Current student biographies

A-E F-L M-P R-V W-Z
         

Abraham, Josh
Armstrong, Susan
Atkins, Michael
Azizi, Paymon
Binesh Marvasti, Tina
Carr, Matthew
Chrystoja, Caitlin
Civitarese, Robert*
D'Cruz, Robert
Deshwar, Ashish*
Dey, Ayan
Eastwood, Kyle
Elias, Gavin
Elphinstone, Robyn

Figueiredo, Carlyn
Fuller, Jonathan
Harmsen, Irene
Howell, Nicholas
Jamal, Alainna
Khan, Amy (Amanda)
Kim, Jieun*
Kozlowski, Hannah
Kumar, Sachin
Lane, Natasha
Light, Nicholas*

 

McFaul, Christopher*
McQueen, Sydney
Mirali, Sara
Mukovozov, Ilya
Mylabathula, Swapna
Mylvaganam, Sivakami
Ng, Enoch*
Oh, Robin (Hyun Seo)
Ouyang, Ben
Patel, Kramay
Pouget, Jennie
 

Rahman, Anum
Rajora, Maneesha
Rappon, Tim
Rotin, LianneSamuel, Nardine
Seneviratne, Ayesh
Sindhwani, Shrey
Soleas, John
Steadman, Patrick
Tsang, Brian
Vanner, Robert
Vi, Linda*
Voruganti, Teja*

Walpole, Glenn
Wan, Ho Yee
Wang, Kevin (Xin)
Wilcox, Jared*
Woodford, Curtis
Wu, Florence
Wu, You
Zahr, Siraj*
Zaslavsky, Kirill*

* indicates 2017 McLaughlin Scholars. Visit our McLaughlin Scholars for a comprehensive list of student supported by the McLaughlin Centre

 


 

Abraham, Josh

Supervisor: Dr. Karim Mekhail
Graduate unit: Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology

Personal background

My decision to pursue a career in medicine was really a culmination of some diverse and rewarding experiences, some of which trace back to my childhood in India, where I was born and brought up in a circle of family and friends composed of several ethnicities. I was also incredibly fortunate to be educated in a school that emphasized the value of learning, ethics and civic responsibility, and character building, while encouraging me to seek out excellence for its own merits rather than focusing on accomplishment as measured only by grades. It wasn’t until after high school that I made the move to Canada, where I embarked on an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto majoring in human, cellular and molecular biology. Here, I was very fortunate to be mentored by some truly remarkable physician-scientists, under whose guidance I became involved in basic research on cellular signaling in tissue regeneration, cancer stem cells in brain tumours, and retinal neurogenesis. Pursuing a combined doctorate and ultimately a career in academic medicine is therefore the logical route to merge my interests in patient care, fundamental research, and medical education. Outside science/medicine, I enjoy cooking, spending time with my family and friends, I love animals, and I am quite literally mad about soccer! I maintain an avid interest in physical conditioning and organized training in sport – hobbies that I would probably pursue more seriously given time off.

Research interests

Some of the most exciting work in Dr. Mekhail’s lab relates to the discovery of genes that eliminate aberrant nucleic acid structures in order to preserve overall genome stability. Mutations affecting such genes are linked to a number of neurodegenerative diseases including Lou-Gehrig’s disease (ALS) as well as spinocerebellar ataxia. Using powerful yeast genetic tools in combination with several mammalian cell systems including neural stem cells, I will directly test how the dysfunction in these fundamental cellular processes promotes disease. We also seek to identify genetic, environmental, and chemical interventions that can rescue the dysfunctional cellular pathways and restore normal neurogenesis. In addition, we anticipate that the fundamental molecular pathways identified will also further our understanding of certain types of cancers that are specifically linked to defects in the same pathways we are studying.

Armstrong, Susan

Supervisor: Dr. Warren Lee and Dr. Arthur Slutsky

Personal background

I studied Life Sciences at Queen's University. I also earned a diploma in Respiratory Therapy from The Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences. I chose the MD/PhD program at U of T because of its international reputation for excellence, both as a medical school and as a research institute. As an added bonus, attending U of T also meant living in Toronto - a city that affords me plenty of opportunity to feed my passion for musical theatre and good burritos. An avid water polo player, I am also able to play on the highly competitive U of T Varsity Team.

Research interests

I am interested in mechanisms of lung injury and repair, particularly related to mechanical ventilation and sepsis. The focus of my research is dysfunction of the endothelium in sepsis. I believe that by integrating clinical and academic medicine throughout my medical training, I will establish the foundation necessary to do so throughout my career as a clinician scientist.

Atkins, Michael

Supervisor: Gordon Keller
Graduate unit: Medical Biophysics

Personal background

I was raised in Ottawa and completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at Carleton University in 2014. I had the opportunity to participate in different research programs during my undergraduate studies and thoroughly enjoyed my experiences. Initially, I examined the molecular mechanisms that regulate cell fate in the developing retina with Dr. Valerie Wallace (Ottawa Hospital Research Institute). Later, I investigated the response of the cancer cell lipidome to oncolytic virotherapy by mass spectrometry with Dr. Jeff Smith (Carleton University). During this time, I became interested in the translation of basic science knowledge to improve patient care. Outside of my studies, I enjoy playing intramural sports, spending time with family and friends and exploring all that Toronto has to offer.

Research interests

During my PhD studies, I am working in Dr. Gordon Keller’s group (Medical Biophysics). Dr. Keller’s exciting research program examines the lineage-specific differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells. I am particularly interested understanding the regulation of hematopoietic development and using patient-derived cells to model human hematologic disease. I am confident that the MD/PhD program will help me determine where my interests lie within medicine and science as I move forward in my career.

Publications


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Azizi, Paymon

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University in the Life Sciences. Over the course of my degree, I became interested in research after working in multiple labs. Following that, I moved to the University of Toronto where I completed my Master’s degree with the Institute of Medical Science. I chose the MD/PhD program at the University Toronto as it provides world class medical education as well as being one of the major research hubs in the world.

Research interests

My past research focused on metabolism and chronic disease. For my Master’s, I worked in a cell biology lab with a focus on diabetes. I studied insulin transcytosis--the mechanism by which insulin taken up and transported across endothelial cells. My current research interests focus on the molecular bases of cardiovascular disease. I am interested in developing novel techniques and assays to better understand cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology.


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Binesh Marvasti, Tina

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree in Physiology and Biochemistry and my Masters training in Medical Sciences at the University of Toronto. Both as an undergraduate and a graduate student, I worked with many clinician-scientists whose work inspired me to pursue the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto.

