CDTRP 10th Annual Scientific Meeting

The Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP) was pleased to host its 10th Annual Scientific Meeting in a hybrid format on December 5-7, 2023, in Montréal, Québec. 

Our Annual Scientific Meeting brings together the national research community to present and discuss the future of the donation and transplantation system, celebrate recent achievements, and examine the strategic direction of CDTRP. We achieved this by: 

  • Addressing changes to research on a national and global scale (e.g., COVID-19, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Knowledge Translation, the funding climate); 
  • Spotlighting important topics for future research in transplantation and donation; 
  • Promoting and engaging senior and junior researchers to present their work to the national community; 
  • Increasing awareness and collaboration among CDTRP members (including investigators, trainees, and PFDs). 

The CDTRP Annual Scientific Meeting Planning Committee developed the program, co-chaired by Dr. Siba Haykal (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon) and Dr. Vanessa Silva e Silva (PhD-Nurse and Assistant Professor). The other members of the Planning Committee were: 

If you missed some of the sessions and would like to watch them, recordings are now available on our YouTube channel!
We wish to thank the Accelerating Clinical Trials ConsortiumAlberta Transplant InstituteAstellas Pharma Canada, Inc.AstraZeneca, Canadian Blood Services, Paladin Labs Inc., Takeda and the UHN Ajmera Transplant Centre for sponsoring this event!

Highlights from the CDTRP 10th Annual Scientific Meeting

The CDTRP 10th Annual Scientific Meeting featured four CDTRP-focus and priorities sessions, offering attendees valuable insights into the organization’s key areas of focus. Additionally, four interactive sessions showcased abstracts submitted by the community, fostering an exchange of ideas. A trainee oral presentations session provided a platform for emerging talents to share their research. The event also featured three engaging foyer activities – a pop-up art gallery, a photobooth, and an app testing – adding a creative and interactive touch to the meeting. Finally, the 10th Anniversary Celebration Banquet served as an occasion to commemorate a decade of impactful work in the donation and transplantation research, and to look forward to the future with optimism.


We wish to congratulate the five CDTRP Trainee Award Winners who have been selected to present their work at the CDTRP 10th Annual Scientific Meeting. Amongst a pool of 18 trainees across Canada, these winners stood out, showcasing their amazing work and expertise in donation and transplantation research. We extend our congratulations and a cash prize of $150 to each winner, recognizing their valuable contributions to the field.

Congratulations to the CDTRP Trainee Oral Presentation winners who got awarded $150 cash prize!

  • Chelsea Lanos
  • Shiyuan Bian
  • Aisha Adil
  • Javairia Rahim
  • Nicholas Bourgeois

Chelsea Lanos

  • Themes 1-2
  • Title: Organ donation after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Canada: a missed opportunity for uDCD?

Shiyuan Bian

  • Theme 3
  • Title: Investigating the Effect of Mechanical Ventilation on Mouse Lung Scaffolds using a Negative Pressure Wet Ventilation System

Aisha Adil

  • Theme 3
  • Title: Ex Vivo Perfusion De- and Recellularization of Rat Hindlimbs for Vascular Composite Allotransplantation

Javairia Rahim

  • Theme 4
  • Title: Novel cell surface engineering of the endothelial glycocalyx with sialic acid-containing polymers for the prevention of transplant rejection

Nicholas Bourgeois

  • Theme 5
  • Title: Virtual pre-habilitation program in lung transplant candidates

For in-person attendees, we were pleased to host three special activities in the Foyer throughout the meeting. One of these activities was the pop-up art installation, “Curating Critical Futurities in Transplant Medicine: Arts Practices as New Knowledge” hosted by Dr. Suze Berkhout and Chloe Wong-Mersereau from the Univesity of Toronto. Through visual, sonic, and multimedia artistic works, this installation delved into the complexities and experiences of solid organ transplantation, challenging our understanding of this field. Participants also had the chance to admire art pieces by Dominic Quagliozzi, made from recycled hospital fabrics.

Additionally, attendees could explore the prototype of the Health Education & Learning Platform (HELP) mobile app, which aims to improve the transplant journey by providing support and gathering user feedback. This activity was hosted by Dr. Holly Mansell and Taylor Raiche from the University of Saskatchewan.

Lastly, Candice Coghlan, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Centre for Living Organ Donation at UHN hosted the “Great Actions Leave a Mark Photobooth & Living Transplant Podcast,” where people had the opportunity to share their stories and be part of a national movement to raise awareness about living organ donation.


The CDTRP 10th Anniversary Celebrations Banquet was an unforgettable evening, filled with moments that will resonate in the attendees’ memories. Dr. Lori West, the CDTRP Scientific Director, took center stage and delivered a speech that opened this evening of celebrations. With eloquence and passion, she delved into the achievements of CDTRP over the past decade. She made sure to emphasize the invaluable contributions made by long-time collaborators such as Dr. Marie-Josée Hébert, Dr. Jean Rouleau, Caroline Wong, and David Hartell. They were all present at the event, each delivering a moving speech and sharing their memories of the network.

In addition to Dr. West’s captivating address, the banquet featured inspiring presentations by two incredible individuals. Mai Duong, a leukemia survivor and co-founder of Swab the World, shared her journey, leaving the audience in awe of her resilience and determination.

Lastly, the crowd had the privilege of hearing from Simon Keith (CM), an extraordinary athlete who holds the distinction of being the first person in the world to play professional sports following a heart transplant and Founder of The Simon Keith Foundation, an organization dedicated to increasing organ donor awareness and educating transplant recipients.

