The CDPE strives to improve community health and safety by conducting research and outreach on best practices in drug policy. We work collaboratively with governments, affected communities, and civil society to guide effective and evidence-based policy responses to substance use.

The CDPE was founded as the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP) in 2010 at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, Canada. The CDPE is now housed within the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital, a site of Unity Health Toronto, in Toronto, Canada.

The CDPE endeavors to be a primary source for rigorous scientific evidence on the impacts of illegal drug policy on community health and safety. To that end, the CDPE produces research products that adhere to the highest standards of peer-reviewed scientific research. The CDPE also conducts outreach and knowledge translation to inform policymakers, affected communities, key stakeholders, and the general public on pressing current issues surrounding illegal drugs and drug policy. The CDPE also leads innovative primary research, including on drug checking services, supervised injection services, injection drug use prevention, overdose response, and drug policy evaluation.

Core Team

Dr. Dan Werb
Executive Director

Dan Werb, PhD, is an epidemiologist and policy analyst with expertise in HIV, addictions, and drug policy. Dr. Werb is a Research Scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and holds a dual appointment as Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases & Global Public Health at the University of California San Diego and in the Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation at the University of Toronto. He is also Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Division of AIDS at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Werb is an inaugural winner of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse Avenir Award (2015) for creative new investigators proposing highly innovative research at the intersection of HIV and substance use. This award supports his work as Principal Investigator of PRIMER: Preventing Injecting by Modifying Existing Responses, a five-year multi-site cohort study tasked with developing interventions to preventing entry into injection drug use.

Dr. Werb is the recipient of a Trailblazer Award (2017) from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He conducts extensive knowledge translation on drug policy and public health, through print and radio journalism, and is the winner of a 2014 Canadian National Magazine Award for his popular science writing. Finally, he was profiled in April 2017 as one of 13 young Canadians making a difference as part of the CBC series ‘We Are Canada’ ( His general interest non-fiction book about Tijuana’s femicide, City of Omens, will be published in 2019 (Bloomsbury Publishing).

Zachary Bouck
Research Associate

Zachary Bouck is a Research Associate at the CDPE, where he assists with study design, data analysis and interpretation of findings. Zach has prior experience working as a biostatistician at Women’s College Hospital, where the majority of his research involved the use of administrative data to study physician and system-level characteristics associated with use of low-value care. His interest at CDPE is studying persons who inject drugs (PWID) within the Ontario integrated Supervised Injection Site (OiSIS) prospective cohort to identify characteristics associated with providing injection initiation assistance to injection-naive individuals. He is currently a PhD in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and holds a Masters of Public Health from the University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Jeanette Bowles
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Jeanette Bowles is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the CPDE where she is working on evaluation efforts of injectable opioid agonist/safer supply programs at frontline sites throughout Toronto, and hospital-based interventions for persons who use drugs. She is a long-time harm reduction advocate, mostly having worked throughout Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, and San Diego, CA. Her focus is on community-engaged research in the arena of drug use and sex work/trade. She holds a doctorate degree in Public Health from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. During the time at Drexel, Dr. Bowles taught graduate and undergraduate courses for both Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania, where she had previously earned a Master of Social Work degree and worked in HIV risk-reduction research. Dr. Bowles’ dissertation was entitled “Opioid Overdose Among Persons Who Inject Drugs in Philadelphia: Witnessed Overdose Responses, Prevention Program Diffusion, and Environmental Risks.” Following successful defence of her dissertation, she accepted an NIH-funded T32 Postdoctoral Scholarship at the University of California San Diego.

Dr. Gillian Kolla
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Gillian Kolla is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the CDPE. She uses community-based qualitative and ethnographic research to examine how to make health and social services more accessible to people who use drugs. Dr. Kolla’s doctoral research at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, explored how the criminalization of drug use impedes the ability of public health programs to respond effectively to drug use. She is currently also conducting postdoctoral research at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, and is a member of the coordinating committee for the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society, which opened and ran Ontario’s first supervised injection site in Moss Park as a volunteer initiative in 2017-2018 as part of a community-led response to overdose deaths.