I am driven by the curiosity of finding new scientific discoveries and translating them into improved patient care. The MD/PhD program provides me with the training to become a compassionate physician to individual patients and a skilled medical researcher pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Outside of academics, I enjoy traveling and water sports such as dragon boat racing. 

Research interests

My research interests revolve around understanding the causes of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and heart failure using novel techniques. As a clinician-scientist in training, I aim to translate basic science research into clinical medicine to improve patient outcome and quality of life. 

Carr, Matthew

Supervisor:

Dr. Freda Miller at Sick Kids Hospital (Department of Neurosciences & Mental Health)
Graduate Unit: Institute of Medical Science

Personal Background

Born and raised in Vancouver, I completed my Bachelor of Science at UBC followed by a Masters of Science in Experimental Medicine. Under the supervision of Dr. Aziz Ghahary in the BC Firefighters’ Burn & Wound Healing Research Lab, I studied the role of skin cell signalling during fibrotic scar formation and wound healing. An appreciation for the importance and potential impact of integrating basic science research and clinical medicine led me to the MD/PhD Program at U of T. The impressive breadth and quality of medical research conducted at U of T, coupled with the program’s outstanding reputation, make for an ideal environment in which to pursue my training as a clinician-scientist. Outside of my academic interests, I am an avid cyclist, photographer, outdoorsman, and foodie.

Research Interests

My doctoral research focuses on exploring the role of endogenous neural crest stem cells in tissue regeneration. I am investigating their involvement in mammalian digit tip regeneration by utilizing in vivo transgenic mouse models coupled with in vitro cell culture and biochemical analyses. I hope that my MD/PhD training will allow me to identify medical problems from a unique perspective and develop novel research strategies to target them.

Publications

Chrystoja, Caitlin

Supervisor: Dr. David R Urbach at Toronto General Hospital (Department of Surgery)

Graduate unit: Clinical Epidemiology, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Personal background

I completed my HBSc at the University of Toronto in Human Biology: Health and Disease, with double minors in Statistics and Economics. Through summer research programs and thesis research courses, I had the opportunity to work longitudinally with Dr. Eleftherios P Diamandis (Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital). My undergraduate research was translational in nature, and focused on identifying, verifying and validating serum pancreatic cancer biomarkers for early detection. 

Research interests

My doctoral work focuses on facilitating the interpretation of evidence from nonrandomized studies through a bias-adjusted treatment estimate calculator accounting for typical methodological weakness in their study design. Health technology assessment agencies increasingly rely on low quality evidence from nonrandomized studies in making decisions about adopting new medical devices and surgical procedures, potentially with catastrophic consequences. My PhD research will develop a tool to interpret evidence from studies about treatment effectiveness in a way that reflects how flaws in the study design may overestimate benefit and underestimate harm.

Publications


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Civitarese, Robert

Personal background

Growing up in a small town in Hamilton, completing my B.Kin and M.Sc. training at the University of Toronto has been an amazing journey. I have had the opportunity to participate in diverse research areas with multiple supervisors, gaining tremendous insight into scientific discovery. My education has also allowed me to glimpse into the clinical world, through both placements and course work concerning human biology. These vastly different, yet essentially intertwined, areas of study have stimulated my passion and determination to enter the MD / PhD program here at the University of Toronto, training that will be fundamental for future success and development as a clinician scientist.

Research interests

The prognosis of heart failure, a vastly rising concern in North America and elsewhere, remains poor despite our best clinical advancements. Damaged or lost heart tissue, as a result of ischemia, has limited capacity to regenerate and repair. As such, I am interested in exploring the relationship between non-cardiac cells and the extracellular milieu on cardiac cell maturation, with the goal to utilize this knowledge to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of cardiac regenerative therapy and engineering.

Publications

Deshwar, Ashish

Supervisor: Dr. Ian Scott

Personal background

Before coming to Toronto, I completed an Honours degree in Zoology at the University of Calgary. I chose the U of T MD/PhD program for the strength and size of its research faculty in my particular area of interest, developmental biology, as well as the quality of the scientific community as a whole. Outside of school, I like to spend most of my time watching sports

Research interests

Specifically, my research interests centre on the generation of form in the embryo, morphogenesis and the genetics which underlie this phenomenon. While I have yet to determine my PhD project, I am interested in using animal models to gain insight into the developmental process. In the future I aspire to become a clinician scientist and hope that my work will ultimately have ramifications in the understanding and treatment of human diseases.

Dey, Ayan

Supervisor(s): Dr. Brian Levine at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest (Department of Psychology) and Dr. Sandra Black at Sunnybrook Health Sciences (Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology)

Graduate unit: Institute of Medical Science

Personal background

Raised in Hamilton and a graduate of the Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour Program at McMaster University, I joined University of Toronto's MD.PhD program in 2011 with a keen interest in studying cognitive neurorehabilitation within the context of acquired brain injury (including stroke). I was drawn towards pursuing dual training in both science and medicine due to my interest in translational and applied research and desire to help individuals with brain injury overcome disability and maximize quality of life. I chose the University of Toronto due the diversity of opportunities available at the University, both academic and non-academic. Outside of research, I have very broad interests including a passion for travel, photography, quality improvement, economics, medical education, and refugee health care.

Research interests

My work revolves around investigating the neural correlates of cognitive deficits in individuals with vascular cognitive impairment resulting from covert stroke (cerebral small vessel disease) using a combination of neuropsychological testing and multimodal neuroimaging techniques. A better understanding of the impact of vascular disease on whole brain network dynamics and accompanying cognitive impairments may help uncover novel brain-behaviour biomarkers. Such biomarkers may also help clinicians dichotomize patients into subgroups which in turn could influence treatment efforts.

Publications


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Eastwood, Kyle

Supervisor: Dr. James Drake at The Hospital for Sick Children (Department of Neurosurgery) and Dr. Hani E. Naguib at the University of Toronto (Mechanical and Industrial Engineering)

Graduate unit: Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate training in Mechanical Engineering and Management at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. I officially joined the MD-PhD program at the University of Toronto in September 2013, and I am currently in the research phase of the program. I chose the University of Toronto because of the incredible research opportunities and networks that are offered both locally and globally.

Research interests

My research focuses on developing miniaturized, highly maneuverable tools for medical applications. In particular, investigating and developing new technologies for robotic devices in minimally invasive surgery (MIS). My career goal is to continue to develop MIS technology in parallel with my medical career while expanding and offering more personalized surgical treatment options for patients.


