Scientific Advisory Board ICRF Montreal


Dr. Walter H. Gotlieb

  • Professor, Ob-Gyn and Oncology, McGill University
  • Director, Gynecologic Oncology at Segal Cancer Centre, Jewish General Hospital
  • Director, Surgical Oncology, McGill University

Dr. Gotlieb completed his medical degree summa cum laude at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, in his native Belgium, where he went on to obtain board certification in Ob-Gyn.

Following two years at the National Institutes of Health, where he obtained the National Cancer Institute Award of Outstanding Performance, he performed a three year fellowship in Gyn-onc at UCLA. He was then recruited by the by Tel Aviv University, Tel Hashomer Hospital, where he co-founded and built up the Department of Gynaecologic-Oncology from 1994 to 2003.

In 2003, he was recruited by McGill University. He obtained license to practice in Europe, Israel, California, and Canada. In addition to his clinical responsibilities, he is involved in scientific research in ovarian cancer as a Project Director in the Lady Davis Research Institute and Senior Scientist of the Montreal Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Cancer. His efforts focus on translational research and novel therapeutic tools for ovarian cancer, and he has been the pioneer and driven “robotic” surgery in gynaecologic cancer in Canada. He has lectured around the world, and has proctored robotic surgery in Canada, China, India and Israel.

A recipient of twelve national and international awards in the area of cancer research, Dr. Gotlieb is well published with over 90 peer-reviewed manuscripts in reputable international journals. Dr. Gotlieb presently sits on the executive council of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society, and is the secretary treasurer of the Gynecologic Oncology Society of Canada. He is senior editor of the International Journal of Gynecologic Cancer. His prior involvement with medical societies includes the executive council of the Israel Gynecologic Oncologists, the executive council of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada, the SGO 2006 program committee, the International Committee of the SGO, and Vice President of the Association des Gynécologues Oncologues du Québec.


Immediate Past Chairman 

Dr. Gerald Batist

  • Director, Segal Cancer Centre
  • Director, Dept. of Oncology, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital
  • Scientific Director, Montreal Centre for Experimental Therapeutics in Cancer
  • Director, McGill University Centre for Translational Research in Cancer
  • Chair, Department of Oncology, McGill University
  • Professor, Departments of Medicine and Oncology, McGill University

    Medical School
    McGill University, Montreal, QC

    St. Vincent’s Hospital Centre, New York City, NY
    New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, MA

    Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory, New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, MA
    National Cancer Institute-Navy Oncology Branch, Bethesda, MD

    Clinical Specialties
    Medical Oncology

    Research Interests
    Molecular pharmacology; Novel therapy development.

    In addition to his clinical work as a medical oncologist at the Segal Cancer Centre, Dr. Batist has an active research program focusing on molecular pharmacology (regulation and modulation of detoxification pathways; cell-cell communication; molecular targets in cancer therapeutics).  He is the Scientific Director of the Montreal Centre for Experimental Therapeutics in Cancer and the Director of the McGill Centre for Translational Research in Cancer, which were established to stimulate rapid translation of new discoveries in the research laboratory into clinical benefits for patients. In his capacity as Chair of the Department of Oncology, he has nurtured the development of a number of multidisciplinary programs that have been highly innovative and amongst the first of their kind in Canada.  Dr. Batist is a member of scholarly associations, serves on editorial boards and on advisory committees.  He has a highly successful laboratory and clinical research program, with over 140 scientific publications and a number of book chapters relating to his research interests and has trained a large number of scientists and clinical oncologists.


Dr. Hananel Holzer

  • Former Medical Director of the McGill Reproductive Centre
  • Director of the Academic Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University
  • Associate member of the Department of Oncology, McGill University
  • Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellowship, Program Director


Dr. Holzer graduated from the Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem as Class Valedictorian in 1992.He was certified as a specialist in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility by the Scientific Committee of the Israeli Medical Association. He also completed a clinical and research fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at McGill University.

As a specialist Dr. Holzer served as a senior physician and a staff member in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hadassah Medical Centre. He served as the Deputy Director of the IVF unit at Hadassah Mt. Scopus from 1998 to 2004 and was the founder and director of the fertility clinic in the city of Modi’in, where he also served as Medical Director of the Woman’s Health Centre. In addition, he was in charge of the instruction of medical students at the IVF and Obstetrics and Gynecology clinics.

