Contributors

Each year, we add new contributors to the MedGen blog, staffed entirely by MHSc. Graduate students from the Medical Genomics Program at the University of Toronto. Read about us here.

The Class of 2023

Tanvi Anandampillai is currently a Master’s of Health Sciences candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Toronto. During Tanvi’s undergrad, she was a research assistant at the Yuzwa Lab, where she worked on understanding how neural precursor cells in the developing mammalian brain respond to extrinsic cues in their microenvironment. In her final year, she completed her undergraduate thesis on the role of microglial cells in neurodegenerative disorders and how modulating these cells via small molecule inhibitors helps to decrease disease progression. She is interested in pharmacogenomics and precision medicine and aims to further this interest either by pursuing a PhD or as a senior laboratory professional at a biotech company.

Anahita Bahreini-Esfahani is a graduate student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She holds a BSc. with high distinction specializing in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto, which sparked her primary interest in the complex interaction between genomics, environment, and disease. She has been involved in several research projects with diverse topics. In her third year of undergraduate studies, she translated ancient 13th century poetry from Farsi to English. In her final year of undergraduate studies, her thesis focused on how 3D learning impacts student learning in cell molecular biology. She is currently involved with the SEDI (Social-Emotional Development and Intervention) lab at UTM, investigating how the COVID-19 pandemic affects children aged 3-8 years old. Anahita is no stranger to Canada’s healthcare system as she is involved in both The Hospital for Sick Children (Sickkids) and Trillium Health Partners as a volunteer and patient information clerk. Anahita plans on taking her knowledge from the medical genomics program to medical school with a focus on clinical genetics. Anahita’s academic interests include the role of genetics in stem cells, particularly induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), cancer research and personalized medicine. Outside of academia, she loves travelling, skygazing and reading historical novels.

Kassandra Bisson is a graduate student at the University of Toronto pursuing a Masters of Health Sciences in Medical Genomics. She earned her Honours Bachelor of Science in Biopharmaceutical Sciences specializing in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Ottawa in 2021. During her undergrad, she worked as a research assistant at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa, ON, wherein she explored molecular identification and detection of fungal plant pathogens. This undergraduate research opportunity allowed her to discover a newfound passion for molecular genetics and genomics research. Her current academic interests primarily focus on pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine, as well as the interplay between the human genome and the microbiome.

Hamid Farahmand is a M.H.Sc. Medical Genomics candidate at the University of Toronto.He commenced his academics with a Bachelor of Fisheries and Environment Science at the University of Tehran. He started his genetics studies when he became engaged with his master’s thesis regarding chromosome sex manipulation and sex control in the common carp. He then pursued this fascination with his doctoral thesis on the antisense technology to produce reversible sterility in tilapia using the transgenic approach, under the supervision of Professor Norman Maclean at the University of Southampton, UK. He was an educator and a researcher in the field of fisheries biotechnology, and in particular the use of genomics approaches for commercial applications.  Following graduation, his conducted two years of research at the University of Rhode Island, USA. He also has two years research experience at the University of Windsor, Canada. Currently, he is upgrading his knowledge in the field of Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. His main interests are cancer genomics and pharmacogenomics to understand how genomics can be incorporated into these areas of medicine. He is also interested in reproductive genomics.  

Yayra Gbotsyo is an M.H.Sc. student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS. Her appreciation for genomics began in her second year of university when she was introduced to the Human Genome Project and its offshoot of exciting advances in medicine and healthcare. She was fascinated by the proposed directions of human genetics to develop therapeutic solutions for ‘genetic mishaps’ such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

With this passion, Yayra pursued an Honor’s project working in the labs of Drs. Tom MacRae and Laura Weir, where she gained valuable research experience studying the gene expression of Heat Shock Proteins. She also had amazing opportunities to shadow an Oncopathologist at the Queen Elizabeth II hospital (Halifax, NS) and worked on the pediatric Oncology & Hematology Unit of the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre (Halifax, NS)  where she observed many cancer diagnoses and various treatment strategies for combating them. With the rapid progression of gene evolution in cancer, these were eye-opening experiences that helped her understand how important correct diagnoses are for patients. Yayra hopes to one day contribute to cancer research after completing her M.H.Sc., as well as help improve genetic research into diseases that specifically plague individuals of lower minority, such as the Black community.

Outside of her academics, Yayra enjoys playing the guitar and spending her summer in recreational soccer leagues. 

George Guirguis is currently a Master’s of Health Science candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. He has completed his Bachelor of Science (Honours) at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Nutritional Biochemistry. His honours project investigated the effects of exercise and post-exercise meals on the lipid profile of red blood cells. During his undergraduate studies, George developed a passion for the field of genetics and wished to pursue it further and apply it to advance personalized medicine. In his free time, George enjoys hiking, reading, and is a licensed pilot.  

Sornnujah Kathirgamanathan is currently a graduate student in the M.H.Sc Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She obtained her H.B.Sc in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Toronto in 2021, during which she developed a strong interest in bioinformatics. This newfound fascination led her to complete a minor in Computer Science, during which she gained an appreciation for the importance of computational approaches to analyze the vast amounts of genomic data available – one of the current bottlenecks in the field. Her future goal is to be able to bridge her scientific curiosity with her desire to provide compassionate care for others. Outside her school work, Sornnujah tries to be an active member of her community. She currently volunteers as a Kids Help Phone Crisis Hotline Responder and works with Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Response Team. Sornnujah is also one of two Medical Genomics Representatives in the Molecular Genetics Graduate Student Association for the year 2022-2023.

Yasmeen Kurdi is currently a MHSc candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She graduated in 2020 from the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology. As part of her undergraduate thesis project, Yasmeen worked on bio-engineering probiotic yeast cells to express anti-inflammatory proteins as a potential therapeutic for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Furthermore, she was a research assistant at Toronto General Hospital and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, working on patient enrollment in clinical trials and conducting a systematic literature review on the late effects of endocrine therapies in postmenopausal women with breast cancer, respectively. Most recently, Yasmeen worked at Dynacare as a clinical laboratory assistant in the COVID-19 department, which sparked her interest in leveraging genomic data to better inform disease diagnosis, therapy, and prevention. In particular, she is very passionate about championing research in the realm of women’s health – a field she believes is understudied and underfunded. Outside of academia, Yasmeen enjoys keeping active, being a fiction bookworm and frequenting karaoke lounges with friends.

