Saeid Amini Nik, junior scientist
Dr. Amini Nik leads the stem cell and skin regeneration group. After his medical training in Iran, he did cardiovascular research in a World Health Organization-supported field study aimed at determining the demographics of hypertension in Iran. Later, he started a master’s degree in clinical genetics under the supervision of professor Jean-Jacques Cassiman in Belgium, which led to a PhD in cancer genetics and cancer biology.
In 2006, he moved to SickKids hospital in Toronto for postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Alman. The first part of his postdoc was aimed at characterizing the molecular pathways involved in skin healing and skin regeneration. Later, the group aimed to find new sources of stem cells that contribute to skin healing.
Dr. Amini-Nik is a junior scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute and an assistant professor in the department of surgery at the University of Toronto.
Xiaojing (Jean) Dai, lab manager
Xiaojing (Jean) Dai was born in Shanghai, China. She received her MD and PhD in immunology and gastroenterology in China, and worked in a military hospital as a physician. She came to Canada in 1998 as an exchange scholar. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of immunology at the University of Toronto and SickKids, and then became a research project manager in cardiovascular research.
As lab manager of the Jeschke lab, Xiaojing uses her experience and knowledge to develop a good team environment and guide junior techs and students to use lab resources effectively.
Nazihah Bakhtyar, research technician
Nazihah Bakhtyar completed her undergraduate honours life sciences degree at McMaster University, where she conducted a fourth-year thesis in neonatal research. She also completed a M.Sc. in medical science in the department of cancer and genetics. Her thesis was titled, The role of periostin in promoting the progression of clear cell renal cell carcinomas (ccRCC). Nazihah studied the critical role of periostin in mediating the co-evolving process between ccRCC and its stroma during ccRCC pathogenesis. In 2013, she authored and published the study in the European Journal of Cancer.
Nazihah is responsible for banking tissue, blood and cells from burn patients, and serves as a coordinator between the burn clinic and the lab.
Andrea-Kaye Datu, research technician
Andrea-Kaye Datu completed her undergraduate honours degree in molecular biology and genetics at the University of Guelph. She also completed her M.Sc. and thesis titled, “Regulation of poly (A)-binding protein expression in response to heat shock and recovery in the same department.” Andrea studied the mechanisms of proteins involved in messanger RNA translational machinery in response to heat stress. In 2013 she published an article in PLoS One.
Andrea’s role in the lab includes assisting the stem cell group with their studies, overseeing animal maintenance and general lab coordination.
Alexa Parousis, research technician
Alexa Parousis completed her M.Sc. in health sciences at York University. Her previous research foci have included stem cell and muscle biology, autophagy and mitochondrial bioenergetics. She is assisting the immunometabolism group in dissecting the mechanisms of metabolic alterations in post-burn patients. In the future, she plans to pursue an active health care role.
Yanmei Li, research associate
Yanmei Li was born in China. She received her PhD at the Chinese Academy of Sciences where she worked under the direction of professors Xiaojiang Hao and Rongxiang Fang. She studied the molecular mechanisms of antiviral action of steroid compounds isolated from medicinal herb plants. In 2008, Yanmei came to Canada as a postdoctoral fellow to work at Sunnybrook Research Institute. She was interested in the role of microRNA in hematological malignancies and inhibition of cytokine signalling for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
In the Jeschke lab, Yanmei will be studying how stress alters glucose and lipid metabolic pathways. Her goal is to find out how IL6 signal pathways affect burn patients.
Dr. Christopher Auger, postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Christopher Auger is a PhD graduate from Laurentian University in Sudbury, ON. He has several years of experience studying cellular bioenergetics in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic models. Utilizing a functional proteomic approach, he has helped uncover novel roles for enzymes and elucidate metabolic networks employed by biological systems to adapt to external stressors and environmental changes. Christopher is particularly interested in changes to mitochondrial form and function, and its association with chronic disease or injury.
