2023 endMS Summer School Participant List

Ms. Kanza Alami Marrouni

Research Area: Clinical Neuroscience
Institution: Université de Montréal
Email: kanza.alami.marrouni@gmail.com

I am a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience, working on a clinical trial where cannabinoids' efficacy and safety are assessed in the symptomology of multiple sclerosis (MS). Besides my Ph.D. research topic, I work on side projects, such as evaluating predictors of mortality in the aged MS population, reviewing the validity of subjective spasticity assessment tools, compared to objective measurements, and exploring pharmacoeconomic evaluations of cannabinoids in treating MS worldwide. This portrays my interest in clinical, populational, and societal research topics of MS. In fact, I am highly interested in polypharmacy and comorbidities in MS and would like to evaluate how the pathophysiology of MS progresses with these while using clinical outcomes and biomarkers. I had the opportunity to publish a peer-reviewed opinion article discussing a recently hypothesized concept, the spasticity-plus syndrome in MS, and a science popularization paper discussing the role of the Epstein-Barr Virus in MS onset. I also had the opportunity to present posters with preliminary data of my side projects. As for my hobby, I enjoy storytelling through comics, especially when combining it with health science. In the last year, I have been learning how to apply storytelling in science popularization comic strips (Instagram: PharmacoSciCom).

Ms. Kanza Alami Marrouni

Mr. Hamidreza Barzegarpor

Research Area: Neuroscience

Institution: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Email: hbarzegar@mun.ca

My name is Hamid. I am from Iran. I am a Ph.D. neuroscience student in the Recovery and Performance lab, at Memorial University. My background is in exercise physiology. I did some studies about the effects of cognitive fatigue on physical performance in athletes. Now, I have started another Ph.D. and currently work on the "non-pharmacological treatments to improve cognitive fatigue in multiple sclerosis". My hobbies are reading books and working out, especially long-distance running. Along with this, I also like playing guitar and cooking. Also, I am interested in politics and history and I listen to podcasts about this.

Mr. Hamidreza Barzegarpor

Ms. Rochelle Benoit

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Neuroimmunology

Institution: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Email: rb0234@mun.ca
Twitter: @1998Rochelle

I’m a 3rd year PhD Student studying the mechanisms of action that Bruton Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors have within myeloid cells. Analyzing their potential to express anti-inflammatory and pro-reparative effects is the main aim of my project while incorporating them into treatment-naive RRMS and SPMS/PPMS patient PBMCs ex vivo. Outside the lab I am a dog mom to my handsome one-year-old Goldendoodle Ollie. Besides going on walks daily with him, I have recently found a love for kickboxing and hopefully will get to compete in the sport one day!

Ms. Rochelle Benoit

Dr. Maxime Bigotte

Research Area: Neuroimmunology

Institution: Montreal, Neurological Institute, McGill University

Email: maxime.bigotte@mcgill.ca

Twitter: @BigotteM

I am a French postdoctoral researcher freshly arrived at McGill University in Montreal to study the alterations of ependymal cells induced by MS CSF, B-cells and autoantibodies using in vitro and in vivo experiments. Before coming here, I studied during my PhD the effects of purified autoantibodies from NMO patients on ependymal cells. In my free time, I like to ride my skateboard, and spend time with my friend trying new food and drinks.

Dr. Maxime Bigotte

Ms. Abby Blaney

Research Area: Neuroscience

Institution: Memorial University

Email: ablaney@mun.ca
Twitter: @AbbyBlaney9

I am originally from New Brunswick where I received my undergraduate degree in biology from the University of New Brunswick and I moved to Newfoundland almost two years ago to pursue my masters in neuroscience at Memorial University of Newfoundland. During my undergrad, I focused on cell/molecular biology and completed an honours project involving the susceptibility of lung cancer cell lines. I decided to pivot from in vitro biology research to clinical neuroscience research and fortunately found myself at MUN under the supervision of the wonderful Dr. Michelle Ploughman. My current research involves using functional brain imaging tools to probe the effects of neuromodulation in individuals with MS. Landing in NL was no accident for me - I love being outdoors (hiking, camping etc.) and I wanted to experience the unique culture and landscape the province had to offer. Outside of school I also enjoy playing sports, especially hockey, and since moving here I have joined a men’s hockey beer league!