Meredith Laver is a M.HSc. student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto, and a graduate of the Molecular Genetics undergraduate program. She is pursuing a career as a Clinical Geneticist and is passionate about improving the quality of medical care through compassion and a thorough approach to diagnosis and care. Her research interests include the genetic basis of neuropsychiatric disorders, pharmacogenetics testing, and drug development for rare genetic disorders. She completed an undergraduate research thesis investigating the principles of pharmacogenetic panel design and implementation. Meredith has volunteered at the Clinical Genetics department at North York General Hospital since 2018, where she assists with administration for the hereditary cancer clinic and other programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she helped to found and direct ALAB Resource Clinic, aimed at providing direct practical support and resources to unhoused people in shelters and encampments around Toronto.

Radhika Mahajan is currently a Master of Health Science candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Technology in Genetic Engineering from SRM University, India. During her undergrad, she explored different fields of genetics and gained practical experience in microbiology, forensics, and medical genetics.

Radhika worked as a research volunteer at a school for disabled children, where she studied their family history and provided counselling to their parents. This piqued her interest in the clinical aspect of genetics. With this professional goal in mind, Radhika did her final year thesis on regulation of gene expression by the epigenetic phenomenon of genomic imprinting, from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Before starting her Master’s, she spent a year volunteering with different organizations in India, where she provided counselling to mental health patients and HIV/AIDS positive patients. She also worked as a research assistant at a COVID-19 testing laboratory. Radhika is a motivated and passionate individual who is deeply fascinated by complex genetic disorders and plans to use the skills gained from the Medical Genomics program to work in research focused in this area. Outside of academics, she enjoys ice skating, watching movies and exploring different cuisines.

Alexandra Margaritescu is an MHSc candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto because she is fascinated by the application of genetic research in human care. She obtained her HBSc in Biology from the University of Toronto where she studied cell biology, evolutionary biology, plant and animal biology, and biostatistics. Her undergraduate thesis project focused on the influence of habitat and morphological characteristics in the vocalizations of passerine species. This was only the beginning of Alex’s pursuit into science, as she is currently exploring the rapidly developing field of genomic medicine. Having previously worked in specimen databasing at the Royal Ontario Museum, she now seeks to transfer these skills to other fields in biology, such as interpreting high throughput sequencing data and genetic variants. Currently, Alex enjoys learning about Mendelian disorders and their potential for gene therapy. Her love for animals led to her involvement in providing veterinary care for rodents used in research. She is currently working as a Laboratory Animal Technician at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research. Besides academia, Alex enjoys gaming or just being able to spend time around animals and nature. 

Paul McKay is a medical genomics master’s student at the University of Toronto. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with a minor concentration in French language from McGill University. During his four years at McGill, Paul was actively involved in various community initiatives that pushed him towards his current path of pursuing a career in genomic medicine. His community engagement includes being an acting member of the McGill Biochemistry Undergraduate Society for three consecutive years, being a McGill Science orientation week leader, and working as a volunteer in the Montreal Children’s hospital pediatric intensive care unit. Paul is currently beginning volunteer work with ClinGen, where through community-driven variant curation he hopes to contribute to a better understanding of the genetic basis of disease.

Saloni Modi is a Master of Health Science candidate in the Medical Genomics program at University of Toronto.  She completed her Honours Bachelor of Science degree with a specialist in Health and Disease at the University of Toronto (St. George), with a focus in developmental biology. During Saloni’s undergraduate studies, she worked as a student research intern at the Sokolowski lab, where she worked with a PhD student in his research determining the role of protein isoforms in pleiotropy for foraging genes in the fruit fly – Drosophila melanogaster. In her final year, she completed her undergraduate thesis with the Dementia Ageing Technology Engagement (DATE) Lab under Dr. Arlene Astell where she focused on creating a SMART goal based visual aid for older adults to help implement change in health-related lifestyle. Before starting her Master’s, Saloni spent the summer working as a student researcher for the DATE lab where she became a part of the Interdisciplinary Trainee Research Innovation Challenge (iTRIC) group. For this, she actively worked on a study called CIRCA-CA with a group of qualified individuals from the University Health Network. This project was funded by a grant that through the iTRIC competition and the Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging. The research study was primarily based on creating a digital platform for older adults with cognitive impairment which helps them connect with their loved ones by presenting common topics for conversation. Along with this, in October 2021, Saloni was the main presenter at a conference held by the Canadian Association on Gerontology. She presented a poster version of a scoping review conducted by her and a co-researcher, titled “Older Adult Peer-Peer Group Engagement Supporting Health Objectives: A scoping Review”. Her experiences have led Saloni to become a driven and passionate individual with an eagerness to push the boundaries of science and fuel her knowledge. She hopes to work as a senior laboratory professional, where she can utilize her gained knowledge, experience and understanding of the fundamental development and genetic pathways which impact human health at the molecular level.

Elvira Mukharryamova holds a Bachelor of Science degree in cellular, molecular, and microbial biology from Thompson Rivers University and is currently an MHsc candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. During her undergraduate years, Elvira went on to complete two related research projects focusing on the subcellular architecture of eukaryotic cells. Specifically, she investigated the peculiar phenomenon of liquid-to-liquid phase separation that underlies the formation of cellular compartments in the absence of a lipid membrane. Elvira decided to pursue a career in medical genomics due to her dedication to the cause of prevention and treatment of genetic illnesses. As someone passionate about improving health outcomes for patients troubled by debilitating disorders, her long-term professional goal is to contribute toward the advancement of preventative and personalized medicinal approaches based on genomics.

Aside from genetics, teaching is another of Elvira’s greatest passions, which she was able to explore during her time as an undergraduate student. Before starting her master’s degree, Elvira held a position as a Supplemental Learning Mentor at Thompson Rivers University, where she provided academic support to first-year biology students. Elvira is currently working as an academic coach helping younger children to become interested in math and sciences. When she is not studying or teaching, Elvira enjoys spending her time practicing yoga, playing musical instruments, and exploring Toronto’s Jazz bars.

Celia Pennimpede is a graduate student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She graduated in 2021 with a Bachelors in Biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal. During her undergraduate degree, she enrolled in a Medical Genetics course which sparked her interest in the field. She is interested in learning more about rare and complex diseases and their genetic etiology. Throughout her studies, Celia worked in the field of customer success and developed a strong background in communications. She hopes to use her experience and bridge the communication gap in genomics in the future.

