About us

The Canadian Gastric Cancer Association (CaGCA) provides a platform for both researchers and clinicians to access relevant research as well as share information with the goal of improving patient outcomes across the board. The CaGCA is an affiliate chapter of the International Gastric Cancer Association.

The CaGCA was established in 2018. We are a group of healthcare practitioners and stakeholders who are collectively interested in developing better treatments for gastric cancer through research and improved patient care. Please find information about our Executive Committee, as well as each of our subcommittees below. 

Executive Committee 

Our Executive Committee is responsible for hosting this website, sending out newsletters to our members, networking with stakeholders, reaching out to new members, and hosting bi-annual internal meetings.

Dr. Natalie Coburn — Executive Director

Dr. Coburn is a surgical oncologist at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Center, focusing on HPB and upper GI cancers. Following training at the University of North Carolina, Brown and Harvard, she completed her fellowship in HPB and upper GI surgical oncology at the University of Toronto. She joined the Odette Cancer Centre in 2004, and has served in various leadership roles including head of the division of general surgery (2012–2015), chief examiner for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s surgical oncology fellowship examination (2016–present), and a member of Cancer Care Ontario’s Program in Evidence-Based Care (2005–present). She now holds the Sherif and MaryLou Hanna Chair in Surgical Oncology Research.

Dr. Coburn’s research focuses on the evaluation and improvement of patient outcomes for gastrointestinal cancers. She has led several major grants examining patterns of care for treatment of GI cancers within Ontario and the U.S., and has contributed internationally to guideline creation to improve processes of care.

Dr. Savtaj BrarCommunication Committee Lead

Dr. Savtaj Brar is a surgical oncologist at Mount Sinai Hospital and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. Dr. Brar is the Program Director of the General Surgery Training Program.

Dr. Brar is a graduate of the medical school at the University of Western Ontario and obtained his residency training in General Surgery at the University of Calgary. Following residency, he obtained his MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science in London, UK, and was a Research Fellow in Surgical Oncology at the University of Toronto. He then completed a two-year Fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the University of Toronto, which included training in gastric cancer surgery at the Cancer Institute Hospital in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Brar’s clinical interests include gastric cancer and soft-tissue sarcoma.

Dr. Elena ElimovaGenetics Committee Lead

Dr. Elimova is a Medical Oncologist and earned her Medical Degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland. She completed her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Ottawa School of Medicine and a clinical fellowship in Medical Oncology at University of Toronto. Her studies then led to the completion of a GI Medical Oncology Fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Most recently she worked as an Instructor in GI Medical Oncology at MD Anderson. 

Dr. Elimova’s primary area of research is concentrated on the care of patients with gastroesophageal malignancies and the development of novel biomarkers which can predict response to therapy.

Dr. Shaila MerchantPatient Education Committee Lead

Dr. Shaila Merchant is a surgical oncologist with clinical areas of interest in gastrointestinal and breast cancers. Dr. Merchant completed medical school and General Surgery residency training at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Merchant then completed a two-year fellowship in Complex Surgical Oncology in Southern California.

Dr. Merchant is involved in Health Services Research, focused on compassionate care at the end-of-life, potentially aggressive end-of-life care, palliative care, increasing psychosocial support and improving patient-physician communication for patients with cancer. Dr. Merchant is the principal investigator of several research projects, and has published extensively in scientific literature. She has been invited to give presentations at national and international venues, and serves on several national and international cancer committees. Dr. Merchant’s goals are to provide the highest quality and compassionate care to patients, promote shared decision-making and to advance research in areas that are currently understudied.

Dr. Dan Schiller — National Database Lead

Dr. Dan Schiller is a Surgical Oncologist working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and an Associate Professor with the Department of Surgery at the University of Alberta. After completing an undergraduate Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Ottawa in 1992, he obtained his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Western Ontario in 1996. Dr Schiller completed post-graduate training in General Surgery and a Master’s degree in Experimental Surgery at the University of Alberta between 1996 and 2003. After completing residency, Dr. Schiller worked for 2 years at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton before going to the University of Toronto for a 2-year Fellowship in Surgical Oncology.

Currently, he works in the Division of General Surgery with an interest in Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncology and Sarcoma. Dr. Schiller served as the Program Director of the General Surgery Residency Program at the University of Alberta from 2008-2013 and was the Site Section Head for General Surgery at the Royal Alexandra Hospital from 2012-2020. He is the current Chair of the Specialty Committee for Surgical Oncology at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Site lead for Surgery at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Dr. Winson Cheung — Big Data Committee Lead

Dr. Winson Cheung is a medical oncologist as well as a nationally and internationally recognized data scientist and researcher. He is currently a Professor of Medicine in the Departments of Medicine and Oncology at the University of Calgary in Canada, where he is the Provincial Director of Health Services Research and Real-World Evidence Generation for Cancer Care Alberta. In these roles, he works frequently with data from administrative claims, large registries, and electronic health records.

