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Organizing Committee


John Challis (co-Chair)

Appointed as Officer in the Order of Canada. Professor John Challis is University Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, and Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University, BC. He recently completed terms as the inaugural Executive Director of the Western Australian Health Translation Network (WAHTN; achieving Australian accreditation), and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Health and Medical Research at the University of Western Australia (UWA) He is an Adjunct Professor at Curtin University and at Murdoch University, Perth WA.

Challis received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, and held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California, San Diego and Harvard Medical School. He was appointed to a Junior Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, before moving as a Canada MRC Scholar to McGill University, Canada. Subsequently, he has held key strategic leadership positions in University, Research Institute and not-for profit settings. He was inaugural Scientific Director of the Lawson Research Institute, and Founding Director of the MRC (Canada) Group in Fetal and Neonatal Health and Development at the University of Western Ontario. Later, Challis served as Chair of the Department of Physiology, and then as Vice President Research and Associate Provost of the University of Toronto. He was the inaugural Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health and President and CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research in Vancouver BC, continuing to support young investigators and build teams and networks.

For many years John has been a major thought leader in studies concerned with the control processes of birth, the clinical condition of pre-term birth and with studies concerned with fetal responses to adversity and the developmental origins of health and disease. He has published more than 550 peer review papers, articles and book chapters and has an H-index of 81; his work has been cited more than >25,000 times. With the late John Patrick, he developed the first teaching program in fetal and neonatal physiology for graduate and undergraduate students in Canada and many of his more than 100 trainees and mentees now occupy leadership roles in Canada and internationally.

John has been elected to Fellowships in the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ad eundem), the Royal Society of Biology (UK) and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He is a Life Member of the Royal Society of Canada. He is past President of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation (SGI), the Perinatal Research Society, and the Canadian Physiological Society. He was Chair of the Fetal Physiology Commission of the International Union of Physiological Societies and inaugural Chair of the International Council on Fetal Origins of Adult Disease (forerunner of the Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease). He has served as member and/or Chair of key journal Editorial Board, grant review and advisory committees, conferences and workshops in Canada, the USA, Europe, and Australia. He has extensive experience as Chair in planning, organisation and management of major international conferences and congresses including for SGI, CIHR, Ontario-Quebec (as co-founder), DOHaD Satellite and the Science on the Swan series in Perth WA ( as co-founder). He is recipient of the E.C. Amoroso and the Sir Alan Parkes Award Orations of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility (UK), the Sir William Liley Award lecture of the Perinatal Research Society (USA), the Transatlantic Medal of the British Endocrine Society, the FC Macintosh Award and the Sarrazin lecture of the Canadian Physiological Society, the President’s Scientific Achievement Award, the Distinguished Scientist Award, the Fred Naftolin Award for Mentorship and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Gynecologic Investigation (USA), the David Barker Medal of the International DOHaD Society and the McLaughlin Medal of the Royal Society of Canada, amongst others.