Oct 28, 2022

LMP learners recognised as 'high-calibre Canadian graduate students'

Programs: Graduate, Research
LMP learners banner image
By Kate McDonald

Learners in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP) in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine are very competitive when it comes to achieving awards at the National and Provincial levels and this year further proved how exceptional our learners’ are. 

This year, 26 learners were awarded a Canadian Graduate Masters Scholarship, and three learners were awarded a Canadian Graduate Doctoral Scholarship. This is the highest number of these awards received by LMP graduate students in one academic year. 

Another 19 received the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS - see the table below), as well as many more including a Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship. We also supported a successful John C Polanyi Prize awardee.

Congratulations to all our students! 

We spoke to some of our students to learn more about their research and what this award will enable them to do. Skip to the full table of CGS-M recipients.

PHD CGS-D Award Recipients 

Joseph Hanna PhD candidate

Joseph Hanna

PhD candidate in the labs of Dr. Carol Schuurmans and Dr. Isabelle Aubert at Sunnybrook Research Institute 

I am focused on understanding neurodegeneration and more specifically the metabolic changes associated with neurodegeneration in the retina. Vision loss has a devastating impact on quality of life and reduces independence. I am studying how energy consumption by these cells contributes to their death and vision loss. I am also studying how the change in metabolism affects gene expression in photoreceptors that then result in their dysfunction and death. Furthermore, I am testing novel therapies using compounds that modulate energy consumption in these cells to determine if they delay the progression of blinding eye disease. 

Matsya Thulasiram PhD candidate

Matsya Thulasiram

PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Alain Dabdoub at Sunnybrook Research Institute 

I am studying the stria vascularis (SV), a densely vascularized tissue that is responsible for maintaining the ionic environment within the cochlea needed for hearing. Degeneration of the SV disrupts cochlear homeostasis, which results in progressive and irreversible hearing loss, yet there is little research investigating SV regeneration. I developed an organotypic explant technique to culture the whole stria vascularis from young and adult mice and am investigating its regenerative properties. 

MSc CGS-M Award Recipients

Boaz Ethiogu MSc Student

Boaz Ehiogu

MSc student in the lab of Dr. Alain Dabdoub at Sunnybrook Research Institute 

My project examines the molecular landscape of the human spiral ganglion which consists of specialized neurons and glial cells that work together to relay information from the inner ear to the brain. I am using single-cell sequencing to characterize the cells of the human spiral ganglion to determine key regulatory networks that control cell phenotypes. Knowing what genes regulate each cell type will inform strategies for reprogramming glial cells into neurons. Spiral ganglion neurons are irreversibly lost due to aging, exposure to loud noises, or ototoxic drugs, ultimately leading to permanent hearing loss. My project will serve as a blueprint for developing regenerative therapies for hearing loss.   

Courtney Irwin MSc Student

Courtney Irwin

MSc student in the lab of Dr. Karun Singh at the Krembil Research Institute 

My project involves understanding altered sensory function in a in both a CNS organoid model and PNS organoid model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) studied comparatively. Altered sensory processing is one of the core clinical features of ASD. Emerging human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-based technologies - including 3D organoids - have increasingly been used to model early development and explore the molecular/cellular basis of certain phenotypes.

Kayshani Kanagarajah MSc student

Kayshani Kanagarajah

MSc student in the lab of Dr. Amy Wong at the Hospital for Sick Children

My research focuses on the physical environment's influence on the airway epithelia. We aim to utilize our lab's ability to successfully differentiate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to mature airway epithelia, coupled with microfluidic technology, to develop a human CF airway model in-vitro. We are specifically integrating the tubular architecture of the airway and airflow in our lung-on-chip to recapitulate the native environment better to study pulmonary CF pathology. Current 2D models are limited in their ability to recapitulate the dynamic nature of the airway, presenting an exciting challenge! Being on this project allows me to work towards filling this gap in the field by helping to develop a novel platform to overcome this. 

Farbod Khorrami MSc student

Farbod Khorrami

MSc student in the labs of Dr. Yeni Yücel and Dr. Neeru Gupta at the Keenan Research Center for Biomedical Science

ALS is a rapidly progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease affecting upper and lower motor neurons. Despite being the most common motor neuron disease, only three FDA-approved treatments exist in the market that minimally improve survival and reduce progression speed. Current biomarkers for ALS have several and a non-invasive and widely accessible biomarker for ALS is an urgent unmet need for early diagnosis and for clinical trials. Our lab recently identified in the retinas of ALS patients' axonal spheroids, a hallmark of ALS pathology, and we hope to determine their potential for diagnosing ALS and measuring the effect of ALS treatments. My project aims to use the eye as a window into the central nervous system pathology of ALS and establish retinal spheroids as a non-contact biomarker that can benefit future clinical trials by assessing disease progression and drug response. 

