About Us


The Executive Team

From Left to Right: Mathieu Haddad, May Shawi, and Cliff Pavlovic (August 2012. Photo by Revan Caluya)

May Shawi
President & CEO (Co-Founder)

May holds a PhD in Experimental Medicine from McGill University and currently works as a Medical Science Liaison. She has worked at Novartis in genetics and obtained a graduate degree in Biotechnology from Harvard University.

Past Executives

Cliff Pavlovic
Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer (Co-Founder & Chief Communications Officer)

The author of a comparative study between tech transfer in Québec and in Flanders, Cliff has also been involved in the knowledge and innovation economy: Lastly as an Intellectual Property Rights Officer at KU Leuven Research & Development, the technology transfer unit of KU Leuven University (Leuven, Belgium), and as a Technology Transfer Project Leader at Gestion Univalor, the technology transfer firm responsible for commercializing innovations from Université de Montréal and affiliated institutions.

Mathieu Haddad
Chief Development Officer

Mathieu has a PhD in microbiology from Université de Montréal and is working on hydrogen bioaugmention of synthesis gas, issued from waste gasification. He has also worked at Suez Environnement (France) and at the Biotechnology Research Institute (NRC, Montreal) in the field of waste to energy. Mathieu has obtained his Master degree in biological engineering from the Université de Technologie de Compiègne (France).

Harry Karmouty
Chief Operating Officer (Co-Founder)

Harry worked as a scientist at Novartis Pharma where he developed experimental models of respiratory disease, managed drug discovery programs and pioneered novel diagnostic techniques. He obtained a PhD in Pharmacology at King’s College London (UK).

Your Team

Anton Lebedev
Chapter Manager - Montréal

Leen Stephan

Leen holds a BSc. in Biochemistry from McGill University and a MSc. in Clinical Pharmacology from Université de Montréal. She currently works as a Regulatory Affairs Specialist and Project Leader at Trans-Hit Biomarkers (THB) in Montreal. She is responsible for overseeing regulatory and ethical issues related to the procurement of human biospecimens and for managing different biospecimen procurement centric R&D projects. In her previous job, Leen worked as a Project Manager at Veritas IRB Inc., Independent Review Board, where she managed the ethics review process of more than a 100 Phase I – IV clinical trial projects in various therapeutic areas and other non-clinical projects. Leen is proud to be part of the Biotech Annecto team and is happy to help organize events that will bring professionals from the biotechnology industry together.

Junior S. Mentor

Junior Mentor is a Regulatory Affairs specialist at L’Oréal, where he manages the filing of various pre-market and post-market regulatory submissions for a growing range of cosmetic and cosmeceutical products. These products include beauty consumer products and dermatology-related drugs, natural health products and medical devices. Junior has a specialized Master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences from Université de Montréal and has worked in the biopharmaceutical industry for various companies such as Aptalis Pharma, Sandoz and Sanofi. Along his specialization in Regulatory Affairs, he also has some experience in clinical research and continues to maintain a professional interest in the matter.

Walter Tejada

Elena Boueiri

Elena Boueiri holds a BSc with a specialization in Cell and Molecular Biology from Concordia University. During her Bachelor’s, Elena participated in the worldwide international biotech competition in Boston (IGEM 2014) where her team represented Quebec and won the silver medal for their synthetic Biology project on green algae. Currently, as a Logistics Manager at Trans-Hit Biomakers, Elena works with the management team on biospecimen procurement projects for the pharmaceutical industry contributing to the advancement of medical R&D. In addition to that, she also works with the commercial director on prospecting and expanding the company’s client base. At her previous job as a Research Assistant at the CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal, Elena worked on a research project to identify genes related to the condition of Scoliosis in humans. Elena Boueiri believes in the strength of the Biotech Annecto community in Montreal and is very keen on contributing to its growth.

Past Hosts

Anne Helness
Assistant Chapter Manager - Montréal

Experienced PhD with over 10 years experience working in the fields of Oncology, Hematology, Molecular Biology, Epigenetics and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). My molecular expertise in cancer and hematology would be central in a Medical Affairs and/or Medical Science Liaison position.

Anjali Pradhan
Finance & Cleantech

Anjali is the responsible for capital raising at World Wide Hearing a social enterprise. Her work includes liaising with potential corporate donors and building relationships with prospective impact investors and venture philanthropists. Anjali worked for several years in London, England in the financial services industry for some of the most prominent institutions including PIMCO, Goldman Sachs and HSBC. She held various positions, first in portfolio management and then transitioned to marketing and business development roles. There, she built relationships with prospective institutional investors with the aim of turning them into clients. Previous to WWH, she worked with a startup firm based in Montreal that sold premium snackfood on their sales and marketing efforts. Anjali completed a B.Comm in Finance from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal, Qc. She also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.