Ms. Abby Blaney

Mrs. Syamala Buragadda

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Clinical Epidemiology

Institution: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Email: sburagadda@mun.ca

Twitter: @syamala3110

I am a PhD candidate in Medicine (Clinical Epidemiology) at the Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty of Medicine. I am an experienced physical therapist with master-level training in neurology. I served as a researcher and academic supervisor in the School of Physiotherapy in India and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and have multiple peer-reviewed publications in well-regarded rehabilitation journals. Why MS research? I treated several patients with MS and noticed that not all patients are the same: not the exact cause and not the same recovery after brain injury. "One-size-fits-all" does not work here! My experience with those patients impacted my future practice as a physical therapist. I was struck by how severely MS affected an individual's quality of life. Over 15 years of researching walking difficulties in patients with neurological conditions, I have developed a passion for MS research. My focus of research: Although the brain may adjust to damage after MS, neuroplasticity must be stimulated with early and continued rehabilitation for brain repair to be more effective. Failure to do so will limit the return of function. Stimulants for maximizing functional independence in MS can be environmental, physical, psychological, and emotional. I am primarily interested in developing strategies to improve the physical and mental well-being and, ultimately, the quality of life of people with MS. My future goals: I hope to continue my MS research career in Canada, and my future goal is to develop health measures at the World Health Organization level to help people with disabilities. Other interests: I have asides from being a mother of two children, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and environments. I enjoy being part of St. John's vibrant arts and cultural community. I love to explore new places around the world in the future.

Mrs. Syamala Buragadda

Ms. Katherine Cardwell

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Family/Caregivers

Institution: University of Ottawa

Email: kcard012@uOttawa.ca

I'm Katherine, a clinical researcher and PhD candidate from the Clinical Exercise Physiology Lab at the University of Ottawa. My current research goals are to map the support structures used by MS care-partners and understand support-use dynamics in MS caregiving. I am also interested in adaptive exercise interventions for individuals with MS at high levels of disability. When I'm not busy with research, I enjoy baking for my lab group, teaching piano and running trails in Gatineau Park.

Ms. Katherine Cardwell

Ms. Aysika Das

Research Area: Immunometabolism

Institution: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Email: aysikad@mun.ca
Twitter: @ aysika_das

I am currently a second year masters student in ‘Kaushik Lab’ at Memorial University of Newfoundland. My research area involves understanding the role of microglia metabolism in MS progression. Currently, my ongoing project aims to unravel the novel pathways by which microglia contribute to the disease pathology in MS. Precisely, I am investigating the role of Extracellular Matrix MetalloPRoteinase INducer (EMMPRIN), a type I-glycoprotein on its roles in maintenance of metabolic changes in microglia in the brains of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mice, a mouse model of MS. Things about me: My leisure time is mostly about listening to music and binging on Netflix. Dance is something that gives me joy and is a hobby for sure. Coming from a country rich in culture, I have been trained and certified in 3 different classical dance forms with some skills in freestyle.

Ms. Aysika Das

Dr. Haritha Desu

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Neuroscience

Institution: CRCHUM

Email: desuharitha5@gmail.com

Dr. Haritha Desu is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Catherine Larochelle’s laboratory at the CRCHUM. Her long-term research interest is to identify therapeutic targets that can promote repair and/or regeneration of the central nervous system in MS patients. Haritha completed her bachelors degree at Stony Brook University (SBU), where she volunteered as a research assistant in Dr. Holly Colognato’s laboratory and also worked part-time as a data coordinator for the pediatric MS center at SBU. This simultaneous exposure clinical work as well as basic science research led her to pursue a PhD and sparked her passion for conducting translational research. Haritha completed her PhD in Dr. Roberta Brambilla’s laboratory at the University of Miami Miller School of medicine in August 2021. Under Dr. Brambilla’s mentorship, she investigated the role of TNF receptor 2 signaling in neuroinflammation and remyelination during MS. Her work during her PhD was presented at various international conferences and resulted in multiple first author manuscripts. Now, as a postdoctoral researcher, Haritha investigates T cell-oligodendrocyte interactions in the context of MS with the hope of identifying approaches to protecting oligodendrocytes during/following injury.

