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Date(s) - 08/05/2021
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm



Dr. Upton D. Allen, O.Ont, MBBS, MSc, FAAP, FRCPC, Hon FRCP (UK), FIDSA, is a Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. He is Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). He is interim director of the Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Centre, Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Allen is a Senior Associate Scientist in the Research Institute, Hospital for Sick Children. His primary appointment is with the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Paediatrics at the Hospital for Sick Children.  He is cross-appointed as a professor in the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto.

Dr. Allen received his medical degree from the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica.  He received pediatric training at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. He obtained further research training leading to a degree in Clinical Epidemiology (MSc) from McMaster University.

Dr. Allen is a past director of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and Fellow of the Society. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (UK). He is a past Chair of the Infectious Diseases Specialty Training Committee, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). Past awards include the Clinical Science Established Investigator Award from the American Society of Transplantation. In 2018, he was awarded the Order of Ontario, which is the highest honour awarded by the province of Ontario, Canada.

In addition to being a general infectious diseases specialist, he is actively involved in clinical and research activities relating to immunocompromised patients, notably those who have undergone organ and stem cell transplantation as well as cancer therapies. He has a major research interest in Epstein-Barr virus-related post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) as well as an interest in respiratory syncytial virus infections. Dr. Allen has had many academic and professional accomplishments. He has had numerous invited lectures internationally, visiting professorships, greater than 300 scientific publications, scientific abstracts, several book chapters and several peer-reviewed research grants.

He is leading research studies on different aspects of COVID-19, including genetic susceptibility and immune response profiles. Within the Black Canadian communities in Ontario, he is leading studies addressing COVID-19 seroprevalence and associated risk profiles as well as immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, he is working closely with various groups addressing issues relating to COVID-19 among racialized groups, including but not limited to vaccine hesitancy. He is co-chair of the Health Committee of the BlackNorth Initiative with a focus on equity, diversity and inclusion within the health care system


Dr. Isaac Odame is a Pediatric Hematologist and the Section Head of Hematology in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). He is the Medical Director of the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network at the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health. Odame is Professor and Director of the Division of Hematology at the University of Toronto, where he holds the Alexandra Yeo Chair in Hematology.

Dr. Isaac Odame will speak on vaccine-induced blood clotting particularly AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines.



Dr. Vera Etches is the Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health (OPH) in April 2018, having served as Deputy MOH from 2014 to 2017.

As Deputy MOH, Dr. Etches supported the organization in delivering quality, client-centered services; contributed to knowledge transfer and applied public health research; and reinforced population health assessment, surveillance, and program evaluation.

In her role as Associate Medical Officer of Health at OPH from 2009 to 2014, Dr. Etches was responsible for the management of teams that provided clinical services to prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne illnesses as well as clinical services to prevent and treat dental health problems. Other teams she directed included those that provide reproductive health counselling promote breastfeeding, carry out home visits to new parents to support positive parenting skills, public health inspection, environmental health and programming related to the control of communicable diseases, and infection prevention and control.

Prior to joining OPH in 2009, Dr. Etches served as an Associate Medical Officer of Health, Acting Medical Officer of Health and Director of Clinical Services at the Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU) after completing her specialty training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine in 2005.

Dr. Etches is a native of Hazelton, British Columbia. She started her post-secondary career by completing a Bachelor of Science at Simon Fraser University and went on to complete her Medical Doctorate at the University of British Columbia followed by a Master of Health Science, and a Fellowship in Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. Etches has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has been invited to present at many provincial and national conferences.

Dr. Etches is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa, where she continues to supervise medical residents in Public Health and Preventive Medicine and Family Medicine.


Dr. Flavia Sendi-Mukasa is a family physician at Somerset West Community Health Centre. She also has a focused practice in maternity and newborn care at the Civic Hospital.









Suzanne Obiorah is the Director for the new Gender and Race Equity, Indigenous Relations, Inclusion and Social Development Branch at the City of Ottawa.  She has worked in health and social services for 18 years.  Prior to joining the City of Ottawa, Suzanne was the Director of Primary Care and Regional Programs with Somerset West Community Health Centre.  Her work has focused on leading health equity initiatives, improving access to health and social services for equity deserving groups, creating low barrier culturally competent programs, championing for the integration of equity frameworks tied to accountability agreements, and ensuring the workforce is reflective of the staff and communities served.

A strong advocate for culturally responsive mental health supports in the Black community, Suzanne had co-founded the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition.  Suzanne has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food and Nutrition from Ryerson University and a Masters in Business Administration in Health Care management from the University of Saint Mary.


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