Hasti Valiallah

Hasti holds two Masters degrees in Healthcare Engineering and Biomedical Engineering with a background in Nuclear Applied Physics. During her studies, she worked in validation of two MRI imaging sequences at General Electric, and also in in-vivo validation of two ultrasound elastography techniques at research center of University of Montreal (CHUM). Her interests are process improvement, and quality management which she has pursued after her graduation in February 2013. Besides her passion for technology in healthcare, she also has great interest in ceramic art and pottery.

Mehdi Belgnaoui

Mehdi Belgnaoui, PhD, is a medical writer in a medical communication agency. In this capacity, he leads projects in partnership with pharmaceutical companies, which allowed him to work in a variety of therapeutic areas. Mehdi obtained his doctoral degree in Biomedical Sciences (Eastern Virginia Medical School, USA), and completed his postdoctoral training at McGill University. He has extensive research experience in the fields in immunology and virology and has participated in the design and development of successful grant and scholarship applications.

Carlos Sarmento
Chapter Manager - Montréal

Carlos obtained his MSc in Physiology from McGill University by assessing novel iron chelators. He brings years of experience from a CRO to his current work with a leading pharmaceutical company. He was also the Chapter Manager for BioTech Annecto operations in Montreal, from November 2010 to January 2013.

Leili Ghazi Zadeh
Assistant Chapter Manager - Montréal

Claudia Syed
Assistant Chapter Manager - Montréal

Claudia graduated from l’Université de Montréal with a Master’s degree in Microbiology. Her thesis work consisted of evaluating the ability of heat stable toxin b of Escherichia coli to induce apoptosis in intestinal epithelial cells. Claudia has had the possibility to present her results at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists.

Punita Mehta

Punita currently works at the Biotechnology Research Institute (NRC, Montreal) where she performs research for the production of energy (biogas and electricity) from waste and waste water. Punita obtained her MSc in environmental microbiology at McGill University. Her thesis was dedicated to the remediation and revegetation of the Alberta tar sands tailings.

Martin Couillard

Martin is a trustworthy and open-minded team player who is willing to dive into new challenges of the life science industry and personalized medicine. With 13-year track record of diverse experiences in the Life Science area managing projects in licensing, customer-relationship and valorization of research, Martin holds degrees from University of Montreal (PhD in Biochemistry); McGill University (Postdoc in Human Genetics) and University of Sherbrooke (D.E.S.S. Technology Transfer). Outside work, you can find him on ice hockey rinks in winter and soccer fields during summertime.

Jaideep Mallick

Jaideep currently works in CSFG, Concordia University as a Research Associate. He is trying to uncover the ways common yeast pathogens like Candida controls its ribosome production. He is a detail-oriented communicator very interested in bridging the perception of students and biotech industry for mutual benefit and excellence.

Marie-Andrée Garant
Assistant Chapter Manager - Montréal

A graduate from Université du Québec à Montreal in Business Administration, Marie-Andrée is currently working as an Executive Assistant for a telecommunications company. In addition she pursued studies in public relations at the University of Montreal and in English for Professional Communication at McGill University. Marie-Andree is a passionate volunteer. Among the projects dear to her heart: Biotech Annecto’s event planning and business consulting for a young academic startup company. 3D: Dynamic. Disciplined. Different. She was the Assistant Chapter Manager for BioTech Annecto operations in Montreal, from October 2012 to March 2013.

Stéphanie Page

Stéphanie currently works in the pharmaceutical industry as a Scientific Communications Manager. She obtained a Master’s with honors in Neurophysiology and a Bachelor’s in Pharmacology from Sherbrooke University. She has had the chance to collaborate with some of the major pharmaceutical companies, including Janssen, Berlex, Bayer and Abbott leading several clinical research projects and continuous medical education programs. Stéphanie also pursues her passion for training and teaching as a lecturer and assistant teacher for the Bachelor program in Pharmacology at Sherbrooke University.