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Elias, Gavin

Elphinstone, Robyn

Supervisor: Dr. Kevin Kain

Graduate unit: Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology

Personal background

I grew up in Lac La Biche, a small town in northern Alberta, before going to the University of Calgary where I graduated with a BSc. in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology with a minor in dance. During my undergraduate studies, I became passionate about the relationship between clinical medicine and scientific research. I chose the U of T MD/PhD Program because it allows me to combine these. In addition to being a great program with an excellent reputation, the U of T has an incredibly supportive team of staff and students. Toronto also has great dance schools where I am able to pursue my love of dance.

Research interests

The world at the microscopic level fascinates me, especially our host response to infections.  My PhD project focuses on these host responses, specifically in terms of the endothelial dysfunction that occurs during severe malaria, with the ultimate goal of developing new adjunctive therapeutics.  Severe malaria is associated with low nitric oxide bioavailability and the release of hemolytic products into the circulation.  I am interested in examining how these both affect disease outcomes and severity, and potential ways to intervene in these pathways to improve outcomes.

Publications

Figueiredo, Carlyn

Personal background

As a big fan of city life, I am proud to say that Toronto has been my home for the past 7 years. The University of Toronto Scarborough is where it all began with my undergraduate studies in Cell and Molecular Biology, where I was mentored by numerous outstanding scientists who helped shape my future in research. My passion for research lead me to a Masters degree in laboratory medicine and pathobiology, where my studies in multiple sclerosis first sparked my interest in the bridge between basic science and clinical application. I chose the UofT MD/PhD program owing to the amazing opportunities available to immerse oneself in cutting edge research and liaise with world renowned leaders in the scientific and medical community. I am truly excited to be a part of this program at UofT, which has emerged as one of the leading institutions to train physician scientists. Outside the classroom/lab, I do enjoy singing, comedy movies, and trying out the various eats Toronto has to offer!

Research interests

While I haven't formally picked a research project yet, my interests lie in autoimmunity. Knowing first hand the patient experience of dealing with an autoimmune disorder has encouraged me to seek out projects which examine onset, immunological pathways and treatment options. The MD/PhD program will be instrumental in my training by challenging me to continuously seek out new ideas and research interests while prioritizing patient care and the advancement of the medical field.

Fuller, Jonathan

Supervisor: Dr. Ross Upshur

Personal background

I grew up in Toronto and completed an undergraduate degree in physiology at Western University in London, Ontario (2010) before joining the MD/PhD Program. I was a visiting graduate student at the Centre for the Humanities and Health at King’s College London in 2013-14, as well as in the Philosophy Department at the University of California, San Diego in 2015.

Research interests

My primary research interests are in the philosophy of medicine. I am especially interested in chronic disease and evidence-based medicine, two defining features of modern medicine. My recent work has investigated: the nature of chronic disease, disease classification, mechanisms of disease, medical prediction, causal inference in clinical trials and the problem of extrapolation in trial research. I am also interested in the role of the humanities in medical education, and am completing a research fellowship at the Wilson Centre for Health Professions Education Research in Toronto.

Publications


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Harmsen, Irene

Supervisor: Dr. Andres Lozano (Toronto Western Hospital, Department of Neurosurgery)

Graduate unit: Institute of Medical Sciences, Collaborative Program in Neuroscience

Personal background

For my undergraduate studies, I completed a BSc in Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa. I pursued training as an MD/PhD to combine the fields of medicine and research in order to make positive contributions to individual patients while having a larger impact on the medical community. Outside of my academic life, I am a triathlete and avid traveller.

Research interests

With an interest in neuroscience and genetics, I conducted extensive research on Parkinson’s disease during my BSc degree. I am now focusing on the neurosurgical treatment of movement disorders and use of micro-electrode recordings of the human brain to determine novel medical applications for use of deep-brain stimulation.

Howell, Nicholas

Supervisor: Dr. Gillian Booth (St. Michael’s Hospital, Centre for Research on Inner City Health)
Graduate unit: Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation (Clinical Epidemiology & Health Care Research)

Personal background

While I’m originally from Ottawa, I’ve been in Toronto for some time now. I completed my undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Toronto before continuing to a master's degree at the Institute of Medical Science. During my training I researched the neural mechanisms of reward and impulsivity at the Toronto Western Hospital under Dr. William D. Hutchison and with Dr. Valerie Voon at the University of Cambridge's Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre. Having the opportunity to work in an environment supportive of research and with excellent clinician-scientist mentors, I decided to continue my studies as an MD/PhD student. 

Research interests

My PhD research focuses on the links between the urban environment and cardiovascular disease. While great strides have been made in reducing rates of heart disease, it continues to be one of the largest sources of illness and death in Canada. This has led researchers to address the root causes of these illness at the population level. As part of this push, there has been an increasing focus on how features such as city planning might affect cardiovascular risk factors. I aim to use large administrative databases to study how features of urban design and pollution may provoke or prevent conditions like acute myocardial infarction. 

Publications


PHOTO CREDIT Dr. Justin Lam

Jamal, Alainna

Supervisor: Dr. Allison McGeer
Graduate unit: Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation (Clinical Epidemiology & Health Care Research)

Personal background

Toronto is the city I call home, having been born, raised, and educated here (I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in Biochemistry and Cell/Molecular Biology). During my time as an undergraduate, I was fortunate to have conducted research with two physician-scientists at the University Health Network's Multi-Organ Transplant Program. This was where I gained exposure to and developed a passion for clinical medicine and research. 

Research interests

I am pursuing a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology at the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation. Our research is in the area of infectious diseases (antibiotic resistance). 

Publications

Khan, Amanda

Supervisors: Dr. Teodor Grantcharov at St. Michael’s Hospital (Department of General Surgery) and Dr. James Drake at Sick Kids Hospital (Department of Neurosurgery).

Graduate Unit: Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (Surgical Engineering

Personal background

I completed both my BHSc and my MSc (Medical Biophysics) at the University of Western Ontario in London, ON. I chose to pursue my MD/PhD training at the University of Toronto because of its well-developed program and excellent surgical engineering research opportunities.

Research interests

My PhD work involves the characterization of the safe limits of force on gastrointestinal tissues by laparoscopic tools. I am creating a novel laparoscopic grasper that has an integrated force sensor that will calculate the amount of force exerted on tissue in real-time. It will automatically stop grasping when the safe amount of force is exerted. This will prevent surgeons from accidently crushing tissue, leading to a decrease in bowel perforations and abrasions.

