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CCA Conference Speakers

CCA has assembled a world-class line up of national and international speakers for our fall virtual conference.


2021 KeyNote: Dr. Jocelyn Silvester, MD PhD.

Dr Jocelyn A. Silvester, MD PhD, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Director of Research for the Celiac Disease Program at Children’s Hospital (BCH) and Associate Staff at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She also maintains a general pediatrics practice in Northern Manitoba and Nunavut through the Ongomiizwin Health Services JA Hildes Northern Medical Unit.

Dr Silvester completed her PhD in Biology at the University of Cambridge in England and earned her medical degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax where she was fortunate to be mentored by Dr Mohsin Rashid who inspired a career in celiac disease research that started with the JA Campbell Award Young Investigator Award from the Canadian Celiac Association. She subsequently completed her Residency in Pediatrics where she worked with Dr Donald Duerksen to establish the Manitoba Celiac Disease Cohort before moving to Boston to complete her Fellowship in Pediatric Gastroenterology working with Drs Ciaran Kelly and Daniel Leffler. Her research interests include the diagnosis and management of celiac disease, with a focus on biomarkers of disease activity and what happens after the diagnosis is made.


Dr. Dan Leffler, MD, MS, AGAF

Daniel Leffler, MD, MS, AGAF is a practicing gastroenterologist caring for patients with celiac disease and other gastrointestinal disorders and is founding member of the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  He is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School where he continues to see patients with gluten related disorders.  Dr. Leffler has been the recipient of multiple National Institute of Health, foundation and industry sponsored grants for the advancement of digestive health.  Dr. Leffler has lectured nationally and internationally, has published over 150 articles in peer reviewed literature, and has co-authored a patient-focused book with Melinda Dennis, RD: Real Life with Celiac Disease. Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten Free, published by the American Gastroenterological Association Press.  Dr. Leffler joined Takeda Pharmaceuticals in 2016 and is currently a Senior Medical Director and the Global Clinical Lead for Celiac Disease in the Gastrointestinal Therapeutic Area.



Dr. Sara Ahola Kohut, PhD, C. Psych.

Dr. Sara Ahola Kohut is a clinical health psychologist and associate scientist with the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Centre at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and an Assistant Professor with the University of Toronto. As a psychologist, Dr. Kohut has trained and worked in hospitals, community mental health centres, school boards, and private practice providing psychological consultation, assessment, and treatment to young people living with chronic health conditions and their families. Dr. Kohut’s program of research develops therapies and programs to support the resilience and quality of life of young people with chronic health conditions and their families. These therapies seek to support the physical, emotional, and social health of these young people. To date, Dr. Kohut’s research has focused on building meaningful peer and social supports and mindfulness-based approaches to living with chronic disease (exploring both mechanisms and interventions).



Ellen Bayens, The Celiac Scene

Ellen Bayens is the Founder of The Celiac Scene, the go-to gluten-free resource for Victoria, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.  Referred to as a ‘Remarkable Celiac’ by the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA), Ellen speaks first hand and with infectious humour about the challenges of the diet and how they can become the gateway to good health.

Past Vice-President of the Victoria Chapter of the CCA and ‘British Columbia’s Gluten-Free Ambassador,’ she has been featured in Gluten Free Living, Allergic Living and Delight Gluten Free magazines. Ellen is a frequent commentator on TV, radio, in print – and now podcasts – as she shares her enthusiasm for gluten-free living with restaurants, retailers and industry stakeholders keen to ‘Get Gluten Free Right!’


Mark Johnson, Moderator and @CeliacExplorer

Mark Johnson is a federal public servant in the field of communications and media relations, and has worked in the field for the past 12 years. He’s currently a master’s student in political science at Carleton University, and also holds graduate degrees in political management and communication. Mark has served on the board of directors of the CCA’s Ottawa Chapter since 2006, including currently as president, and was a member of the CCA national board of directors from 2011 – 2018. He has co-chaired several CCA national conferences. In his spare time, Mark enjoys volunteering, wasting time on Twitter, reading as much news as he can, and outside of COVID-19, travelling the world – he has been to sixty countries so far. Mark lives in downtown Ottawa with his wife and three cats.



Caleigh McAulay

Caleigh McAulay is the Health Promotions Coordinator at CCA. She currently resides in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition, Caleigh moved to Guelph, Ontario to complete her Master’s of Applied Nutrition and dietetic internship. Caleigh’s last internship placement was with the CCA and it was where she landed her first job post-grad. She has been working with the CCA for over a year now and has grown very passionate about helping improve the lives of people with celiac disease. Caleigh works the Client Support Desk, overseeing CCA’s Facebook group, participating in CCA’s RD Working group and is on the Food Bank Task Force.







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