our medical Speakers


MelYssa Aronson, M.S. (C)CGC
Zane Cohen Centre for Digestive Diseases

Melyssa has been a genetic counsellor at the Zane Cohen Centre for Digestive Diseases since 1998, and the senior genetic counsellor since 2000. The Centre provides clinical counselling and testing for individuals suspected of having a hereditary GI cancer syndrome and runs a research Registry, collecting medical and biospecimen information on thousands of patients since 1980 to better understand the causes, treatment and prevention of hereditary cancer.   Melyssa began her work in Toronto by overseeing the Ontario Familial Colorectal Cancer Registry, a population-based colorectal provincial registry and part of the international collaborative family registries.

Melyssa has served on numerous boards for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Cancer Care Ontario to establish criteria for hereditary GI cancer genetic testing and cancer screening for the public health care system in Ontario.  

She has a special interest in hereditary stomach cancer and provides genetic counselling, testing and leadership for this cancer in the province. She has provided genetic assessments to over 150 individuals with gastric cancer. 


Dr. Savtaj Brar, MD MSc FRCSC
Mount Sinai Hospital 

Savtaj Brar is a surgical oncologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. Dr. Brar has a clinical focus in the management of gastric cancer, complex gastrointestinal oncology, and soft-tissue sarcoma. His academic interests include education, health policy and economic evaluations in surgery. Dr. Brar is a graduate of the medical school at the University of Western Ontario and obtained his residency training in General Surgery at the University of Calgary. One of his primary goals is to improve care for patients with gastric cancer. 

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Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley, MD PhD FRCPC
St. Michael's Hospital

Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley is a practicing Medical Oncologist and the Division Head of Hematology/Oncology at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and is the Head of the Oncology Clinical Research Group there. She obtained her PhD in Medical Biophysics at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto and her Medical Degree from the University of Toronto. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She is the founder of the COMET (Community Oncologists of Metropolitan Toronto) Clinical Trials Consortium, a web-based virtual network promoting cancer clinical trials throughout theToronto Region. She treats both Breast and GI (colorectal and gastric cancers) malignancies and these are the major areas of her clinical research. Dr. Brezden-Masley's main area of clinical research is cardio toxicity from cancer therapy and is the current President of the Canadian Cardio-Oncology Network, a collaborative national group of medical professionals improving cardiac health in cancer patients. She is active in research, education and has been instrumental in the clinical development of the cancer program at St. Michael’s Hospital.

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Dr. Natalie Coburn, MD, MPH
Sunnybrook health sciences centre 

Dr. Coburn is a Hepato-pancreaticobiliary surgical oncologist and holds the Sherif and MaryLou Hanna Chair in Surgical Oncology Research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. She is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery and Health Policy Evaluation and Management at the University of Toronto, conducting her research at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.  Dr. Coburn obtained her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then performed her general surgery residency at Brown University. She obtained a Masters of Public Health in Quantitative Methods from Harvard University, followed by surgical oncology fellowship training at the University of Toronto.

She has been awarded Canadian Institutes of Health Reseach, Canadian Cancer Society-Research Institute, and Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Awards to examine outcomes for gastrointestinal cancer patients in Ontario, and has over 100 publications from this work.  She has worked with Cancer Care Ontario, leading the surgical mortality analyses for the CSQI, the Gastric Cancer Quality Improvement Project, and an initiative to improve referral systems for patients with colorectal liver metastases. She serves the Chief Examiner for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Surgical Oncology examination.


Dr. Kien Dang, MD
St. MIchael's HOspital

Dr. Dang has been a full time faculty member at St. Michael’s Hospital since 2006.  He obtained his MD degree from the University of Toronto in 2001 and completed psychiatry residency training at the University of Toronto in 2006.  He currently holds a faculty appointment at the University of Toronto at the rank of Assistant Professor. 

Clinically, Dr. Dang practices Medical Psychiatry, treating patients with chronic medical illnesses including chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, and cancer.  He is integrated into the St. Michael’s Hospital Cystic Fibrosis Clinic as well as the St. Michael’s Hospital Oncology Clinics.

Dr. Dang has been heavily involved in teaching and education.  In addition to providing teaching and supervision to medical students and residents, he is site coordinator for undergraduate education at St. Michael’s Hospital in the department of psychiatry. 

He has presented a number of workshops and posters at a number of conferences including the American Psychiatric Association, Canadian Psychiatric Association, and the Association for Academic Psychiatry. 


Denise Gabrielson,  HBSc, BASc, MSc(C), RD
ST. MIchael's Hospital

Denise Gabrielson is a Registered Dietitian at St. Michael’s Hospital. Denise has worked in oncology and hematology since 2007. She is currently the primary dietitian for the Medical Day Care Unit providing nutrition care to outpatients receiving treatment for Gastrointestinal Cancer, Breast Cancer, Genitourinary Cancer, Lung Cancer, and Hematological Cancers. Denise recently completed her Masters in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto on nutritional status in patients with gastrointestinal cancer. Denise has also published and implemented research on nutrition screening in outpatient oncology in order to improve access to nutrition care during cancer treatment.

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Dr. Howard Lim, MD, PhD, FRCPC
BC Cancer Agency

Howard Lim is a Medical Oncologist at the B.C Cancer Agency in Vancouver and Clinical Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.  

He is the Chair of the Gastrointestinal Tumour Group and Residency Training Program Director.  He is also actively involved in clinical trials and the Personalized Onco-Genomics Program at the B.C. Cancer Agency.