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About the CCAC » Governance

Board of Directors


The Board of Directors oversees the activities of the CCAC. Each director holds office for a term of three years except for the Chair and Vice-Chair who serve two consecutive two-year terms as Vice-Chair and then Chair.


Ms. Catherine Rushton, Chair

Picture of Ms. Catherine Rushton

Ms. Catherine Rushton has a FCPA, FCA and an MBA from the University of Manitoba, as well as an Honours BA from the University of Toronto. She has over 35 years of progressive experience as a senior financial executive in the post-secondary and not-for-profit sector.

Ms. Rushton was the Senior Vice President, Corporate Services, and Chief Financial Officer at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario. She also spent 16 years as the Vice President, Finance and Administration, at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This period included eight months as Interim President. Her other employers have included the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corporation, the Ontario SPCA, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO).

Ms. Rushton is an active volunteer and is Treasurer and Past-Chair of the United Way of Hastings & Prince Edward County. Past volunteer experience includes the United Way of Winnipeg, and serving as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Animal Blood Bank in Winnipeg. She was awarded a Fellow of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Manitoba (FCPA).

Additional CCAC Involvement
Chair, Finance Committee (2018-2022)
Chair, Governance and Nominations Committee (2021-2023)
Member, Task Force on Transparency and Confidentiality (2019-2021)
Member, Task Force on Strategic Planning (2019-2020)

Dr. Denna M. Benn, Vice-Chair

Picture of Doctor Denna M. Benn

Dr. Denna M. Benn received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Ontario Veterinary College, and her Diploma in Small Animal Medicine and her Masters of Science degree at the University of Guelph. Dr. Benn's career has focused on the use of animals in research and teaching, serving as the clinical veterinarian and Director of Animal Care Services at the University of Guelph for over 31 years. She currently works as the Chief Veterinary Inspector of the Animals for Research Act in the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Dr. Benn has been involved in a number of professional and community-based organizations, including: the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science; the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Medicine; the Association for Assessment and Accreditation for Laboratory Animal Care (currently an ad hoc consultant); the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science; and the Guelph Humane Society.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Chair, Governance and Nominations (2023–present)
Member, Governance and Nominations (2019-2023)
Member, Categories of Invasiveness Subcommittee (2018-present)
Member, Public Affairs and Communications Committee (2013-2023)
Chair, Planning and Finance Committee (2012-2013)
Member, Planning and Finance Committee (2011-2012)

Ms. Adriane Porcin, Treasurer

Picture of Ms. Adriane Porcin

Ms. Adriane Porcin holds a licence and a Master in Business Taxation from the Université Aix-Marseille Faculty of Law, a Master in Economic Law and Business Relationships from the Université de Perpignan Faculty of Law, and an MBA from ESG-UQAM.

She currently is a privacy consultant and teaches in the common law program at Université de Sherbrooke. Previously, Ms. Porcin was a Member of the Copyright Board of Canada (2018-2022) and an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law (2014-2019). Ms. Porcin's past board experiences include the St. Boniface Museum (2015-2018) and Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers (2015-2018).

Additional CCAC Involvement
Chair, Finance Committee (2022-present)
Member, Finance Committee (2019-2022)
Member, Task Force on Transparency and Confidentiality (2019–2021)
Member, Governance and Nominations Committee (2018-present)
Member, Assessment and Certification Committee (2018-2019)

Dr. Nitin Bhardwaj

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Dr. Nitin Bhardwaj is the Head of Laboratory Animal Services and Attending Veterinarian at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, where he leads the Institutional Animal Care and Use Program at Canada’s largest, hospital-based child health research institute. In this key leadership role, Dr. Bhardwaj is responsible for managing all resources required for efficient conduct of animal-based research and overseeing compliance with regulatory requirements. He is also serving as a board member for the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Medicine (CALAM) and an ad-hoc consultant for AAALAC International. Over the past 17 years, Dr. Bhardwaj has worn different hats in various capacities working as a scientific researcher, veterinarian, and administrator in the health care, academic, and industrial sectors, and has authored several scientific publications.

Dr. Bhardwaj completed his DVM (Punjab Agricultural University) and MVSc (Indian Veterinary Research Institute) in Avian Diseases from India, followed by a PhD in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology from the University of Pittsburgh. After finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Vaccine Research, Pittsburgh, he moved north of the border in 2011 to work with the VP Research, Health Sciences North (HSN) in establishing a hospital-affiliated research institute in Sudbury, ON. At HSN, Dr. Bhardwaj worked with the architects and facility planners on the functional program for the vivarium and served as the laboratory animal veterinarian/co-investigator on a few interesting research projects, including developing an anti-nicotine vaccine for the prevention of cigarette smoking that won the Grand Challenges Canada award.

