Network Governance

The NSERC EmbryoGENE Strategic Research Network is governed by four main bodies made up of combinations of representatives from each collaborating sector. These bodies are the Board of Directors, the International Scientific Advisory Committee, the Executive Committee, and the Communications Committee. The day-to-day management of the Network is overseen by the Network Co-Directors and carried out by two Network Managers  

Scientific Directors

Dr. Marc-André Sirard

The Principal Investigator on the NSERC application and Co-Director of the EmbryoGENE Network, Dr. Marc-André Sirard has an established reputation as a leader in animal genomic research. His work on animal reproduction has enriched the medical arsenal available to tackle both animal and human fertility issues. The methods he developed to produce the first cows conceived in vitro are now used around the world. Since 2000, he has held a Canada Research Chair in Animal Genomics applied to reproduction. An international grant was awarded to Dr. Sirard to organize a taskforce on embryo genomics, resulting in the organization of the First International Meeting on the Bovine Embryo Gene Collection (BEGC) and a website to share results on gene expression in bovine pre-implantation embryos. He also obtained an NSERC grant to create a blueprint of the genes expressed in early bovine embryos. This collaboration between the universities of Guelph, Western Ontario, and Laval has resulted in the creation of the BlueChip, a cDNA microarray containing 1,200 unigenes. This bovine microarray contains an enriched population of genes not present in other tissues and potentially important to normal early embryogenesis. This unique tool was presented to the international community at the IETS meeting in January 2005.

Dr. Michael Dyck

Co-director, Porcine Node 2012-13
Dr. Michael Dyck assumed the role of Co-director overseeing the porcine node at the University of Alberta in July of 2012 following ther retirement of Dr. George Foxcroft. This is in addition to his role as theme leader of the porcine ART component of the Network.
Dr. Dyck brings expertise in the areas of reproductive physiology and molecular biology. Having previously worked in the livestock production, human infertility and biotechnology fields, Dr. Dyck has several years of industry experience. During that time, he oversaw the development and application of various applied reproductive technologies and novel gene expression systems in swine including embryo culture, manipulation and transfer, gamete cryopreservation, production and evaluation of DNA constucts for in vitro and in vivo studies and the generation and physiological evaluation of transgenic animals. As Director of Transgenics and Cell Biology for the Quebec City based TGN Biotech Inc., he orchestrated R&D activities related to the generation of transgenic pigs for the production of biologically-active recombinant proteins for the pharmaceutical industry. A successful CFI award to Dr. Dyck established a Porcine Embryo and Gamete Manipulation/Evaluation Facility at the University of Alberta Swine Research and Technology Centre, which allows for the study of oocyte quality and early embryonic development in swine.

Dr. George Foxcroft

Co-Director, Porcine Node 2008-2012
Dr. Foxcroft, Co-Director of the EmbryoGENE Network based out of the University of Alberta, was appointed to an NSERC-Industry Research Chair in Swine Reproductive Physiology in 1988. The research program he established was supported by over $4M of funding from the Alberta Pork Board, the provincial government, and other industry partners during the subsequent 10 years. Dr. Foxcroft was one of the first individuals from the University of Alberta appointed to a Senior Canada Research Chair and is recognized as a world leader in the application of basic research to improving breeding herd management at the production level. Dr. Foxcroft’s core expertise includes endocrinology, embryology, and the application of a range of state-of-the-art technologies to the improvement of breeding management in swine. Most recently, a major CFI/ASRIP grant to establish an Agricultural Livestock Genomics/Proteomics Unit at the University of Alberta will allow members of the Swine Reproduction-Development Program, led by Dr. Foxcroft, to rapidly increase the study of early embryonic and fetal development in swine at the genomic level.   
Dr. Foxcroft retired from the University of Alberta and Dr. Michael Dyck assumed the post of director of the porcine node.

Network Managers

Julie Nieminen (left) is the Network Manager for the Laval node of the EmbryoGENE Network. Her background is in scientific research and she holds a Bachelor degree in Microbiology, a Master’s Degree in Immunology and a PhD in cellular and molecular biology from the Université Laval. During her graduate studies, Julie had the opportunity to be involved in most aspects of academic research, from bench work to project management.

Tracy Gartner (right) is the Network Manager for the Alberta node of the EmbryoGENE Network. Her background is in business and science, holding a diploma in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Tracy has various work experiences at the interface of science and business, including acting assistant manager at a biological research station in northern Canada, administering grant funding at the University of Alberta, and working at an agricultural funding agency.

The Network Managers will see to the day-to-day activities of the Network and ensure effective communications between Network members and the public.

Board of Directors

Back left to right: Patrick Suter, John Dobrinsky, Patrick Blondin, Primal Silva, Alan Mileham, Denis Mayrand, Graham Plastow, Kurt Zuelke, John Brennan

Front left to right: George Foxcroft, Brian van Doormaal, Marc-André Sirard

The EmbryoGENE Board of Directors is made up of representatives from various academic institutions, industry collaborators and governmental agencies. They are responsible for various tasks including fiduciary responsibility for all project funds, authority over managerial and funding decisions for the projects, and ensuring compliance of the project with any relevant NSERC, governmental, and university policies. We are excited about the expertise of the representatives that comprise our Board of Directors.

Voting Members    
Patrick Blondin, Boviteq    
Alan Mileham (PIC)    
Benny Mote (PigGen)
Brian Van Doormal (Canadian Bovine Industry – Chair)    
John Verstegen (Minitube)

Non-voting Members
George Foxcroft, University of Alberta 
Denis Mayrand, Laval University
Graham Plastow, University of Alberta
Marc-Andre Sirard, Laval University
Patrick Suter, NSERC
Kurt Zuelke, Chair of ISAC

International Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC)

Left to Right: Christopher Tuggle, Karl Schellander, Kurt Zuelke, Poul Hyttel, and Isabelle Hue. Missing Kevin Sinclair

The International Scientific Advisory Committee oversees the research program on an annual basis, including program orientations, responsibilities of investigators, allocation of the annual budget approved by the Board of Directors, recommendations on new research directions, and allocation of funds. The ISAC will include the two Network Directors as well as five international, independent scientists:

Isabelle Hue, France
Poul Hyttel, Denmark
Karl Schellander, Germany
Kevin Sinclair, UK
Chris Tuggle, USA 
Kurt Zuelke, Chair, USA

The international character of the Committee will serve to ensure that activities and progress are benchmarked against the international community. 

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