Nazlee Maghsoudi
Knowledge Translation Manager

Nazlee Maghsoudi is the Knowledge Translation Manager at the CDPE, where she plays a lead role in the production and dissemination of evidence-based drug policy research. She has been deeply involved in the development of evidence-based drug policies at the grassroots, local, national, and international levels since 2013. Nazlee is Strategic Advisor at Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, having formerly acted as Chair of the Board of Directors. She is also an Outreach Volunteer at Trip! Project, a harm reduction program in Toronto that provides education and support to youth in nightlife and party settings. Nazlee is pursuing a PhD in Health Services Research at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University and a Master of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto.

Karen McDonald
Operations Manager

Karen McDonald is the Operations Manager at the CDPE. She provides strategic leadership to ensure objectives are met and facilitates the CDPE’s growth. Karen is responsible for stakeholder management and is accountable for the financial portfolio and programmatic reporting of the organization. Karen oversees the implementation of Toronto’s drug checking service, as well as the planning and implementation of other CDPE initiatives. She brings over ten years of public sector experience, where she has contributed to health policy and systems change. Karen holds a Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law from York University and is a certified project management professional.

Liz McLean
Research Assistant

Liz McLean is a Research Assistant at the CDPE, responsible for community outreach and conducting interviews with people who use drugs for the Integrated Supervised Injection Services Evaluation. Liz has lived experience and is deeply embedded in Toronto’s harm reduction community. She has extensive experience providing services to people who use drugs and undertaking community-based research through Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre and the University of Toronto.

Dr. Claudia Rafful
Policy Analyst

Dr. Claudia Rafful MSc, PhD is a Policy Analyst at the CDPE. As a policy analyst, Dr. Rafful is investigating access to health care among people who inject drugs (PWID) in North America, with a special focus on access to HIV treatment and prevention services and injection drug use initiation. Her main interest is on developing evidence-based public policy recommendations to improve the access to healthcare among vulnerable populations, including people with substance use disorders and other mental disorders. She holds a PhD in Public Health from the University of California. Her research and training has been funded by the Secretariat of Health in Mexico, the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT), UC-Mexus, Fogarty International, and the Canadian Institutes of Health (CIHR).

Indhu Rammohan
Research Assistant

Indhu Rammohan is a Research Assistant at the CDPE, where she assists the team in interpreting study-related data. Indhu developed an interest in harm reduction and drug policy during her undergraduate training in global health. She co-founded the University of Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research, which aims to promote health equity by facilitating knowledge translation and collaboration between students and researchers in global health. She was also involved in the University of Toronto International Health Program where she played a key role in organizing U of T World AIDS Day 2015 and wrote for the UTIHP Editorial. Indhu is currently pursuing a MSc in Health Services Research, in the Health Policy concentration, at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.

Kristy Scarfone
Research Assistant

Kristy Scarfone is a Research Assistant with the CDPE where she is supporting the evaluation of Toronto’s Drug Checking Service. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto, and has a Bachelor of Science in Biopharmaceutical Sciences with specialization in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Ottawa. She combines her knowledge of analytical and synthetic chemistry with her aim to improve public health through proactive and preventative health care in her work with the CDPE. Kristy’s research interests include harm reduction and health equity surrounding addiction, with specific interest in persons who use drugs in rural communities within Northern Ontario

Dr. Ayden Scheim
Associate Scientist

Dr. Ayden Scheim is an Associate Scientist at the CDPE where he leads a program of systematic reviews on drug policy, addictions treatment, and harm reduction interventions. Dr. Scheim is a social epidemiologist interested in the impacts of social-structural factors such as stigma, policies, and laws on the health of marginalized populations. Previously, Dr. Scheim was Site PI for a Supervised Injection Services feasibility study in London, Ontario, and is also a research leader in the field of transgender health and human rights. He holds a PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics (2017) from Western University and is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Diego.