Neta Pipko is currently an MHSc in Medical Genomics candidate at the University of Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry with a specialization in Biomedical Research. During her undergraduate degree, she explored the scientific realm by working as a food microbiologist, a research student in an immunology lab, and explored her creative skills as a cosmetic scientist in the beauty industry. It was not until her senior thesis that she was introduced to the field of genomics and the existing gaps in clinical care. Her thesis work with Dr. Karun Singh involved delving into the complex genetics of autism spectrum disorder to identify common molecular pathways shared amongst autism risk genes. This sparked her interest to continue to explore the clinical and genetic heterogeneity surrounding neurodevelopment disorders. She is also very passionate about precision medicine, pharmacogenomics, and cancer genomics. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, trying new cuisines, and spending time in the outdoors.

Milcah Sutanto obtained her Honours Bachelor of Science specializing in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Toronto and is now a Master’s of Health Sciences student in Medical Genomics. She is passionate about science education and clinical research. To pursue these interests, she volunteers and works at the Hospital for Sick Children and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, respectively. In her role at SickKids, she supports the rheumatological research and knowledge team with observational research activities and with creating social media content to bring awareness to rheumatological disorders and resources. At Sunnybrook, Milcah supports surgical oncology clinical trials, which has solidified her interest in health care outcomes research. Currently, Milcah is eager to explore how bioinformatics and machine learning can help ameliorate our healthcare system with the goal of improving patient healthcare experience and outcomes. Outside of academics and research, Milcah enjoys practicing her barista skills, baking sourdough bread, and cooking in her beloved Staub Dutch oven pot.

Gabriela Tanumihardja is currently pursuing her Master’s of Health Sciences in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. She completed her HBSc. double majoring in Neuroscience and Biochemistry with a minor in Psychology from the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. After a few years away from the field, Gaby obtained a Data Science diploma from BrainStation where she developed her passion for data. In pursuing her Master’s degree, Gaby is excited to combine her passions for human biology and data. Her academic interests particularly lay in the advancement of personalized medicine, big data and multi-omics research, and building interpretable and responsible machine learning models. In her spare time, Gaby enjoys travelling, experimenting with recipes in the kitchen, and hanging out with her two dogs.

Yuan Tian is currently a Master of Health Science candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She holds her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Statistics double major, Immunology minor from the University of Toronto. During her undergraduate, she has worked as a biostatistician assistant in Shandong Provincial hospital to analyze drug effect data of patients after thyroid cancer surgeries. After results analysis, she found relevant genes played an important role, which inspired her to consider applying statistics in the genetic field. Her zest to explore the efficient statistical method in genetic data analysis drove her to further study in the Medical Genomics program. She aspires to a clinical career as a genetic biostatistician, especially in drug use and dosage control. Her primary interest is to develop a statistical tool that can accurately predict drug use based on patient-related data. Outside of academics, Yuan loves music, especially musicals and symphonies.

Anthea Travas is pursuing a Master of Health Science in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She completed her Bachelor of Science (Specialized Honours) degree at York University where she majored in Biology. Anthea spent most of her undergrad getting actively involved in various fields of genetics research, ranging from developmental genetics, population genetics and transcriptional regulation. As a Molecular Genetics research assistant, she has contributed to multiple Canada-wide Genome projects aimed at developing genetic-based tools to improve the decline of honeybee health. She also completed her thesis exploring the role of Small ubiquitin-like modifiers (SUMO) in degrading RNA polymerase II during UV-induced DNA damage. To accompany her love for wet-lab research, she has developed a keen interest in using computational techniques to analyze genomic data. Equipped with rapidly evolving bioinformatic tools, she is excited to bring genetics to the forefront of clinical practice. By merging these areas of expertise, Anthea hopes to discover new genotype-phenotype associations and facilitate the diagnosis of genetic diseases. Outside of genetics, Anthea enjoys channelling her creativity through painting, and she can often be found kilometres deep in a hiking trail.

The Class of 2022

Nihal Almenabawy is a medical genomics master’s student of at University of Toronto. She has MD degree in Pediatrics from Cairo university. Her MD thesis focused on novel gene discovery in patients with intellectual disability and brain malformation. She is a faculty member at Cairo university. She works in the field of pediatric neurology and metabolic disorders at Cairo University Children’s Hospital. She worked as a research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital focusing on variant interpretation and candidate gene discovery in a cohort of patients recruited from Cairo University Children’s Hospital. She aims to bridge the gap between genomics medicine and clinical care by incorporating genomic information into clinical care to properly diagnose and manage her patients and to offer them the highest level of counseling and prenatal diagnosis. She is also interested in neurogenetic research and discovering new genes for diagnosing her patients and solving their mysteries. Outside academics, she enjoys outdoor activities as cycling, hiking and diving.

Liali Aljouda is currently a student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She is a medical doctor who obtained her medical degree from Palestine, after which she pursued a pediatric residency at Makassed hospital in Jerusalem. She has four years of experience working in the pediatric field, and she does not see herself leaving the practice anytime soon.  Her main interest is studying clinical and metabolic genetic disorders in children. As she cares about her patients’ health and wants to provide solid, evidence-based advice, she pursued a master’s in medical genomics at the University of Toronto. She believes that genomics will provide her as a pediatrician with new and often unexpected insights into the biological basis of health and disease. She aims to integrate genomics into practice to provide better disease prevention, more accurate diagnosis, safer drug prescriptions and more effective treatments for the many diseases and conditions that affect health.

Emma Bohn is currently a Master’s of Health Sciences candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology & Genetics from McMaster University. During her time as a research assistant in the Cerebral Palsy Discovery Lab at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Emma has developed a keen interest in the complex genetic landscape underlying neurodevelopmental disorders. Through her experience in clinical and health economic research, she has contributed to large-scale evidence synthesis initiatives to support the development of clinical practice guidelines and tools demonstrating the value of novel therapeutic interventions. Emma looks forward to directing these skills and interests towards contributing to the development of evidence-based best practices that will help to guide healthcare decision-making and accelerate the implementation of genomic information into clinical practice.

Jordan Chalmers is a Master of Health Science candidate in the Medical Genomics program at University of Toronto.  She completed her Honours Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Biology and Psychology at Queen’s University, with a focus in molecular biology. During Jordan’s undergrad, she worked as a student research intern at Princess Margaret Hospital, where she worked on clinical drug trials investigating novel drug-gene interactions with triple-negative breast cancer. In her final year, she completed her undergraduate thesis studying the insulin signalling pathway in C. elegans and the effects of insulin over-expression in different tissues to determine the possibility of tissue-directed therapy/treatments for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Before starting her Master’s, she spent a year working full time as a research laboratory tech in the genotyping facility at PMH. Jordan is a passionate and motivated individual with a thirst for knowledge and one who thrives on pushing the boundaries of science. She hopes to work as a senior laboratory professional, where she can utilize her gained knowledge and deeper understanding of the fundamental biological processes that directly impact human health at the molecular level.

