I graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering in 2001. I continued my academic training in Biomedical Engineering as a graduate student at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) working under the supervision of Drs. David Courtman and Duncan Stewart at St. Michael’s Hospital. My doctoral research was focused on a novel approach for enhancing cell-based therapeutic delivery of mesenchymal stromal cells to the lung microvasculature using hydrogel-based single cell encapsulation.
Upon completion of my doctoral studies, I joined the Lung Regenerative Medicine Program in the Department of Clinical Research in Berne University, Switzerland and stayed on as a Group Leader in 2008 to direct the basic and transitional science as related to Cancer Stem Cell and Lung Regenerative Medicine in the Department of Biomedical Research at the University of Berne until 2012. In early 2012, having just had our first child, my husband and I moved back to Canada to be closer to our families. I joined the team of Dr. Tom Waddell at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute as a Senior Scientific Associate; a position which I held while raising my young children. I was appointed to Assistant Scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute (University Health Network) in November 2019 and to Assistant Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology in July 2020. I am also cross-appointed in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
My research focuses on the development of practical tissue engineering approaches for treatment of lung disease. I am the author of several peer-reviewed publications and have supervised several undergraduate and graduate students.
Acute and chronic lung diseases represent a major health care problem. Regeneration of healthy lung is an exciting long-term goal and a formidable challenge. My research interests include development of practical approaches for treatment of lung disease. Studies include: Cell-based therapeutic approaches for end-stage lung disease; Lung and tracheal regeneration and Pluripotent derived lung epithelial cells for tissue engineering applications.
Lung disease is an important clinical problem with acute and chronic lung diseases remaining major healthcare burdens. For patients with end-stage lung disease lung transplantation is often the only life-saving option, despite associated risks of mortality and morbidity due to graft rejection and infection. Altering the course of these intractable diseases will require innovative and novel approaches to understand the underlying mechanisms of disease and develop therapeutic alternatives with a realistic path to clinical translation. The regenerative medicine landscape for the lung can be categorized into the following: (1) Cell-based therapeutic approaches for attenuation and/or abrogation of disease; (2) ex vivo cell culture systems for greater understanding of the normal and pathological cellular mechanisms in the lung as well as for use as a platform for disease modeling; and (3) airway tissue regeneration with the ultimate goal of creating de novo lungs for replacement of damaged lung tissue and ultimately as an ‘of the shelf’ source of new lungs in lung transplantation. A key limitation hindering progress is a thorough understanding of the interplay amongst the regenerative building blocks of cells, and substrates in the context of their specific microenvironment. Given the structural and cellular complexity of the lung, regenerative medicine research over the past several years has progressed towards the use of pluripotent cell sources and in particular, induced pluripotent (iPS) cells. And while studies have shown the utility of these cells in animal models of disease or in ex vivo culture systems for disease modeling, little is known about how these cells function in relation to their local microenvironments and how this impacts their utility.
I plan on establishing a program focused on ‘Airway Regeneration’ balancing translational and exploratory approaches with the goal to: firstly, better understand cell-substrate interactions in the context of de-epithelialized trachea and decellularized lung; and secondly, to use the acquired information to engineer therapeutic strategies and clinically applicable airway constructs.
Soleas J, D’Arcangelo E, Huang L, Karoubi G, Nostro MC, McGuigan A, Waddell TK. Assembly of lung progenitors into developmentally-inspired geometry drives differentiation via cellular tension. Biomaterials. 2020. In Press
Szulc D, Ahmadipour M, Gava Aoki F, Waddell T, Karoubi G, Cheng HL. An MRI Method for Labeling and Imaging Decellularized Extracellular Matrix Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. 2019. In Press
Gava Aoki F, Varma R, Marin-Araujo A, Lee H, Soleas J, Li A, Soon K, Romero D, Moriya H, Haykal S, Amon C, Waddell T & Karoubi G. De-Epithelialization of porcine Tracheal as an approach for tracheal tissue engineering. Scientific Reports; 2019. 9:12034
Varma R, Gava Aoki F, Soon K, Karoubi G & Waddell T. A systematic comparative analysis to determine the optimal biomaterial for tracheal epithelial graft development. Acta Biomaterialia. 2018. 81:146-157
Guo L, Karoubi G, Duchesneau P., Aoki F., Rogers I., Nagy A., Waddell T. Interrupted reprogramming of Alveolar Type II cells induces progenitor-like cells that ameliorate pulmonary fibrosis, Nature Regenerative Medicine; 3:14. 2018.
Poon J, Liao Z, Suzuki T, Carleton M, Soleas J, Aitchison S, Karoubi G, McGuigan A. & Waddell T. Design of biomimetic substrates for long-term maintenance of alveolar epithelial cells. Bioengineering Science. 6:292-303. 2018.
Guo L, Karoubi G, Duchesneau P, Tonge P, Sung H, Bear C, Rogers I, Nagy A, Waddell TK. Generation of Induced Progenitor-Like (iPL) Cells from Mature Epithelial Cells Using Interrupted Reprogramming. Stem Cell Reports. 9:1780- 1795. 2017.
Duchesneau P, Besla R, Derouet MF, Guo L, Karoubi G, Silberberg A, Wong AP, Waddell TK. Partial Restoration of CFTR Function in cftr-Null Mice following Targeted Cell Replacement Therapy. Mol Ther. 25:654-665. 2017.