Publications

 

Kim, Jieun

Supervisor: Dr. Peter Zandstra
Graduate unit: Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (Surgical Engineering

Personal Background

Originally born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, I came to Canada during my high school years. While studying developmental biology at McGill University, I was fascinated by intricate processes cells undergo for organogenesis. I was drawn to basic science research by how the more answers we have, the more powerful and intriguing our next questions become. I also wanted to make a direct impact on people's life. Pursuing my MD/PhD training at University of Toronto was the best way to combine all my academic pursuits. University of Toronto has provided me the perfect learning and research environment for me to thrive and strive to be better. Outside the lab, classrooms, and hospitals, I am an avid backpacker, a ninja in training with a black belt in Taekwondo, a novice boxer, and an abstract art painter who translates her feelings inspired by life experiences onto a canvas. 

Research Interests

I became deeply interested in the functional aspects of cardiovascular development during my MSc study under the supervision of Dr. Hui at University of Toronto. My interests in cardiovascular system and development have expanded on how immune system plays a role in the progression of heart diseases, mainly myocardial infarction, with the help of stem cell bioengineering. Currently, I am focusing on these aspects for my PhD thesis under the supervision of Dr. Peter Zandstra. 

Publications

Hannah Kozlowski

Personal background

I completed my HBSc in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology with minors in Nanoscience and Immunology from the University of Toronto, Trinity College. During that time I was exposed to the power of the immune system and the complexity of our innate and adaptive responses to foreign microorganisms and our own dysfunctional cells. I began to explore this further by pursing clinical research in transplant infectious disease and basic science research in HIV and Ebola. Although the body fascinated me, I was also interested to learn more about other research fields, particularly Nanoscience. I spent several months at the National University of Singapore taking Nanoscience courses and learning from experts in the field.   Early on in my experiences I began to appreciate the relationship between medicine and research, and the unique role of a clinician-scientist. I believe the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto is a great way for me to begin my career and has/will provide me with many opportunities to learn, develop and explore. Also, in the last few months I have realized and appreciated the power of mentorship even more than before.  Outside of my academic life, I have been able to spend time doing things I enjoy: long distance running, traveling and baking.

 

Research background

My research interests revolve around nanodiagnostics, where we can use small particles to detect genetic material, or other molecules, in human samples to identify disease onset or outcome. I believe nanodiagnostics can be used to detect diseases sooner and improve clinical outcomes. Moreover, I believe this can be very important to developing inexpensive diagnostics for use in limited resource setting, such as third world countries.


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Kumar, Sachin

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in Human Biology and Immunology, and my Masters training at the University of Toronto in the Department of Molecular Genetics. My focus was on high-throughput genetic screening to investigate and characterize the role of a poorly understood receptor on cellular signalling. I chose to pursue an MD/PhD degree at the University of Toronto as I felt it afforded me the opportunity to receive the best scientific and medical training. Toronto is a hub for cutting edge research, with talented faculty and mentors, and diverse social and cultural experiences. Although I’ve spent the entirety of my post-secondary education in Toronto, there isn’t a city with better food, people or sports I’d rather be in!

Research interests

The field of oncology has always captivated me. My previous research experiences have provided me a strong foundation in understanding the genetic and metabolic basis of cancer development. I’ve additionally had the opportunity to develop tools and technologies to investigate and characterize cancer cell signalling. Going forward, I hope to use this repertoire to study immune modulation and activation in cancer, and the role of tumour infiltrating lymphocytes on cancer cell detection and elimination.

Publications

Lane, Natasha

Supervisor: Dr. Walter Wodchis
Graduate unit: Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation

Personal background

I did my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences and my Master’s degree in Health Studies and Gerontology, both at the University of Waterloo. When I’m not doing research, I enjoy distance running, book clubs and spending time with my dogs.

Research interests

My doctoral research is focused on improving health and health care for older adults through three related areas of study:

  1. determinants of activities of daily living (ADL) restriction and decline in residents of long-term care homes
  2. multimorbidity and its impact on health outcomes (e.g. quality of life, survival) in older adults and how these outcomes differ according to sex and socioeconomic status
  3. care transition interventions for older adults being discharged from hospital to home

Publications

Light, Nicholas

Personal background

Originally hailing from London, England I moved to the States at age 10, growing up primarily in the western suburbs of Chicago. During high school I developed an interest in biology, and in particular the rapidly evolving field of genomics. For university, I moved to Canada, the country of my parents’ birth, to complete a BSc in Biology, and MSc in Human Genetics at McGill University in Montreal. During my MSc, I worked with Dr. Tomi Pastinen, investigating the role of cis-regulatory mechanisms in complex genetic disease through allele-specific genomic assays of gene regulation and chromatin state. Now in the midst of first-year medical school, my fascination and appreciation for clinical medicine has only grown, while I anticipate the start of my PhD program this fall. Outside of academics, I enjoy travelling and the great outdoors, and play a range of sports. I am currently enjoying exploring and getting to know Toronto, a city which has quickly become home.

Research interests

While genetics research is a major passion of mine, I have also long felt a calling towards medicine, and the care of today’s patients. Over time, I came to realize the unique opportunity an MD/PhD program would afford me. With an understanding of clinical problems and the ability to apply cutting edge research tools to meet these problems, I aim to be a link between basic science and bedside practice. What drew me to U of T’s MD/PhD program in particular, is its world-class teaching hospitals, hub of research excellence covering all fields of biomedicine, the lively urban metropolis of downtown Toronto, and not least, the close proximity of family.

   

McFaul, Chris

Supervisors: Prof. Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez & Prof. Chris Yip

Project: An automated injection and high-content screening platform for Drosophila 

Personal background

I did my Bachelor of Sciences at McGill University in the Physiology and Physics program. Stemming from my joint program, some of my hobbies include building electronics projects with Arduinos, programming and 3D printing. I chose the MD/PhD program at U of T because of the breadth of research that is being done in the engineering/medical physics fields and so that I could apply my skills to the field of medicine.

Research interests

My research interests include developing and applying novel imaging/surgical assist technologies to improve patient outcomes. My PhD project will be focused on improving existing neurosurgery microscopy technology. The goals of the project will be to increase low light sensitivity during procedures like photodynamic therapy and to improve surgeon-microscope interactions.


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

McQueen, Sydney

Supervisor: Dr. Carol-Anne Moulton (Division of General Surgery, University Health Network)

Personal background

I left my hometown of Georgetown, Ontario to complete undergraduate training in Life Sciences at Queen’s University where I specialized and conducted research in the field of Neuroscience. During my undergraduate studies, I also became involved with medical education research and was captivated by the field. I went on to complete a Masters degree at McMaster University in Health Science Education. These experiences and inspiration from my mentors led me to pursue the next phase of my training at the University of Toronto in the MD/PhD program. Outside of academics, I enjoy running, painting, and travelling.

