About Us

Scientific Advisory Board

Guillermo Torre-Amione, MD, PhD

Board certified in Cardiovascular Disease and Advanced Heart Failure/Transplant Cardiology, Dr. Guillermo Torre-Amione is chief of the heart failure division and medical director of cardiac transplantation at the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, where he divides his time between an active clinical practice and heart failure research. He also is a senior member at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, full professor of medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, New York, and, more recently, became President of TecSalud, an academic medical center and medical school of the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico.

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Dr. Torre-Amione spearheads the Gene and Judy Campbell Laboratory for Cardiac Transplant Research, where his primary areas of research include heart failure, cardiac transplant, and the role of the immune response in modulating the progression of heart failure. Dr. Torre-Amione initiated a series of clinical studies that led to an FDA-approved phase II clinical trial of neurostimulation in heart failure, a novel approach to the treatment of patients with advanced heart failure. Other significant clinical investigations include a study with cardiac transplant patients designed to impact the cardiac hypertrophy that naturally follows transplantation, a protocol for autologous stem cell transfer in patients with advanced refractory heart failure, and a novel study involving plasma exchange in advanced heart failure patients.

After receiving his medical degree from the ITESM in Monterrey, Mexico, Dr. Torre-Amione moved to Chicago, where he conducted graduate studies in immunology that led to a doctorate degree in immunology from the University of Chicago. He then moved to Houston to complete his internship, residency, and cardiology fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine, where he received his first academic appointment as a clinical instructor in 1995. Dr. Torre-Amione has published more than 170 manuscripts in peer-review journals and currently divides his time between his clinical and academic activities in Houston at The Methodist Hospital and in Monterrey, Mexico, at ITESM.

Afsaneh Lavasanifar, PharmD, PhD

Dr. Afsaneh Lavasanifar’s area of expertise and interest is Pharmaceutics and drug delivery. She is a Professor in the Pharmaceutical Sciences division of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta and has a joint appointment in the Department of Chemical and Medical Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering in the same university. She is also the Chief Scientific Officer and Vice-President of Meros Polymers Inc., a privately-held Alberta corporation formed in 2009 to commercialize advanced drug delivery technologies developed within the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta.

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Dr. Lavasanifar’s research focuses on the design and development of polymer-based delivery systems that can increase solubility, modify the pharmacokinetic pattern, reduce toxicity, and increase the efficacy of different therapeutic agents. The ongoing research projects in her laboratory include the development of novel polymeric nano-carriers and stimulus-responsive gels for application in cancer, chemo, and immunotherapy or delivery of anti-inflammatory agents. Her research has been funded by grants from Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI); Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS) and Alberta Cancer Foundation (ACF).

Dr. Lavasanifar has more than 120 peer-reviewed published/in press manuscripts in highly-ranked journals in pharmaceutical sciences, three book chapters, several abstracts and numerous conference presentations. Inventor on five patent/patent applications on novel polymer-based formulations for drug and siRNA delivery. She has been the recipient of the 2007 GlaxoSmithKline/CSPS Early Career Award; the 2009 Sanofi-Aventis/AFPC award in recognition of outstanding research in Pharmacy and the 2013 and 2016 TEC Edmonton Innovation Makes Sense prize. Dr. Lavasanifar is the Associate Editor of Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a member of the Editorial Board in Materials Sciences and Applications, and Iranian Polymer Journal. She has an active teaching program in both undergraduate and graduate levels in pharmaceutics and nanotechnology for drug delivery.

Jonathan Howlett, MD, FRCPC, FACC

Dr. Jonathan Howlett graduated from the University of Toronto Medical School in 1989 and received specialty certification for Cardiology at Dalhousie University in 1994. He pursued further training at the Toronto Centre for Congenital Cardiac Diseases for Adults until 1995 when he joined Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University.

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In 2008, Dr. Howlett became Clinical Professor of Medicine and Staff Cardiologist at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta / University of Calgary. Dr. Howlett’s current activities include clinical trial research in heart failure, end of life care, evaluation of health care delivery systems, healthcare outcomes, and knowledge translation.

Dr. Howlett serves on several international clinical trial steering and executive committees, as reviewer for numerous medical journals and national funding agencies, and serves or has served on several international consensus guideline committees, including the European Society for Cardiology, Heart Failure Society of America, Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan, and the Heart Rhythm Society.

Dr. Howlett is currently a member and past Chair of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Heart Failure Guidelines Committee, a member of the CCS Scientific Program Committee, Heart Failure Key Performance Indicator Working Group and the 2008 Canadian Heart Health Strategy initiative. He is the current President of the Canadian Heart Failure Society.

A. Graham Pockley, PhD

Professor Pockley is currently the Director of the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, UK where he has many responsibilities relating to its administration and the management of its research programme.

Research in the Centre focuses on the discovery and application of new cancer biomarkers for detecting cancer, monitoring disease progression, and developing new immunotherapeutic approaches. Progress in these areas is based on a fundamental understanding of cancer cell biology and immunobiology.

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Dr. Pockley is also the Founder / CEO of Chromocyte and the CEO of multimmune GmbH.

An active Research Scientist who has spent the last 28 years on studies aimed at better understanding immunoregulatory mechanisms in health and disease using a range of techniques including multi-parameter flow cytometry, Professor Pockley’s teaching interests relate to immunology and inflammatory mechanisms in a variety of disease states.

Having obtained a Doctor of Philosophy for studies investigating the immunomodulatory properties of human placental protein 14 from Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) in 1988, Professor Pockley undertook a two-year postdoctoral fellowship studying ocular mucosal immunoregulation in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Wayne State University, Detroit, USA.

In January 1990, he returned to the UK to take up a Lectureship and direct the experimental transplantation programme in the Professorial Surgical Unit at the Medical College of St. Bartholomew´s Hospital, London. He returned to Sheffield as a Lecturer in September 1994 and was promoted to Reader in Immunobiology in 1996 and Professor of Immunobiology in 2004.

Professor Pockley was the recipient of a Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship (2009-2010), the aim of which was to deliver training in Entrepreneurship and Commercial Exploitation. The Fellowship complimented his previous experience with the commercial sector via research contracts with biotechnology companies in Canada and was primarily focused on the development of a global resource for flow cytometry and related techniques (www.chromocyte.com). This has been incorporated in the UK and was launched in July 2010.

Professor Pockley’s experience in these and associated areas positions him well for the provision of academic and commercial insight in areas relating to immunobiology, flow cytometry and cell analysis.

Professor Pockley retains an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Oncology at The University of Sheffield.