Interim Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Millan Patel
Dr. Patel obtained his undergraduate, medical and Masters in Genetics degrees at the University of Alberta and completed residency training in Medical Genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He went on to study mechanisms of hormonal and circadian control of bone formation in post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He is currently a Clinical Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at UBC and Medical Geneticist with the Provincial Medical Genetics Program. His research focuses on finding the basis of and developing therapy for ultra rare diseases as well as the application of high throughput technologies to diagnosis. He is an RDF co-founder and was Research Director from 2008-2019.
Chief Operating Officer
Sanaz brings a significant track record for organizational growth, as an innovative business leader and former global executive for several multinational companies. Sanaz is also the former executive director of the Essilor Vision Foundation, a global charity providing eye wear and eye care to populations most in need. She also brings the patient perspective as a rare disease patient and parent.
Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Shirin Kalyan
Dr. Shirin Kalyan is an Adjunct Professor with the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, the Scientist leading the Clinical Research Development Laboratory at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and the Director of Scientific Innovation at Qu Biologics, a clinical-stage Canadian biotech with an innovative immunotherapy platform that uses bugs as drugs to treat immune-related diseases. She earned her PhD in Experimental Medicine from the University of British Columbia investigating the pivotal innate immune mediators of inflammation in the context of toxic shock syndrome. Dr. Kalyan was awarded a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany, where she spent three years at the Institute of Immunology in Kiel studying how to optimally support immune function in the context of cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases and investigating how drug therapies used to treat chronic degenerative disorders affect immune integrity. Her research interests encompass developing innovative treatment approaches that are personalized and integrative to optimize efficacy and minimize adverse effects.
Fund Development and Community Outreach Coordinator
Sylvia’s background is in fundraising and marketing for non-profit organizations across North America. Most recently for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and before that she had a focus and work history mainly in the arts and culture sector. She is a professional photographer with a degree in advertising and graphic design. Outside of work she is the mother of two children, one of them is rare, and an adoption advocate and educator. Sylvia is located in Ontario.
Fund Development and Program Officer
Alyson is English/French bilingual and has both for-profit and not-for-profit experience as a business owner, employee, and volunteer. Her international training and experience in public affairs, fundraising, and relationship management will add to promoting the vision, goals and mission of the Rare Disease Foundation. As we continue to expand our reach and impact across Canada and the world Alyson will embody the values and core principles of RDF.
Alyson is an overachiever with a smile and has a personable nature that will enable her to connect and work with other key members of our stakeholder community. She will provide direct administrative and coordination support to P2P Resource Networks across the country, lead/manage/support events and fundraisers, and build partnerships to help expand understanding of rare diseases and the brand of the Rare Disease Foundation. Alyson is located in Montreal.