Research interests

I have a keen interest in surgical education research, especially regarding motor skill acquisition, assessment, and feedback. My previous work has focused on the barriers to effective assessment and feedback in medical education, and how we might improve surgical training in the operating room. I am now looking to shift my focus more towards the psychosocial factors impacting surgical performance and training.

Publications

Mirali, Sara

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree at McGill University and have been involved in basic science research since freshman year. I chose the University of Toronto’s MD/PhD program because of the amazing research opportunities and outstanding medical education.

Research interests

Although I will likely explore new fields of interest during my PhD, my previous work was centered around neuroscience with a large focus on pain. I am still deciding what to focus on in the upcoming years but I am confident that the program will provide me with the necessary tools to bridge the gap between scientific discovery and clinical application.

Mukovozov, Ilya

Supervisor: Dr. Lisa Robinson, Program in Cell Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Personal background

I was born in Ukraine, and moved to Israel with my family at a young age during the turmoil surrounding the fall of the Soviet Union. When I was nine years old, my family immigrated to Canada and I have lived in Toronto since.

I completed my undergraduate education at McMaster University in the Health Sciences Program. I returned to Toronto to pursue a Masters degree in the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Robinson, a clinician-scientist. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate training, I have developed my interest and curiosity in basic science and biomedical research, and was lucky to have incredible mentors who motivated me and encouraged my growth. My desire to practice medicine and continue contributing to scientific research has motivated me to pursue a combined MD/PhD degree.

I chose the University of Toronto because of its outstanding reputation, the benefits of living in such a great city, and the prospect of expanding on my Masters research.

Research interests

My research interests focus on the molecular signals that regulate white blood cell recruitment under inflammatory conditions, and the role of the actin cytoskeleton in white blood cell functions, including recruitment, adhesion and phagocytosis. My graduate research focused on the cell biology of macrophages in atherosclerotic plaques.

Publications

 

Mylabathula, Swapna

Supervisor: Dr. Charles Tator
Graduate unit: Institute of Medical Science

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree at U of T in Human Biology and Nutritional Science, followed by a non-degree year in Kinesiology. Outside of academics, I enjoy sports [any and all, but hockey and lacrosse, primarily!], music [violin and sitar], and engaging in the U of T community through student groups!

Research interests

Currently, I am working on evaluation of concussion policies in schools, with the aim of understanding barriers and enablers in implementation and assisting knowledge users by providing information on elements for inclusion in development and implementation. I am also studying female concussion in hockey, and characterizing this injury using a mixed-methods approach in women’s hockey in Ontario.

Publications

Nestor, Sean

Supervisor: Dr. Sandra Black

Personal background

I earned both my B.H.Sc. in Health Sciences and M.Sc. in Medical Biophysics from University of Western Ontario. Throughout my academic pursuits, I have always appreciated science that is translational and clinically useful. A clinician-scientist training experience was an obvious choice. I chose the MD/PhD program at U of T because it provides a collaborative atmosphere which connects trainees with world-renowned clinicians and scientists who are eager to work with students. I have a penchant for world travel, and I also enjoy skiing, lowering my handicap and scuba diving.

Research interests

I am currently investigating the relationship between cerebrovascular disease and cognitive performance in patients with Alzheimer disease. I plan to use a multi-modal imaging platform including MRI, PET, fMRI, and advanced multivariate modelling tools to evaluate the impact of different brain lesions on cognition. I also plan to validate biomarkers to measure disease progression in patients with dementia. With purported disease modifying therapies for Alzheimer disease currently in clinical trials, this research will impact treatment decisions and improve the quality of care provided to millions of patients suffering from dementia.

Ng, Enoch

Supervisor: Dr. John Roder and Dr. Albert Wong

Personal background

People fascinate me. What makes some people vulnerable to neuropsychiatric disorders like major depression while others seem so resilient? These big questions formed the theme of my undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, where I specialized in neuroscience and majored in psychology.

Research interests

I am excited to continue exploring these questions through an MD/PhD at U of T with its excellent history in training clinician-scientists and unparalleled support from upper year students, faculty and staff. In my research, I hope to integrate psychological and biological perspectives to explore how genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors affect our mental health and brain development. In future, I would like to be physician and researcher that synergizes experiences in the clinic with work in the lab. An MD/PhD training will give me the skills required to not only play a role in further understanding the human mind but apply this understanding to help people remain and grow in health.

Ouyang, Ben

Supervisor: Dr. Warren Chan
Graduate unit: Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

Personal background

I was born in China, and grew up in Scarborough and Mississauga. I graduated from the Engineering Science (Biomedical Option) program at U of T in 2013, and had been interested in healthcare throughout my undergrad. I ultimately chose the MD/PhD at UToronto to gain a solid foundation of medical knowledge for patient care, and an understanding of the problems and solutions within healthcare at the best research institution in Canada.

Research interests

My research interests are centred around the immune response to nanomaterials. By understanding these interactions within the body at the molecular and cellular level, the huge potential of these technologies can be translated more effectively.

Patel, Kramay

Supervisor: Dr. Milos R. Popovic (Toronto Rehab, UHN)
Graduate Unit: Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME)

Personal Background

I completed my undergraduate degree through the Engineering Science program at the University of Toronto, graduating with a Bachelors of Applied Sciences (BASc), with a major in Biomedical Systems Engineering and a minor in Robotics and Mechatronics in 2016. During my undergraduate degree, I undertook research projects with the overall theme of improving trunk stability in individuals with motor deficits caused by disease or traumatic injury. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to interact with both engineers and clinicians in a setting where the primary goal was to improve patient quality-of-life. I noticed that there was a stark difference in skillset and experience between the two professions and realized that there was a need for more individuals who could bridge the gap. I realized that there was a need for individuals who could not only identify clinical problems and frame them from a patient’s perspective, but also have the technical skillset necessary to effectively approach and tackle these problems. I believe that clinician scientists are best suited to fill this gap and improve healthcare and its delivery, which is why I chose to pursue MD/PhD training. I chose to do so at the University of Toronto because of the immense diversity of research offerings here and a rich network of academic hospitals.

