Speaker Profiles

Dr. Alan Bernstein

Dr. Alan Bernstein

President & CEO


Alan has been President & CEO of CIFAR since 2012, responsible for developing and leading the institute’s overall strategic direction. He is one of Canada’s leading scientists and was an early champion of women in science and young scientists.

After receiving his PhD from the University of Toronto and following postdoctoral work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, Dr. Bernstein joined the Ontario Cancer Institute. In 1985, he joined the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, was named its Associate Director in 1988 and served as Director of Research from 1994 to 2000. In 2000, he was asked to become the founding President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s federal agency for the support of health research. In that capacity, he led the transformation of health research in Canada. In 2010, Bernstein became Executive Director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York, an international alliance of researchers and funders charged with accelerating the search for an HIV vaccine.

Author of over 225 scientific publications, Alan made landmark contributions to the study of stem cells, blood cell formation (hematopoiesis), and cancer. He chairs or is a member of advisory and review boards in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Italy, and Australia. He serves as co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up 2 Cancer Canada, is a member of the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science and Policy Group, and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In May 2020 he was appointed to Canada’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and in February 2021, he was appointed Chair of the Variants of Concern, Scientific Advisory Council.

Alan’s contributions to science and science policy have been recognized with numerous awards and honorary degrees, including Officer of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the McLaughlin Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, the Award of Excellence from the Genetics Society of Canada, the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and the 2017 Henry Friesen International Prize in Health Research.

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