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 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 for 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).

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 for 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 achieved 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 is a certified project management professional and oversees the planning and implementation of various CDPE initiatives. She brings ten years of public sector experience, including five years as manager of operations for a national health care campaign, Choosing Wisely Canada, where she contributed to health policy and systems change. Karen is pursuing a Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law at York University.

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).

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.

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.

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