Meredith Curtis completed her Honours BSc. with a specialization in Psychology and minor in Health Sciences in 2017 at the University of Ottawa. To pursue her interest in genomic medicine, Meredith worked as a research coordinator for various studies implementing whole-genome sequencing at the Hospital for Sick Children. From these experiences, she gained an appreciation for precision medicine and developed a keen interest in genome analysis and scientific communication. This led to her current pursuit of advancing her education as a MHSc candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto.

David Di Iorio holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Waterloo in Honors Co-op Biology and is currently a candidate for an MHSc in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. He has worked in various laboratory roles, including Molecular and Enzymology lab technician for Dr. Rose, the Chairman of Biology at the University of Waterloo. In this role, David conducted two research projects studying the genes of human gut microbiota proteins, their roles in starch utilization, and their clinical application in future diabetes treatment options.

Currently, David is endlessly fascinated by the genetics of aging, and their role in age related diseases. He hopes to one day be a part of the research that moves towards cures for common age relates diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Cancer.

David spends his free time volunteering at the Toronto Wildlife Center as a Wildlife Rehabilitator, where he works with veterinarians to provide safe and effective recovery of orphaned or injured wildlife via wound treatments and administration of medicine. When David is not pursuing his degree or volunteering, he can be found playing piano and drums, or reading an unnecessarily large fantasy novel.

David is currently a member of the Molecular Genetics Graduate Student Association for 2021-2022, as one of two Medical Genomics Representatives.

Karen Fang holds a HBSc in Forensic Science & Biology from Laurentian University. She absolutely enjoyed her undergraduate studies and liked learning about forensic DNA analysis and investigative techniques. She then moved into her role at SickKids where she focused on furthering the molecular characterization in Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) gliomas. Karen is currently in her graduate studies at the University of Toronto, where she will be completing a Master of Health Science in Medical Genomics. She is passionate about cancer genomics and bioinformatics. In her free time, she enjoys camping/road trips, kickboxing, and various sports.

Anjali Jain is currently pursuing her MHSc in Medical Genomics from University of Toronto. She is a Gold Medallist from Amity University, India where she completed her B.Tech degree in Bioinformatics. Her zest to explore the field of Bioinformatics led her to undertake a variety of research projects during her undergrad. One such notable project was related to data mining where she identified genes linked to Type II Diabetes associated complications from the PubMed literature database. In addition, she worked at a start-up company based in Delhi where she contributed to the development of a software which aims to facilitate donor-recipient HLA matching in cases of organ transplantation. She has a strong interest in exploring the field of variant analysis and developing bioinformatics tools to analyse genomic data. She is deeply fascinated by precision medicine and hopes to contribute to bringing it into the clinic. Outside of academics, Anjali expresses her creativity through arts and craft and Bollywood dancing.

Ayesha Kidwai is a Master of Health Science student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She earned her Bachelor of Technology degree with high distinction in Biotechnology from Amity University, India. During her undergraduate project, she had the opportunity to investigate the genetic variants in CYP1A1 gene through restriction analysis in patients diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer at a renowned medical university in India. This ignited her interest into the promising field of genomic medicine. She is an avid learner with strong interest in studying human genetic variations and their role in tumorigenesis. Ayesha aspires to pursue her career as a variant analyst in a clinical setting with a goal of integrating her knowledge in precision medicine. She hopes to bridge the prevailing knowledge gap between the pioneering genomic research and the current clinical practices in oncology. Outside of genetics, Ayesha enjoys watching movies, taking long nature walks and exploring diverse cuisines in Toronto.

Daniel Kiss is a graduate student in the University of Toronto’s Medical Genomics program. He holds an HBSc with high distinction in Molecular Genetics and Cell & Systems Biology from the University of Toronto and is passionate about the humanization and personalization of applied genomic medicine. He has a background in applied biology and bioengineering, having held co-president and research and development positions for iGEM Toronto during his undergraduate degree, and was involved in various research projects involving microbial plastic degradation, enzyme engineering, and microbial metagenome analysis. He is currently working with the Canadian Synthetic Biology Education Research Group (CSBERG) to establish and implement an undergraduate level synthetic biology curriculum at a national level. Daniel plans to use the information and skills gained from the Medical Genomics program to further scientific communication and awareness in his communities and is passionate about the transdisciplinary integration of biological concepts into various industries. Outside of the academic world, Daniel is involved in the Toronto indie music scene, producing and performing with various musical acts, and holds volunteer positions at various youth mentorship programs.

Alex La Berge is a graduate student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She graduated in 2020 from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan with a Bachelor of Science with honours in Biology. For her undergraduate thesis, Alex studied the effects of the herbicide Glyphosate on mouse intestinal permeability and inflammation, and in this role developed a love for wet lab work. She is currently volunteering with ClinGen doing gene curation for gene-disease validity research. Alex knew from an early age that she was destined to be a scientist and that she wanted to make a positive change in the world. Her academic interests include cancer genetics, personalized medicine, and forensic biology. Outside of school and work, Alex enjoys being outdoors, camping, traveling, and playing piano. She is excited to see where the knowledge and skills from her graduate studies take her in the field of genetics and genomics!

Janice Li is a graduate student in the M.H.Sc. in Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She completed her undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto. During her undergraduate degree, she completed a research project on the anti-inflammatory effect of cranberry metabolites on human colorectal cells. As she pursued her study in both genetics and nutrition, she was introduced to the field of nutrigenomics and was attracted to the idea of personalized treatment through genomics and genetics in the clinical setting. Her academic interest lies on personalized medicine and the translation of genomic testing to clinical care. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and solving puzzles.

Elise Poole is a graduate student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She completed her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry at Brandon University, which sparked her interest in the genetic basis of disease. Elise has an eclectic research background, having previously worked on various aspects of ribosome assembly and ribosomopathies, barley genetics and integrated pest management. During her time as a research assistant, she sought to combine her ever-growing interests in genetics and molecular biology with her passion for medicine. Her primary interest now lies in the genetic basis of rare diseases, and hopes to help improve rare disease diagnostics and therapeutic options. In her spare time, Elise enjoys indoor cycling, yoga, board games and cold brew.

