Specialists & Staff

Clinical Pharmacologists

Dr. Jeffrey Alfonsi MD, FRCPC Clinical pharmacology

Dr. Howard An MD, MSc, FRCPC Clinical pharmacology
Dr. Joanne Ho MD, FRCPC, MSc, Internal medicine, Geriatric medicine, Clinical pharmacology

Dr. Jessica Leen MD, FRCPC, Internal medicine, Clinical pharmacology

Geriatric Psychiatrists

Dr. Sophiya Benjamin MBBS, FRCPC, DABPN Geriatric Psychiatrist
Dr. Saumil Dholakia MBBS, MD Clinical Fellow
Dr. Vanessa Thoo MD, MEd., FRCPC Geriatric Psychiatrist
Dr. Jessica Waserman MD, FRCPC Geriatric Psychiatrist

GeriMedRisk Manager

Danielle Yantha, RN, BScN, MHS 

Administrative Assistant & Educational Coordinator

Tonya Weir

GeriMedRisk Pharmacist Leads

Jack Bodkin, RPh, BScPhm, BCGP

Jennifer Tung, RPh, PharmD, ACPR, BCGP

GeriMedRisk Pharmacists

Tony Antoniou, PharmD, PhD
Maha Ghannam, RPh, BScPhm, BCGP
Pam Howell, RPh, BScPhm
Meaghan Kemp  RPh, BScPhm, BSc, BCGP
Angela Millson, RPh, BScPhm

Megna Patel, RPh, BScPhm

Sandra Porter, RPh, BScPhm, BCGP, CRE

Clinical Engagement Lead

Lindsay Cox, BA

Operation Research Consultant

Hossein Tafaghodi, MSc

Clinical Education Coordinator

Shazia Khokhar

Board Members

Marlene Awad, BSc MHA

Marlene Awad is the Director of Operations for the Regional Geriatric Program of Toronto. She is responsible for operational, financial, corporate, performance, and information management. She also manages the Psychogeriatric Resources Consultation Program, a knowledge to practice service building capacity of staff in long-term care homes, community service agencies and others caring for clients with dementia and related psychogeriatric and neurological conditions. She has previously served as the Administrative Lead for the Network of Regional Geriatric Programs (RGPs) of Ontario, Canada. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters in Health Administration and has completed the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management Advanced Health System Leadership Program. She has served on the Ontario Gerontology Association as a Board member, Treasurer and then Board Chair and President. She enjoys engaging with partners, and her collaborative style enriches meeting facilitation and negotiations.  She is inspired by evidence and new ways of delivering care that enhances patient experience and outcomes.

Dr. Sophiya Benjamin, MBBS, FRCPC, DABPN Geriatric Psychiatrist 

Chair GeriMedRisk Board

Dr. Benjamin is Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at McMaster University and the Postgraduate Research Lead for Psychiatry at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, Waterloo Regional Campus. She completed her adult and geriatric psychiatry residency training at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina and was a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in adult and geriatric psychiatry. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in both adult and geriatric psychiatry.  She is a recipient of several teaching awards including the George Ginsberg Fellowship (American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training). She is a geriatric psychiatrist serving seniors with dementia at the Specialized Mental Health Program at the Freeport site of Grand River Hospital. Her other clinical roles include being a geriatric psychiatry consultant for GeriMedRisk and providing specialist support for primary care memory clinics.  Dr. Benjamin is the interim Co-Medical Director of the Provincial Geriatric Leadership Office which is the provincial infrastructure for clinical geriatrics care and is funded by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Josie d'Avernas, MSc

Josie d’Avernas is Executive Director of the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging (RIA). In this role, she works with university, college and industry partners to support research generation, promote research transfer to practice, and improve gerontology content in college and university courses. Prior to joining RIA, Josie was President of Health Promotion Consulting Inc., a Kitchener-based consulting company specializing in strategic planning, policy analysis, knowledge transfer, evaluation and research. Josie’s expertise is in knowledge mobilization for seniors’ living and care.  She believes deeply in knowledge user engagement through the entire process from formulating research questions through to application of results into programs and policies. Josie has a Master of Science degree in Health Studies from the University of Waterloo.  She has experience with non-profit boards, sitting as a Director on the KidsLink Board of Directors, Homewood Research Institute Board of Directors, and providing staff support to the RIA Board of Directors.

Dr. Joanne Ho, MD, FRCPC, MSc, Internal medicine, Geriatric medicine, Clinical pharmacology

Chair GeriMedRisk Board

Dr. Ho completed medical school at the University of British Columbia and residencies in internal medicine, geriatric medicine and clinical pharmacology at the University of Toronto. She obtained her Masters of Science in clinical epidemiology at the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. Dr. Ho also completed the CIHR Drug Safety and Effectiveness Cross-Disciplinary and University of Toronto Department of Medicine Eliot Phillipson Clinician-Scientist training programs. She is an active medical staff member of Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, ON where she provides inpatient geriatric medicine, internal medicine and clinical pharmacology consultation services. She is an examiner with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Examination Committee. Dr. Ho also created GeriMedRisk, an interdisciplinary telemedicine service available to clinicians who need geriatric clinical pharmacology and psychiatry consultations.

Dr. Barbara Liu, M.D., FRCP(C), FRCP (Edin)

Dr. Barbara Liu is a Professor of Medicine and Division Director for Geriatric Medicine at the University of Toronto.  She is also the Executive Director of the Regional Geriatric Program of Toronto (RGP) and leads a network of 23 hospitals in the delivery of specialized geriatric services. In Ontario, she has been leading the implementation of the senior-friendly hospital/senior-friendly care framework in collaboration with decision-makers, hospitals and front-line providers.  Through her clinical work and administrative leadership, she is deeply committed to the care of older people and the vision of “Better health outcomes for older adults with frailty”.

Sharmilla Rasheed, CPA, CMA, MBA

Sharmilla Rasheed is a recognized financial leader with extensive experience in healthcare management, healthcare quality improvement, healthcare consulting and budgeting.  She has served as vice-president (finance and information services) and chief financial officer at St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph and St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre, Brantford as well as administrator/CFO for St. Joseph’s Housing Corporation, Guelph.  In 2020, Sharmilla joined the University of Guelph as vice-president of finance and operations.  In addition to her professional career Sharmilla is a member of the External Audit Committee of the Waterloo Region District School Board and is very involved in community work at the Islamic Centre of Cambridge. Sharmilla is a Chartered Professional Accountant and holds an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Bachelor of Science and Business Degree from the University of Waterloo.