Dawn RichardsDawn Richards

Dawn is a science and patient consultant. She received her PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Alberta, and has spent the past 15 years in various roles, as a: bench scientist, project and operations manager, technology transfer and commercialization manager, and business development officer. She has worked in biotech as well as in the not for profit and academic sectors. She is a firm believer in the application of her scientific training and rigour to other professional roles and in her abilities to communicate to multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder (scientific, medical, lay) audiences.

Little did Dawn know that her diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis nearly a decade ago would instigate the career journey she is navigating. As a trained scientist and a person living with a chronic illness, she is intertwining her passion for science with what she feels is making the most of her chronic illness diagnosis. As a consultant, she helps clients write and edit grants and manuscripts, translate research findings in to lay language so the public can understand and benefit from outcomes, and understand and incorporate the patient perspective in to projects. Her clients include academia and the pharmaceutical industry. Her scientific training, on the job experience in business-related roles, and her experience as a person who lives with rheumatoid arthritis afford her the unique position to both inform and help researchers, clinicians, and pharma translate discoveries and products in to meaningful and beneficial outcomes. Her ultimate goal is to work with and help the pharmaceutical and biotech industries understand how using the patient perspective throughout the drug discovery process will enable the creation of more targeted treatments for patients from the strategic planning stages. She is passionate that patients bring a valuable and currently untapped perspective to the research and discovery pipeline of pharmacy and biotech. No one understands living with a chronic disease except the patient who is, simply put, an expert at this daily reality.

Ncapa(eng)ot one to brush off strange coincidences (she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis while working as the Director of Research and Development at the Canadian Arthritis Network), together with understanding how privileged she is to currently be in remission from her arthritis, Dawn devotes significant time and energy to arthritis advocacy and awareness. She knows the pain, debilitation, and anguish that rheumatoid arthritis bring to those it affects, and is not sure herself how long her remission may last. She sees her remission as a gift that has allowed her to become a vocal advocate for all things arthritis: education, awareness, access to treatment, the inclusion of patients in decision-making and as research collaborators, and the importance of research. She is currently Vice President of the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance, the first Patient Advisor to the Canadian Medical Association’s Wait Time Alliance, a member of the Ethics Committee and the Institute Advisory Board of the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research), and a member of The BMJ’s Patient Panel Reviewers. Since her diagnosis, Dawn has run a 30 km race annually each August to raise funds and awareness for pediatric arthritis research. She also loves to travel and blogs and tweets (@TO_dpr) about her adventures in life and arthritis.