Dr. Haritha Desu

Mr. Reda Fazazi

Research Area: Immunology

Institution: Laval University

Email: mohamed-reda.fazazi@crchudequebec.ulaval.ca

I am a PhD student at Laval University in Quebec City. I am interested in lymphocytes immunology and how T and B cells interact in promoting CNS inflammation in the mouse model of multiple sclerosis; Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE). I am also interested in understanding the role of sex in CNS inflammation by segregating the role of hormones and chromosomes. I had the chance to present our work at the ACTRIMS forum the last two editions and I also participated to the ACTRIMS summit for young scientist last year. Something interesting about me is that I am officiating in the professional soccer league of Canada (Canadian Premier League - CPL) and I have a passion for this sport.

Mr. Reda Fazazi

Ms. Erin Goldberg

Research Area: Immunology

Institution: University of British Columbia

Email: ejgold@student.ubc.ca

Twitter: @ Ejgold_

I am currently a PhD candidate in the Horwitz lab at the University of British Columbia. After completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria, I moved back to Vancouver to continue my studies in immunology. My current research focuses on understanding viral contribution to the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease for which we know very little of its relationship to prior viral infection. Specifically, I am investigating the role of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the pathology of MS using humanized mice or the murine EBV equivalent, gammaherpesvirus 68. To achieve this, I am applying various models of MS, including experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and other models involving cuprizone. By identifying viral impact on cell profiles and cytokine signatures, I hope to uncover some of the mechanisms by which EBV contributes to the development and progression of MS. The potential insights gained from this research could pave the way for the development of new and more effective therapies for MS, ultimately improving the lives of those affected by this devastating disease. Apart from research, I love boating. I have previously worked as a ferry captain and for the Canadian Coast Guard.

Ms. Erin Goldberg

Mr. Adam Groh

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Neurobiology

Institution: McGill University

Email: adam.groh@mail.mcgill.ca

Twitter: @adammrgroh

Adam received his M.Sc. in Anatomy and Cell Biology from Western University in 2019 where he was co-supervised by Drs. Brian Allman and Tyler Beveridge. During this degree he applied bipolar neural electrostimulation and histological staining techniques to study the structure and function of the autonomic nervous system in a large animal model and human tissues. At the end of his master's, he took interest in spinal cord inflammation that follows autonomic nerve damage. This nascent curiosity in neuroinflammation brought him to the neuroimmunology unit at the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital where he is now a PhD candidate with Dr. Jo Anne Stratton investigating ependymal cell dysregulation in acute and chronic neuroinflammatory contexts. Outside of the lab, Adam teaches cadaveric anatomy to 1st and 2nd year medical students, lectures and writes about the history and philosophy of science and embarks on a variety of cooking and hiking escapades.

Mr. Adam Groh

Ms. Hande Halilibrahimoglu

Research Area: Magnetic resonance imaging

Institute: The Neuro, McGill University

Email: hande.halilibrahimoglu@mail.mcgill.ca

Twitter: @ handeehio

Hi everyone! I’m Hande and I’m a PhD researcher in the Quantitative Microstructure Imaging Lab at McConnell Brain Imaging Centre of the Montreal Neurological Institute (McGill University). I’m passionate about magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its use as a diagnostic tool in neurological disorders. I’m very interested in developing novel MRI techniques to discover biology-informed, clinically relevant biomarkers. During my master’s research, I worked on using diffusion tensor imaging biomarkers to non-invasively predict brain tumor genotype, as an alternative to invasive biopsy and expensive genetic testing. This experience introduced me to the diverse world of MRI techniques and led me to study MRI sequence development to investigate the pathology of MS during my Ph.D. Currently, I am working on developing a cell-type specific microstructure imaging sequence for ultra-high field MRI. I aim to study the astrocytes and effects oxidative stress in progressive MS. This sequence will measure the movement (diffusion) of cell-type and compartment specific metabolites to inform us about altered morphology of the astrocytes and extra-cellular environment during Ms pathophysiology. In my free time, I love to make colorful bracelets, give my plants a pep-talk and have a calm breakfast with my book of the day!

