Our Leadership

Senior Leadership

Dr. Diane Aubin, Executive Director

Dr. Diane Aubin, PhD, is the Executive Director for the Alberta Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Unit and has been with the Unit since its inception. Her research focuses on studying the psychological impact of medical errors on healthcare workers and patients, and helping them heal together after they experience this emotional trauma.  Dr. Aubin collaborates with patient safety groups to improve the mental well-being of healthcare workers through research, evidence-based guidelines and training. She is a collaborator for WellDoc Alberta, and for the UK-based Shame and Medicine Project. She worked previously at the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (now Healthcare Excellence Canada) and the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

Dr. Finlay McAlister, Scientific Director

Dr. Finlay McAlister, MD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Alberta. He is the Scientific Director of the Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit and previously led Alberta SPOR’s Data Platform from its inception. He has won numerous research and teaching awards, is a former President of the Canadian Society of Internal Medicine, and is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.


Dr. Sofia Ahmed, Lead, Capacity Development 

Dr. Sofia Ahmed, MD, is a Professor and the Vice-Chair of Research for the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary. She is a nephrologist and clinician-scientist with a focus on sex differences in human cardiovascular and kidney physiology and outcomes. Dr. Ahmed is an Advisory Board member for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Gender and Health, and the Education Chair for the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences. Dr. Ahmed is a strong proponent of the importance of mentorship and fostering excellence in the next generation of kidney and cardiovascular researchers.

Dr. Jeff Bakal, Co-Lead, Data & Research Services 

Dr. Jeff Bakal, PhD, is the Program Director for Provincial Research Data Services at Alberta Health Services which operates the Alberta Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) data platform and Health Services Statistical & Analytics Methods teams. He is a biostatistician with over 15 years of experience working with Health Services data and Randomized Clinical Trials. His specialties include Biostatistics, Survival analysis, Cost-Utility modeling, Exploratory analysis, Experimental Design, Clinical Trials, Population Health Research, Analytics.

Dr. Hude Quan, Co-Lead, Data & Research Services 

Dr. Hude Quan, MD, is a Professor at the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary and Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Classification, Terminology and Standards at the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. A major theme of Dr. Quan’s research is to develop novel methods for analyzing big data and improving its quality to enable its optimal use for health research, precision medicine, disease surveillance, and healthcare system performance assessment. He leads the International Methodology Consortium for Coded Health Information, which was created to develop, test, and promote methodological advances for the applied use of coded health information with the aim of improving methods in health services research.

Dr. David Johnson, Co-Lead, Learning Health System

Dr. David Johnson, MD, is the Co-Lead for the Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit Learning Health System Team, a Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Calgary, and the Senior Medical Director for the AHS Maternal, Newborn Child and Youth Strategic Clinical Network. His primary research focuses on the management of common respiratory illnesses (croup, bronchiolitis, and asthma). Dr Johnson also investigates how best to translate knowledge into practice. He has completed several large multi-centre studies assessing different strategies for implementing clinical practice guidelines and clinical pathways in Alberta. He is an active member of KT Canada.

Tracy Wasylak, Co-Lead, Learning Health System

Tracy Wasylak, MSc, is a Co-Lead for the Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit Learning Health System Team and the Chief Program Officer, Strategic Clinical Networks with Alberta Health Services. She has held numerous senior leadership roles within Alberta Health Services. Wasylak holds an adjunct assistant professor appointment with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary. She received the Order of Merit, Nursing Policy Award, from the Canadian Nurses Association in March 2018. She was the recipient of the 2015 AHS Presidents Excellence Award in the category of Innovation and in 2019 she received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Quality Improvement for her provincial contributions to care pathways.

Dr. Maria Santana, Lead, Patient Engagement 

Dr. Maria Santana, PhD, is a health services researcher, patient and family-centred care scientist, an Assistant Professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary. She is the provincial lead for the Strategy of Patient-oriented Research, Patient Engagement. Dr. Santana has received training in clinical pharmacy, public health, and clinical epidemiology. Her research focuses on developing new methods for advancing person-centred care and patient-oriented research.

Associate Directors

Kelli Buckreus, Associate Director, Capacity Development 

Kelli Buckreus, MEd, holds a bachelor’s degree in Bioethics and an interdisciplinary master’s degree with a specialization in education and educational technologies. Buckreus is also an Associate Editor and Copy Editor for the Canadian Journal for Learning and Technology. Buckreus is now completing a Doctor of Education degree in open, digital, and distributed learning leadership and innovation. Her research is focused on new priorities and novel applications of artificial intelligence in medical education. Her broader interests include bioethics and digital/information ethics.

Bing Li, Co-Associate Director, Data & Research Services 

Bing Li, MSc, is a team lead with the Alberta Health Services Analytics. He holds a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Calgary.

Erik Youngson, Co-Associate Director, Data & Research Services Team

Erik Youngson, MMath, is a biostatistician and co-associate director of AbPSORU Data and Research Services/Co-Lead of AHS Health Research Methods and Analytics.  He obtained his Master of Mathematics degree from Waterloo and has been working with health services data in various roles for the past 15 years.

Denise Thomson, Associate Director, Learning Health System

Denise Thomson, MA MBA, is the Associate Director of the Alberta SPORSUPPORT Unit Learning Health System Team. She has many years of experience in health promotion, health research and knowledge translation. Thomson holds an MBA with a specialization in knowledge transfer in the Canadian health care sector, as well as a MA and is currently a PhD student at the University of Alberta, studying health system policymaking about climate change impacts.

Dr. Paul Fairie, Associate Director, Patient Engagement 

Dr. Paul Fairie, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary. He hosts Dr. Paul Fairie, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary. Drawing on a social science PhD, Paul is involved with various research projects involving community engagement approaches, as well as those trying to better understand and measure the patient experience, either through traditional surveys or new natural language processing techniques. As Associate Director of Patient Engagement, Paul leads a diverse team of health services research and patient engagement experts. Outside of work, Paul is actively involved in a variety of civic and community projects.