Vanessa Rokoszak is a graduate student currently pursuing her MHSc in Medical Genomics at UofT. She obtained her BSc in Life Sciences from Queen’s University, where she completed her undergraduate thesis work at the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute, investigating the effects of the Arpin gene in breast cancer metastasis. Vanessa is fascinated by complex genetic disorders and understanding gene-environment interactions. She is particularly interested in hereditary cancers, especially hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, and how to effectively provide genetic testing and counselling to at-risk populations. Outside of the classroom, Vanessa volunteers for Kids Help Phone as a crisis responder, and enjoys history and literature.

Harpreet Kaur is an educator and a researcher in the field of Human Genetics. She started her academics with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and delved deeper into the world of rDNA technology during her Master of Science in Microbial Gene Technology. Around the time of the human genome project, she started work on her doctoral thesis on the cytogenetic biomarkers for gamma rays for radiation dose assessment. She has spent the last decade as an educator, teaching genetics-related-courses to both medical and basic science undergraduates and graduates. Translational medicine excites her, and she has also pursued this through her research on the pharmacogenetics of pediatric leukemias. She also believes in quality patient-care delivered through diagnostics and was a team-lead for prenatal and cancer cytogenetic diagnosis. Currently she has taken a short break from the colourful world of chromosomes and is updating her knowledge in the fascinating field of Genomics through the MHSc program in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. She hopes to apply these new concepts to previously known domains that she is affiliated with and passionate about.

Victoria Shelton is a M.H.Sc candidate in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto where she obtained an Honours Bachelor degree in Science with a double Major in Genome Biology and in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Victoria has worked on several projects during her undergraduate career, ranging from comparative genomics to microplastics. She has a strong interest in space genetics, cancer genomics and polygenic disorders. Victoria is also engaged as Youth Coordinator for the non-profit David Dunlap Observatory Defenders, and teaches piano and music. She loves learning new languages, astronomy, music production, piano and ice skating.

Judjina Thevarajah is a graduate student in the MHSc Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She completed her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at McMaster University. Her previous projects include characterizing age-related changes in the upper respiratory tract microbiota, where she specifically investigated microbe interactions that may contribute to susceptibility of pneumonia. Through her undergraduate placements, she was also actively involved in translating complex reproductive research and embryology-related genetic diagnostics to patients and clinicians. This led her to develop a strong passion in bridging communication gaps between genomics/genetic diagnostics and patients as well as physicians.  In addition to science communication, Judjina is also interested in advancing precision medicine using the integration of molecular genetics and genomic variant analysis to improve patient outcomes. Outside of academia, Judjina loves to spend time with family and friends, travel all around the world and explore new cuisines.

Queenie Wong completed her undergraduate studies at McMaster University, where she obtained her Honours Bachelor degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics. She is currently a graduate student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. During her undergraduate career, she completed her thesis on the evolution of sex-biased diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, and the paradox of bimodality in women’s health. Her main interest involves cancer genomics and how the knowledge of genetic drivers of cancer is transforming cancer diagnosis and treatment options. It is her dream to live in a future where affordable population-based genetic testing for various cancers are made available to society, thus maximizing precision prevention for this deadly disease. Aside from that, she is also interested in human genetic variant analysis, where clinically actionable variants are distinguished from non-actionable variants. For that reason, she is currently volunteering as part of ClinGen’s Dosage Sensitivity Curation team under the Hereditary Cancer subgroup. In her free time, Queenie loves volunteering at various non-profit organizations, learn new languages, travel, reading and creating art.

Zhilin Xu completed her H.B.Sc. degree at the University of Toronto, where she obtained a double Major in Immunology and Physiology with high distinction. Currently, she is pursuing her M.H.Sc. degree through the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. Her previous projects include investigation on amyloid precursor protein using the Drosophila model with respect to IP3R over- or under-expressions at different developmental stages and identifying how the endogenous expression of ATP genes may be varied in a dependent manner. She also conducted an internship in Apexigen Co., an innovative pharmaceutical company developing immuno-oncology therapeutics, as part of the translational team, which inspired her to pursue her interest in translational medicines and cancer genomics in a clinical context. Outside her academic pursuits, she is passionate about photography, extreme sports, and vocal performance.

Shi (Jim) Zhang obtained his MD degree from China and has finished a three-year residency program in surgery. His previous research was in the field of cancer therapy. Currently, Shi is a postgraduate student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. He believes that most diseases have a strong relation with genetics and that medical genomics is a promising area waiting to be explored. In his opinion, genetic testing will become routinized for all individuals and genetic-based personalized medicine would become available to all patients in the future. For that future to become a reality, Shi’s goal is to integrate genomic knowledge into clinical diagnosis and treatment. Outside of academia, he loves swimming, playing badminton and taking his dog for traveling.

The Class of 2021

Nina Adler is a Medical Genomics Master’s student at the University of Toronto. She is passionate about studying human genetic variation in order to capture variants from populations on a global scale, leading to better diagnostic yield and variant characterization. She is well-versed on the subjects of molecular genetics, evolutionary biology and population genetics, and has a strong desire to see diagnostic tests be tailored to today’s ever-diversifying society. Nina aims to continue developing her computational skills for genomic data analysis.  In her free time, Nina loves to play the cello and learn new languages.

Education

Honours Bachelor of Science with High Distinction, University of Toronto

  • Genome Biology | Molecular Genetics and Microbiology | Russian Language

Safa Ansar holds an HBSc with high distinction in Arts and Science from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her MHSc through the UofT Medical Genomics Master’s program. During her undergraduate career, she contributed to several studies on understanding the molecular mechanisms behind learning and memory in the tiny roundworm C. elegans. She is currently interested in using various genetic sequencing technologies in clinically relevant settings to understand the pathogenesis of neurological disorders, such as Autism and Schizophrenia, and building a variant database to aid in their diagnoses. She is excited to pursue her interests in personalized medicine and pharmacogenetics through this program. She loves thrifting and art, and has an avid passion for paleogenomics and classical civilizations. Her dream is to one day use DNA to uncover secrets of ancient humans and bygone empires. She is currently serving as one of two program representatives on the Molecular Genetics Graduate Student Association for 2020-2021.