Ms. Hande Halilibrahimoglu

Ms. Mona Hejazi

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Biomedical engineering

Institution: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Email: mhejazi@mun.ca

Mona Hejazi is a talented young woman pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, having started her studies in the winter of 2021. Her keen interest lies in brain signal analysis using EEG technology and exploring the potential of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) in rehabilitation. Over the past few years, Mona has developed a range of skills in nonlinear dynamical systems, image processing, and signal processing techniques that she has applied to various research projects. Originally from Tehran, Iran, Mona has always been captivated by the stunning landscapes and mountains that surround her hometown. She loves spending time in nature and pursuing outdoor activities like hiking and climbing. In her free time, Mona also enjoys watching movies, reading books in cafes, and going to the gym to stay fit and healthy. Mona's dedication to her studies and her love for nature demonstrate her commitment to a well-rounded life. With her passion for biomedical engineering and her exceptional academic abilities, Mona is sure to make an impact in the field and beyond.

Ms. Mona Hejazi

Dr. Leah Hohman

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Immunology

Institution: University of British Columbia

Email: lhohman@mail.ubc.ca

Twitter: @ leahhohman

Leah completed her PhD in Immunology with Dr. Nathan Peters at the University of Calgary. As a graduate student, she studied the correlates of naturally-acquired protective immunity against Leishmania major. Leah is currently a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Lisa Osborne at the University of British Columbia. In her postdoctoral research, Leah employs several models of EAE, including a recently developed murine model of progressive multiple sclerosis, to elucidate the mechanisms behind the complex interplay between age-related alterations to the microbiome, intestinal immune and epithelial populations, and the central nervous system. In addition to research, Leah is passionate about SciComm and teaching. She is a recipient of an endMS Postdoctoral Fellowship (2023 - ). Outside of the lab, Dr. Hohman loves singing/playing a variety of instruments (with varying levels of competence), spoiling her tiny dog, and all types of games (board games, sports, video games, etc).

Dr. Leah Hohman

Ms. Poljanka Johnson

Research Area: MRI

Institution: University of British Columbia

Email: poljanka.johnson@ubc.ca

My name is Poljanka and I'm doing my PhD in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. My research focuses on using advanced magnetic resonance imaging biomarkers and blood serum biomarkers to study clinical progression in MS. In my spare time, I am training to run a half marathon at the end of June and I am looking forward to my summer vacation surfing and hiking around British Columbia!

Ms. Poljanka Johnson

Ms. Olivia Kalau

Research Area: MRI

Institution: University of British Columbia

Email: kalauo@student.ubc.ca

Hello! My name is Olivia, and I am a first year MSc. Neuroscience student at The University of British Columbia. I completed my undergraduate degree at McMaster University. My current research project is focused on the use of myelin water imaging, an advanced quantitative magnetic resonance imaging technique, to determine the longitudinal relationship between myelin integrity and cognitive performance. The goal is to identify clinically relevant biomarkers and provide a predictive tool for multiple sclerosis related cognitive decline. In my free time, I love to spend time outside exploring Vancouver! I love to ski in the winter and backpack in the summer. I am also learning how to play beach volleyball!

Ms. Olivia Kalau

Mr. Gracious Kasheke

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Pharmacology

Institution: Dalhousie University

Email: gracious.kasheke@dal.ca

I am Gracious Kasheke, a PhD student studying Pharmacology at Dalhousie University. As an undergraduate, I attended Dalhousie University in my hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, to major in neuroscience. During my undergraduate degree, I quickly became fascinated with neuroscientific research. I was fortunate enough to take part research early-on as a volunteer in Dr. Aaron Newman’s NeuroCognitive Imaging Lab at Dalhousie University and in Dr. Victor Montori’s KER Unit at the Mayo Clinic. My positive experiences as a volunteer lead me to pursue an Independent Research Project with Dr. Ian Weaver which focused on the relationships between epigenetic profiles and psychiatric disorders. In the final year of my degree, I chose to do an honours project with Dr. George Robertson studying compounds which showed promising remyelinating and neurorestorative properties. I decided to continue this research in the form of a PhD in the hopes of identifying new therapeutics which may have regenerative properties in progressive forms of MS. Although my main focus is on my research, I have continued to take part in my alternative interest as a varsity athlete in soccer. I have just wrapped up my fifth and final year as a Dalhousie Tiger.