Dr. Holzer received the Hebrew University and Hadassah School of Medicine Faculty Prize for Outstanding MD Thesis and the prize for outstanding research from the Israeli Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 2003 he was named to the Rector’s list of Hebrew University as Outstanding Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 2007 he was awarded the James Fraser Jewell Memorial Fellowship. In 2008 he was awarded the Daniel Webster Fellowship prize for outstanding research in infertility. He is the author and co-author of many infertility-related papers and book chapters. Dr Holzer the editor of the Oncofertility section in the “ Current Oncology” journal, and acts as a reviewer for other medical journals.

Dr. Holzer joined the medical staff of the McGill Reproductive Centre in 2006. Dr Holzer has been the director of the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellowship Program at McGill since 2008. In 2010 he was appointed as the Medical Director of the McGill University Health Center, Reproductive Center. His main interests are fertility preservation for cancer and non-cancer patients, in-vitro maturation of oocytes and a comprehensive team approach to infertility related issues.


Dr. Marc Isler

  • Clinical Professor of the department of surgery at the University of Montreal
  • Director of the orthopedic surgery program for the last 8 years
  • Lead the clinical care program for musculoskeletal cancer for the last 10 years

Currently practicing as an orthopedic oncologist, both at Hopital Sainte Justine (pediatric) and at Maisonneuve Rosemont in Montreal, the association with hemato-oncologists such as Dr. George E. Rivard made it natural to develop an interest in hemophilia and other bleeding disorders. For the last few years, he has assembled a team of motivated medical and paramedical team members to form a musculoskeletal clinic care program for PWH. This bridges the gap from pediatric to adult treatment settings. He has undertaken a long term project of prospective data collection to fuel evaluative research, with a particular accent in ankle pathology.

He works in association with experts such as Dr. George Etienne Rivard, Jean St. Louis and Nichan Zourikian. His mentors in this field include well known orthopedic surgeons such as Nicholas Goddard and Adolfo Llinas.


Dr. Nahum Sonenberg

  • James McGill Professor, Department of Biochemistry, McGill University

Dr. Sonenberg received his Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel). He then joined the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in Nutley, New Jersey with a Chaim Weizmann postdoctoral fellowship. He moved to McGill University, Montreal, Canada, in 1979, and is today a James McGill Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre.

Dr. Sonenberg’s primary research interests have been in the field of translational control. With Aaron Shatkin he identified the mRNA 5’ cap-binding protein, eIF4E, in 1978. He and his colleagues have studied the factors that recruit ribosomes to the mRNA. He discovered the IRES mechanism of translation initiation in eukaryotes, and the regulation of cap-dependent translation by eIF4E-binding proteins. He also discovered that eIF4E is a proto-oncogene, whose protein levels are elevated in tumors. Subsequently, he showed that rapamycin (an anti-cancer drug) inhibits eIF4E activity. While generating eIF4E binding protein ‘knock-out’ mice, he found that the protein plays important roles in metabolism, in learning and memory and in innate immunity.

In 2002, Dr. Sonenberg was awarded the Robert L. Noble Prize from the National Cancer Institute of Canada. He is an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and has been a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 1992. He was awarded the 2005 Killam Prize for Health Sciences. In 2006, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and The Royal Society of London, UK. He was awarded the 2007 Katharine Berkan Judd Award from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the 2007 Roche Diagnostics Award and he was the recipient of the 2008 Gairdner International Award. In 2009, he was awarded the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Health Researcher of the Year Award in Biomedical and Clinical Research and in 2010 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. This year Dr. Sonenberg has been awarded The Centenary Award from the Biochemical Society (UK) and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science.

Dr. Alan Spatz

  • Director of the Pathology Department at the Jewish General Hospital
  • Professor of Pathology and Oncology at McGill University
  • Canada Research Chair in Molecular Pathology
  • Chairman, National Cancer Institute of Canada Melanoma committee
  • Program Director, McGill Integrated Cancer Research Training Program (MICRTP)

In addition, Dr. Spatz served as Chairman of the Melanoma group of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer. He currently serves as a board member of several international professional organizations and on editorial boards and international strategic committees.

Dr. Spatz leads an international research group on cutaneous melanoma. His current research involves the X chromosome role in metastatic potential and key factors associated with cancer progression. He has authored more than 150 original scientific papers, reports, review articles, and books.

Dr. Moishe Szyf

  • Professor, McGill University, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Dr. Szyf received his Ph. D from the Hebrew University working with Aharon Razin on basic mechanisms of DNA methylation. During his PhD studies he provided the earliest evidence that DNA demethylation is an active process even in somatic cells. He then went on to a postdoctoral fellowship in Genetics at Harvard Medical School where he continued to make groundbreaking discoveries by providing the first evidence that sequence-specific de novo methylation occurs in cancer cells as a mechanism of gene silencing in cancer. Dr. Szyf was appointed Assistant Professor at McGill University in Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 1989 and was promoted to Full Professor in 2000. He currently holds simultaneously a James McGill Professorship and GlaxoSmithKline-CIHR Professorship in Pharmacology. He is the founding co-director of the Sackler Institute for Epigenetics and Psychobiology at McGill and is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Experience-based Brain and Biological Development program.

