Home|Subscribe|Contact Us|Français|Looking glass as a search button


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.


Dr. Michael Czubryt, Chair

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 over 70 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 nine 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 40 trainees mentored to date.

Additional CCAC Involvement
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)

Ms. Catherine Rushton, Vice-Chair

Picture of Ms. Catherine Rushton

Ms. Catherine Rushton has a CPA, CA 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, Governance and Nominations Committee (2021-present)
Member, Task Force on Transparency and Confidentiality (2019-2021)
Member, Task Force on Strategic Planning (2019-2020)
Chair, Finance Committee (2018-present)

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

Dr. Denna M. Benn

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

Dr. Nitin Bhardwaj

Picture of Doctor Nitin Bhardwaj

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 and past President 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. Shannon M. Digweed

Picture of Dr. Shannon M. Digweed

Dr. Shannon M. Digweed has been a faculty member at MacEwan University for the past 13 years. As an Associate Professor in the departments of both Psychology and Biological Science, she is involved in teaching related to introductory psychology, advanced animal-related psychology (comparative cognition), and biology (animal behaviour).

Dr. Digweed has a strong research program exploring communication and cognition in small mammals, with specific emphasis on behavioural questions related to an animals’ ability to communicate and engage with others cognitively. Her research predominantly focuses on field work in three main species: North American red squirrels; Eurasian red squirrels; and American pika.

During her time at MacEwan University Dr. Digweed has engaged in a great deal of service and committee related work. For example, she served on the MacEwan University animal care committee (Animal Research Ethics Board – AREB) as both an animal user member (three years) and as the Chair of the AREB (two years). Thus, her experience in the area of animal ethics, the protocols, and relationships with investigators is extensive. Dr. Digweed has also served as Vice President on the MacEwan University Faculty Association Board, as faculty representative on the MacEwan University Board of Governors, and Treasurer of the MacEwan University Faculty Association. Outside of the university community Dr. Digweed is also engaged in animal ethics as a longstanding member of the Edmonton Valley Zoo Ethics Committee.

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

Dr. Richard Dyck

Picture of Doctor Richard Dyck

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 42 years, he is currently the senior manager of cruelty investigation for the organization, and manager of the Cruelty Investigations Department.

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. After an internship at the San Antonio Zoo, she joined, then owned and operated, a companion animal hospital in rural Ontario before leaving private practice to work in academia.

She obtained certification in laboratory animal medicine in 2006 and joined the University of Ottawa as a clinical veterinarian, then later became University Veterinarian at Carleton University. She went on to work in disease control at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, eventually taking on the role of Senior Staff Veterinarian, where she focused on the regulatory amendment to the Health of Animals Regulations Part XII: Transport of Animals until its publication in 2020, after which she joined the CVMA.

Dr. David Hanwell

Picture of Doctor David Hanwell

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-present)
Member, Assessment and Certification Committee (2019-2020)

Dr. Ovidiu Jumanca

Picture of Doctor Ovidiu Jumanca

Dr. Ovidiu Jumanca is the Director of Animal Facilities and Animal Health Department at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute – Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM) since 2009. After completing his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Romania, he worked as a veterinarian and pathologist associated with the Romanian National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Agency (ANSVSA) from 1996 to 2003.

In 2006, he completed a degree in Veterinary Medicine at the Université de Montréal (Saint-Hyacinthe). Dr. Jumanca then worked as the Head of Veterinary Services and Clinical Veterinarian (2006 to 2009) in a clinical research organization in Montréal, QC. In 2007, Dr. Jumanca completed a Certificate in Laboratory Animal Medicine (CERT.LAM) at the University of Guelph. Since 2012, Dr. Jumanca has completed the first two components of the MBA Essential Program at HEC Montréal École des dirigeants, as well as numerous training and courses in executive management.

Dr. Jumanca is member of several professional and executive organizations (Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec, Association canadienne pour la science des animaux de laboratoire, and the European Society of Laboratory Animal Veterinarians). A keen advocate of animal welfare, in addition to his involvement in CCAC activities, he is the author of several scientific communications and courses, and is an invited teacher in postgraduate education at the Université de Montréal.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Member, Assessment and Certification Committee (2020-present)

Dr. Christopher R.J. Kennedy

Picture of Doctor Eileen Denovan-Wright

Dr. Christopher Kennedy is a senior scientist within the Chronic Disease Program and the Kidney Research Centre at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and a full professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine's Department of Medicine. His research program is a productive training environment for undergraduates, graduates, and postgraduates and is funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), the Kidney Foundation of Canada (KFOC), and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). He is also Director of Awards and Prizes for Excellence in Education and Research at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Kennedy has served as chair and scientific officer of the CIHR Hematology Digestive Diseases and Kidney Open Operating Grant Peer Review Committee and is the chair of the CIHR's Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes Advisory Board. He served as the CCAC representative for the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) from 2015 until his nomination to the CCAC Board of Directors in 2017, and served as the chair of the Board from 2019 to 2021. For more than 10 years, he has served on the University of Ottawa's animal care committee. He is also chair of the KFOC's Biomedical Research Grants Committee, and a member of the CIHR College of Reviewers.

Additional CCAC Involvement
Chair, CCAC Board of Directors (2019-2021)
Chair, Governance and Nominations Committee (2018-2019)
Member, Finance Committee (2018-present)
Member, Standards Committee (2016-2017)

Dr. Jeffrey Richards

Picture of Doctor Jeffrey Richards

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)

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.