Alexandra Moffat MSc student

Alexandra Moffat

MSc student in the lab of Dr. Carol Schuurman at the Sunnybrook Research Institute 

My research involves exploring the combinatorial functions of the proneural genes, Neurog1 and Neurog2, in neurogenesis. Recently, intriguing links have been proposed between neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegeneration much later in life. Understanding how the neocortex develops is thus critical to understanding the etiology of many devastating diseases. 

Gregory Morgan MSc Student

Greg Morgan

MSc student in the labs of Dr. Jennifer Taher and Dr. Jordan Lerner-Ellis (GENCO Study) at Mount Sinai

Antibodies produced by the immune system in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection or vaccination have been an area of interest because of their potential to prevent severe illness. However, features of the SARS-CoV-2 antibody response which are indicative of long-term immunity and protection from severe COVID-19 are unknown. Additionally, abnormalities in certain biomarkers have been found to vary greatly between people with COVID-19. These biomarkers have been studied as indicators of disease severity, but associations with the SARS-CoV-2 antibody response have not been well-defined. My project aims to test for these associations and identify how they relate to COVID-19 severity and outcomes.

Sam Neumark TRP Student

Samuel Neumark

MHSc student in the Translational Research Program with supervisor Dr. Joseph Ferenbok

I have been involved with numerous research projects focusing on knowledge synthesis in the areas of substance use, chronic pain, and telemedicine. Understanding and synthesizing the current state of published literature on a topic is essential for translational research, problem-solving, and innovation. I was inspired to join the TRP to further practice summarizing scientific knowledge and discovering ways to apply it to improve health, medicine, and patient care. This award will allow me to continue pursuing my passions, engage in research activities, and advance my education as I prepare for a career in healthcare. 

Mitchell Ng MSc student

Mitchell Ng

MSc student in the lab of Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati at the Hospital for Sick Children 

I am using histological and molecular techniques (i.e., immunohistochemistry and gene expression profiling, respectively) in an effort to identify novel pathophysiological changes in women's brains due to repeated mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). While mTBI research has historically had a male bias, mTBI can affect anyone. This award will allow me to complete the first post-mortem cohort study on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)-type pathology in women's brains, as well as conduct much-needed research on the molecular changes that occur in women's brains due to mTBI. 

Stephanie Ouzikov MSc student

Stephanie Ouzikov

MSc student in the lab of Dr. Scott Yuzwa in the Medical Sciences Building 

My project focuses on understanding how neurogenesis is regulated in the adult brain by looking at the inhibitory proteins involved in neural stem cell quiescence. By knowing how to activate adult neural stem cells in pathogenic states, we could use them to replenish neurons and restore normal brain functioning in diseased conditions. With this funding, I can comfortably continue working on my research while also being exposed to novel laboratory techniques and new resources that allow me to meaningfully contribute to my project. 

Miguel Alfonso Principe MSc student

Miguel Alfonso Principe

MSc student supervised by Dr. Kim Tsoi and Dr. Sonya MacParland in the lab of Dr. Irene Andrulis, Dr. Kim Tsoi, and Dr. Jay Wunder at Mount Sinai's Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute

My research project focuses on soft tissue sarcomas (STS), a group of rare and heterogenous cancers arising from tissues like muscles, fat, and cartilage. My project will use three distinct yet complementary techniques; immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, and bulk RNA-seq; on human metastases samples to determine the immune cells present within the tissue. We will then compare it with primary tumour samples to observe their differences and similarities. This grant will allow us to set up the techniques for this project, such as having an in-depth panel of antibodies for flow cytometry, sequencing a diverse cohort of tumours, and analyzing more tissue sections for immunohistochemistry.  

Jaspreet Randhawa TRP student

Jaspreet Randhawa

MHSc student in the Translational Research Program with supervisor Dr. Joseph Ferenbok 

I am beyond excited to be working with my incredible team on our Capstone Project focused on supporting patients with sickle cell disease and their families transitioning from pediatric to adult healthcare.