Sonish Azam

Sonish Azam was working as a lecturer at Concordia University. She holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry with two postdoctoral trainings in the area of Oncology. Sonish also has three years of pharmaceutical experience as a laboratory manager. She has given GLP/GMP/USP workshops and trainings to the pharmaceutical personnel as a part of educational providers in the industry such as IPA. Moreover, Sonish is involved in conducting clinical trials in lung cancer patients at the Jewish General Hospital. Besides her career in science, Sonish has also exhibited original artwork at art galleries, as a contemporary artist, with an interest in abstract painting.

Laurent-Pierre Scheffer

Laurent-Pierre is a chemist working in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. He has a master in chemical engineering and a bachelor of chemistry with bio-organic option from McGill University.

Raluca Apostu
Chapter Manager - Montréal

Raluca joined the BioTech Annecto Montréal team in June 2012. Raluca holds a PhD in mathematical modeling in Physiology and Medicine from McGill University.

Kenza Dairi

Kenza obtained a Master’s in Chemistry from the Université de Montréal and worked for 7 years in Medicinal Chemistry, in the area of cancer research, at Gemin X Biotechnology. She also worked at Aegera Therapeutics.

Nadira Hajjar

During an eclectic and rewarding academic course at University of Montreal, Nadira obtained her first bachelor’s degree in French Literature (2006), and then completed a second one in Molecular Biology (2011). She is presently at the final stage of a Masters’ program in Drug Development for which she is currently undertaking a professional internship at Acasti pharma.

Ivan Enrique Escalante Cornejo

Ivan will finish his B.Sc Honours in Biochemistry this fall 2013 at Concordia University. For his research project, he will be studying the mechanism of action of antimicrobial peptides; this project will continue the preliminary studies on the effects of charge distribution and cholesterol content of membranes on the ability of the peptides to cause lysis in liposomes. Moreover, Ivan exhibits an interest for environmental chemistry and cleantechs. Apart from his academic life, Ivan has a passion for fitness and likes to share his passion with everyone.

Sébastien Sabbagh

Sébastien has completed his Ph.D in microbiology at University of Montreal on the pathogenic bacteria Salmonella Typhi, the causative agent of typhoid fever. His thesis will be on the identification and study of Salmonella genes involved during interaction with infected human macrophages. Later on, he hopes to work on offering a better understanding of molecular mechanisms used by pathogens responsible for infectious diseases among the human population. He wishes to contribute by improving or developing better therapies and treatments against virulent microorganisms. Sébastien also has a strong love for music and likes to share his passion with others as a part-time volunteer DJ.

Valérie Leduc

With 7 internships under her belt in academia and the industry, Valerie is currently pursuing her MD studies at Université de Montréal. She obtained her MSc in neurological sciences from Mcgill University by assessing novel risks factors for Alzheimer’s disease, her certificate in pharmaceutical drug development from Laval University and her bachelor in biochemistry from UQAM.

Anne-Claire Poinas

Anne-Claire is passionate by the rapidly changing life sciences landscape and is looking forward to better understand its influence on population health. She has obtained a Doctorate of Pharmacy in France and a Master in Administration in Montréal. She has used this dual expertise in different contexts (consulting firm, hospital, pharmacy and industry) through job and education related experiences.

Nadia Houri

Nadia recently completed a PhD in Neuroscience at McGill University. Her research was on a cell adhesion molecule (CAR) involved in a wide variety of functions such as neuronal development and the inhibition of several types of tumors. Nadia is looking forward to participating in the BioTech Annecto community and to embarking on a new career.

Sophie Spitzer

Sophie will finish in Summer 2013 her M.Sc. in corporate strategy at HEC Montreal and would like to start her professional career in Consulting in Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility. During her academic studies, she participated in a government project about the responsible practices in the extractive industry. She would love to learn more about biotechnologies as a sustainable response for the Planet.

Cassandra Thomson

Cassandra was a project coordinator at Medisca Pharmaceutiques where she prepared educational materials for compounding pharmacists. She holds an M.Sc in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University and a BSc in Pharmacology from McMaster University. She has extensive research experience in immunology and conducted a thesis on the role of HIV proteins in the disruption T cell receptor signalling and development and subsequent autoimmunity. Her interests are in medical/clinical research and continuing education.

Pierre Côte

Pierre is a persuasive problem solver with an eye for business and creativity. With his heart is deeply rooted in Science (personalized medicine) and a passion for negotiation, Pierre holds degrees from McGill University (PhD in Biology), University of Montreal (MSc in Biochemistry), and University of Toronto (Leadership Certificate). When not at work, you’ll have the best chances on seen him with his family and friends, in a dojo, or reading a fantasy book.

Ellen Zhou

Ellen Zhou was a graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology at McGill University.

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