INNOVATION TO APPLICATION was the result of a chance meeting between two research pharmacists in the UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Interconnected through a shared network of community pharmacies, a mutual colleague identified their common and complementary goals and suggested collaboration. The discussion that followed sparked the idea to engage a broader community of healthcare innovators.

Conference Co-ordinator

Nicole Tsao, BSc (Pharm), MSc (Pharm), RPh, PhD Student

Nicole Tsao is a pharmacist currently completing her PhD degree at the Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE), Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia. She completed her MSc in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, with a focus in pharmacoeconomics, and her current PhD research is focused in pharmacoepidemiology and the risk of adverse outcomes of biologic medications.

Nicole has much interest and expertise in conducting research in community pharmacies in BC. Her current research interests include investigating the use of eHealth technology to support pharmacy practice, monitor medication adherence and safety, and facilitate interdisciplinary healthcare delivery. She is a recent recipient of an Rx & D award for interdisciplinary health research, and she is the Principal Investigator of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant for knowledge dissemination of eHealth in pharmacy practice.

Conference Co-ordinator

Mark Kunzli, BSc (Pharm), Executive MBA, RPh

Mark Kunzli is a Research Associate & Project Manager in the UBC Dept of Family Practice, a practicing pharmacist, and a business consultant. While pursuing his Executive MBA in Healthcare Management at the Sauder School of Business, Mark worked with a team in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to establish Genomics and Individualized Therapy as a key research initiative, which was realized with the establishment of the UBC Sequencing Centre at the Faculty.

Mark is passionate about equipping his fellow healthcare practitioners with the ability to use patient genomics to make medication use safer and more effective. He was Co-Investigator and Project Manager for the "Genomics for Precision Drug Therapy in Community Pharmacy" research project, which collaborated with community pharmacists throughout BC to collect patient samples for exome sequencing and pharmacogenomic analysis. Mark currently holds a research appointment in the Dept of Family Practice, where he is participating in a qualitative research study with Dr. David Snadden, Rural Doctors' UBC Chair in Rural Health, looking at factors influencing the rural healthcare ecosystem. Mark also works with Dr. Bob Stowe in UBC Neuropsychiatry as Project Manager for the "Metabolic and Genetic Explorations in Refractory Schizophrenia (MAGERS)" study of treatment-resistant/refractory psychosis.

2017 Organizing Committee

Katherine Milbers, BSc, BSc (Pharm), RPh

Katherine Milbers is a pharmacist and research coordinator working for the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHÉOS).  She completed her BSc(Pharm) at UBC, and a BSc in Environmental Sciences at McGill University where she focused on ecological determinants of health.  Her interests are in health economics, pharmacoepidemiology and the impact of policy on health outcomes; she currently works as a Project Co-ordinator in these areas with researchers and clinicians.  She has significant research experience including 5 original research publications, and three terms with the UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Student Journal as Associate, Chief and Outgoing Chief Editor.  She was also extensively involved in UBC Pharmacy life as a member of the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI), Professional Development Week (PDW) in 2012, and the BC Pharmacy Association.


Sahil Ahuja, PharmD Candidate (2019)

Sahil is a student leader and upcoming E2P PharmD graduate who is mobilizing his classmates to become more involved in changing pharmacy practice to embrace an expanding scope of practice. His current roles as Vice-President Sponsorship in PhUS, Co-Director of Pharmacy Student Advocates, and Founder & CEO of Pharmacy Business Club have led him to be recognized for taking initiative, having passion, and following through on commitments   by peers and faculty. In addition to pushing the profession forward from within, he has been part of many interprofessional education (IPE) initiatives including organizing an IPE Activity titled “The Physician-Pharmacist Relationship: Critical for Patient Centered Care” and helping facilitate the province-wide UBC Interprofessional Medication Reconciliation Event.

Hans Haag, BSc (Pharm) 2018 Candidate
Kimberly Kallio, BSc (Pharm) 2017 Candidate
Jerry Mejia, BSc (Pharm) 2018 Candidate
Karina Nagy, BSc (Pharm) 2018 Candidate
Simon Zhou, BSc (Pharm) 2018 Candidate

Conference Advisors

Amani Saini, MPA

Amani Saini holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Dalhousie University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia. In 2010, her then 19-year-old sister, a UBC student, almost passed away from an adverse drug reaction (ADR) to a common over the counter ibuprofen drug. In 2015, while surfing the internet, she came across an article which talked about how different gene variants can led to disease, and decided to contact researchers and scientists around the world and in Canada to learn more about the discipline of genomics and DNA sequencing. She gathered evidence that showed ADRs could be prevented and then developed a policy in her spare time that would be feasible in the Canadian health care setting to prevent ADRs, which claim up to 22,000 Canadian lives each year. For her policy work, she received the 2016 Canadian Science Policy Award of Excellence, which recognizes an individual who developed an innovation and compelling evidence-based policy that will make a positive difference to Canadians. In late summer 2017, she will be launching a non-profit, Adverse Drug Reaction Canada, which will advocate for the increased use of genomics in guiding health decisions and the implementation of policies to prevent ADRs. These include the creation of a national database to monitor and record ADRs, genetic testing to identify gene variants and electronic medical records. Amani has worked in BC’s Office of the Minister of Health and for Nova Scotia’s Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, where she worked on policy for the Premier’s meetings with the Council of the Federation, including for the Healthcare Innovation Working Group. Amani can be found on Twitter @amani_saini


Bob Rai, BSc, BSc (Pharm), RPh

Bob Rai is a graduate of the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a Degree in Biochemistry in 1991, and Pharmaceutical Science in 1995. He is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in operating a string of “The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy” in Greater Vancouver, Canada. In 1998, he and his partner's pioneered and revolutionized the online pharmacy business to the USA, which became a $2 billion dollar industry across Canada. Bob received “The Medicine Shoppe Canada Professional Achievement Award” for expanding scope of pharmacists’ practice through innovative pilots with Vancouver Coastal Health and BC Ministry of Health.  

Bob also holds numerous positions in the pharmaceutical industry including CEO of Vanc Pharmaceuticals, Western Canada’s first generic prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) product company; Board of Director for Vanc Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Venturi Capitals Inc; Chairman/CEO of Canadian Pacific Global Pharmaceuticals; and Chairman of its subsidiary PharmaCanada Inc. He is also a member of Alumni UBC Advisory Council representing the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.  In the past, Bob has been President of the Philippines Canada Trade Council (PCTC) for 2006-2007 - holding the position of Vice-President from 2004-2006 - and served on the Board of Director ofPerceptronix Medical Inc, a company focused on early cancer detection.  Bob is a prominent and active business figure in many capacities; for his contributions and other numerous community positions, he is a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his service and contribution to Canada.