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Scientific Advisory & Innovation Board

The Scientific Advisory & Innovation Board (SAIB) provides input on the overall strategic directions of the SickKids Research Institute. The SAIB supports a continuity of outside advice to inform the future direction of the institute and helps to identify opportunities for core facility and operational support. In addition to its advisory function, the SAIB also presents to hospital leadership and the Board of Trustees on the research agenda of the hospital.

Brenda Andrews headshot

Brenda Andrews, PhD, C.C.

Brenda Andrews is a Canadian academic, researcher and biologist specializing in systems biology and molecular genetics. Dr. Andrews is known for her studies on cell cycle-regulated transcription and protein kinase function in yeast and for pioneering work with Charles Boone on genetic networks. As an example, in 2015, Andrews co-led a team of biology scientists at the University of Toronto's Donnelly Centre to create the first ever fully detailed protein map of a cell, the map showed the location of all protein in a cell, the project aimed to benefit and help increase research for cancer cells. The research consisted of data gatherings from 20 million cells. Andrews' research aims at showing the complexity of a single gene and how it interacts with multiple genes.

Dr. Andrews is currently University Professor in the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine where she also directs Andrews Lab. She is noted for her research and publications relating to genetics and genetic disorders. In 2015, Dr. Andrews was appointed to the Order of Canada for her globally significant research in systems biology and for developing and nurturing prominent scientific communities in molecular genetics. In 2017, Andrews was named as a University Professor, the highest faculty honor at UofT. In 2020, she was honoured to be an international member of the National Academy of Sciences

Matt Higgins headshot

Matt Higgins, JD, Law

Matt Higgins is an American businessman, author, and the co-founder and CEO of RSE Ventures, a private investment firm that focuses on sports and entertainment, media and marketing, food and lifestyle, and technology. In 2012, Higgins co-founded RSE with Stephen M. Ross, the founder of Related Companies and owner of the Miami Dolphins. Higgins served as Vice Chairman of the Dolphins from 2012 to 2021, having previously been a high-level executive with the New York Jets. His first book, Burn the Boats: Toss Plan B Overboard and Unleash Your Full Potential will be published by William Morrow in 2023.

Higgins is the CEO and co-founder of RSE Ventures, a company that has invested in various companies and technologies, including: FanVision, the handheld device that is the official in-venue content provider of NASCAR Thuzio, the project of former NFL running back Tiki Barber and Mark Gerson of Gerson Lehrman Group, and the Drone Racing League, the world's first professional drone racing circuit. RSE Ventures also incubated and invested in restaurant reservation app Resy, which American Express acquired in 2019. In 2016, Higgins negotiated a deal to have RSE Ventures become a minority stakeholder in Momofuku. In 2017, he also negotiated RSE Ventures' funding of Milk Bar (launched in 2008 as part of Momofuku) and D.C.-based fast-casual pizza chain & pizza's national expansion. In 2018, RSE acquired cybersecurity company SkOUT Secure Intelligence and acquired a significant minority stake in Australian-style coffee and café business Bluestone Lane.

Along with these investments, Higgins and RSE have launched several companies, including public relations firm Derris and Insignia in 2012 (now Ascendent Sports Group), and the International Champions Cup soccer tournament in 2013. RSE Ventures also partnered with Gary Vaynerchuk in 2014 to form VaynerRSE, a $25 million seed fund and incubator.

Higgins was the vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins from 2012-2021, serving as an advisor to owner Stephen M. Ross. Higgins helped hire Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins' executive vice president of football operations]. Prior to the Dolphins, Higgins worked for the New York Jets from 2004 to 2012, serving as the executive vice president of business operations and close advisor to Jets owner Woody Johnson. Higgins was instrumental in helping the team build MetLife Stadium with the New York Giants, building a new training facility in Florham Park, and using Twitter, Facebook and a revamped website for fans to have better access to the team.