Research Interests

My undergraduate research work specifically focused on (1) understanding the biomechanics and electrophysiology of the human trunk and its responses to dynamic environmental perturbations and (2) developing neuroprostheses to improve dynamic trunk stability using a technology called Functional Electrical Stimulation. In my fourth-year thesis project, I undertook the development of a novel, single neuron-based brain machine interface in a rodent model, which could be used to improve the efficacy with which individuals with neuro-motor deficits interact with their environments. Through my PhD, I hope to further explore this field of intracortical brain machine interfaces. I also hope to work on utilizing electrical stimulation techniques such as deep brain stimulation to augment memory function in both, healthy individuals and those suffering from cognitive deficits due to disease or injury.

Publications

Pouget, Jennie

Supervisor: Dr. James Kennedy and Dr. Jo Knight

Personal background

After growing up in Hamilton I completed my undergraduate degree in Bio-Medical Science at the University of Guelph. I chose the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto because of the program’s reputation, as well as the quality of research at this institution. I feel that integrating my training in clinical and academic medicine through the MD/PhD program will best prepare me to combine my passions for patient care and scientific discovery as a clinician-scientist. In my free time I enjoy camping, running, and spending time with family.

Research interests

My research interests are in the field of mental health. I am interested in understanding the biology underlying psychiatric diseases, with the ultimate goal of eliminating stigma and improving treatment for those living with mental illness. I am particularly interested in understanding the way that interactions between the brain and the immune system can influence brain function and contribute to psychiatric disease. In my current research, I am using genetic approaches to understand the role of immune system in schizophrenia.

Rahman, Anum

Personal Background

I completed my undergraduate degree in Human Biology (specialist) and my Masters in Medical Biophysics (both at University of Toronto). Under the supervision of Dr. John Sled at the Mouse Imaging Centre, I studied how the pulse wave reflection in the mouse umbilical artery can be used to detect changes in placental vascular morphology. During my time here, the implications for translating this knowledge from mouse studies to human pregnancies led me to pursue the MD/PhD program. Apart from my research interests, I enjoy cooking numerous curries and playing volleyball.

Research Interests

I am interested in maternal/fetal health and find the relationship between the intrauterine environment and fetal development fascinating.

Publications

Rajora, Maneesha

Supervisor: Dr. Gang Zheng
Graduate unit: Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

Personal background

Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, I moved to Toronto to complete my M.A.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering, with a focus on developing biomaterials and drug-delivery systems. Prior to conducting graduate studies at the University of Toronto, I completed my undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Dalhousie University. I chose to pursue the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto on the basis of its renowned excellence in biomedical research and medical education. During my training, I hope to build a foundation of skillsets pertinent in identifying clinical needs in biomaterials development, conducting materials-centred research to address these needs, and effectively delivering patient care as a clinician-scientist.

Research interests

My research interests lie in the engineering of clinically-relevant biomaterial platforms to enhance therapy delivery to the brain. Specifically, I am interested in developing non-invasive micro and nanotechnologies to address limitations in bypassing tumor vasculature to ultimately enhance the targeted delivery of therapeutics to brain tumors, and thereby improve cancer therapy. 

Photo credit: Lisa Renault Photographie

Rappon, Tim

Supervisors: Dr. Whitney Berta and Dr. Samir Sinha

Graduate Unit: Institute For Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (Health Services Research)

Personal background

I grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I studied cell biology at Western and conducted research into the links between metabolism in Alzheimer's disease under the supervision of Dr. Robert Cumming. With my involvement in research, I soon realized that discoveries in the lab take a very long time to bring benefits to patients. With that insight, I resolved to pursue a combined MD/PhD to try and bridge the gap between discovery and application. I chose the University of Toronto's MD/PhD program because of the depth and breadth of research that is conducted in the city. Pretty much any topic of inquiry related to health that you might be interested in is being pursued by someone, somewhere in Toronto. In addition to my research, I work part-time as an MCAT tutor. I enjoy cooking, playing board games and spending time with my wife, our dog, and our cat.

 

Research Interests

I'm interested in understanding individual, unit, and organizational factors which contribute to continued use and sustainability of improvements to the way we care for older Canadians. Currently, I’m studying the Acute Care for Elders Collaborative—a group of 17 hospitals across Canada which are receiving funding and coaching to implement one or more components of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Acute Care for Elders Strategy. The Strategy has had great success at Mount Sinai, saving the healthcare system an estimated $6.7 million in FY13 while producing near-perfect patient satisfaction scores. It's helped hundreds of patients maintain their independence and return home in a safe and timely manner. The insights from this project will inform efforts to accelerate the spread of healthcare improvements so that more Canadians can benefit from them.

Rotin, Lianne

Supervisor: Dr. Aaron Schimmer
Graduate unit: Institute of Medical Science

Personal background

I grew up in Thornhill, Ontario and then headed to McMaster University to complete a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. During my years as an undergrad I had the opportunity to spend several summers as a research student at SickKids Hospital. These experiences allowed me to appreciate the interdependence of basic science research and medicine, and ultimately motivated me to pursue both disciplines. I chose to enroll in the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto because of its excellent reputation. Being so close to family and friends is also an added bonus!

Research interests

Uncovering the mechanisms of synergistic drug combinations in acute myeloid leukemia

Publications

 

Samuel, Nardin

Supervisors: Dr. Tom Hudson and Dr. David Malkin
Graduate unit: Department of Medical Biophysics

Personal background

Growing up in Toronto, I worked in my family's pharmacy. Through my fun and interesting experiences behind the counter, I became interested in a career as a pharmacist and pursued a pharmacy degree here at UofT. In pharmacy school, I developed an interest in the science behind pharmacology and drug research, but also wanted to learn more about healthcare. UofT's MD/PhD program was the ideal clinician-scientist training program to match my combined interest in clinical training and basic science. Outside of school I love running, cooking, playing sports (especially squash), spending time with my family and friends and playing boardgames!

Research interests

I am currently interested in cancer genetics and applying sequencing approaches to better understand deregulated cancer processes and in particular, how they can be targeted therapeutically. I also hope to continue to learn more about translating sequencing applications to the clinical setting.

Seneviratne, Ayesh

Supervisor: Dr. Aaron Schimmer at the Princess Margaret Hospital   
Graduate unit: Institute of Medical Science

Personal background

My path to the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto has been an interesting one. I was born in Winnipeg, before moving to Sri Lanka after my father completed his PhD and my mother her Master’s at the University of Manitoba. In Sri Lanka I attended St. Thomas’ college, a school that placed heavy emphasis on the values of discipline, and perseverance. It was only after grade 10 of my studies that I came to Mississauga, to finish my last two years of high school before making my way to Western University, where I completed a Bachelor’s in physiology, followed by a Master’s in regenerative medicine, under the supervision of Dr. David Hess.

