Governance

Project Management Team

Dr. Bisma Imtiaz, MBA, MBBS, Ph.D. candidate

(Project Manager)

Bisma is the Project Manager for team iNeuron and provides her expertise to develop various plans and metrics for the success of the team. Bisma is a trained physician with 8+ years of experience in healthcare management in academic centres. She has helped design and implement the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded COVID-19 Tele-ICU Project...

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Kirsten Fleming, BAS

(Project Coordinator)

Kirsten is the Project Coordinator for team iNeuron. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Psychology and has extensive knowledge on different neurological pathways and functioning. With a keen curiosity about neurodegenerative diseases, Kirsten became a Lab Manager in a neuroscience lab that focuses on tissue repair in the neocortex...

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Research Faculty

Dr. Anna Blakney, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 2)

Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia.

Research Interest: Develops cutting-edge mRNA vaccines and therapies and was part of the team at Imperial College London that developed a saRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Antonio Del Sol, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 1)

Chief Scientist, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine, and Center for Cooperative Research in Biosciences. Professor, University of Luxembourg, and Ikebasque Professor, Ikerbasque.

Research Interest: Develops mathematical and computational models at different scales of biological organization, including cellular, tissue and organ level...

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Dr. Bojana Stefanovic, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 3)

Platform Director and Senior Scientist, Physical Sciences Department, Sunnybrook Research Institute.

Research Interest: Develops new methods for quantitative imaging of brain function and disturbances in signaling between neurons, astrocytes, and vessels in neuro-degeneration and stroke using in situ high-field functional MRI, high-density electrophysiological recordings, and two-photon fluorescence microscopy.

Dr. Carol Schuurmans, Ph.D.

(NFRF Project Leader, Pillar 1 Lead)

Senior scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute.
Professor, Dept of Biochemistry, University of Toronto.

Research interest: Studies the molecular control of neural cell fate decisions through the proneural transcription factors that drive neurogenesis.

Dr. Carrie McAiney, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Lived Experience Cross-Cutting Platform Lead)

Associate Professor, University of Waterloo.

Research Interest: Aims to improve life quality for patients with dementia, working with caregivers, providers, advocacy groups, policy makers and researchers.

Dr. Cindi Morshead, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 3)

Professor and Chair in Surgery and Anatomy, University of Toronto.

Research Interest: Expert in cell biology and regenerative medicine, and in pre-clinical models of neural injury/disease (stroke). Experience with rodent models of stroke, behavioural assays and studying cellular mechanisms of tissue repair and functional recovery.

Dr. Deborah Kurrasch, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 3)

Professor and Deputy Head in Medical Genetics, University of Calgary.

Research Interest: Studies neurodevelopmental disorders using zebrafish, rodents, and patient-derived brain organoids. Oversees a translational research program that identifies novel drug targets for refractory pediatric epileptic conditions.

Dr. Derrick Gibbings, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 2 Lead)

Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa.

Research interest: Developing extracellular vesicles (EVs) for drug delivery in neurodegenerative disease models.

Dr. Diogo Castro, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 1)

Group Leader, i3S Institute for Research and Innovation in Health, University of Porto.

Research Interest: Leading authority on proneural transcription factors interactions with the genome.

Dr. Guang Yang, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 1)

Assistant Professor, University of Calgary.

Research Interest: Investigates the widespread remodeling of gene networks at the transcriptional, posttranscriptional and translational levels that occurs during neurodevelopment, and now in neuronal reprogramming.

Dr. Hon Leong, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 3)

Senior Scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute. Associate Professor in Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto.

Research Interest: Investigates the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in cancer cell biology and has developed EVs as liquid biopsies of disease.

Dr. Ildiko Badea, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 2)

Professor and Chair, University of Saskatchewan.

Research Interest: Expert in nanoparticle-based delivery of genetic cargo. Uses her training in chemistry to develop next-generation nanoparticle delivery systems to test in cell-based models.

Dr. Isabelle Aubert, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 2)

Senior Scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute. Professor, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto. Canada Research Chair in Brain Repair and Regeneration.

Research Interest: The Aubert lab's collaborative research programs aim to develop therapies that promote neural plasticity and regeneration in preclinical models of neurodegenerative disorders...

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Dr. Jamie Near, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 3)

Scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute. Associate Professor in Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto.

Research Interest: Develops advanced magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) techniques to assess brain chemistry and metabolism in human and animal models. Has found signatures of altered neurochemical progression in AD rodent models and following neuronal reprogramming.

