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Investigators and Collaborators

The ACTION program is strengthened by the expertise of various investigators from both within and outside of Canada.

Collaborators in Canada

Dr. Mervyn Gornitsky

B.Sc., D.D.S, F.R.C.D.(c), F.A C.D., F.I.C.D., F.A.D.Q., F.A.A.H.D., F.A.I.D.S., A.A.O.M.S. – Jewish General Hospital & Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University, Montreal QC, Canada.
Dr. Gornitsky is the director of the JGH Databank for Saliva Specimens, located at the LDI. Currently his research themes focus on the discovery of salivary biomarkers in Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions, and the biomarkers and treatment of painful temporomandibular disorders and sleep apnea.


Dr. Hyman M. Schipper

MD, PhD, FRCPC. Senior Investigator, Lady Davis Institute Jewish General Hospital, Professor, Neurology and Medicine, McGill University, Montreal QC, Canada.
Dr. Schipper is the founding director of the Centre for Neurotranslational Research, a Biomedical Redox Laboratory and the Alzheimer Risk Assessment Clinic at the JGH as well as a founding scientist of Molecular Biometrics Inc. His research interests focus primarily within the fields of oxidative stress, brain ageing and neurodegenerative diseases.


Dr. Zovinar Der Khatchadourian

DDS – Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University, Montreal QC, Canada. 
Dr. Der Khatchadourian’s research interests pertain to various orofacial pain conditions such as temporomandibulardisorders and neuropathic pain.


Dr. Richard Hovey

MA, PhD – Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University, Montreal QC, Canada.
Dr. Hovey has defined expertise in bridging gaps between theory and practice in areas such as patient centered care and communication in healthcare. His research approach utilizes philosophical hermeneutics and phenomenology in strengthening our understanding of the experiences of vulnerable and underserved populations, like those living with chronic illness, cancer, disability, or the effects of medically induced trauma. Dr. Hovey is an Associate Professor in the Division of Oral Health and Society with the Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University; in addition to an Adjunct Professor in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary.


Dr. Firoozeh Samim

DMD, MSc – Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University, Montreal QC, Canada.
Dr. Samim is part of the McGill Faculty of Dentistry, conducting research on orofacial pain. She established the first oral oncology clinic in Newfoundland and Labrador and is a Canadian and American Board Certified specialist in Oral Medicine & Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology.



Dr. Ji Zhang

MD, PhD – Faculty of Dentistry &Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal QC, Canada.
Dr. Zhang’s research interest pertains to the immune etiology of chronic pain by exploring the interactions between injured neurons and their surrounding glia/immune cells and the impact of glial activation in pain behaviour.



Dr. Mark Basik

MD – Jewish General Hospital & Department of Oncology, McGill University, Montreal QC, Canada.
Dr. Basik’s research interests focus on gene expression and DNA changes in breast and colon cancers. Using modern microarray technology, his group is investigating the relationship between DNA copy number changes and gene expression across the genome in both cell lines and primary tumours.


Dr. Marc Martel

PhD. Assistant Professor Faculty of Dentistry, Faculty of Medicine (Dept. Anesthesia), McGill University, Montreal QC, Canada.
Dr. Martel’s research explores the psychological and biological determinants of prescription opioid misuse and addiction among patients with chronic pain who have been prescribed opioid analgesics.



International Collaborators

Dr. Eric L. Schiffman

DDS, MS –School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, USA.
Dr. Schiffman’s research interests include developing validated diagnostic criteria for the most common temporomandibular disorders (TMD), specifically disorders involving the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). He has also completed numerous randomized clinical trials (RCT) investigating the relative effectiveness of home based self-care as compared to jaw exercises and medications. He also completed a RCT with a 5-year follow-up assessing the relative effectiveness on non-surgical and surgical treatments for advanced TMJ pathology.


Dr. James Fricton

DDS, MS – School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, USA.
Dr. Fricton has over thirty years of experience in clinical care, research, and teaching in the field of chronic pain, temporomandibular disorders, and health informatics.He maintains an active private practice for patients with TMJ, orofacial, head, and neck pain in Plymouth and St. Paul, Minnesota.



