Rapid Response Unit

The Rapid Response Unit (RRU) of the ODPRN was created with the goal of rapidly conducting policy-relevant research in Ontario, and communicates regularly with key policy-makers in the Ontario government to determine areas of high priority for drug research. The RRU is comprised of two teams: the Pharmacoepidemiology Program and the Project Management Team.


The RRU houses the Pharmacoepidemiology Program, which rapidly responds to research requests from the ministry of health and long-term care using the administrative claims databases housed at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). These linked databases include information on physician claims, hospitalizations, emergency department visits, geographic location, vital statistics on the entire population of Ontario, and drug utilization data on the elderly population and those receiving social assistance. The pharmacoepidemiology program:

  • Explores novel methodologies in observational research,
  • Conducts clinically relevant comparative effectiveness and drug safety research driven by members of the Core Academic Unit, and
  • Refines the study design and data extraction processes to allow for increasingly rapid turnaround of research requests.

Comprised of a team of experienced epidemiologists, biostatisticians, analysts, project managers and clinicians, the pharmacoepidemiology program collaboratively and quickly responds to the needs of drug policy-makers in Ontario. Additionally, cross-provincial differences in policy decisions are facilitated through collaborations with members of the Core Academic Unit, Canadian Drug Safety and Effectiveness Research Network (CDSERN),  the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System (NPDUIS), and IQVIA.

Project Management Team

A Project Management Team comprised of dedicated project managers and research administrators organizes, coordinates, and facilitates the work of the RRU as well as the other units of the ODPRN. The RRU serves as the hub of many of the ODPRN’s activities by acting as the central team responding to policy-maker requests.

RRU Members

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Tara Gomes – Program Director

Tara Gomes is an epidemiologist, a Principal Investigator of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network and a Scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. She is also an assistant professor at the University of Toronto and holds a Canada Research Chair in Drug Policy Research and Evaluation.  Her research program focuses on pharmacoepidemiology, drug safety and drug policy research, with a specific interest in developing evidence to inform policies related to the safety of opioid use across Canada

Mina Tadrous – Director, Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Policy

Dr. Mina Tadrous is a scientist at Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care. He is also an investigator with the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN) and an ICES adjunct scientist. Mina’s research interests lie in drug policy research and the post-marketing surveillance of safety and effectiveness of medications used to treat chronic diseases. He completed a PhD in pharmacoepidemiology at the University of Toronto, a Masters in Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Tennessee, a Doctor of Pharmacy at Albany College of Pharmacy, and a pharmacy residency in Drug Information and Health Outcomes at the University of Tennessee and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is a practicing pharmacist who has worked in a variety of clinical settings.

Tony Antoniou – Senior Investigator

Tony Antoniou is a scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and ICES, as well as an associate professor at the University of Toronto. His areas of research include drug safety, drug interactions at the population level, and drug policy evaluation

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Dana Shearer – Lead, Knowledge Translation and Engagement

Dana holds a Master of Arts (Social Gerontology & Health Studies) from McMaster University as well as an undergraduate Honours Bachelor of Arts (Comprehensive Psychology) from Wilfred Laurier University. Dana implements various dissemination strategies to increase awareness of ODPRN research; develops knowledge translation material and communication tools that summarize research findings; and builds stakeholder and patient engagement including managing the ODPRN Citizens’ Panel and the Ontario Opioid Drug Observatory (OODO) Lived Experience Advisory Group.

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Samantha Singh – Project Manager

Samantha is a Senior Research Project Manager with the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network based at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital. She received her Bachelor of Science through York University. She is responsible for managing the ODPRN research portfolio.

Anita Iacono – Epidemiologist

Anita is an epidemiologist with the ODPRN based at St. Michael’s Hospital. She holds a Master of Science in Public Health and Health Systems (Epidemiology and Biostatistics) and a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies (Gerontology minor).

Daniel McCormack – Research Analyst

Daniel is a research analyst with the ODPRN and is based out of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. He received his Master of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Ottawa and previously completed a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at McGill University.

Tianru Wang – Research Analyst

Tianru is a Research Analyst with the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network based at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. She received her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from Dalla Lana School of Public Health and completed her Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto.

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