Mike Gretes, PhD
Mike has a combined background in access to medicines advocacy and bench science. This gives him the opportunity to create, conceptualize, and work with biomedical knowledge to ensure it benefits everyone. Supported by top national fellowships, he has applied protein crystallography to the discovery and development of new antibiotics, earning his PhD in Biochemistry in 2009 at the University of British Columbia (UBC). This work involved collaborations with chemists, biologists, and clinicians and has led to high-impact, peer reviewed publications in the the Journal of Molecular Biology, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, among others. Highlights of his advocacy career include a collaboration with UBC to develop its Global Access Licensing program to make University technologies available and affordable to people living in the developing world, giving a TEDx talk (“Making Medicines for Everyone”), and leading the international Neglected Diseases Working Group of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. Mike organized the 2009 Patent Pools For Neglected Diseases and Global Health Workshop at the Berkeley School of Law and the 2010 Medicines for Neglected Diseases Workshop at Boston University.
Mike is working to empower academic researchers to better meet the priority needs of people living in poverty.
Shahla Yekta, PhD, MPH
Shahla has a background in both public health and bench science. She completed her PhD in organic chemistry in 2005 at the University of Toronto. During this time she was part of a malaria research team synthesising potential targets based on known anti-malarial drugs and on known target-enzyme pocket environments. She then obtained the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt fellowship to do post-doctoral research at the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany. Shahla was an invited expert panel member at the Embassy of Canada in Germany, offering concrete suggestions to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada on how to improve German-Canadian scientific collaborations. She was also a nominated delegate at the World Health Organization Transparency for Change meeting in 2007. During the final year of her PhD, as she was determining her career path, she started to become more interested in the pharmaceutical policies that affect access to medicines for poor people. In 2009, she received a Master of Public Health at the University of British Columbia. She has also worked at the Charité Medical University in Berlin, Germany in the International Health Sciences Division working on the policy side of issues related to access to medicines. Shahla has several publications in well-respected journals, including JACS and Chemical Reviews (with over 250 citations since 2003) and has presented at several national and international conferences, including a series of invited lectures on access to medicines at several universities across Germany. She has taught and supervised several undergraduate and master’s level students both in the classroom as well as in the laboratory. Alongside her research in global health policy, she is also working with the Institute for Immunology and Informatics in Providence, RI, bringing classroom science to students in Mali, Africa via live webcasting including the occasional translation to French (the official language in Mali). Having been a globetrotter since birth, she speaks four languages, and tries to use them in her career when necessary. Shahla has volunteered with the British Columbia Persons With AIDS Society as well as the Universities Allied for Essential Medicines in various capacities.
Shahla is interested in building research capacity and enhancing collaboration within the developing world for diseases that burden local communities.
Rachel has a BA in International Relations from Columbia University and is currently a candidate for a Masters of Science in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She executed projects at the Doctors Without Borders Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines on international patent policy and malnutrition, the WHO STOP TB department to analyze gaps in innovation for new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines and the Medical Research Council’s Uganda Unit to write the 20 year history of HIV research of the organization. She has held a position at MSF-USA in event planning and is currently employed as an Executive Assistant in the business development department of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Outside of the office, she volunteers as the Regional Association Coordinator for MSF-USA. Her undergraduate thesis focused on access and innovation for pediatric drugs for tropical diseases.
Rachel’s work is devoted to studies of the political effects of health and advocacy strategies related to access to medicines.
Andrew Gray, MD
Andrew is a first-year resident physician in Public Health & Preventative Medicine at McGill University, and has designs on a career in global public health. He has a Bachelor’s degree with combined honours in mathematics and computer science, which predisposes him to want to build (or at least tweak) big complex systems to tackle big complex health needs. He organized the UBC chapter of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines for two years, and has served on UAEM’s international coordinating committee. He enjoys bicycles, beaches, books, food, farming, and philosophizing. And making web sites. He presently lives and blogs in Montreal.
Andrew is interested in working on research projects with public health impact with our partners at medical schools in East Africa.
Catee Lalonde, BSc, MPH
Catee, an active member of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, has a Master of Public Health from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Canada and is currently completing pre-requisite course work for medical school at City University of New York. While completing her masters in Vancouver, she was a relief youth worker at a safe house for street-involved youth. Catee has completed four missions with Doctors Wirthout Borders / Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) working in Chad, Niger and South Sudan. In her most recent mission, she worked as a project coordinator and was responsible for coordination of an intervention that sought to provide medical care to people affected by rebel violence in Western Equatoria State, South Sudan. In addition to her field work with MSF, Catee worked with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative’s (DNDi) “Chagas: Time to Treat” campaign, advocating for increased R&D for neglected diseases. As part of her studies, Catee wrote two literature reviews on Chagas disease: the first outlining the strengths and challenges of recent efforts to incentivize research on Chagas diagnostics and treatment; the second on participatory vector control programs. In Montreal, Catee assisted Dr. Andrew Szylagyi at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, in his studies on adaptation to lactose in lactose intolerant indviduals. Catee has worked in remote areas of the Canadian North as a crew foreman on various tree-planting, fire-fighting, and First Nation projects; and interned with Equitas (formerly the Canadian Human Rights Foundation). Catee holds an honours degree in Political Science from Concordia University in Montreal.