McLaughlin Scholars - MD/PhD and CREMS

Physician Scientist Training  at the University of Toronto recognizes the continued support of the McLaughlin Centre in the training of future Physician Scientists. The following MD/PhD students and CREMS Scholars have benfited from this generous support.

2016 MD/PhD McLaughlin Scholars

2015 MD/PhD McLaughlin Scholars

2016 CREMS McLaughlin Scholars

2015 CREMS McLaughlin Scholars

 

2017 MD/PhD McLaughlin Scholars

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.

 

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.

Kim, Jieun

upervisor: 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.

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

Supervisor: Chris Yip

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

2016 MD/PhD McLaughlin Scholars

Susan Armstrong (Dr. Warren Lee)
Robert Civitarese (Dr. Milica Radisic)
Chris McFaul (Dr. Victor Yang)
Enoch Ng (Dr. John Roder and Dr. Albert Wong)
Ben Ouyang (Dr. Warren Chan)
Linda Vi (Dr. Ben Alman)
Teja Vorugantu (Prof. Eva Grunfeld)
Jared Wilcox (Dr. Michael Fehlings)
Siraj Zahr (Dr. Freda Miller)

2015 MD/PhD McLaughlin Scholars

 Michael Atkins (Dr. Gordon Keller)
 Susan Armstrong (Dr. Warren Lee)
 Chris McFaul (Dr. Victor Yang)
 Swapna Mylabathula (Dr. Charles Tator)
 Ben Ouyang (Dr. Warren Chan)
 Tim Rappon (TBD)
 Ayesh Seneviratne (Dr. Aaron Schimmer)
 Hoyee Wan (Dr. Kullervo Hynynen)
 Jared Wilcox (Dr. Michael Fehlings)
 Siraj Zahr (Dr. Freda Miller)

2016 CREMS McLaughlin Scholars 

Xiaohe (Diana) Sun (Dr. Marianne Koritzinsky)

The role of PRDX4 as a novel therapeutic target in breast cancer

Sarah Kanji (Dr. Daniel Mueller)

The role of the gut microbiome in schizophrenia and antipsychotic-induced metabolic side effects

Mendel Loewenthal (Dr. Andrea McCart)

Generation of novel tumor-specific vaccinia viruses

Mathew Hall (Dr. Brent Derry)

Regulation of oncogenic Ras signaling by alternative polyadenylation

Christopher Hue (Dr. Andrew Baker)

Effect of glutamate on blood brain barrier function following traumatic brain injury

2015 CREMS McLaughlin Scholars 

Anath Lionel (Dr. Stephen Scherer)

Molecular Diagnostic Yield of Chromosomal Microarry Analysis and Whole-Exome Sequencing in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. – JAMA 2015 Sep 1;314(9):895-903 doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.10078

Rageen Rajendram (Dr. Paul Arnold)

Uncovering obsessive-compulsive disorder risk genes in a pediatric cohort by high-resolution analysis of copy number variation – J Neurodev Disord. 2016 Oct 18;8:36 – PMIS: 27777633

Roman Zyla (Dr. Warren Lee)

Influenza Virus Infection Platelet-Endothelial Adhesion Which Contributes to Lung Injury  - J Viorl. 2015 Dec 4;90(4): 1812-23. Doi: 10.1128/JVI.02599-15

Weining Yang (Dr. Michael Fehlings)

Mechanistic insights and neuroprotective approaches to enhance recovery in age related degenerative spinal cord injury

 

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