ODPRN Citizens’ Panel

The ODPRN Citizens’ Panel is a group of up to 25 volunteer citizens from across Ontario who have collectively come together to ensure that the ODPRN appropriately identifies issues of importance to the public, and incorporates these priorities into all aspects of our research.


In addition to meeting bi-monthly by teleconference and annually in-person to provide their input on current research projects and deliverables, members:

  • Identify priority research areas: Currently, members are collectively developing a research project of joint interest to policymakers, researchers and the general public based on aligned research priorities. The inaugural Panel-led project was our report on the Landscape of Prescription Stimulant Use (September 2018) followed by a report Characterizing Prescription Benzodiazepine Use (April 2021).
  • Are integrated with researchers & policymakers: This includes several leadership roles within the Citizens’ Panel, such as membership within our Stakeholder Advisory Panel, Ontario Opioid Drug Observatory, and opportunities for engagement with drug policy makers.
  • Participate on research teams: Currently, members are individually working on specific projects of interest to them throughout all stages of the research process, from developing the objectives to reviewing dissemination material, in order to ensure that our research is understandable to the general public.
  • Enhance patient engagement: Members are formally acknowledged on published material and have been instrumental in developing patient engagement tools including our online drug policy training modules.

Interested in becoming a Member?

The ODPRN is looking for a few more individuals to join our Citizens’ Panel. If you are interested in becoming a member, please email us at dana.shearer@unityhealth.to for more information.

ODPRN Citizen Virtual Town Hall Series

The ODPRN Citizens’ Panel recently launched an initiative to raise awareness and understanding of current drug policy issues experienced by the general public by providing a platform for meaningful conversation between citizens of Ontario. The ODPRN will be conducting virtual town halls with other Ontario Citizens who are invited to share stories and raise questions on topics related to drug policy research in Ontario. A moderator and a content specialist will be available to answer questions and offer insight. These discussions will be used by ODPRN and other groups to inform future research and policy priorities that incorporates perspectives of people with lived experience.

  • The Inaugural Town Hall was held on July 27, 2022 and focused on navigating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) into adulthoodRead the report + listen to the audio clips from 7 of the individuals who shared live during the Town Hall as well as 4 individuals who shared their story following the Town Hall.
  • The most recent Town Hall was held on May 2, 2023 where access to treatment and services for depression was discussed. A report on what we heard is currently in development that will reflect the described needs and challenges identified during the Town Hall.

Keep an eye out for future topic announcements in this Town Hall series!



Brent is an Industrial Engineer by training and has lived and worked in Ontario for most of his career with a brief stint in the US. He is passionate about consumer health and empowering patients to take a more active role in their own health and wellness. Brent has considerable experience working across Canada to improve medication management and medication safety by using technology effectively and hopes to be able to contribute to ODPRN to continue to improve Ontario’s health system. Brent is married with two children and lives in Toronto.

Christine Caron

In the summer of 2013, I became known around the world as the “dog bite lady” after an infection and septic shock almost took my life. I am a patient advisor and advocate; I lead support teams for Canadian Sepsis Survivors and Amputees. I am a voice to help ensure research is both meaningful to and understood by septic and trauma patients and their families, using my background in science and health research communications along my lived experience to advocate for improved outcomes for infection survivors, for strategies to improve the lives of survivors and to support families who share in this journey.

Matt Joosse

Matt (he/him) is a Project Manager for the Early Years’ Workforce Development Strategy in the Homelessness Prevention & Children’s Services Department of Social Services at the County of Lambton. Previously Matt spent more than a decade as a Health Promoter for Lambton Public Health. Matt has a Bachelor of Biological Sciences (Hons.) degree (2009) and a Master of Public Health degree (2011) from the University of Guelph as well as a Professional Certificate in Project Management (2018) through Western University.

Matt is the current chair for the Ontario Drug Research Policy Network Citizen’s Panel, providing insight on research and policy impacting Ontarians.

Kris Lee

Kris is a retired high school science teacher who is passionate about children’s health and workplace safety. As an environmental auditor she inspects laboratories and provides workshops for young workers and educators about their rights in the workplace. As a cancer survivor, Kris wants to learn from patient experiences.

Greg Owens

Greg (he/him) is a queer outreach worker within the HIV sector and a private dispute resolution practitioner, with experience working for Health Canada and leading an award-winning student mental health collective.

Zal Press

Zal Press is the Executive Director of Patient Commando, an organization dedicated to lifting the veil of silence that so often accompanies the onset of illness. He has held numerous patient advisor roles including his current position as Vice Chair, Patient and Community Advisory Committee at CADTH and was founding co-Chair of The Beryl Institute Global Patient and Family Advisory Board, which works to ensure that the voices of patients and families are a central consideration in the strategic direction and offerings of the Institute.

Zal has lived with Crohn disease for more than 40 years. He is passionate about illustrating the need for improved health care policy and delivery by sharing stories that enrich our appreciation of the lived illness experience.

Jenna Shea

Jenna, a teacher in the GTA, is a mother to two little girls and a member of a family affected by Huntington’s Disease (HD). Over the last several years, Jenna has taken on a fairly active role as a patient advocate for those affected by HD. She is currently a mentor for the Youth Mentorship Program through the Huntington Society of Canada, a member of HD-COPE and Clinical Trials Ontario’s ‘College of Lived Experience’, and Project Coordinator for the Mentorship Program of the Huntington’s Disease Youth Organization. Jenna is passionate about sharing her lived experience in the rare disease community as a caregiver navigating the Canadian health care system and believes that incorporating the patient’s voice into the process is integral to effective health care.  

Zainab Apooyin | Priya Chendke | Joyce Daigle | Terry Ebejer | Jerome Johnson | Lucie Langford | Ayan Mohamud | Kristen Morin | Alexander Peever | Zal Press | Josephine Quercia | Debbie Rotenberg

Please note that this report is NOT COMPLETE and is still in progress. Click below if you would like to continue.