 

Pratyusha Attaluri is a medical doctor and has obtained her medicine degree from India. She has been associated with a multi-specialty healthcare provider in India, providing emergency care services. During this period she also pursued an emergency medicine diploma from the UK’s Royal College of Emergency Medicine (MRCEM). She also worked as a scientific research fellow in the department of Endovascular surgery where she played key role in planning and executing clinical and surgical audits. She was also an active team player in a research project involving oncology, gynecology and vascular surgery to develop protocols for the treatment of venous thrombosis in gynecological oncology patients. Her main research interests are common complex diseases involving endocrinology, cardiology and heme-oncology. Her curiosity and constant thirst for knowledge has moved her towards a career in Medical Genomics. As an avid reader, she is interested in scientific journalism and wants to bring science to the public in the most fun and interesting form. She is an advocate for women in science education. As a sports enthusiast, she is a member of the University of Toronto badminton club. In her spare time she enjoys choreographing dance to Indian cinema music with her husband and cooking.

Sierra Barnes is a graduate student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She completed her B.H.Sc. degree in Biomedical Discovery & Commercialization at McMaster University in 2019. Her previous projects include investigating the incidence of neurological death in patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer diagnosed with brain metastases at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. She is currently working in the Division of Genome Diagnostics at the Hospital for Sick Children, developing an interpretation scheme and standards for RNAseq variants in samples from patients with rare disorders. Her academic interests include personalized medicine, scientific communication and filling the gap in the medical field between physicians and geneticists. Outside of science, she enjoys traveling to new countries and being a part of graduate student life, as she is currently one of the Medical Genomics program representatives.

Nelson Xavier Bautista Salazar completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto where he obtained a Honours Bachelor degree in Science with a double Major in Fundamental Genetics and in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. Currently, he is a first year Master’s student in an innovative program at the University of Toronto in Medical Genomics. He is passionate about genetics and genomics and how this rapidly-changing field is revolutionizing different areas of science, from a better comprehension of evolution and fundamental biology to impacts in medical practice. For his undergraduate thesis he worked at the Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research where he studied the reactivation of quiescent retinal stem cells present in the adult human retina. This experience inspired him to be involved in projects with direct potential for clinical translation into future treatments that could benefit people. In his free time, he likes playing the guitar and piano and likes all kind of sports.

Luisa Bonilla, MD is a Clinical Oncologist and currently a Medical Oncology Clinical Research Fellow at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center. She is currently undertaking a Master’s in Health Science (MHSc) majoring in Medical Genomics at University of Toronto.  Her current clinical practice focuses on the treatment of gynecologic malignancies and melanoma. Her main interests are to develop effective cancer treatments through identification of key events in tumor genomic evolution, recognize essential tumor microenvironment interactions and ultimately advance treatment strategies through personalized medicine to improve patient outcomes. After completion of her Clinical Oncology training in Israel, she worked as a junior staff oncologist at Davidoff center in Petah Tikvah, Israel. Prior to commencing her current role, she joined Eli Lilly as a clinical research physician where she supported the introduction and satisfactory performance of clinical trials as well as implementation of novel anti-cancer medications. As an active clinician with a wide cultural perception, she believes in her responsibility to contribute to global cancer care delivery improvement. This has led her to participate in global health and global oncology leadership programs.

Nour Hanafi is currently a Medical Genomics MHSc student at the University of Toronto, and completed her undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Chemistry at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. An avid learner with diverse interests, Nour completed several undergraduate research projects, ranging from fly genetics to technical art history. She has a strong interest in the use of genomics in immunology and infectious disease, as well in understanding the aging process. She is also fascinated with how genomics can be applied in non-medical contexts (such as art history!). Her deep interest in the humanities and social sciences has also instilled in her a passion for science communication, particularly for people from disadvantaged communities. In her free time, she enjoys reading about history and literature, taking long walks, and watching sports.

Ivy Haw graduated in 2019 from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Forensic Science program. She did her honours thesis on domestic homicide in conjunction with the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service. It was around this time that she realized her passion for both medicine and genetics and enrolled in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. Ivy hopes to pursue a career as a variant analyst in a clinical setting in the future.

Kaitlyn Lemay is a Medical Genomics Master’s student at the University of Toronto. She graduated from Ontario Tech University’s Forensic Science program and looked to take her love for DNA profiling to new heights, the human genome. Kaitlyn is interested in how variants in the genome manifest as diseases and wants to be involved in the era of personalized medicine. Along with her studies, Kaitlyn also works part time at Wyndham Forensic Group inc., a private Forensic Laboratory, where she works as a DNA technologist. 

Samantha MacPherson is a first year Master’s student in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto and completed her HBSc in Biology at Acadia University in 2019. Her previous undergraduate research was in the field of chemical ecology and medical entomology. Samantha’s academic interests include clinical epigenetics, personalized medicine and the implementation of genomic technologies into the clinical setting. Outside of academia, she enjoys drinking coffee and watching movies.

Luis G. Peña is MHSc student in Medical Genomics at University of Toronto. Originally from Mexico, Luis obtained his BSc in Genomic Biotechnology from the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon. He developed a multiplex PCR detection test for Mycoplasma sp. in human cell culture. Luis also participated in the standardization of pharmacogenetic testing for colon cancer patients looking to use a monoclonal antibody therapy. His most recent achievement includes leading, planning, and assembling a molecular biology laboratory for a privately owned research and innovation center. Luis’s goal is to become a relevant member of an ever-evolving entrepreneurial and scientific community to share his skills and knowledge in order to improve himself, his community, and the role of genomics in our world.

Gabrielle Persad is a graduate student in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto. She is currently working on identifying cryptic splice site variants in childhood heart diseases with the Mital Laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children. She obtained her Bachelor of Science at Dalhousie University where she gained extensive knowledge in Marine Biology and Oceanography. In her honours, she explored the genetic differences between the white and common forms of the Stickleback. Nowadays, she is highly interested in developmental diseases, epigenetics, and bioinformatics. Outside of academia, Gabrielle enjoys weightlifting, high diving, and she has a profound love for conservation.

Sarah Russell is a M.H.Sc. Medical Genomics candidate at the University of Toronto. She is a proud Maritimer who completed her B.Sc. Honours Biology at the University of New Brunswick. During this time, she had the unique opportunity to pursue her interest in genetics through the de novo sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of Cyanophora plastid and mitochondrial genomes. While continuing research and working in donor relations at the University of New Brunswick, Sarah sought to merge her passion for genetics and healthcare through the M.H.Sc. Medical Genomics program. She is primarily interested in understanding gene-environment interactions and how we can translate this into accessible precision healthcare. She is also interested in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for multifactorial inherited conditions. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cooking, camping, attending concerts and spending time with her nephew.