Stephanie Sebastian
Administrative Assistant

Stephanie Sebastian is an Administrative Assistant at the CDPE. Her responsibilities mainly involve supporting the Executive Director and the administrative function of the Centre. She supports the team in their various projects, including the implementation of Toronto’s Drug Checking Service, tracking knowledge translation activities, managing the Centre’s website and social media presence, and other communications activities. Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor’s of Applied Sciences from Ryerson University and completed her Master’s degree in Public Health from Queen’s University.

Ruby Sniderman
Research Coordinator

Ruby Sniderman is a Research Coordinator at the CDPE working on the Integrated Supervised Injection Services Evaluation. She previously worked on the Surviving Opioid Overdose with Naloxone Education and Resuscitation (SOONER) project at St. Michael’s Hospital, and as a graduate evaluator at Toronto Public Health’s The Works. Her research interests include harm reduction and arts-based health promotion. Ruby holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies from McGill University, and a Masters of Public Health in Social and Behavioural Sciences from the University of Toronto.

Hayley Thompson
Project Manager, Toronto’s Drug Checking Service

Hayley Thompson is the Project Manager of Toronto’s Drug Checking Service at the CDPE. She is responsible for managing the day to day operations of the drug checking pilot, including fostering robust relationships with partners and working with the harm reduction community to optimize the service. Hayley’s previous project management experience has focused on implementation and quality improvement for primary, acute, and long-term care organizations nationally. Hayley has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Wilfrid Laurier University, a postgraduate certificate in international business management from Mohawk College, and is currently pursuing a Master of Health Science in Health Administration at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.

Scientific Board

A Scientific Board comprised of leading international scientific experts on drug policy and related disciplines oversees the work of the CDPE.

  • Dan Werb, PhD
    Chair of the Scientific Board; Executive Director, Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation
  • Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH
    President, International AIDS Society
  • Don C. Des Jarlais, PhD
    Director, International Research Core in the Centre for Drug Use and HIV Research, New York University College of Nursing
  • Gordon Guyatt, MD, MSc
    Distinguished Professor, Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, McMaster University
  • Catherine Hankins, MD, MSc
    Deputy Director of Science, Amsterdam Institute for Global Health Development, Department of Global Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam
  • Carl L. Hart, PhD
    Director Residential Studies and Methamphetamine Laboratories, New York State Psychiatric Institute
  • Michel D Kazatchkine, MD
    Member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Geneva
  • Thomas Kerr, PhD
    Co-Director, Urban Health Research Initiative, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
  • Julio Montaner, MD
    Director, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
  • David J Nutt, MD, FMEDSCI
    Edmond J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology, Division of Brain Sciences Imperial College London
  • Steffanie A Strathdee, PhD
    Associate Dean, Global Health Sciences; Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health, University of California San Diego School of Medicine
  • Evan Wood, MD, PhD
    Professor of Medicine, Division of AIDS, University of British Columbia

Technical Advisors

The CDPE’s Technical Advisors are experts from a variety of disciplines relevant to drug policy who help to ensure that all research produced by the CDPE adheres to the highest scientific standards by providing peer review for publications.

Frederick Altice | Apinum Aramrattana | Judith Auerbach | Tasnim Azim | Aram Barra | Francisco Bastos | David Bewley-Taylor | Ricky Bluthenthal | Scott Burris | Patrizia Carrieri | Paul Dietze | Benedikt Fischer | Samuel Friedman | Sandro Galea | Holly Hagan | Robert Heimer | Margaret Hellard | Adeeba Kamarulzaman | Jan “Jano” Klimas | Alex Kral | Lisa Maher | Thomas Patterson | Tim Rhodes | Alison Ritter | Jeffrey Samet | Lisa Sánchez | Susan Sherman | Ambros Uchtenhagen | Alex Wodak