Dr. Ali Sheikholesam, postdoctoral fellow
Dr. Ali Sheikholesam received his PhD in chemical engineering (nanotechnology) from the University of Waterloo in 2015. During his research he worked on self-assembling peptides and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and employed them to fabricate a mediatorless electrochemical biosensor. He also made hybrid hydrogels using peptides and CNTs, and used them for tissue engineering and 3-D cancer tumour modelling. He joined Sunnybrook Research Institute in fall 2015. He is interested in skin tissue engineering and will benefit from the group’s focus on novel biomaterials and techniques, as well as unique stem cells characterized in Dr. Jeschke’s lab. Ali is a member of the stem cell group, co-supervised by Dr. Jeschke and Dr. Amini Nik.
Abdikarim Abdullahi, PhD student
Abdikarim Abdullahi completed his masters of science at York University, in the Muscle Health Research Centre. He studied the mechanisms that regulate the proliferation and differentiation of myoblasts (muscle cells). His motivation as a researcher has always been the clinical application of his work and, as such, following his master’s he moved into the world of translational research at Sunnybrook Research Institute.
As a PhD student in the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto and in the Jeschke lab, he studies the endoplasmic reticulum stress and unfolded protein response-mediated pathological alterations of the liver following a burn injury. This is a truly novel hypothesis that has broad implications not only for the field of burn research, but also for the fields of immunology, wound healing and metabolism-related diseases.
Mile Stanojcic, PhD student
Mile Stanojcic is a third-year PhD student in the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. He did his undergraduate degree at York University in health sciences, and master’s degree in neuroscience at McMaster University, where his research focus was investigating the proliferative capacity of the brain using a rodent model of central nervous system lupus.
He is part of the immune-metabolism group in the Jeschke lab and is investigating the role of the NLRP3 inflammasome following a burn injury using a two-hit model of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection.
Michael Li Diao, PhD student
Michael Li Diao is a PhD student in the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Before coming to Canada he was a burn surgeon and, for a period, worked as a doctor in an international medical assistance company. His research is focused on post-burn stress response and metabolism.
Ali Sadri, M.Sc. student
Macrophages are part of the myeloid lineage and exist in a spectrum of states that depend on their environment. They are abundant during all stages of tissue repair and have an important influence on the progress and resolution of tissue damage. Ali’s work focuses on the role of myeloid lineage cells and Wnt/B-catenin signalling on liver injury and repair after a severe burn. He is also working to elucidate the underlying mechanisms involved in liver regeneration after a 70% partial hepatectomy, a surgical resection of the liver. Outside of the lab, he is a big fight fan and enjoys watching and participating in boxing matches, going for runs and rooting for the Raptors.
Reinhard Dolp, graduate student
Reinhard Dolp completed his medical degree in Germany at Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich in 2012. During his medical training he conducted neurosurgical research at the Walter-Brendel Centre of Experimental Medicine in the Institute for Surgical Research investigating the pathomechanism of secondary brain injury in a mouse model. He also completed two years of residency training in general and visceral surgery at Ulm University in Germany.
Reinhard has joined the Institute of Medical Sciences at U of T as a master’s student. In Dr. Jeschke’s lab Reinhard will be conducting stem cell research under the supervision of Dr. Amini Nik.
Yusef Yousuf, graduate student
Yusef Yousuf graduated from the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) with a double major in biology and psychology. At UTM, he had the opportunity to work in the social neuroscience laboratory under Dr. Melissa Holmes. He completed his thesis project studying neurogenesis in the naked mole-rat, a rodent that can live up to 28 years and is resistant to cancer. His master’s thesis will focus on stem cell and skin regeneration. Outside of the lab, he is interested in computer hardware, video games and watching NBA basketball. Yusef is also a member of the stem cell group, co-supervised by Dr. Jeschke and Dr. Amini Nik.
Thibacg Sivayoganathan, graduate student
Thibacg Sivayoganathan is a first-year master's student in the Institute of Medical Sciences graduate program at U of T and is part of the immunometabolism group within the Jeschke lab. He completed his B.Sc. degree at U of T in life sciences. During the summer of his third year of undergraduate studies he undertook a project that involved identifying antigens capable of activating a specific population of cells found in the immune system. As a master’s student he is investigating the alterations to lipid metabolism that occur during the hypermetabolic response that occurs in post-burn patients and animals. His goal is to establish a career in health care. He is interested in the possible clinical applications of research.