Dr. Janelle Drouin-Ouellet, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 1)

Associate Professor, University of Montreal. Canada Research Chair in Direct Neural Reprogramming.

Research Interest: An expert in neuronal reprogramming of human cells.

Dr. Jennifer Bethell, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Cross-cutting Platform)

Assistant Professor, University of Toronto.

Research Interest: Uses health administrative and survey datasets to report on health outcomes. She incorporates patient engagement in her research, co-leading a national program (CCNA) that brings people with lived experience of dementia into the research consulting team.

Dr. JoAnne McLaurin, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 3 Lead)

Platform Director and Senior Scientist, Biological Sciences Department, Sunnybrook Research Institute.

Research Interest: Investigates AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) pathways and therapeutic interventions.

Dr. Julia Jacobs Levan, MD, MSc, PD

(NFRF co-grantee, Cross-cutting Platform)

Research Interest: Develops diagnostic electroencephalograms (EEGs) and MRI tools in epilepsy.

Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 2)

Vice President of Research and Innovation, Sunnybrook Research Institute. Professor, Dept. of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto.

Research of Interest: Pioneered the use of focused ultrasound to transiently increase blood-brain-barrier (BBB) permeability as a novel strategy for the delivery of cell, drug and gene delivery in the CNS.

Dr. Magdalena Götz, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 1)

Director, Institute for Stem Cell Research in the Helmholtz Center.

Research Interest: World-leading expert on neurogenesis and a pioneer in the field of neuronal reprogramming. She was the first to demonstrate transcription factor-induced trans-differentiation of a somatic cell to a neuron.

Dr. Pierre Mattar, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 1)

Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa. Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Research Interest: An expert in the transcriptional control of embryonic neurogenesis, especially how nuclear organization regulated by nuclear remodeling complexes influences transcription factors.

Dr. Roderick Slavcev, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 2)

Associate Professor, Pharmacy, University of Waterloo.

Research Interest: Developed innovative new bacteriophage-based gene delivery and therapeutic platforms. Founder and CTO of Mediphage Bioceuticals, a next generation nonviral gene therapy company. Cofounder and CEO of Theraphage, a company that bioengineers phages as safe, effective and targeted gene delivery vehicles for various therapeutic applications.

Dr. Stefan Stricker, Ph.D.

(NFRF co-grantee, Pillar 1)

Scientist, University of Munich.

Research Interest: An expert in engineering CRISPR inhibition/activation approaches to manipulate gene expression and facilitate cellular reprogramming.

Dr. Ubaka Ogbogu, LLB, BL, LLM, SJD

(NFRF co-grantee, Bioethics Cross-Cutting Platform Lead)

Professor and Associate Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta.

Research Interest: Investigates the ethical, legal and societal implications of novel, emerging and advanced biomedical technologies and related research, including engineered gene and cell therapeutics.

Highly Qualified Personnel

Alex Fernandes
Ph.D. Student

(Mattar’s lab)

Dr. Anantharam Devaraj
Postdoctoral Fellow

(Gibbings’ team)

Daria Ivanova
Ph.D. Student

(Morshead’s team)

Dr. Colleen Bailey
Research Associate

(Near’s team)

Dr. Deepika Dogra
Postdoctoral Fellow

(Kurrasch’s team)

Dr. Forough Noohi
Research Associate

(Ogbogu’s team)

Dr. Hussein Ghazale
Postdoctoral Fellow

(Schuurmans’ team)

Dr. Jack Hickmott
Postdoctoral Fellow

(Morshead’s team)

Julia Lumini
Research Associate & Research Projects Manager

(Slavcev’s team)

Dr. Kallol Dutta
Research Associate

(Gibbings’ team)

Dr. Laura Vecchio
Postdoctoral Fellow

(Aubert’s team)

Dr. Matteo Puglisi
Postdoctoral Fellow

(Götz’ team)

Dr. Sascha Jung
Postdoctoral Fellow

(del Sol’s team)

Dunja Vukcevic
Ph.D. Student

(Stricker’s team)

Jonathan Rekve
Graduate Student

(Badea’s team)

Kate Noseworthy
Ph.D. Student

(Aubert’s Lab)

Katelyn Wheeldon
Ph.D. Student

(McAiney’s team)

Kaye Soriano
Graduate Research Assistant

(Blakney’s team)

Miguel Silva
Research Fellow

(Castro’s team)

Mitch Kessler
Research Assistant

(Kurrasch’s team)

Monica Bel Villa
Ph.D. Student

(Stefanovic’s team)

Nareh Tahmasian
Graduate Student

(McLaurin’s team)

Netanya Asna Ashari
Master's Student

(Dr. Jacobs Levan’s team)

Rohini Prakash
Research Coordinator

(Slavcev’s team)

Sandrine Armanville
Ph.D. Student

(Drouin-Ouellet’s team)

Yu-Yun Gao
Graduate Student

(Yang’s team)

Advisory Board

Team iNeuron holds regular consultations with an Advisory Board composed of a multi-disciplinary group of experts who oer advice on operations, strategic initiatives, clinical translation, project sustainability and the design of low-cost solutions.

