PEPAC biographies

Lydia Adilu

Lydia is one of our student members, currently attending the University of Alberta, where she is majoring in Political Science and has a strong interest in the Public Health field. Lydia has a family member who has type 2 Diabetes and she wants to contribute to research aimed at improving the patient’s interactions with the health care system. Lydia sees PEPAC as an opportunity to both improve the lives of patients and patient’s families managing chronic health conditions, and strengthen their interactions with the health care system.

Israel Amirav

Israel is Associate Professor, Physician Lead for Clinical Informatics, and Past Program Director, Pediatric Respirology Residency Training Program, Department of Pediatrics, and Staff Respirologist at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, University of Alberta. He is sometimes a patient, but always a husband, father, and grandfather physician with a special interest in doctor-patient relationships. As a champion of transparency in the health care system and a strong advocate for meaningful patient-centered care and patient engaged research that promotes patients as collaborators Israel sees PEPAC as an opportunity for him to realize his objectives and an opportunity for him to continue his personal efforts in demanding full access to patients of their personal medical information. He sees this not just as a right, but also as a necessity.

Lorraine J. Breault

Lorraine is Professor Emeritus with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta and a researcher and teacher in their Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. She is also the Education Lead for the Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network (CDRIN), providing training for researchers and people with lived experience of depression to engage in collaborative research. For the past 5 years she collaborated on a Community Health Assessment and assisted with the development of a plan to address community health needs on Metis Settlements in Alberta. Lorraine wants her involvement in PEPAC to result in the increased participation of people with lived experience of any condition, in all aspects of research, from defining questions, to interpreting results and translating the information to the public.

Katharina (Kathy) Kovacs Burns

Kathy is Senior Project Manager at Alberta Health Services and Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta. At PEPAC, Kathy represents Alberta Health Services bringing patient engagement & experiences in healthcare decisions, evaluation/research and measurement to the table. She feels that PEPAC is a natural fit for her due to her patient engagement work and research, as well as her personal patient experiences over the past 15 years, in addition to her involvement as a reviewer of grant applications to CIHR SPOR. Kathy sees PEPAC as a facilitator of patient engagement in health research within Alberta Health Services and academia, as well as within community organizations and groups.

Jessica Havens

Jessica is from Calgary, and one of our young student members who also sits on multiple councils in Calgary aimed at giving youth a voice.  Among these are the Child and Youth Advisory Council (CAYAC) and the Youth Transition Patient and Family Advisor Council (YTPFAC) at the Children’s Hospital, Calgary.  In addition, Jessica is a member of the Citizen Advisory Team (CAT) at the South Health Campus Hospital, Calgary.  Jessica’s family lives with a plethora of chronic conditions and she sees PEPAC as an opportunity not only to use her family’s experiences to promote positive change, but also to strengthen the contribution of youth as valued stakeholders and participants in research.

Jennifer Knopp-Sihota

Jennifer lives in Edmonton and is an Associate Professor and researcher, working in the Faculty of Health Disciplines at Athabasca University. Her research focuses on improving clinical outcomes for older adults, particularly those with a diagnosis of dementia and living in nursing homes. Jennifer sees her involvement in PEPAC as an opportunity to support and advocate for patients becoming engaged at all stages of the research process.

Jananee Rasiah

Jananee lives in Edmonton and is the Director of Operations for the BN Programs in the Faculty of Health Disciplines at Athabasca University. She is a doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Greta Cummings at the University of Alberta. Her research interests are Frailty and Older Adults (dissertation focus), Patient Engagement (PE), Patient and Family-Centred Care, and Leadership. Her passion for PE developed, as a result of her direct collaborations with Dr. Vandall-Walker, SPOR PE Platform Lead. PEPAC provides an opportunity to work with like-minded individuals to advance Platform priorities. As she builds her research portfolio, she will engage with patient/public members, as she believes PE to be imperative in advancing the relevance of health research in practice and policy initiatives, that ultimately affect citizens’ lives.

Jane Ross

Jane Ross, PhD, is a Patient Member from the Battle River region, committed to promoting activities that contribute to the health and wellbeing of rural citizens, and in particular, related to access to meet transportation needs. Her background includes working as an academic and researcher in medical anthropology, cancer, and Indigenous health. Jane sees her PEPAC membership as an opportunity to: network; maintain her interest in promoting citizen input into health research and; initiate and maintain rewarding contacts with health researchers. She very much enjoys working with the PE Platform team and wants to continue promoting their work and overall mission, in order to help ensure a positive impact on health research for people across Alberta and beyond.

John Scharrer

John was born and raised in Calgary, and graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering.  After 35 very successful years of working in Canada and abroad in the upstream oil and gas industry, John first was semi-retired, but is now fully retired. He currently acts as Guardian and Advocate for his sister and mother, which has resulted in many interactions with the healthcare system as both have multiple chronic conditions. John previously volunteered as a Patient/Family Advisor for the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) and as a Citizen Advisor on Health Quality Network.

Jean Smith

Jean is a rural registered nurse and Nursing Instructor in the BScN program at Red Deer College (RDC). She is a family member with two daughters and a husband who have all been patients in the Alberta healthcare system. Through her nursing work she has witnessed first hand the health care supports and challenges that exist for many rural Albertans. She has a keen interest in rural health and has found that PEPAC has been an effective way to be involved in current knowledge about emerging research initiatives, both provincially and nationally. She has worked at RDC for nearly 10 years and believes that her involvement with PEPAC enables her to assist with connecting students, faculty, and rural patients/family members with researchers to promote patient and health researcher engagement.