ACHRI Directors

Dr. Susa Benseler, MD, PhD


Dr. Susa Benseler, MD, PhD is highly regarded for many achievements in medicine, especially related to advances in precision public health for children. She has led several national and international studies for childhood rheumatic and inflammatory diseases and established an international and interdisciplinary network of investigators for children with inflammatory brain diseases called BrainWorks. Dr. Benseler views precision medicine, which involves tailoring treatment to the unique characteristics of each individual patient, as fundamental to improving child health. Precision medicine is a strategic priority for the Cumming School of Medicine.

Dr. Benedikt Hallgrímsson, PhD

Deputy Director

Dr. Benedikt Hallgrímsson, PhD is a professor and head of the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy, and an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Hallgrimsson works on the developmental genetics of complex traits. He integrates 3D imaging and morphometry with genetics and developmental biology. He was awarded the Rohlf Medal for Excellence in Morphometrics in 2015 and elected fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2018. Funded by CIHR, NIH and NSERC, he has published over 130 journal articles, 31 chapters, three edited volumes, and a textbook.

Dr. Michael Esser, MD

Dr. Michael Esser, MD

Scientific Director, Clinical Research

Dr. Michael Esser, MD is a clinical associate professor in Paediatrics, a member of ACHRI and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and director of the Paediatric Neuro Critical Care and Translational Research Program at Alberta Children’s Hospital. Dr. Esser’s research strives to better understand paediatric brain injury and the factors affecting selective cellular vulnerability to injury in children. Dr. Esser’s focus in his ACHRI role is to enhance collaboration between clinicians and all child health and wellness researchers.

Dr. François Bernier, MD

Dr. François Bernier, MD

Scientific Director, Precision Health

Dr. François Bernier, MD is the head and a professor in the Department of Medical Genetics as well as the Section Head of Clinical Genetics in the Department of Pediatrics. His research is focused on the identification of genes for rare genetic disorders and the translation of genomic technologies to the clinic. The unifying theme is to explore the origins of human rare diseases and birth defects to improve health outcomes. His role at ACHRI is focused on advancing precision health across research programs and ending the diagnostic odyssey for children and families.

Dr. Deborah Marshall, PhD

Dr. Deborah Marshall, PhD

Scientific Director, Research and Partnership Evaluation and Impact

Dr. Deborah Marshall, PhD is a professor and Arthur J.E. Child Chair in the departments of Community Health Sciences and Medicine. Her research focuses on assessing the value of health care applying health economics, patient-oriented research and precision health to improve outcomes for patients and their families. She also serves as the lead for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Health System Impact Fellowship National Cohort Training program. She is helping ACHRI design and implement a broad and inclusive evaluation framework for research to improve child health and wellness and accelerate our impact for patients and families and our communities.

Dr. Quentin Pittman, PhD

Director, Education and Training

Dr. Quentin Pittman, PhD is recognized internationally for his contributions in neuroendocrinology, neuroimmunology and neurophysiology. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, he is currently deputy head of Physiology and Pharmacology. He has served on training award review committees for the International Human Frontiers Science Program, Heart and Stroke Foundation, CIHR Vanier Canada, and numerous internal review committees.

Dr. Susan Samuel, MD

Dr. Susan Samuel, MD

Education Director, Clinical Research

Dr. Susan Samuel, MD leads the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program and is the Canada Research Chair in Precision Medicine and Data Science in Child Health. She is also a professor in Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences and a member of ACHRI and the O’Brien Institute of Public Health. Dr. Samuel is dedicated to improving care for children and youth with chronic disease and mentoring clinical trainees in her role at ACHRI.

Biomedical Lab Director

Dr. Wendy Dean, PhD is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy. Her research into mammalian developmental biology, developmental epigenetics, and reproduction provides fundamental discoveries to better understand and ultimately prevent pregnancy complications including pre-term birth. Dr. Dean's role at ACHRI is to oversee ACHRI infrastructure and core facilities as Director of Biomedical Laboratories supporting Child Health and Wellness researchers.