OMNI Leadership

The OMNI research group was established by Dr. Mark Walker and Dr. Shi Wu Wen. With collaborations in 81 centres in more than 12 countries, OMNI is now a leading health services and clinical trials group in maternal newborn health and the team as a whole is recognized globally for their research endeavours 

Mark Walker, MD, MSc, MHM

OMNI Director

Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute 
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Ottawa
School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa
BORN Ontario, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Dr. Walker is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist at The Ottawa Hospital, Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa. He is an internationally recognized Clinical Epidemiologist with over 360 peer reviewed publications, an h-index of 81 and has held $19 million in grants as a principal investigator. He is also co-founder and Scientific Director of the Better Outcomes Registry and Network (BORN) Ontario. Dr Walker’s research interests are broad in perinatal epidemiology including clinical trials, cohort studies, health services research and more recently artificial intelligence. 

 Dr. Walker is a health care executive and holds a Master’s in Health Care Management from Harvard University. He recently completed a tenure as Chair and Chief of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Ottawa. He is currently the Vice Dean of Internationalization and Global Health for the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Walker’s other leadership roles include chairing the National Society of Investigators for Obstetrics and Gynecology in Canada. He was the chair of the Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System for Health Canada and the chair of the Ontario Maternal Newborn Advisory Committee for 10 years. In these roles Dr Walker set health policy and practice improvement at both the provincial and national levels. Most recently, he was asked by the provincial government to co-chair the task force on COVID-19 and pregnancy. 

*Dr. Walker is currently supervising/seeking graduate students at the University of Ottawa

Shi Wu Wen, PhD

OMNI Director

Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute 
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Ottawa
School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa

Dr. Shi Wu Wen is a Senior Scientist in the Clinical Epidemiology Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and in the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa. He is also a Visiting Professor of Central South University in China.   

Dr. Wen’s research focuses on pre-conceptional and prenatal exposures (interventions) on maternal and infant outcomes, including both short- and long-term outcomes. To maximize research efficiency, in addition to large scale clinical trials and prospective cohort studies, his research has extensively used existing large population health databases in Canada, the United States, and internationally. He teaches research methodology and epidemiologic principles/applications at the undergraduate, post-graduate and fellowship levels. 

*Dr. Wen is currently supervising/seeking graduate students at the University of Ottawa with interest in epidemiologic research using advanced statistical analysis for large and complex population health databases

Darine El-Chaâr, MD, MSc​

OMNI Clinician Scientist

Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
 Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Newborn Care, The Ottawa Hospital
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Ottawa

Dr. El-Chaâr is a perinatalologist at The Ottawa Hospital and program director for the Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship Program. She is an Associate Scientist at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Ottawa where she holds a Junior Clinical Research Chair in Perinatal Research and Epidemiology. Dr. El-Chaâr’s research interests include assessing maternal and neonatal outcomes in pre-existing maternal health conditions, evaluating interpregnancy health and care patterns among high-risk obstetrical patients, and supporting research that promotes breastfeeding initiatives. 

Dr. El-Chaâr is a co-lead of the COVID-19 Ontario Pregnancy Event (COPE) Network, an Ontario-based research network of maternity care specialists and scientists, that was setup to address critical knowledge gaps about the impact of COVID-19 on the obstetrical population and their newborns. Under her leadership, this network is pivoting to assess vaccine immunogenicity in pregnancy and during lactation (PLAN-V Study). 

*Dr. El-Chaâr is currently supervising/seeking graduate students at the University of Ottawa

Ruth Rennicks White, BScN, RN​

OMNI Senior Program Manager

Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Newborn Care, The Ottawa Hospital

Ruth has an extensive background of in obstetrical nursing, business management and clinical research. As an Owner and Director of Birthcare, Inc for 10 yearsshe provided maternal newborn care outpatient services in the Ottawa-Carleton region. She was instrumental in establishing policies and procedures with the Senior Management Team for the Clinical Epidemiology Program at the OHRI from 2002-2005 and privacy requirements at The Ottawa Hospital/OHRI from 2002-2004Ruth has also been the Acting Scientific Manager for BORN Ontario and the Manager of Operations for the mHealth program and the CANImmunize App at The Ottawa Hospital. 

In addition to her current role as Senior Research Program Manager of the OMNI Research Group since 2000, she is the Research Operations Manager for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Newborn Care at The Ottawa Hospital. Ruth brings invaluable international experience, content expertise, clinical guidance and mentorship to the research program and to the team members, and is instrumental in the development, implementation and execution of protocols, contract negotiation and managing the fiscal aspects of the group

Alysha Harvey, MSc, PMP​

OMNI Program Manager

Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Alysha Harvey is a Clinical Research Program Manager with the OMNI Research Group and a member of The Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA). Alysha has extensive project management experience in both the private and not-for-profit sectors, including with the Health Active Living and Obesity (HALO) Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute where she managed research projects involving physical activity and dietary interventions amongst preschoolers and throughout pregnancy in an effort to mitigate child obesity. Before joining the OMNI Team, Alysha worked at the University of Ottawa where she managed projects focused on the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD). In her role as Research Manager with the OMNI Research Group, Alysha oversees the development, implementation and progress of all research endeavours and provides guidance and support to OMNI research staff and trainees.