Sierra Scodellaro is a Master’s of Health Science candidate in the Medical Genomics program at the University of Toronto.  She earned her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences at Ryerson University, where she began to develop a great interest in molecular genetics and epigenetics.  During her undergraduate career, she had the opportunity to investigate pancreatic cancer relapse genetics, sparking a curiosity in understanding how the genome behaves and how aberrant genes can lead to disease phenotypes. Sierra hopes to be able to integrate genomic information in the context of pharmacogenomics in order to make precision medicine the future of health care.  When not in school, Sierra enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and trying every taco in Toronto.

Rulan Shaath is a master’s student in the Medical Genomics program in the Molecular Genetics department at the University of Toronto. She earned her H.BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Guelph. She is interested in identifying diseases at the genetic level and improving health care using precision medicine. Apart from academia, Rulan remains in touch with her community by working as a Medical lab technician at a multidisciplinary heath care clinic. Through her interactions with many patients, Rulan sees the need in communicating essential genetic information to effectively help in the prognosis and diagnosis of rare genetic disorders. In the near future with the skills and knowledge she has developed in genomics, she hopes to fill the knowledge gap in underdeveloped countries where genetic diseases are predominant in the population.

Angela Shaw is a Medical Genomics master’s student in the Molecular Genetics department at the University of Toronto. Her academic interests lie in using high throughput genomic sequencing technologies, and genomic data science in translational research, specifically in cancer and neurodegenerative disease. She aims to bridge the gap between proteomics and genomics with the goal of improving precision medicine and patient care.

Academic interests:

  • Clinical research
  • Precision medicine
  • Proteomics
  • Patient Care

Mfon Udoh-Orok is bringing his love for computers and programming into the field of genetics. As a M.HSc candidate in Medical Genomics, he wants to push the computational side of genetics to its limits. Each day the volume and complexity of genomic information being generated increases exponentially and parsing the laboratory and clinical relevance from this data is a challenge that Mfon wishes to conquer. Mfon currently works at the Siminovitch Lab doing Bioinformatics on Next Generation Sequencing data. Outside of genetics and programming, Mfon enjoys a good match of soccer, keeping up with new innovations in tech, and seeing the more than occasional musical.

Poornima Vijayan is a medical doctor, specialized in clinical pathology, from India. She has over 5 years of experience across all domains of diagnostic pathology service including histopathology, cytopathology, hematopathology and molecular pathology. Poornima is currently pursuing the Medical Genomics program (clinical stream) at University of Toronto, because she strongly believes laboratory medicine is definitely tending towards the integration of genetic/genomic testing into clinical diagnostic services. She feels that in the near future, it will be important for laboratory medicine specialists to be well equipped with the necessary skills to handle large volumes of complex genetic/genomic information that will soon be available due to this integration of genomic testing in mainstream medicine. She aims to bridge the communication gap between the genetic/genomic diagnostic service and the referring physician /patient. Prior to her starting this program, Poornima was a faculty member at a teaching hospital where she was involved in teaching pathology to medical students and residents while also being actively involved in the diagnostic pathology service there. She is very excited to be part of this program and is looking forward to effectively integrating the skills acquired from this program in her pathology practice after its completion.  Outside of school, Poornima is a proud mom to a very active kindergartener who is thoroughly enjoying her stay in Toronto. She loves travelling and has travelled to ten different countries till date.

Patrycja Wojcik is a graduate student at the University of Toronto currently pursuing a Master of Health Science degree in Medical Genomics. She was previously affiliated with McMaster University where she completed her Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 2019. Patrycja has an interest in the process of genetic disease diagnosis and the use of cutting-edge bioinformatic techniques and computational methods to unravel complex genetic disorders. She loves connecting with new people and discussing technological advancements in the realm of medical science and precision medicine. Outside of school you can find her enjoying a good musical or hiking with her dog Ela.

Xiaoqiao (Pamela) Xu is a master student in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. She completed her Bachelor degree in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Toronto in 2019. She was actively involved in different research areas spanning mouse genetics, cancer genetics and epigenetics during her undergraduate study, through which she recognized the need of integrating computational methods in translational and clinical research. In the near future, she is hoping to integrate molecular genetics and genomic variant analysis in precision medicine and healthcare. Outside academics, she loves animals, likes to play ukulele, and has been dancing recreationally for 10 years.

The Class of 2020

Daniel Abd Assamad is a Medical Genomics master’s student in the Molecular Genetics department at the University of Toronto. He is interested in utilizing genetics to better understand reproductive health disorders and dementia among others. As an international student he enjoys working with his peers from a diverse background here in Toronto. While in graduate school he has continued working in student life and is currently serving as the medical genomics program representative. 

Interests

  • Neurological Disorders & Reproductive Health 
  • Drug Development
  • Student Life & Experience

Education

  • MHSc. in Medical Genomics, University of Toronto – 2020.
  • HBSc. in Genetics & Physiology with a minor in Psychology, University of Toronto – 2018

Navneet Aujla

I am a master’s student in medical genomics at the University of Toronto. I received an Hon B.Sc  with a specialization in forensic science from the University of Toronto Mississauga in 2018. I am interested in understanding rare diseases through the lens of genomics, and how genomics can be incorporated into all areas of medicine. I also have an interest in forensic science, specifically forensic pathology and how genomics could influence forensic science.

Michael Braga

Currently a MHSc student in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto, I’m interested in using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for the establishment of pharmaceutical targets in molecular oncology. While I complete my masters at UofT, I am concurrently working at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) as a Genetic Technologist. Genome Diagnostics at SickKids has provided me the opportunity to advance my molecular skills and knowledge while performing and developing various NGS testing. Continuing my education in genetics far exceeds my career ambitions; understanding how subtle changes in our genomes have such a profound effect is a passion.

Clarissa Chan

I am a Medical Genomics Masters student who first became interested in eye diseases such as Glaucoma during my work as an Ophthalmic Technician for Dr. David Yan. In addition to being a former research volunteer at SickKids, I have dedicated my time towards Markham Stouffville Hospital’s Surgical Admission and Discharge Unit. I have also been the recipient of the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award and conducted research at The Cutter Lab at the University of Toronto. Other than studying genetics, I enjoy playing video games, eating tacos, nature and watching the Toronto Maple Leafs.   