Dr. Cheung’s primary academic interest is health services and outcomes research, including patient reported outcomes, quality of life, and economic analyses that span the entire real-world evidence spectrum. The overarching goal of his work is to ensure that cancer care is appropriately accessed and equitably delivered to all patients. He also evaluates ways to improve the uptake of novel drugs and examines strategies that enhance their adoption to ensure that we achieve value-based care. Currently, he leads the well-established and prolific Oncology Outcomes (O2) research collaborative.

Dr. Mai-Kim GervaisClinical Trials Committee Lead

Dr Mai-Kim Gervais is a surgical oncologist at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal. In 2014, she graduated from the General Surgery residency program at the Université de Montréal. She completed a clinical fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the University of Toronto. During her fellowship, she also trained in retroperitoneal sarcoma at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London and in gastric cancer at the National Cancer Institute in Tokyo.

Her areas of expertise include retroperitoneal sarcoma, melanoma, gastric cancer and breast cancer. Dr Gervais is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the Université de Montréal and a Specialty Committee Member for the Royal College General Surgical Oncology program.

Dr. Trevor HamiltonVideo Library Committee Lead

Dr. Trevor Hamilton is a Surgical Oncologist and Clinical Associate Professor at Vancouver General Hospital and BC Cancer. He completed his medical school at Dalhousie University and his General Surgery residency at the University of Calgary. He completed a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the University of Toronto and an international fellowship at Severance Hospital/Yonsei Cancer Center in Seoul, Korea in minimally invasive gastric cancer surgery. He also obtained his Master’s of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.

His clinical interest is in advanced gastrointestinal cancers, peritoneal surface malignancies, and soft tissue sarcoma. He is the chair of the BC Cancer Gastric Cancer Surgical Tumor Group and the co-chair of the BC Peritoneal Malignancy Program. He is also the Program Director for the Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship at UBC.

CaGCA Committees

Big Data Committee

The Big Data Committee is responsible for assessing opportunities for Canadian gastric cancer studies and providing relevant commentary on research happenings for our newsletter.


Lead: Dr. Winson Cheung

Dr. Alyson Mahar

Dr. Elena Elimova

Dr. Dan Schiller

Genetics Committee

The Genetics Committee is responsible for assessing opportunities for Canadian gastric cancer research (specifically pertaining to genetics/hereditary information), and commenting on relevant research in our newsletter.


Lead: Dr. Elena Elimova

Dr. Patrick Roberts

Dr. Lucy Helyer

Patient Education Committee

The Patient Education Committee is responsible for creating and disseminating informational material for patients (i.e.: gastric cancer booklet), creating and updating Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols, as well as maintaining patient educational material on the website.


Lead: Dr. Shaila Merchant

Ekaterina Kosyachova

Teresa Tiano

Dr. Shiva Jayaraman

Dr. Steven MacLellan

Dr. Carmen Mueller

Elaine Avila

Victoria Delibasic

Gursharan Sohi

Anna Van Osch

Tracey Rapier

Communication Committee

The Communication Committee is responsible for the CaGCA Twitter account, assembling articles for our newsletter, maintaining our website and holding internal meetings.


Lead: Dr. Savtaj Brar

Dr. Huynh Quoc

Victoria Delibasic

Dr. Gursharan Sohi

Luna Canaj

Clinical Trials Committee

The Clinical Trials Committee is responsible for assessing opportunities for Canadian gastric cancer clinical trials and providing relevant commentary for our newsletter.


Lead: Dr. Mai-Kim Gervais

Dr. Sean Bennett

Dr. Milton Harry

Dr. Christine Brezden-Masley

Dr. Mark Doherty

Dr. Francis Zih

Dr. Elena Elimova

Dr. Stephanie Snow

Provider Education Committee

The Provider Education Committee is responsible for assisting with the organization of the next D2 Gastrectomy course and coordinating the Canadian Surgery Forum annual meeting session.


Lead: Dr. Carolyn Nessim

Dr. Farhana Shariff

Dr. Adam Meneghetti

Dr. Shaqil Kassam

Video Library Committee

The Video Library Committee is responsible for selecting and commenting upon videos which are uploaded to the website, as well as creating/maintaining a library of teaching videos for residents, fellows and staff.


Lead: Dr. Trevor Hamilton

Dr. Andras Fecso

Dr. Cindy Boulanger-Gobeil

Dr. Laz Klein

Dr. Paul James

Dr. Usmaan Hameed

Members can connect with other providers and receive our enewsletter.


Contact us

Questions? Email info@gastriccancer.ca