Our Speakers

Dr. Jan Christilaw

Dr. Jan Christilaw is President of BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, a post which she has held since April 2009. In that role, she leads the largest obstetrical hospital in Canada with 7,000-7,500 deliveries a year, and has responsibility for the tertiary and quarternary care of high risk pregnancies for the Province of British Columbia, as well as many other aspects of women’s health for the Province. As well, BC Women’s is the primary care provider for the majority of low risk women in Vancouver, and Dr Christilaw has had a leading role in assuring that respect for ‘normal birth’ is always a priority of care at the hospital.

In July 2014, that role was expanded to Vice president of Provincial Women’s and Newborn Care, reflecting the truly provincial scope of the role

Prior to that, she was Vice President of Medical Affairs and Senior Medical Director of Provincial Women’s Health Programs at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre. She remains an active clinician within the Oak Tree Clinic for HIV positive women, and continues to serve clinically within the Provincial Colposcopy Program.

Dr. Christilaw graduated from the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo in 1977 with a degree in Honours Biology. Subsequently, she graduated from McMaster Medical School in 1981, and completed her residency in Obstetrics-Gynecology at the University of British Columbia in 1986.

Following completion of residency training, she had a busy practice in Obstetrics-Gynecology in White Rock, BC, delivering thousands of babies, and becoming an integral part of that community. During that time, she served Peace Arch Hospital in many capacities, including as Head of Obstetrics-Gynecology for many years, and Director of the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Board.

She returned to UBC and completed a Masters of Health Care and Epidemiology in 2002. She is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology at UBC.

She is a Past-President of the Society of Obstetrician-Gynecologists of Canada and has served the Society in many capacities over the last 15 years, including many years on Council, as Co-Chair of the Women’s Health Task Force, on the JOGC Editorial Board, and as chair of the Ethics Committee. She remains a spokesperson for a wide range of women’s health issues.

She continues to be passionate about the quality of obstetrical care, and the importance of balancing intervention with respect for natural process. She also chaired the Consensus Conference on Cesarean Section in January 2008, and was principle author of the Consensus Statement that arose from the Conference.

From 2010-2013, she was the co-chair of the Provincial Breast Health Strategy, which aims to increase screening rates for mammography in British Columbia, and decrease the time that women wait to get results following mammography and other diagnostic breast procedures.

Originally from Northern Ontario, she has a passionate interest in First Nations issues, especially through relating to women’s health and maternity care. She has been involved in many initiatives related to this, including the development of the Indigenous Cultural Competency Program, the creation of the Aboriginal Committee of Perinatal Services, medical director for Aboriginal Services at BC Women’s from 2002-2008, the Aboriginal Maternity Road Map, and screening initiatives for First Nations women, to name a few.

She has been active in many social justice organizations over the years, including MSF, Oxfam, Amnesty International, David Suzuki Foundation, and was a founding member of the international Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (Nobel Peace Prize 1985).

Since medical school she has been a member of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada [FMWC], and has won both the May Cohen ward for leadership and the Reproductive Health Award. She has been a frequent national speaker for the FMWC.

She has served on a number of community-based boards, including:

  • WISH (Women’s Information and Safe house), providing services for survival sex trade workers.
  • UBC School of Midwifery Advisory Board
  • BCCEWH Advisory Board [BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health]
  • Canadian Network of International Surgery National Advisory Board
  • Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Board
  • BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation Board

She has also been interested in International Women’s Health for many years, with a special interest in international maternal mortality, and has worked internationally on a number of projects, including an emerging partnership between Children’s and Women’s/UBC and Makerere University in Uganda for services in maternal and child health. In that capacity, she authored the ‘Structured Operative Obstetrics’ manual series, and has traveled to Africa many times in recent years to deliver this and related curricula. Most recently, she has been involved in developing and delivering courses in obstetrical training which have been delivered to most of the medical and midwifery schools in Tanzania.

Recent Awards include:

  • Federation of Medical Women Reproductive Health Award, September 2013
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, February 2013 presented by Minister of Health, Margaret MacDiarmid
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Waterloo in 2011
  • Volunteer of the Year, Canadian Network for International Surgery, presented by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, June 2008
  • National Leadership Award, Federation of Medical Women, 2007
  • Dorothy Shaw Award for Leadership, Options for Sexual Health, 2006
  • C Provincial Community Service Award, 2006, presented by Premier Gordon Campbell and Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo

She is married to Dr. Warren Bourgeois, who is a Professor of Philosophy and Bioethics at Kwantlen College, with whom she has collaborated on several projects. She has two sons; David aged 26 and Tim, aged 20.

Her hobbies include choral singing, Celtic harp and piano.

Since starting medical school in 1978, and throughout her career, she has had an unwavering commitment to Women’s Health and continues to be passionate about assuring that all women have access to the tools they need for the best possible health, whether they live in British Columbia or in the most remote parts of the world.


Dr. Alexander Heazell

Dr Alexander Heazell is the current Chair of ISA and former Co-Chair of the Scientific Committee. Dr Heazell is a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Obstetrics and Clinical Director of the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre, University of Manchester. After graduating from the University of Birmingham Medical School in 2000, he commenced clinical training in obstetrics and gynaecology. After completing his PhD thesis on placenta dysfunction in preeclampsia, he has focused his research interests on stillbirth and is particularly interested in the role of placental dysfunction. He has also led qualitative research projects to explore professionals’ and parents’ experiences after stillbirth, with a particular focus on investigations following a stillbirth. His research portfolio includes basic science, clinical and qualitative research studies. His passion for stillbirth research stems, in part, from his personal experience of stillbirth.


Associate Professor Vicki Flenady

Associate Professor Vicki Flenady is a former ISA Board Chair and current Co-Chair of the Scientific Committee. A/Prof Flenady is a perinatal clinical epidemiologist with an interest in ensuring clinical care is based on the best available evidence through undertaking and disseminating Cochrane systematic reviews and studies in implementation science. She is currently the Leader of the PROSPER group (Prevention of stillbirth and adverse perinatal outcomes through excellence in research) and co-program head of the Mothers and Babies research theme at the Mater Research Institute – The University of Queensland (MRI-UQ) in Brisbane, Australia. With a background in midwifery, clinical epidemiology and biostatistics, she is involved in large-scale perinatal epidemiological studies on risk factors and data quality at a national and international level with a focus on stillbirth prevention. She was a member of the steering committee for The Lancet’s Stillbirth Series and is now a member of the Study Group for the 2015 Ending Preventable Stillbirths series. A/Prof Flenady is a former President of the Perinatal Society of Australia & New Zealand. She is also a founding member of the Australian and New Zealand Stillbirth Alliance, a regional office of ISA.


Dr. Lynn Farrales

Lynn Farrales, MSc MD CCFP, is a family physician. Her research areas include primary care research in refugee health and participatory research in stillbirth bereavement. As a Clinician Scholar with the University of British Columbia’s Department of Family Practice, Lynn conducted a Community Based Participatory Research project with Still Life Canada (SLC). She is a bereaved parent who co-founded and served as a past President (2012-2013) of SLC. Lynn is a member of SLC’s Research Committee and the International Stillbirth Alliance Scientific Committee.


Dr. K.S. Joseph

K.S. Joseph MD, PhD is a Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia and the Children’s and Women’s Hospital and Health Centre of British Columbia. His work is supported by the Child & Family Research Institute and by a Chair in Maternal, Fetal and Infant Health Services Research awarded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

His research interests include pregnancy complications, birth, fetal growth, infant mortality, serious neonatal morbidity and severe maternal morbidity.

Dr. Joseph received his MBBS and MD degrees from Christian Medical College, Vellore, India, and a PhD in epidemiology from McGill University, Montreal. In 2002, he was awarded the Peter Lougheed New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and in 2005 he received the Geoffrey Robinson award from the Canadian Paediatric Society for contributions to child and youth health through population health research. In 2014, he was awarded the Mentor Award by the international Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research and the Greg Alexander Award for Advancing Knowledge sponsored by the US-based Coalition for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology.


Prof. David Ellwood

Professor David Ellwood a former ISA Board Chair. Professor Ellwood started medical studies at Oxford where he completed a doctorate in reproductive biology and then did clinical training at Cambridge. He began training in obstetrics and gynecology (O&G) in Oxford; his specialist and sub-specialty training was completed at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. In 1995 he became Professor of O&G and then Deputy Dean of the Australian National University Medical School in 2006. He has held the positions of President of the Perinatal Society of Australia & New Zealand, the Australia New Zealand Stillbirth Alliance and Women’s Healthcare Australasia (WHA), and is the current chair of the Federation of Asia-Oceania Perinatal Societies (FAOPS). He now holds the position of Professor of O&G at Griffith University School of Medicine, and is Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Gold Coast University Hospital.


Dr. Dimitrios Siassakos

Dr Dimitrios Siassakos is the co-Chair of ISA’s Scientific Committee. He is an NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Clinical Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Medical Education at the University of Bristol and an Executive Editor for BJOG, an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology. He has a medical doctorate in obstetric team training and a postgraduate diploma in medical education with the University of Bristol, as well as a master’s in health systems management with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He holds grants for studies on bereavement care, gastric banding, teamwork, and evaluation of team training.  Dr Siassakos has developed and is now directing a national course for the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (ROBuST, or RCOG Operative Birth Simulation Training) and a regional course for the Severn Deanery (SMASH, or Saving Mothers with Advanced Simulation of High-risk situations). He is a member of two Department-of-Health Task Groups, the Executive Committee of the UK Stillbirth Clinical Study Group, and several other regional, national, and international initiatives to reduce stillbirths and improve bereavement care. He has authored several papers, invited editorials, national guidelines, and book chapters. He is a peer reviewer for Cochrane, most NIHR streams, and several journals, conferences, and publishing groups.


Dr. Dena Bloomenthal

Dr. Dena Bloomenthal is an Obstetrician who works at BC Women’s Hospital. Her special interests include high risk pregnancies and fetal ultrasound. She has worked at the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss clinic for the past 15 years and has developed an expertise in caring for and supporting women who have lost pregnancies. She has welcomed thousands of healthy babies. Other areas of interest include vaginal breech deliveries and HIV in pregnancy.


Lily Lee

Lily Lee is the Provincial Lead, Surveillance at Perinatal Services BC (PSBC).  PSBC, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority provides leadership, support and coordination for the strategic planning of perinatal services in BC in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, health authorities and other key stakeholders. The Surveillance team provides ongoing systematic analysis and monitoring of perinatal health in BC.

Lily has over 35 years of nursing experience in perinatal care and has held many leadership roles in advanced practice, education, management, and policy & program development.  Lily completed her Baccalaureate Nursing degree from the University of Manitoba, a Master Degree in Nursing from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Washington.  Lily has been an Adjunct Professor at the UBC School of Nursing since 1993.


Cheryl Davies

Cheryl is currently the Vice-President, Patient Care Services at BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre, the largest maternity hospital in Canada and the only facility in BC devoted primarily to the health of women, newborns and their families.  She has over 20 years experience in women’s health as a nurse, educator and senior leader, in both community and hospital settings.  She is a passionate advocate for women’s health, reproductive rights and social justice.  A lifelong volunteer, she is currently an active Board Director with Health for Humanity.  She believes firmly in the strength of servant leadership, and the importance of honouring women’s values and voices in health care.


Jaime Ascher

Jaime Ascher is the Manager of Human Resources at a Long Term Care Facility in Vancouver. She is President of Still Life Canada, Chair of the ISA 2015 Planning Committee, and a member of SLC’s Research Committee. Jaime is mother to three children, daughter Marissa, 10 and two sons, both born still, James (March 27, 2010) and Zachary (June 15, 2013).


Melanie Basso

Melanie Basso is the Senior Practice Leader: Perinatal at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver BC.  She has responsibility for evidence based clinical policy revision and knowledge translation.  In her advanced practice nursing role, she works with pregnant women who require advanced planning for complex birth situations.


Dr. Katherine Gold

Katherine J. Gold, MD, MSW, MS is Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan (UM) in the Department of Family Medicine and the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology.  She is board certified in family medicine, holds Masters Degrees in both Social Work and in Health and Health Services Research, and has completed two research training fellowships.  She is currently a fellow at the Institute of Medicine and is on the Board and the Science Advisory Committee of the International Stillbirth Alliance.  Dr. Gold’s work focuses on clinical and health services research on maternal and child health.  She was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health for the Michigan Mothers Study, a longitudinal investigation of the mental, physical, and reproductive health outcomes of perinatally-bereaved mothers.  Dr. Gold is active in research on mental health disorders in understudied populations and has published on suicide and homicide in pregnant and postpartum women and mental health disorders as a risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes.  She also researches maternal mental health and stillbirth prevention in sub-Saharan Africa.  Clinically, Dr. Gold serves as an family medicine attending physician delivering low-risk babies and caring for newborns at the University of Michigan and also sees patients in her primary care clinic.


John Nanson

John Nanson works as a Faculty Associate in the Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University, Faculty of Education. His background is in Special Education. John is the father of Scarlett Amelia who was born still on March 26th, 2012.


Lora Boschoff

Lora Boshoff is the Manager of a Corporate Travel Agency in Vancouver and a member of SLC’s Research Committee. She is the mother to Mia Rosalee, born sleeping on January 25, 2012 and her “rainbow” baby, Isaac Oliver who is 1 year old.