With preclinical experience in vaccine development and eager to learn Industrial Operations, Dr. Bhardwaj took on the role of Attending Veterinarian at Sanofi Pasteur Toronto in 2014 where he gained valuable industry experience in GMP, quality control, vivarium operations, budgets, animal welfare, and compliance. Making a switch from industry to academia, he joined the University of Toronto in 2018 as the Associate Director, Division of Comparative Medicine, managing a team of training coordinators and veterinary technicians and oversaw veterinary care, surgical and professional services before moving on to his current leadership position at SickKids in the fall of 2020. In an effort to continuously upgrade his skills, Dr. Bhardwaj earned a Certificate in Laboratory Animal Medicine from the University of Guelph and holds the vision to foster collaboration with the research community in advancing science and discovery while promoting animal welfare and compliance.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Member, Finance Committee (2021-present)

Dr. Jean-François Cloutier

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Dr. Cloutier is a Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University and at The Neuro – Montreal Neurological Hospital and Institute. His active research program focuses on the molecular mechanisms that regulate the formation and function of brain circuitry in neurotypical brains and in neurodevelopmental disorders. He uses genetically-modified mouse models to understand how alterations in brain circuitry during development can lead to changes in social behaviours. His research program is funded by several national and provincial granting agencies, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Dr. Cloutier is dedicated to the training of the future generation of scientists through his research program and teaching responsibilities at McGill University. He has supervised over 50 trainees in his laboratory and teaches about the cellular and molecular processes that regulate brain development at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Dr. Cloutier has participated in several committees overseeing animal welfare at his institutions. He served as a member and vice-Chair of the Neuro animal care committee. He is currently Chair of the Neuro animal care committee and a member of the Animal Policy and Welfare Oversight Committee of McGill University. In these roles, he has fostered strong relationships and collaboration with all stakeholders involved in animal research at the Neuro, thereby promoting their engagement in the animal care program mission. Furthermore, Dr. Cloutier has extensive expertise in the review of research involving the use of animals through his long-standing involvement in Federal grant review panels. He has also served on the editorial board and as a review editor for several international peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of Neuroscience and Frontiers in Neural Circuits.

Dr. Lucie Côté

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Dr. Lucie Côté is the director of the Animal Resources Division at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), the largest research institute in Québec and the third most highly recognized in Canada. In this role, she is professionally responsible for the compliance with regulatory requirements and oversees all animal care operations and associated finance, budget, personnel, space, assets and facilities planning.

A committed professional, she multiplies her involvement with various organizations, including the Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec as veterinary expert, the Canadian Association of Laboratory Animal Medicine (CALAM) as President and the CCAC as Chair of the Evaluation and Certification Committee.

Dr. Côté holds a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Université de Montréal, a Certificate in Laboratory Animal Medicine from the University of Guelph and an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Université du Québec à Montréal. She is a versatile Veterinarian who has worked in government, academia, hospitals and industry. Her expertise and knowledge in the sectors of farm animal health, public health, comparative medicine, biology and environment allows her to fully grasp the challenges specific to different aspects of animal welfare and science. A collaborative and unifying leader, she has developed the ability to lead and work with large multidisciplinary teams in a context of research support.

Dr. Côté was awarded the 2022 CALAM Veterinarian Award for outstanding contributions to the field of laboratory animal science in Canada.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Chair, Assessment and Certification Committee (2022-2023)
Member, Assessment and Certification Committee (2020-2022)
Member, Taskforce on Transparency and Confidentiality (2018-2020)

Dr. Michael Czubryt

Picture of Doctor Michael Czubryt

Dr. Michael Czubryt is a Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Principal Investigator at the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, and Executive Director of Research at St. Boniface Hospital. His research program focuses on the underlying mechanisms of gene regulation in heart failure, with a focus on cardiac fibrosis, and the translation of these discoveries to novel therapeutic interventions in the clinic. He has published nearly 80 research articles and chapters, and his work has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

Dr. Czubryt has an extensive record of service in the animal ethics community at the local, national, and international level, including seven years on animal protocol review committees, and eleven years on the University of Manitoba Committee on Animal Care. He has served as a reviewer, scientific officer, and chair for numerous peer review committees, and has held leadership roles in professional organizations such as the American Physiological Society and the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences. Dr. Czubryt also maintains an active training program that encompasses high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, with more than 50 trainees mentored to date.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Chair, CCAC Board of Directors (2021-2023)
Chair, Governance and Nominations Committee (2019-2021)
Member, Governance and Nominations Committee (2018-2019)
Member, Task Force on Strategic Planning (2019-2020)
Member, Task Force on Transparency and Confidentiality (2019-2021)

Dr. Richard Dyck

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Dr. Richard Dyck is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary. He is a behavioural neuroscientist with training in psychology and neurobiology, studying the animal brain as a model system for understanding normal and abnormal human behaviour.