Research interests

The Schimmer lab has demonstrated that Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) cells, and stem cells have a unique reliance on mitochondrial metabolism. My work involves the use of chemical, and genetic approaches to investigate the the importance of mitochondrial lipid synthesis pathways, in AML cell growth. With the hope that an understanding of the biology of AML cells will highlight potential therapeutic strategies, that will improve the treatment outcomes in patients with AML.

Publications

Sindhwani, Shrey

Supervisor: Dr. Warren Chan
Graduate unit: Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME)

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree in Nanotechnology Engineering from University of Waterloo in 2011. During my undergraduate education, I was drawn towards the application of nanotechnology to medicine. UofT’s MD/PhD program brings together world class researchers, teachers and clinicians, which allows to further my pursuit in the area of cancer nanomedicine. Outside the class, I am an avid soccer and squash player.

Research interests

About 1% of the total nanoparticles injected into the blood stream end up in the tumour. My PhD work focuses on understanding the factors that govern nanoparticles interactions with blood and tumour components. This mechanistic understanding will provide avenues for developing nanomaterials that can overcome off target accumulation in liver and spleen and lead to enhanced accumulation and distribution in tumours.

Publications

Soleas, John

Supervisors: Dr. Thomas Waddell (Department of Thoracic Surgery) & Dr. Alison McGuigan (Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering)

Graduate unit: Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree in Physiology from The University of Western Ontario in 2010 and a Masters in epithelial tissue engineering at UofT in 2012.  When I’m not taking care of my cells or building something you can usually find me in the gym, eating yogurt or spending time with my family and friends.

Research interests

My interests lie at the intersection of stem cell biology, and tissue engineering.  We are trying to understand how the mechanical environment of the differentiating stem cell affects what the cell chooses to become. This understanding will allow future scientists to control the products of their stem cell differentiation.  

Publications

Steadman, Patrick

Supervisor: Dr. Paul Frankland at the Hospital for Sick Children
Graduate unit: Institute of Medical Science 

Personal background

I grew up in Etobicoke and went to McMaster University for my BSc in Medical and Health Physics. My undergraduate program instilled a passion for research that brought me to Toronto for a MSc in the Department of Medical Biophysics. My work focused on genetic alterations associated with brain disorders and their effect on brain structure. I chose the MD/PhD program because it puts the focus on translating knowledge from the bench to the clinic and vice versa. In my spare time I am an avid reader, as it is a great way to explore interesting fields outside of my own, and I enjoy biking.

Research interests

I am fascinated by how dynamic our brains are, both during development and every day of our lives. I see great potential in brain research. I hope to better understand brain development and its integral functions through the use of neuroimaging, image analysis, cognitive behavioural tasks and genetics research. I also hope to spend some of my time in Toronto honing my advocacy skills while working on patient advocacy projects. Patient advocacy and policy work are two areas I would like to include in my career as a clinician-scientist.

Publications


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Tsang, Brian

Personal background

I completed an undergraduate Honours Biochemistry degree at the University of Waterloo. Through their cooperative education program, I had the chance to experience many different research opportunities. At the same time, I met many great mentors that encouraged me to pursue a clinician-scientist career. I decided to pursue my MD/PhD training at the University of Toronto because of the world-class research opportunities available here.

Research interest

I have not decided on a formal project yet, but I am interested in structural biochemistry and neurobiology. Specifically, I am fascinated by fundamental basic research relating to regulatory processes for neurological function. I am certain that understanding basic neurological function will be a critical first step in developing treatment options for many neurological disorders.

 

Vanner, Rob

Supervisor: Dr. Peter Dirks

Personal background

I grew up in Kingston, Ontario and headed west to Vancouver for my undergraduate degree. In 2009 I graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a Bachelor of Science in Honours Biology, specializing in cell and developmental biology. I have always had an avid interest in sports, and in addition to skiing and playing intramural hockey, was a member of the varsity rowing team throughout my time at UBC. In Toronto I continue to play intramural hockey for Medicine and am a member of the U of T Triathlon Club.

Research interests

I was drawn to U of T for the critical mass of researchers working to understand disease from the basic science to clinical level. There are quite literally multiple experts in nearly every discipline of biomedical research, creating a collaborative and productive environment at the cutting edge of both medicine and science. In 2010 I will begin my PhD with Dr. Peter Dirks, studying neural stem cell biology and the potential for neural stem cells to form brain tumors.

 

Vi, Linda

Supervisor: Dr. Ben Alman

Personal background

I completed an undergraduate health science degree and a M.Sc. in physiology from the University of Western Ontario. I chose to pursue my MD/PhD training at the University of Toronto because of its well established program and the breadth of research opportunities available here. Moreover, growing up in Mississauga, I was raised as a Leafs fan, and hence, moving to Toronto meant I would be closer to the action when they do win the cup (which will happen!).

Research interests

My research interest is in tissue repair and regeneration after injury. On a molecular level, I am interested in understanding how changes in the extracellular matrix or microenvironment of an injury can influence the path of normal tissue healing.

 

Voruganti, Teja

Supervisor: Prof. Eva Grunfeld

Personal background

I came to U of T having studied Biology at McMaster University. I gained valuable basic sciences research experience during this time but have since found a strong interest in the area of clinical epidemiology and health services research. Nowhere in Canada are such esteemed faculty and resources available for conducting high-quality clinical research, and therefore the MD/PhD program at U of T is the ideal setting to gain the skills needed of the dual identities of a clinician-scientist.

Research interest

My research interests are in the study of quality and outcomes of cancer prevention and treatment using methods from clinical epidemiology and health services research. During my PhD, I am planning to explore issues of complex care in oncology from a primary care perspective. I am also interested in translational research in early drug development and evaluation, and cancer care strategies for specific populations, especially the elderly.


Photo credit: Ben Ouyang

Walpole, Glenn

Supervisors:  Dr. Sergio Grinstein and Dr. John Brumell (Cell Biology Program, SickKids)

Personal background

I was born and raised in a small farming community along the shores of Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario and completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry (Biomedical Research Specialization) at McMaster University.  Outside school, I am a member of the Paris Port Dover pipe band and I also compete in professional solo bagpiping.  I am an avid golfer and can usually turn in a mid to low 70s score but also have the talent to turn in a mid 90s score without too much difficulty. 

Research interests

I became interested in the way cells function at a molecular level during my time in the laboratory of Dr. Ray Truant at McMaster University where I realized that understanding the cell biology of a particular disease can provide important avenues for therapeutics.  I joined the MD/PhD program at the U of T in the fall of 2015 because it will allow me to understand and appreciate the mechanisms of a disease from the cellular level to the level of patients in the clinic.