Ty Redublo TRP student

Ty Redublo

MHSc student in the Translational Research Program with supervisor Dr. Joseph Ferenbok 

There are an estimated 1.25 million young caregivers (aged 15 to 24) in Canada that are in dire need of more personalized support, resources and awareness. My research project focuses specifically on young caregivers of people living with dementia (YCPLWD). Dementia is an umbrella term for different health conditions that impair cognitive function and interfere with daily life). This award will help fund this project’s research activities, which are geared towards engaging young caregivers, and directly involving them in the research process through co-design methods.

Bana Samman MSc student

Bana Samman

MSc student in the labs of Dr. Dana Philpott and Dr. Stephen Girardin in the Medical Sciences Building 

I'm currently investigating the role of mutations to the LRRK2 gene in the development of intestinal inflammation and, specifically, Crohn's disease (CD). I do this through both in vitro studies and in vivo studies. In vitro studies involve exploring how LRRK2 modulates cytoskeletal dynamics, migration efficiency, and antimicrobial functions in neutrophils. In vivo studies involve exploring how consequences downstream of CD-associated LRRK2 mutations can come to mediate intestinal inflammation in a Citrobacter rodentium murine infection model.  

 Arya Zarrinbakhsh MSc student

Arya Zarrinbakhsh

MSc student in the labs of Dr. Yeni Yücel and Dr. Neeru Gupta at St. Michael’s Hospital 

Astronauts are exposed to extreme environments for extended periods during spaceflight. This often leads to a host of unique health concerns, including the development of visual impairments and eye/optic nerve damage, which collectively form the basis for a clinical diagnosis of Spaceflight-Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS). Currently, research into the origins of SANS is in the very early stages, but we hypothesize that microgravity-induced fluid shifts play an important role. To test our hypothesis, my project aims to use a NASA microgravity mouse model called “Hindlimb Unloading” to explore the effects of fluid shifts on the ocular system. A SANS animal model would help us understand this novel ailment and develop countermeasures by propelling future research to new heights, just like a spaceship! 

We'll be featuring these awards on our existing and new social media accounts in the coming months. Stay tuned to our Twitter and join our mailing list to learn more about when and where we will be posting these individual features!

Find out more about graduate programs at LMP

Full list of Canadian Graduate Scholarship-Masters (CGS-M) recipients 2022

Name

Supervisor

Boaz Ehiogu

Alain Dabdoub

Zihan Gao

Joseph Ferenbok

Anisha Hundal

Karim Mekhail

Courtney Irwin

Karun Singh

Kayshani Kanagarajah

Amy Wong

Farbod Khorrami

Yeni Yücel and Neeru Gupta

Negar Khosraviani

Jason Fish

Asa Lau

Mansoor Husain

Juliette Lee

Jeffrey Lee

Anca Maglaviceanu

Mohit Kapoor

Ryan Mazzone

Vinod Chandran

Alexandra Moffat

Carol Schuurman

Gregory Morgan

Jennifer Taher and Jordan Lerner-Ellis

Samuel Neumark

Joseph Ferenbok

Mitchell Ng

Lili-Naz Hazrati

Marry Nissan

Stephen Girardin

Keyu Niu

Stephen Girardin

Janine Noorloos

Joseph Ferenbok

Stephanie Ouzikov 

Scott Yuzwa

Miguel Alfonso Principe

Kim Tsoi and Sonya MacParland 

Jaspreet Randhawa

Joseph Ferenbok

Tyler Redublo

Joseph Ferenbok

Zackary Rousseau

Heyu Ni

Bana Samman

 Dana Philpott and Stephen Girardin

Qianwen Shi

Daniel Winer

Arya Zarrinbakhsh

Yeni Yücel and Neeru Gupta 

Christopher Zang

Kelsie Thu

Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) recipients 2022

Read about the Translational Research Program recipients in TRP Students Receive Prestigious Ontario Graduate Scholarship Awards

Name Supervisor/Program

Lauren Belfiore

Carol Schuurmans

Polina Goldberg

MHSc Lab Medicine

Winnie Ho

Warren Lee

Jessica Jenkins

Translational Research Program

Kaitlin Kharas

Michael Taylor

Robert Lao

Mansoor Husain

Elyse Latreille

Warren Lee

Jocelyn Lee

Translational Research Program

Seojin Lee

Gabor Kovacs

Mathepan Mahendralingam

Adam Shlien

Ann Mansur

Ivan Radovanovic
 

Priya Mistry

Jason Fish

Joshua Nash

Adam Shlien

Henry Quach

Amy Wong

Rajiv Sanwal

Warren Lee

Mitra Shokrollahi

Karim Mekhail

Grace Wen

Warren Lee

Melanie Yang

Translational Research Program