Dr. Amie Phinney, Ph.D.

(NFRF Advisory Board)

Current:

  • Senior Director, Program Development and Partnership Team, adMare BioInnovations

Past:

  • Led academic-VC partnership, Northwestern University, Chicago
  • Launched joint venture company, Lakeside Discovery
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Dr. Harold Atkins, M.D., FRCPC

(NFRF Advisory Board)

Current:

  • Physician, The Ottawa Hospital Transplant and Cell Therapy Program
  • Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa
  • Senior Clinical Investigator, Center for Cancer Research, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
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Dr. John Bell, Ph.D., FRSC, FCAHS

(NFRF Advisory Board)

Current:

  • Senior Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • Professor of Medicine & Biochemistry, Microbiology, University of Ottawa
  • Director, COVCo, TFNFP project grant
  • Scientific Director, BioCanRx, Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment, NCE

Dr. Lukoye Atwoli, MBS, MBChB, MMed Psych, Ph.D., IFAPA

(NFRF Advisory Board)

Current:

  • Professor of Psychiatry and the Dean of the Aga Khan University Medical College, East Africa
  • Deputy Director of the Brain and Mind Institute at AKU
  • Psychiatry practitioner at the Aga Khan University Hospital
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Dr. Mira Puri, Ph.D

(Chair, NFRF Advisory Board)

Current:

  • Manager, Science Initiatives, Azrieli Foundation

Past:

  • Staff Scientist, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON
  • Partnerships and Technology Evaluation, Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM)

Advisory Board for Lived Experience of Stroke, Epilepsy and Dementia (ABLE)

Catherine Ann Kelly (She/Her)

(Dementia group)

Catherine Ann Kelly is a mother, former caregiver, restorative justice practitioner, lived experience researcher and community builder. She holds a BA (Hons) in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Carleton University and is a certified End of Life Doula, Patient Navigator and Third-Party Neutral. Catherine is the Lead Facilitator with Community Justice Connect, a restorative justice program with the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission. She serves as Past President to the St...

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Christine Aiken

(Dementia group)

Christine Aiken currently resides in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada and was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2015. Christine has a background working as a care aid for people with dementia in long-term care facilities. Since her diagnosis, she has become active in advocating for people with dementia and has spoken publicly for the Alzheimer's Disease International Conference in 2018 and for the Conference of the State Parties in New York at the United Nations in 2019. She is a former Board...

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Cyndi Barron

(Stroke group)

Cyndi Barron is a retired teaching assistant, with a degree in Environmental Studies. She has taught all grades and published environmental articles in various magazines.  She was also a Toronto Police Service Auxiliary Officer, participating in many public events and patrolling Lake Ontario with the marine unit. She had 2 strokes in 2013 and did outpatient classes to regain the function of her left leg. She was sent home from the hospital the same day after the diagnosis and had to find her own...

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Derek Payne (He/Him)

(Epilepsy group)

Derek Payne is a Financial Executive residing in Calgary Alberta. His professional background includes executive roles at early-stage high-growth companies like WestJet and DIRTT Environmental Solutions where he helped lead these companies through their highest periods of growth. Diagnosed with epilepsy in his late twenties, Derek underwent successful brain surgery in 2015 and will soon celebrate a decade of seizure freedom. Motivated by his experience with facing that frightening...

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Duane Froese

(Epilepsy group)

Duane Froese is a parent, along with his partner, to Annika, a remarkable daughter impacted by a rare genetic neurodevelopmental condition called Rett Syndrome. Annika was a typical baby but experienced a loss in abilities like walking, talking, and purposeful hand use around 18-24 months. After more than a year of testing and intensive therapies, she was diagnosed with Rett through genetic testing. This condition profoundly affects her mobility, communication, and ability to...

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Ed Mitchell

(Stroke group)

During Ed’s 30-plus-year career in the Canadian Air Force (RCAF), he has had the privilege of living in or spending time in all 10 Provinces, the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. He has also spent time on duty in the USA, Europe and Africa. His RCAF Occupation was Aerospace Engineer. He was employed in various roles and positions from running a Flight Line as a Junior Officer to Commanding Officer of an Air Maintenance Squadron. In addition, Ed was employed in numerous “out of occupation”...