His work touches virtually every aspect of medicine and health and social services and has a broad intellectual impact beyond biological sciences with relevance for disciplines as remote from molecular biology as economics, sociology and political sciences. As a result, he is the initiator and leader of numerous ongoing interdisciplinary international collaborations with China, Israel, European ERA net and Bangladesh as well as multidisciplinary groups in Canada and the US. The broad impact of his work has attracted exceptionally wide spectrum of interest as indicated by prestigious invited keynote lectures and reviews and opinion pieces in a wide variety of scientific disciplines from chemistry to psychiatry, toxicology, chronobiology, obesity, child development and veterinary medicine. His invitations include the delivery of the 2009 Karolinska Research Lecture at the Nobel Forum, the second most important lectureship awarded by the Karolinska Institute after the Nobel prize and an invitation to the Nobel Symposium on Epigenetics in Stockholm in June 2004. The media coverage includes features on him at the BBC, PBS, CBC News and articles about him in The Economist, Der Spiegel, Boston Globe, New York Times, and Globe and Mail, to name a few.

In 1994, Dr. Szyf has proposed that DNA methyltransferase is a prime therapeutic target (Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 15, 233 (1994) and has filed a number of broad patents based on these ideas. He demonstrated the efficacy of antisense and direct inhibitors of DNA methyltransferase as anticancer agents in preclinical models (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94, 684-689 (1997). He founded the first pharmaceutical company in the world dedicated to epigenetic drugs: MethylGene. His pioneering vision that DNA methylation machinery is a therapeutic target is now well-accepted, two decades after he proposed it for the first time.

More recently, he has extended his interest to other areas of human health and behavior and demonstrated that DNA methylation is a reversible biological signal (Nature 397, 579-583 (1999); Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 96, 6107-6112 (1999). This paved the way to realizing that DNA methylation could be modulated after birth and be responsive to external environmental signals. In collaboration with Dr. Michael Meaney, he discovered an epigenetic mechanism by which maternal behavior results in a stable alteration of the glucocorticoid receptor gene by DNA methylation in the hippocampus of the offspring (Weaver et al. Nature Neuroscience 7, 847 (2004). New data from his lab shows that a similar process is associated with human suicide (McGowan et al. PLoS ONE 3, e2085 (2008) and that marks of childhood adversity are found in adult human brains (McGowan et al., Nat Neurosci 12, 342 (2009).

Dr. Szyf’s discoveries provide a new paradigm explaining how “nurture” alters “nature”. His work has led to a paradigm shift in our understanding of the relationship between the environment and the genome and introduced the idea that the social environment could talk to the genome and sculpt it. This work has created a molecular bridge between the social and biological sciences providing a mechanism for the relationship between Nature and Nurture. Moreover it provided for the first time a molecular explanation for the magic of “Nurture” and created new interest in the molecular implications of social processes and social intervention. 

Dr. Elliot Mitmaker

  • Assistant Professor, McGill University, Department of Surgery
  • Clinical interests: minimally invasive endocrine surgery (thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal)

  •  Research interests: molecular mechanisms of endocrine malignancies of the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands

Dr. Victor Cohen

  • Assistant Professor, Departments of Oncology and Medicine, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Oncology, McGill University
  • Member, Montreal Centre for Experimental Therapeutics in Cancer

    Medical School
    McGill University, Montreal, QC

    Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, QC

    M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

    Clinical Specialties
    Medical Oncology

    Research Interests
    Clinical trials; Molecularly-targeted therapy; Cancer prevention; Lung cancer

    Dr. Victor Cohen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Oncology at McGill University as well as in the Departments of Medicine and Oncology at the Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital.  He joined the Department of Oncology in 2002 after completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Texas, in Houston, Texas where he was involved in clinical studies of a farnesyl tratransferase inhibitor.



    Dr. Sarit Assouline

    • Physician, Division of Hematology, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital
    • Assistant Professor, Department of Oncology, McGill University

      Medical School
      McGill University, Montreal, QC

      McGill University, Montreal, QC

      National Cancer Institute of Canada, Clinical Trials Group, Kingston, ON

    • Clinical Specialties
      HematologyAssistant Professor, McGill University, Department of Surgery


    • Clinical interests: minimally invasive endocrine surgery (thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal)

    • Research interests: molecular mechanisms of endocrine malignancies of the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands