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Alan Bernstein

President and Chief Executive Officer

Alan Bernstein, OC, OOnt, PhD, FRSC is President & CEO of CIFAR a Canadian-based, global, organization that builds global communities of the world’s top researchers, addressing science and humanity’s most important questions.  

Dr. Bernstein graduated from the University of Toronto, receiving the James Loudon Gold Medal in Physics. Following PhD research with James Till, he did postdoctoral research in London, contributing to the early evidence that certain viruses carry genes required for cancer induction. In 1974, he joined the Ontario Cancer Institute, and subsequently joined the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute, becoming its Director of Research in 1994. His laboratory made significant discoveries on the molecular and cellular basis of cancer and discovered genes controlling stem cells of the blood-forming system and he has trained many graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who have gone on to stellar careers in Canada and beyond.  

As founding President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), he led the transformation of health research in Canada, creating Canada’s first health research institutes.  He was an early champion of women in science and young scientists.  In 2010, Dr. Bernstein became Executive Director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York, where he led an international alliance of organizations funding HIV vaccine research. 

Dr. Bernstein chairs and serves on numerous advisory and review boards around the world, including Stand Up 2 Cancer Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has received numerous awards and 8 honorary degrees, including the McLaughlin Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, the Award of Excellence from the Genetics Society of Canada, the Gairdner Foundation Wightman Award, the Henry Friesen International Prize in Health Research, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and appointment to the Orders of Canada and Ontario.