Mr. Gracious Kasheke

Ms. Megan Krysak

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Neuroimmunology

Institution: Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal

Email : megan.krysak@umontreal.ca

I’m currently doing my Masters in Neuroscience in the Larochelle lab at the Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM). I’m working with postdoc Haritha Desu to study the role of ICAM-1 in regulating oligodendrocyte-T cell interactions in MS. To study this we’re using both oligodendrocyte specific ICAM-1 knockout mice induced with EAE, and primary cultures of human oligodendrocytes. I’ll also soon be using microglia specific ICAM-1 knockout mice with EAE to investigate how ICAM-1 modulates interactions between microglia and other immune and nervous system cells. I’ve received a few scholarships along the way and was recently awarded CIHR-CGSM, but I’m easily most excited about having been accepted into the endMS summer school and SPRINT program! I’m originally from Calgary and worked in the Ousman lab for the past few summers which is how I was first introduced to MS research. Outside of the lab I really enjoy cooking and being outdoors whether that be for playing sports, hiking, or just exploring the city!

Ms. Megan Krysak

Ms. Sonika Kumari

Research Area: Physical Activity & Built-Environmental Features in Youth with MS

Institution: The Hospital for Sick Children

Email: sonika.kumari@sickkids.ca

Sonika is currently a Medical Sciences Masters student at the University of Toronto, conducting research in the Neurosciences department at the Hospital for Sick Children. Her research is focused on evaluating associations of environmental and individual factors with physical activity among youth with multiple sclerosis. She has recently received Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) scholarship for this3 project. Outside of research, Sonika enjoys nature, art, exploring cafes and learning new skills (currently learning boxing).

Ms. Sonika Kumari

Ms. Colleen Lacey

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: neuropsychology & neuroimaging

Institution: University of Victoria

Email: clacey@uvic.ca

Twitter: @colleenlacey01

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuropsychology stream of the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Victoria under the supervision of Dr. Jodie Gawryluk. My research interests include using neuroimaging and neuropsychological measures to evaluate healthy and abnormal aging processes. For my dissertation, I plan to investigate the impact of lifestyle factors on cognitive aging trajectories in the MS and healthy aging population using multimodal MRI techniques. I am currently researching the utility of a wearable sensor (MS PROTXX Ltd.) for the early detection and longterm monitoring of MS symptoms alongside Dr. Sepideh Hedari and Dr. Jodie Gawyluk. Outside of school, I am an avid outdoors enthusiast (my favourites being skiing and hiking) and also enjoy playing music and cooking!

Ms. Colleen Lacey

Ms. Katie Mayne

Research Area: Neuroimmunology

Institution: University of British Columbia

Email: katie.mayne@ubc.ca

I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science at Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland. During my undergraduate degree, I decided to do a placement year working as a research assistant at the University of Nevada, Reno, which inspired me to continue postgraduate research. I started my PhD at Queen’s University Belfast which was focused on regenerative neuroimmunology research in MS. My PhD investigated the ways in which effector T cells can have a beneficial impact in promoting myelin regeneration, in the aim to reduce disability of MS patients. Throughout my PhD, I had the opportunity to meet with MS patients and family members whose lives had been affected by MS and this cemented my choice to continue pursuing a career specifically in MS research. As Canada has one of highest rates of MS cases in the world, I decided to move to Vancouver to start my first postdoctoral position at the University of British Columbia, where my research is focused on factors which can mediate neuroprotection and regeneration in MS with the goal of finding new therapeutic targets for MS patients. Outside of science I enjoy reading, spending time with friends, and exploring beautiful BC.