Before his career with the Jets, Higgins was COO of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the firm tasked with rebuilding the site of the World Trade Center. He also served as press secretary under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, managing the global media response to the September 11 attacks in 2001 for New York City.

Beginning in 2018, Higgins has appeared as a guest investor on the series Shark Tank. He was part of a five-Shark investment in the Cup Board Pro, the product of late FDNY firefighter Keith Young, whose children pitched the product after he died from 9/11-related cancer. The Sharks pledged to invest any profits into a charity that will benefit firefighters suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.

Kathryn North headshot

Kathryn North, MD

Kathryn North is trained as a physician, neurologist and clinical geneticist and in 1994, was awarded a doctorate for research in neurogenetics. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Harvard Genetics Program.

Professor North is a national and international leader in Genomic medicine. In 2014, Professor North was appointed as Co-Chair of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health – a collaborative network of over 500 organisations across over 100 countries funded by the NIH and the Wellcome Trust ( Commencing in 2016, she leads an NHMRC-funded national network of over 80 institutions – the Australian Genomics Health Alliance (AGHA). The goal of AGHA is to provide evidence and practical strategies for the implementation of genomic medicine in the Australian health system.

Professor North chaired the National Health and Medical Research Council Research Committee from 2012 to 2018, and has chaired the International Advisory Board of the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (UK) since 2015. She is a member of the Board of the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. In 2014, she was appointed as a Foundation fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science, and in 2020 joined the Academy’s Board. In 2020, she joined the Board of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) as President-Elect.

Professor North has received a number of awards including the GSK Australia Award for Research Excellence (2011), the Ramaciotti Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research (2012) and Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to medicine in the field of neuromuscular and neurogenetics research (2012). In 2019, Professor North was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), for eminent service to genomic medicine internationally, to medical research in the field nationally and of genetics, neurology and child health, and as a mentor and role model.

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Craig Venter, PhD

J. Craig Venter is regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his numerous invaluable contributions to genomic research. Dr. Venter is founder, chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit, research organization with approximately 120 scientists and staff dedicated to human, microbial, synthetic, and environmental genomic research, and the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics.

Dr. Venter began his formal education after a tour of duty as a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. After earning both a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and a PhD in physiology and pharmacology from the University of California at San Diego, he was appointed professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In 1984, he moved to the National Institutes of Health campus where he developed expressed sequence tags or ESTs, a revolutionary new strategy for rapid gene discovery.

In 1992, Dr. Venter founded The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR, now part of JCVI), a not-for-profit research institute, where in 1995 he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, using the new whole genome shotgun technique.

In 1998, Dr. Venter founded Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome using new tools and techniques he and his team developed. This research culminated with the February 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal, Science. He and his team at Celera also sequenced the fruit fly, mouse, and rat genomes.

Dr. Venter and his team at JCVI continue to blaze new trails in genomics. They have sequenced and analyzed hundreds of genomes, and have published numerous important papers covering such areas as environmental genomics, the first complete diploid human genome, and the groundbreaking advance in constructing the first self-replicating bacterial cell using synthetic DNA.

Dr. Venter is one of the most frequently cited scientists, and the author of more than 280 research articles. He is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, public honors, and scientific awards, including the 2008 United States National Medal of Science, the 2002 Gairdner Foundation International Award, the 2001 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, and the King Faisal International Award for Science. Dr. Venter is a member of numerous prestigious scientific organizations including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Society for Microbiology.

Dr. Venter is also a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded several companies including Synthetic Genomics, Inc., now Viridos and Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI).

Canada Research Chairs

Canada Research Chairs

Canada Research Chairs showcase the calibre and diversity of scientists and clinicians working at the SickKids Research Institute.

Scientific & Academic Chairs

Scientific & Academic Chairs

SickKids is home to 48 endowed chairs, showcasing the caliber of scientists and clinicians working at the Research Institute today.

The Research Institute

The Research Institute

Over 2,000 researchers and staff collaborate at SickKids’ Research Institute (RI) to tackle the toughest challenges in child’s health.

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