Education

  • University of Toronto – Life Sciences Program 
    • Honours Bachelor of Science with High Distinction 
  • University of Toronto – School of Continuing Studies 
    • Biochemistry with a Medical Perspective 

Meagan Gloven-Brown is a genetics technologist in the genome diagnostics department at The Hospital for Sick Children. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Guelph in 2009, followed by an Advanced Graduate Diploma in genetics technology at The Michener Institute in 2014. She received certification as a dually trained genetic technologist in both the cytogenetic and molecular genetics fields.  She is currently working towards completing her Master of Health Science degree in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto where she plans to develop her skills as a genome analyst to help bridge the gap in the clinical field between testing and interpretation. After a long day in the lab helping children and their families, she enjoys making and listening to music, a glass of wine with her husband and playing fetch with her puppy.   

Marketa Hlavon

I am a master’s student in medical genomics at the University of Toronto. I am developing my computational biology and scientific communication skills on top of my knowledge in molecular biology, genetic techniques and computer science. I am passionate about leading a healthy life style, personalized medicine and high standards of patient care. I believe that work-life balance and giving back to your community is important.

Interests • Personalized Medicine • Computational Biology • Community Involvement • Hiking • Knitting

Education • B.Sc. Biochemistry, University of Victoria

Esha Joshi

Esha is a first year Master’s student in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto and completed her B.Sc in Genetics and Cells & Systems Biology at the University of Toronto in 2018. Her academic interests lie in using high-throughput genomic sequencing technology, genomic data science, bioinformatics/computational biology in translational research. She has contributed to several studies focusing on the implementation of whole genome sequencing in clinical practice and is currently conducting research in analytical proteomics to find biomarkers as therapeutic targets for cardiac disease. Esha aims to bridge the fields of genomics and proteomics in her career to contribute to improving clinical diagnostics and individualized medicine. She is also a strong supporter of #WomeninSTEM and #STEAMlearning in education.

Interests

Genomics • proteomics • individualized medicine • data science • computational biology • WomeninSTEM 

April Kennedy

I’m a St. John’s native currently in the process of obtaining my M.H.Sc. in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. I’ve always had an interest in the genetic mechanisms underlying disease and a passion for helping people. I hope that the career path I follow upon graduation is an intersection of these interests. I am particularly interested in how the non-coding elements of the genome are implicated in disease. I enjoy learning about potential biomarkers for disease risk, presence, and prognosis. I acquired research experience in the field of molecular biology as part of my undergraduate thesis. I am expanding my clinical research experience by assisting with a project at SickKids in the department of Urology. My overarching passion is definitely healthcare with the goal of improving precision medicine.

Academic Interests

  • Precision medicine
  • Non-coding genetic elements
  • Clinical research

Non-academic Interests

  • Cooking
  • Binging Netflix documentaries 
  • Attending concerts

Education

  • B.Sc.F.S., 2018, Trent University 

YiJing (Lauren) Liang

I am a master’s student in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. I am interested in using bioinformatic techniques and computational methods to analyze genomics data with the aim of assisting disease diagnostics. I was an undergraduate researcher at University of Toronto, experienced in different fields, including computational biology, microbiology, molecular genetics, and biochemistry. I’m an avid gamer and love spending my leisure time on playing different types of games. 

Interests

  • Computational Biology
  • Data Science

Education

  • B.Sc. in Biochemistry, 2018 University of Toronto

Stephanie Ngo

Originally from Ottawa, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Anatomy and Cell Biology from McGill University. Now I am pursuing a master’s degree in Medical Genomics at the University of Toronto. My areas of interest are clinical genomic testing and bioinformatics. Outside of school, I also enjoy writing and illustration. 

Zoya Retiwalla is a Medical Genomics Master’s student at the University of Toronto. Her interest in genetics is voracious. She is passionate about communicating the intricacies of genetics and aspires to set up a non-profit that helps affected individuals comprehend and manage various genetic disorders. Prior to joining this course, she established a landscaping firm with the view of creating sustainable green alternatives in the realm of horticulture. She loves learning and has earned a Master’s degree in biotechnology and a diploma is forensic sciences. Her tryst with research has been limited to developing a serological diagnostic kit against a resilient fungus. Zoya loves reading, exploring new countries, photography and enjoys being a closet writer.

Jordan Sam is a forward thinker, philanthropist, and visionary. As a M.HSc candidate in Medical Genomics, he has plans to utilize cutting-edge genomic technology to revolutionize the healthcare industry and strive towards personalized medicine. He is interested in using DNA sequencing platforms to provide accurate diagnoses and guide innovations in gene therapeutics to cure diseases, rather than treat symptoms. His journey began at the University of Toronto, where he became fascinated with molecular and genetic interactions within and between organisms. Upon graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree with high distinction, he continued this journey at UofT in a field that will positively impact millions of people. When he is not in school, he operates a multidisciplinary specialist medical centre, compounds medications, teaches undergraduate students, and works with international non-profits to resolve global health and economic disparities.  

Clare Sheen

I am a Master’s Student in the Medical Genomics Program at the University of Toronto. I’m very excited about the advancements in the field of genetics & genomics, which has implications intreating the cause of diseases and targeting them at the core, as opposed to just treating the symptoms. Before starting this program, I was a research student in multiple labs, dabbling in data science, biochemistry, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, genetics, and rheumatology. My research experiences inspire me to leverage different scientific disciplines to advance healthcare and therapeutics.   

Interests

  • Genetics & Microbiology 
  • Bioinformatics
  • Science Policy
  • Ice skating, long walks on the beach, & meming

Talia Silver is a Master’s student in the new Medical Genomics program at U of T. She earned her B.Sc. in biology from York University, where she focused on molecular genetics. Her interests within the field include fertility and reproduction, genetic screens, and plain old DNA. With experience teaching high school science and tutoring undergraduates, she is passionate about scientific communications, introducing the concept of genomics to the public and encouraging students to pursue emerging careers in STEM. Outside of school, Talia is a proud mom and certified makeup artist. Talia is excited to be a part of medical genomics and can’t wait to see how the field develops in the coming years.

Cherith Somerville

I am a master’s candidate in the Medical Genomics Professional Graduate Program at the University of Toronto. I’m interested in the interpretation of genetic and genomic data and its application for improvements in patient care. Prior to entering my graduate program, I did my B.Sc. at the University of Guelph where I had the opportunity to explore the use of genomic information across evolutionary, ecological, and clinical disciplines. This helped to cultivate my appreciation for the utility of genetic and genomic testing. I am passionate about the healthcare movement towards precision medicine, through the integration of relevant genetic data. 

Interests • Medical Genomics • Data Interpretation • Science Communication • For Fun • Marathon Running and Crime Podcasts • Education • B.Sc. in Biological Sciences, 2018 University of Guelph