His major research focus is directed to understanding the development and plasticity of the brain’s cerebral cortex, and its’ ability to change on a moment-to-moment basis to adapt to its environment through experiences. The organization of the cerebral cortex is not fixed, but rather, is continuously modified by experience throughout an animal's lifetime by factors such as sensory inputs, learning, drugs/hormones, and injury. Working with the brains of mice, Dyck studies what happens when nervous system circuits are altered and plasticity is positively affected, so the brain adapts to an event or emergency, or negatively affected, so deficits result. He is currently conducting research programs that address different facets of these issues in wildtype and mutant/transgenic mice.

Dr. Dyck has been involved (at several levels) in animal ethic committees at the University of Calgary for over 10 years of his 20+ year career in academia, including as a member, Co-Chair, and Chair of animal protocol review committees. He has also served on local, provincial, and federal grant review panels where applicants proposed use of animal models in their research.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Member, Governance and Nominations Committee (2021-present)

Mr. Shawn Eccles

Picture of Mister Shawn Eccles

Mr. Shawn Eccles has dedicated his career to ensuring the welfare of animals throughout Canada. Having worked with the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) for 43 years, he is currently the senior director of animal protection for the organization.

In addition to his ongoing work at the BCSPCA, Mr. Eccles served as a community member on the University of British Columbia's animal care committee from 2005-2011. He has also been a member on CCAC's assessment panels since 2003, and was the representative for one of CCAC's member organizations, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, from 2011-2014.

A tireless advocate for animal welfare, Mr. Eccles has received the BCSPCA Stu Rammage Award twice, and was the recipient of the BCSPCA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Member, Governance and Nominations Committee (2015-present)
Member, Assessment and Certification Committee (2010-2018)

Dr. Michelle Groleau

Picture of Doctor Michelle Groleau

Dr. Michelle Groleau, DVM and Cert. LAM, is currently the Manager of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) Animal Welfare Committee, which focuses on priority national animal welfare issues from an evidence-based perspective.

Dr. Groleau graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1984. Following an internship at the San Antonio Zoo, she moved to rural Ontario where she owned and operated a companion animal hospital before leaving private practice to join the University of Ottawa veterinary team. During that time, she obtained certification in laboratory animal medicine in 2006 and later joined Carleton University as the University Veterinarian and Director of Animal Care. She subsequently joined the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Policy and Programs Branch to later accept the position of Senior Staff Veterinarian responsible for the Humane Transport of Animals Program until 2020, after which she joined the CVMA.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Member, Governance and Nominations Committee (2022-present)

Dr. David Hanwell

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Dr. David Hanwell has worked as a laboratory animal veterinarian in various capacities within the industry, hospital, and academic sectors. He is currently the University of Toronto's University Veterinarian. In this role, he is the Attending Veterinarian and is responsible for regulatory oversight of the animal ethics and care program at the University, ensuring that appropriate standards are maintained in its research program which ranges from biomedical research and basic biology, to fieldwork.

Previously, Dr. Hanwell was a clinical veterinarian at the University Health Network (UHN) where he provided clinical and surgical support for research involving a range of species. Prior to joining UHN, he worked at Sanofi Pasteur in its divisions of Research and Quality Control.

Dr. Hanwell is a Diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and has several publications relating to animal use in science.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Member, Task Force on CCAC Membership (2021-2022)
Member, Assessment and Certification Committee (2019-2020)

Dr. Jeffrey Richards

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Dr. Jeffrey Richards is a professor in the Department of Zoology at The University of British Columbia (UBC). His research program aims to understand how organisms respond to environmental change. In particular, Dr. Richards is interested in the evolution of low oxygen tolerance in diverse organisms and the biochemical and physiological mechanisms that allow some organisms to maintain function under low oxygen conditions. His research involves both laboratory and field studies, and he addresses his research questions using a variety of non-traditional animal models including fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Dr. Richards has published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles, books, and book chapters.