Dr. Larus Gudmundson

MSc, PhD – Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Iceland, Iceland.
Dr. Gudmundson’s research focuses on the epidemiology of migraine headaches and co-morbidity of migraines. He also examines pharmacoepidemiology related to hypnotic (soporific) and anxiolytic medication use as well as analgesic use.


Dr. Michèle Muller-Bolla

DDS, PhD – Department of Public Health, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France.
Dr. Muller-Bolla’s research activities make it possible to evaluate the performance of prosthetic assemblies and associated manufacturing techniques using clinical studies.



Dr. Antonio Sergio Guimarães

DDS, MS, PhD, Faculdade Sao Leopoldo Mandic, Campinas, Brazil.
Dr. Guimarães conducts numerous research projects on TMD Pain in Brazil.



Dr. Franco Arsati

DDS, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Feira de Santana UEFS Department of Biological Science
Dr. Arsati works with the Department of Biological Science at Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana and has extensive experience in saliva research. Hi research interests focus on oxidative stress in degenerative TMJD as well as bruxism.


Lab Members

The ACTION program is strengthened by the expertise of various investigators from both within and outside of Canada.

Master’s students

Julia Galindez. The aim of my project is the validation of a salivary biomarker for Parkinson’s disease.

Neha Thakur: The aim of my project is to determine whether parafunctional oral habits are related to acute and chronic temporomandibular pain.

Navpreet Arora: My project involves assessing the risk factors for neuropathic pain following breast cancer surgery.

PhD candidate

Sherif Elsaraj (DDM): My research focuses on the relationship between sleep apnea, fatigue and insomnia with acute and chronic temporomandibular disorders.


Visiting scholar

Maria Martha de Barros Tarozzo (DDS): Martha has a DDS from the University of Sao Paulo. She has experience in the field of dentistry with specialization in orthopedics, orthodontics, and temporomandibular disorders and orofacial pain. Martha has joined Dr. Velly’s lab for a year as a visiting scholar at McGill University, to gain experience in research. Currently, she is working on the identification and characterization of biomarkers related to acute and chronic pain (both post-surgical and TMD-related) within the Department of Dentistry at the Jewish General Hospital.


Clinical Research Coordinator

Olivia Canie


Research Assistants (former)

Shrisha Mohit

Vimal Kothari


Past graduate students

Ahad Shahid Ahmed (MSc, completed 2014): The relationship between painful and non-painful comorbidities among individuals with TMD.
Priscilla Sanders (MSc, completed 2015): The association between salivary nerve growth factor biomarkers and painful temporomandibular disorders.
Khurram Khan (MSc, completed 2016): Painful temporomandibular disorders and comorbidities among adolescents.
Omar Sabsoob (MSc, completed 2016): The transition from acute to chronic TMD project.
Harsimrat Kaur (MSc, completed 2016): The risk factors related to chronic pain after breast cancer surgery.
Jessica Italia (MSc, completed 2017): Living with temporomandibular disorders through a social relations lens: A qualitative phenomenological exploration
Mohamed Amhmed (MSc, completed 2017): The association of headache and TMD.
Gurveen Gill (MSc, completed 2017): Risk factors associated to chronic pain three months after breast cancer surgery.
Eric Morenz (MSc, completed 2017): Eric’s Masters Degree was in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and for his project, he was responsible of analyzing the data from a large database on the use of opioids and pneumonia.
Neha Aggarwal (MSc, completed 2018). The quality of life of breast cancer patients at 3 months after breast cancer surgery.


Summer students – McGill Faculty of Dentistry Summer Research Studentship

Mai Abdel-Azim (2016): Orofacial pain biomarkers, more specifically Nerve Growth Factor.
Thea Worthylake (2015): Systematic review on the pharmacotherapy in temporomandibular disorders.


MITACS Globalink Interns

Lucas Carlesso (2017): Breast cancer surgery
Jiaming Huang (2015): Opioids and the risk of ovarian cancer.