Wan, Hoyee

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree in neuroscience from the University of Toronto. I chose the MD/PhD program at University of Toronto because of the breadth of research opportunities and the collaborative nature of the research being conducted.

Research interests

I am interested in cerebral vasculature, stroke, novel experimental imaging technologies/techniques and therapeutic delivery systems.

Wang, Xin (Kevin)

Supervisor: Dr. Michael Taylor at the Hospital for Sick Children
Graduate unit: Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology

Personal background

I completed a degree in Health Sciences from McMaster University prior to entering the MD/PhD program. I am interested in combining my passion for clinical medicine with basic science research in order to improve patient outcomes through translating new discoveries into new therapies. University of Toronto represents a dynamic and unique environment for me to explore both the medical profession and the research community. In my spare time, I enjoy the company of friends and family. Being in Toronto also allows me to be closer to home so I can spend more time with my two younger brothers.

Research interests

My research involves applying functional genomic approaches to the study of pediatric brain tumours. I am interested in applying novel genetic animal models to explore the initiation and maintenance events in cancer. If we can understand how tumours arise and the pathways that regulate their growth, perhaps then we can find therapies that can eradicate them. In the long run, I hope to pursue a career as a clinician-scientist in an academic-based hospital.

Publications

Wilcox, Jared

Supervisor: Dr. Michael G. Fehlings

Personal background

Coming from undergraduate and graduate work (M.Sc.) at the University of Guelph, I was well prepared with basic biomedical research techniques as well as a core base of biomedical knowledge. I entered U of T with a great deal of excitement for what I can achieve in a top research facility and a truly invigorating scientific environment. Pursuing a Ph.D. under a world-renowned neurosurgeon was an easy call, but it is the atmosphere at U of T that I wasn't expecting to fall in love with. Being a past varsity wrestler and med's rugby player and generally gregarious guy, I have found the competition and social setting I need.

Research interests

Understanding and exploiting the plasticity in the spinal cord with the aim of using neural stem cells to remove damage and induce repair in acute and chronic spinal cord injury. My career ambition is to be a neurosurgical specialist with a basic research lab in a major academic centre. My current research project and mentoring supervisor are closely focused on developing me towards this goal.

Woodford, Curtis

Supervisor: Dr. Peter Zandstra

Personal background

I studied chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo, and I'm originally from Liverpool, Nova Scotia. In my spare time, I play on the varsity squash team, serve as a News and Views editor of the University of Toronto Medical Journal, or read fiction. I came to U of T for the collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment and the excellent medical education.

Research interests

I'm interested in regenerative medicine, stem cells, and bioengineering. I am currently choosing my research project. The MD/PhD program provides an extremely supportive environment in which to pursue these research directions. There is ample advice and guidance provided by more senior students and the program leadership.

Wu, Florence

Supervisor: Professor Robert S. Kerbel, Sunnybrook Research Institute
Graduate unit: Department of Medical Biophysics

Personal background

I completed my B.A.Sc. in Engineering Science at the University of Toronto in 2006 and my M.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 2009. Past research collaborations with clinicians taught me to appreciate the value of a physician’s perspective in guiding clinically translatable biomedical research, which motivated me to pursue the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto.

Research interests

I am interested in the molecular and cellular pathways that regulate angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels) and the therapeutic applications of promoting or inhibiting angiogenesis. During my Master’s, I used computational models to study the role of soluble VEGF receptor-1 in peripheral arterial disease. Now with my PhD work, I am investigating the therapeutic potential of targeting the VEGF and Angiopoietin-Tie2 pathways in mouse models of cancer and metastatic disease.

Publications

Wu, Richard

Personal background

Prior to entering the MD/PhD program, I obtained my Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from McMaster University. It was during my various undergraduate projects that I became intrigued with the scientific process. For one, I like to take a simple, creative idea and then build on it, tweak it and use it to continuously ask new questions; and two, the unknowns in science simply excite me. Before I knew it, I was fixed to the idea of becoming a physician who can ask the “right” questions and push frontiers in medicine. The MD/PhD program at Toronto offered a way for me to explore these interests. Besides my love for science and medicine, I love eating sushi, playing badminton, computer gaming, and working out.

Research interests

My research in undergrad investigated the therapeutic effects of gut probiotics on intestinal motility via computer imaging techniques. I’m interested in building novel technologies to better understand disease pathology and physiology.

 

Zahr, Siraj

Supervisor: Dr. Freda Miller

Personal background

I completed my undergraduate degree in Honors Biochemistry at McGill before joining the MD/PhD program at the University of Toronto. As an undergraduate, I conducted research in a structural biology lab that studied large multimodular enzymes called non-ribosomal peptide synthetases via X-ray crystallography. I have also been involved in cancer biology research, investigating the molecular events that allow gastric cancer cells to proliferate and often circumvent targeted therapies. My research experience showed me that a mechanistic understanding of disease is not only important from a scientific perspective, but clinically, through the identification of drug targets. I believe the combined MD/PhD program at UofT will provide me with both the medical and scientific training to effectively tackle clinically relevant questions that emerge in the future. Outside of science and medicine, I enjoy watching movies, reading, and try to remain physically active (gym, soccer, kickboxing). Most importantly, I enjoy hanging out with friends and family.

Research interests

My research interests revolve around neural stem cells and neurogenesis during embryonic development and the adult brain. During my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Freda Miller, I would like to explore how intrinsic and environmental mechanisms interact to ensure appropriate genesis of neurons from neural precursors, and how disrupting such pathways may lead to pathological states.

Publications

Zaslavsky, Kirill

Supervisor: James Eliis (Molecular Genetics)
Graduate unit: Molecular Genetics

Personal background

When I entered U of T as an undergraduate in 2006, I had no idea I was going to end up spending the rest of my life here. I wasted no time embedding myself in the lab of Paul Frankland, where I spent the next three and a half years investigating deep brain stimulation and adult hippocampal neurogenesis. This afforded me the chance to work with PhD candidate and neurosurgery resident Dr. Scellig Stone. It was then that I began to grasp the depth of the connection between basic research and medicine and decided that a career that combines the two is what I want to pursue in the future.

Research interests

I am interested in dissecting the molecular and neurophysiological causes of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). To accomplish this, I generate neurons specific to children with ASD using induced pluripotent stem cell technology. By comparing function of these neurons to those from unaffected controls, I hope to determine the precise cellular and molecular alterations in neuronal function that could be underlying ASD.

Publications

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