Dr. Richards has served as Chair of the UBC animal care committee between 2017 and 2022. The UBC animal care committee oversees the largest animal care and use program in western Canada and the second largest in Canada. As chair of the UBC animal care committee, Dr. Richards worked to provide effective ethical oversight of animal-based research, improved transparency around animal research, developed animal care committee policies, modernized pedagogical-merit review, and engaged with community stakeholders. Dr. Richards was also the founding director of InSEAS, which is a state-of-the-art aquatic animal research facility at UBC. Dr. Richards has served in leadership roles in the broader scientific community through his involvement in national and international societies and as a member of the editorial board for numerous journals, including the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Member, Standards Committee (2020-present)

Dr. Andrew Winterborn

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Dr. Andrew Winterborn is the University Veterinarian and the Director of Animal Care Services at Queen’s University and an expert in the development and handling and care of pre-clinical models. His journey to this role began at McGill University from which he received a B.Sc. in Animal Science (2000). After receiving a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (2005) from l’Université de Montréal, he furthered his training with a residency (2007) in Laboratory Animal Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center where he received extensive training in research methodology and non-human primate models of human disease. At the University of Rochester, Dr. Winterborn played numerous roles in the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine, in the spheres of teaching, research and as a clinician, as well as in administration. He taught all levels of the AALAS’ technician certification program and served as a teaching assistant for a graduate level course on biomethodology in laboratory animals. In addition to designing an independent, funded project on the efficacy of oral ketamine and the effects of dosing route on haematological stress markers in Rhesus macaques, he provided research support for the development of two models: a canine heart transplant model, and an ovine single ventricle palliation model. As a clinician he also contributed to the care of both laboratory animals and local zoo animals. Moreover, he extended his veterinary support to international field work on lemurs in Madagascar. Dr. Winterborn was also involved in the administration as a voting member of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Dr. Winterborn returned to Canada in 2008, and has since served as the University Veterinarian and Director of Animal Care Services at Queen’s University. As Director, Dr. Winterborn oversees all operations of Animal Care Services, including administrative responsibilities of budgeting and staffing. In this role, he is responsible for managing all animal use, at both on- and off-campus sites, and ensuring compliance with regulations and policies at local, provincial and federal levels. He also serves in both an advisory and resource capacity to any individual utilizing animals for research or education, as well as to campus administrators regarding issues pertaining to animal care and use. Moreover, Dr. Winterborn is a valuable resource to animal care staff, advising to the proper care, handling and welfare of animals. As Director, he has led a program of enhancements comprising significant renovations including enlarged rooms and group housing units with the objective of reducing animal stress and improving research reproducibility. Moreover, he has transformed animal care service at the university by instituting a wider range of novel approaches to support biomedical research. This insight and his organizational skills led to an expanded role, in 2013, as the Director of Human Research Ethics Compliance under Queen’s University Research Services.

In addition to veterinary care, Dr. Winterborn has collaborated on several CIHR-funded projects involving ligament and cartilage tissue engineering as well as those which utilize his broad expertise in the development of NHP models to explore novel therapeutic and preventative strategies for disease (e.g., HIV, Alzheimer’s Disease). His meta-analysis of publications following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a pressing need for standardization in NHP experiments.

Dr. Winterborn’s contributions as a veterinarian to laboratory animal science and medicine have been recognized on both national and international stages. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (DACLAM). He was distinguished as Charles River Veterinarian of the Year by the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science in 2017 and, subsequently, as Tecniplast Veterinarian of the Year by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science in 2018.

Secretary, non-voting

Mr. Pierre Verreault, Executive Director

Picture of Mr. Pierre Verreault

Mr. Verreault joined the CCAC as Executive Director in 2017. With a strong background in standards and policy development, he is committed to fulfilling the CCAC's strategic goals and objectives and ensuring the long-term stability and viability of the organization.

He has nearly 20 years of experience in managing national, member-based organizations. Prior to joining the CCAC, Mr. Verreault worked for a non-profit association of food producers, developing policies and strategies to support the industry and its workforce, and spearheading the development of a professional standards and certification system. He was also responsible for reorganizing the national office and developing a new funding strategy. Mr. Verreault has worked as a management consultant for small and medium firms, and has served on the board of directors of multiple national and international organizations.

Mr. Verreault holds a Master in European Affairs, European Commercial Law and Business Administration degree from Lund University, Sweden, and a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Relations degree from the Université Laval, QC.