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Ellen Snowball (She/They)

(Research Associate)

Ellen Snowball is a neurodiverse artist, lived experience researcher and disability justice advocate located in Guelph, Ontario. She has a background in fine arts with a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Arts, Media and Design program from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto, Ontario. Ellen's artwork often employs photography, film, installation and mixed media to discuss topics related to disability, trauma, illness, grief and embodiment. In 2019, she began employment...

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Jenifer Blanco

(Epilepsy group)

Jen and Alex are the parents of Miguel Ortiz.

Miguel was born in June 2011 with a rare genetic disorder called STXBP1. He presented with seizures since birth, and he has a severe global developmental delay. Mr. Miguel, as they like to call him, is a very sweet and happy boy. He is nonverbal but finds a way to express his emotions, has a love for the outdoors (especially throwing peddles into the water), loves the pool...

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Karen Myers Barnett

(Dementia group)

Karen Myers Barnett is a first-generation Canadian born in Calgary Alberta, living one hour outside Toronto, to parents from the beautiful Caribbean Island of St. Lucia West Indies. Mother of four brilliant children all interested in sciences and medicine who are loving grandchildren to their grandma living with dementia in their intergenerational home along with her loving husband. Dementia has touched Karen on both sides of her parents including her mother, maternal grandfather, paternal uncle...

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Laura Stronghill

(Stroke group)

Laura Stronghill was a 49-year-old vibrant wife and mother of three teenagers, who was employed full-time with the federal government when she suffered a stroke on September 6, 2006. She was made aware of a family history of brain aneurysms and found out she had two. One was coiled, and during the clipping surgery of the second one was when she had a stroke. Her whole left side was affected. She had to learn to walk again, dress herself, and to live life with the use of only her dominant hand...

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Meghan Lau (She/Her)

(Dementia group)

Meghan Lau is originally from Calgary, Alberta. She currently lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where she works as a foreign service officer for Global Affairs Canada. Her educational background is in the humanities: she holds a BA from McGill University in English Literature and an MA and PhD in Literatures in English from Rutgers University. Meghan joined the Canadian Centre for Neurodegeneration in Aging’s Engagement of People with Lived Experience of Dementia (EPLED) Advisory Group...

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Michele Vuckovic

(Stroke group)

Michele Vuckovic is a retired Business Systems Analyst with a B.A. in Psychology (never did find a job in Social Work). Michele is married with three daughters, to Slobodan, who she represents in this project. Her husband, at 64 years old, had a serious thalamic hemorrhagic stroke in 2021 and remains in a complex care centre. He spent most of the first 6 months sleeping and has since improved slowly but substantially. He is now awake most of the day and much of his awake time involves...

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Paul Lea (He/Him)

(Dementia group)

Paul Lea currently resides in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada and spent over a decade at Levi Strauss & Co., during which he took on many positions, such as a quality control auditor and a power equipment operator. In 2010, Paul experienced a massive stroke and was later diagnosed with vascular dementia. In 2016, he became involved with the Alzheimer's Society Toronto, which led him to speak at the University of Toronto, about raising awareness for people living with dementia. Paul joined...

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Sandy Morter

(Stroke group)

Born and raised in Alberta, Sandy Morter spent a 30+ year career as a nurse in the Canadian Armed Forces in both clinical and administrative roles. During this time, she served in eastern Canada, the Maritimes and the Arctic and was fortunate to be sponsored for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. She was also deployed twice to conflict zones; the first during the First Gulf War and the second with the British Army during the NATO conflict in Kosovo. She retired in 2004 only to...

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Susan Wulf

(Stroke group)

Susan Ann Wulf is a glass artist who was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. She studied journalism at Sheridan College and a dual BA in English and Religious Studies at York University. Susan has a keen interest in archaeology and has studied at a variety of universities online. She has also collected a collection of military songs for the folklore department of York University. She joined the military and worked in the administration branch at various locations in Canada. Susan lived in West Germany...

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Torie Robinson (She/Her)

(Epilepsy group)

Torie Robinson is a public speaker, podcast host (Epilepsy Sparks Insights), YouTuber, and researcher, specialising in epilepsies. She is fascinated and excited by epileptology and enthralled by contradictions based upon empirical evidence. Based in London, UK, Torie loves working with people in and travelling to different countries to gain and provide perspectives from different communities. Consequently, she brings together patients, families, and scientists from around the world...

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