Alan Bernstein



  • President & CEO


  • Canada


PhD, University of Toronto


Alan became CIFAR’s President and Chief Executive Officer in May 2012. He was previously executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise in New York, an international alliance of researchers and funders charged with accelerating the search for an HIV vaccine.

From 2000 to 2007, he served as the inaugural president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s federal agency for the support of health research. In that capacity, he led the transformation of health research in Canada.

After receiving his PhD from the University of Toronto, and following postdoctoral work at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, Alan joined the Ontario Cancer Institute. In 1985, he joined the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, was named its Associate Director in 1988 and served as Director of Research from 1994 to 2000.

Author of over 225 scientific publications, Alan has made extensive contributions to the study of stem cells, blood cell formation (hematopoiesis) and cancer. He chairs or is a member of advisory and review boards in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Italy and Australia. Alan also served as co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up 2 Cancer Canada with Phillip A. Sharp.

A much sought after science advisor in countries around the world, his contributions to science have been recognized with numerous awards and honorary degrees, including Officer of the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and the 2017 Henry Friesen International Prize in Health Research.

Relevant Publications

Recent op-eds by Alan

Science is transforming our world, and that makes it a fundamental election issue, Hill Times

Fighting the flu: We need a new kind of intelligence, Globe & Mail
It’s time for a bold new vision for Canadian fundamental science, Maclean's
Alan Bernstein maps an ambitious route for cutting-edge research, Globe & Mail