Our Leadership Team

The NB SPOR PIHCI Network is a member of the larger pan-Canadian SPOR Network.

The Tripartite leadership in New Brunswick includes Dr. Sarah Gander and Ms. Joan Kingston, as the clinical leads, Ms. Nancy Roberts and Ms. Joanne Young from the Department of Health as policymaker leads, and Dr. Shelley Doucet and Dr. Rima Azar as the scientific leads. Retired scientific lead, Dr. Baukje Miedema, is still active in the network. The NB SPOR PIHCI currently has approximately 80 stakeholders and is growing, representing a diverse group of organizations and individuals. The stakeholders are actively encouraged to engage in various aspects of research, from inception to knowledge translation. The leadership committees meet regularly to discuss ongoing issues, and all the stakeholders get together regularly to discuss many aspects related to primary health care (e.g., research, integrated healthcare models, etc.). Additionally, the NB SPOR PIHCI has strong connections with other all the SPOR Networks in Atlantic Canada and across Canada.

Scientific Leads

Dr. Shelley Doucet

Dr. Shelley Doucet, PhD Nursing, is the Jarislowsky Chair in Interprofessional Patient Centred Care and an Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing & Health Sciences at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John and the Scientific Co-Director of NaviCare/SoinsNavi NB. Dr. Doucet is also an Adjunct Professor with Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick and is recognized as an emerging leader in interprofessional education and practice within Canada. Dr. Doucet’s experiences teaching interprofessional student teams in classroom and clinical settings, as well as her clinical experiences as a Registered Nurse in mental health nursing and emergency medicine, have led her to establish interprofessional health education and practice initiatives and to explore their outcomes. Dr. Doucet’s current research is based in primary health care settings, with a focus on children with complex health conditions and their families. In partnership with Dr. Rima Azar, she was awarded $750,000 from the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation to identify children with complex health care needs and to develop an innovative integrated service delivery model using a patient navigator to meet the needs of this population across the full continuum of care. She was awarded a CIHR PIHCI Quick Strike Operating Grant to expand the scope of the research that was funded by the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation. Shelley is also a mother of two, an active community volunteer, and an avid runner.




Dr. Rima Azar

Dr. Rima Azar is the Scientific Co-Director of NaviCare/SoinsNavi and the founder/director of the Psychobiology of Stress & Health Lab (PSHL). She is an Associate Professor at Mount Allison University where she has joined the Psychology Department in 2008 and earned tenure in 2011. Dr. Azar held a CIHR New Investigator in Developmental Psychoneuroimmunology award from 2011-2016. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Community Services at the Université de Moncton, an Adjunct at Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, and an Honorary Research Associate in the Interdisciplinary PhD Program at the University of New Brunswick (UNB).  In addition, she is the Co-Scientific lead in the tripartite leadership of the NB-SPOR-PIHCI (Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations) Network; our provincial network includes 2 researchers, 2 clinicians, and 2 policy makers. Since September 2013, she has served as a CIHR Advisory Board Member for the Institute of Human Development, Child, and Youth Health (IHDCYH). She is grateful for the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation (NBCF)’ $750K grant to jointly implement/co-lead the NB Navigation Centre for Children with Complex Health Conditions with her Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Shelley Doucet. What a beautiful collaboration (good marriage!) between our respective institutions, Mount Allison University & UNB Saint John. Dr. Azar’s research focuses on the: (1) Inflammatory and endocrine mechanisms linking prenatal stress and depression to birth weight & (2) Maternal and paternal coping strategies when facing child chronic illnesses. Dr. Azar’s projects are funded by several federal as well as provincial agencies, including CIHR, RSC, NBHRF, & NBCF, a charity organization. She is also thrilled to be involved in provincial and Pan-Canadian research networks aimed to better serve children/youth such as the $25 million-funded SPOR-CHILD BRIGHT. Over her career, she has worked with newborns, children, teens, and their families- both as a stress researcher and as a developmental clinician. She is a proud aunt and, in a recent second life, she and her husband have been involved in the foster care system in NB, as foster parents.


Policy Makers


Ms. Joanne Young

Ms. Joanne Young is a Chronic Disease Consultant with the New Brunswick Department of Health. Most of her clinical career has been spent providing community-based care and complex case management for patients/families living with chronic cardio-respiratory illness. From 2007-2011, she coordinated and co-led various research initiatives and was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the INSPIRED COPD Outreach Program in Halifax, Nova Scotia. INSPIRED is a “Leading Practice” with Accreditation Canada and Joanne was on faculty with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) to support their pan-Canadian INSPIRED initiative. Joanne lives in St. Stephen with her husband and 2 teenaged boys and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Public Health (focused on Population Health and Health Promotion) through the University of Alberta.



Ms. Joan Kingston, RN, BN

Ms. Joan Kingston, RN, BN, obtained a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 1978. Her career has included experience in the fields of nursing, health care and human resource management, post-secondary education, and as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council and within central government with responsibilities in directing overall government affairs as part of the senior management team with responsibilities in strategic planning, priority setting, and directing government. Joan has demonstrated leadership skills and a deep knowledge of the machinery of government and the Canadian health care system. Other areas of expertise include policy development and implementation, clinical nursing practice, clinical and classroom education, health care and health human resource management, communications, and relationship building. Her current role is co-manager of the Fredericton Downtown Community Health Centre (FDCHC), a unique partnership between UNB and Horizon Health Network creating a teaching facility that delivers an integrated program where primary health care services, teaching, and research are combined. Joan was instrumental in the conception and establishment of the FDCHC.


Dr. Sarah Gander

Dr. Sarah Gander is a General Pediatrician in Saint John, NB. She completed her undergraduate degree at UNBSJ and medical school at Memorial University on Newfoundland. Her paediatrics residency was completed at Queen's University in Kingston Ontario. She started her practice in her home town of Saint John in 2008, has become the Director of the Paediatric Oncology satellite centre, and is incoming Chair of the Department of Paediatrics. Her research and advocacy efforts are mainly in the social determinants of health and the effects of poverty on the health of children and youth. She sits on numerous community and National boards. As faculty at both Dalhousie and Memorial University, she teaches didactic lectures, facilitates tutorial groups, leads the service based learning program and is a research mentor for many students. This is in addition to her role as Paediatric clerkship director which lead her to complete her Masters of Education in 2016. She has a love of the outdoors and music and her favourite time is spent with her husband and two small boys.