD in Biochemistry from McMaster University and a Bachelor of Science, Honours Biochemistry Co-op, from the University of Guelph.

Board of Directors

CPDC is governed by an independent Board of Directors. Board members represent all key sectors associated with the CPDC. The Board of Directors work with the Centre’s Scientific Director, Executive Director and Centre Management Committee to guide CPDC’s future direction.

  • Bob Sutherland Chair, Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization
  • Peter Robertson Vice-Chair (CPDC), Vice President and General Manager, GE Healthcare Canada
  • Elsie Quaite-Randall Secretary-Treasurer (CPDC), Executive Director, McMaster Industry Liaison Office
  • John Valliant CEO and Scientific Director, CPDC
  • Armand Balboni Managing Director, Bloom Burton
  • Damian Lamb Managing Director, Genesys Capital
  • Nick Markettos Assistant Vice President, Research Partnerships, McMaster University
  • Nicole Onetto Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
  • John Thornback Managing Director, Adaptamer Solutions Pte Ltd
  • Annick Van den Abbeele Chief, Department of Imaging, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Mark Lundie Director Research & Development, Pfizer Inc.
  • Fouad Elgindy Senior Program Manager, NCE (Ex officio)