The CDTRP 10th Anniversary Celebrations Banquet truly proved to be an evening that brought together remarkable individuals who have not only made significant contributions to the field of donation and transplantation but have also defied the odds and inspired countless others along the way.

From left to right: Simon Keith (CM), Charles Cook, Manuel Escoto, Rienk de Vries, Linda Powell, Sandra Holdsworth, Heather Talbot, Sean Delaney, Oleg Boldireff (Astellas), Mai Duong & Sylvain Bédard.

DAY ONE | Tuesday, December 5, 2023 

We opened the CDTRP 10th Annual Scientific Meeting with Sylvain Bédard, a long-time CDTRP patient partner and friend. He delivered an emotional speech about his journey as a patient partner and his experiences and challenges as a double heart transplant recipient. The session continued with Dr. Patricia Gongal, Executive Director and Dr. Lori West, CDTRP Scientific Director, who gave an overview of the highlights of PRDTC in 2023: “CDTRP 10 Years in 10 Minutes.”

The afternoon presentations focused on engaging with patient partners and marginalized groups:   

Assistant Professor in health and social services management, Dr. Audrey L’Espérance moderated a panel discussion with patient partners Manuel Escoto, Sandra Holdsworth, and Ke Fan Bei on better developing a framework for evaluating PFD impact within CDTRP: “Evaluating CDTRP’s Patient, Family, and Donor Impact”

Panel discussion focused on:  

  • Indicators to support data collection and building an evaluation dashboard.  
  • Engaging participants in a discussion to build consensus so evaluation metrics are relevant to CDTRP’s research community.   
  • The importance of patient and public relationships in the health ecosystem and integrating experiential knowledge in policy-making processes. 

Director of Stem Cell Club, Dr. Warren Fingrut, and Founder & Executive Director of Black Donors Save Lives, Sylvia Okonofua, presented on the need for diverse donors across donation products, underrepresentation of racialized and LGBTQ+ donors across donor pools: “Advancing a more inclusive blood and transplant system for donors from marginalized groups”. 

Breakout group discussions focused on: 

  • Highlighting the need to prioritize inclusion  
  • Recognizing discrimination
  • Understanding barriers to change  
  • Highlighting the need to address disparities in collaboration with advocates  
  • Creating a culture to support inclusion   
DAY TWO | Wednesday, December 6, 2023 
Morning session

Patient partners Rienk de Vries and Sherrie Logan, alongside Dr. Dima Kabbani, presented a workshop on COVID-19 in Transplantation: “A National Approach to Prioritizing Emerging Issues in COVID-19 in Transplantation.”   

Breakout rooms focused on:  

  • Motivators and barriers for participants to enroll in the TREAT-COVID study
  • Methods to reach recipients and families across the country
  • Ways to better communicate with the participants
Afternoon sessions

Pediatric nephrologist Dr. Tom Blydt-Hansen presented on the pediatric urinary CXCL10 biomarker implementation pilot trial: “Patient Engagement Considerations for the Pediatric CXCL10 Implementation Trial.

  • The second half of the session turned into a panel discussion with patient partners Ke Fan Bei, Sherrie Logan, Manuel Escoto, and clinicians-researchers Dr. Héloïse Cardinal and Dr. Marie-Chantal Fortin on how best to engage patient participants and partners within the trial. 

Liver nutrition specialist Dr. Chantal Bémeur, kinesiologist, and mental health expert Dr. Isabelle Doré, and patient partner Sandra Holdsworth engaged in a dialogue to help understand patients’ experience and to appreciate their needs better to optimize health status and wellness in the context of liver transplantation: “Working together to optimize long-term health status and wellness in the context of liver transplantation: a holistic view.” 

The panel discussion focused on:  

  • Understanding what a holistic view would be able to provide regarding aspects of health status that are relevant to quality of life and physical and mental health. 
  • Getting a meaningful portrait of the situation and guiding future research on patient needs. 

Trainee Oral Presentations: 

  • Five trainees presented the most innovative work across CDTRP’s research themes in 10-minute sessions. Presentations during this session are related to CDTRP’s Theme 2 (Inform Universal Practices for Donation), Theme 3 (Engineer and allocate better grafts), Theme 4 (Tailor an optimal individual immune system), and Theme 5 (Restoring Long-Term Health).
DAY THREE | Thursday, December 7, 2023 
Morning session

Media and communication specialists Heather Badenoch, Elaine Yong, and CDTRP Media Committee Chair, Linda Powell presented media tips and tricks to making research more understandable to the lay audience: “Working with the media: tips for researchers, patients, families, and living donors.”  

Topics included:

  • Where media relations fit in your knowledge translation plan. 
  • What makes a story idea newsworthy? 
  • Why are key messages important, and how do you prepare key messages about your research or transplant story? 
  • Top tips for doing interviews, including pre-negotiating and responding to questions. 
Afternoon sessions

Respiratory specialist Dr. Golnaz Karoubi, with her trainee Aisha Adil, presented their work on the future application of designer cells and bioengineered tissues: “Feasibility and Challenges Associated with the Application of Bioengineered Cells and Tissues in the Clinic.”  

  • The second half of the session was a panel discussion with experts: Dr. Siba Haykal, Dr. Braulio Marfil-Garza, Dr. Ian Rogers and patient partner, Sean Delaney 

Executive Directors of the CDTRP, Dr. Lori West, Dr. Sonny Dhanani, and Dr. Patricia Gongal, concluded the conference with a look into the future of CDTRP: “CDTRP: The Next 10 Years”