Ms. Katie Mayne

Ms. Miranda Messmer

Recipient of the Raifta Shwedyk Bursary Fund for the 2023 endMS Summer School
Research Area: Neuroscience

Institution: University of Saskatchewan

Email: miranda.messmer@usask.ca

Miranda grew up in a small town from Saskatchewan as an avid reader and with a thirst for knowledge. Her endless fascination with neuroscience directed her to pursue a Bachelor of Science honours degree at the University of Saskatchewan. Miranda discovered her passion for research while studying ischemic stroke in Dr. Michael Kelly’s research lab during her honour’s and summer research projects. After graduating, she completed a MITACs Accelerate internship at the Canadian Light Source where she performed synchrotron imaging on the brain. Her interest in MS research was sparked while working as a research assistant for Dr. Sarah Donkers and collecting neurophysiological measures from participants in an MS clinical trial. In September 2022, she started graduate studies under Dr. Michael Levin and Dr. Bogdan Popescu at the Levin Lab. Her previous research experience helped her achieve a Dean’s Scholarship and the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s (CGS-M), which currently support her Master’s project: studying the role of RNA binding protein dysfunction in neurodegeneration of progressive MS. Outside of the lab, she enjoys being outside, cuddling with her cat, and doing arts and crafts—especially painting and crochet.

Ms. Miranda Messmer

Ms. Sanghamithra Ramani

Research Area: Cognition in MS

Institution: Carleton University

Email: sanghyramani@cmail.carleton.ca

I am currently finishing my MA in Psychology at Carleton University and will be starting graduate school in Clinical Psychology at UofT in the Fall. I am interested in clinical research, diversity in neuropsychology, and the overlap between MS, biomarkers, and cognition. Overall, I am motivated to help find ways to improve the quality of life of individuals with MS and other neurodegenerative diseases. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, and exploring new places.

Ms. Sanghamithra Ramani

Ms. Ariel Rosen

Research Area: Virology/Immunology

Institution: University of British Columbia

Email: rosena@student.ubc.ca

I am a first-year master’s student in the Horwitz Lab at UBC in Vancouver, where we are interested in understanding the complex connections between viral infection and autoimmune disease. Our current research centres around the role of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in MS. My project focuses on using mouse models of latent EBV infection and MS to understand whether targeting the virus can ameliorate disease outcomes. Through my research, I am hoping to provide a better understanding of the role EBV plays in MS pathogenesis and identify new therapeutic strategies. Outside of the lab, I volunteer at the UBC MS clinic, and I am also part of the UBC triathlon team, where I enjoy swimming, cycling, and running with my teammates!

Ms. Ariel Rosen

Dr. Katherine Sawicka

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Clinical Epidemiology

Institution: The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), University of Toronto

Email: k.sawicka@mail.utoronto.ca

I am an MD training in adult neurology and doing a PhD in clinical epidemiology. I am doing my PhD at the Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. My research population of interest is adolescents and young adults with multiple sclerosis and their psychosocial and clinical outcomes into later adulthood. My PhD thesis focuses on exploring self-management in people with multiple sclerosis and how self-management relates to age of onset and health-related quality of life. My thesis is supervised by Dr. Brian Feldman in the department of Pediatric Rheumatology at Sick Kids with Dr. Jiwon Oh, Dr. Ann Yeh, Dr. Marcia Finlayson, Dr. Alene Toulany, and Dr. Joseph Beyene as committee members. I hope my work will be formative in development of a dedicated multiple sclerosis transition clinic in Toronto. My hobbies include tennis, making pasta by hand, and improv.

Dr. Katherine Sawicka

Ms. Sneha Senthil

Research Area: MR Spectroscopy

Institution: McGill University

Email: sneha.senthil@mail.mcgill.ca

Twitter: @ snehav2000

I am a PhD candidate at McGill University with a keen interest in exploring oxidative stress in patients with MS, longitudinally. My research involves using MR spectroscopy to compare glutathione levels, a vital antioxidant in the body, between MS patients and healthy controls who are matched for age and sex. Apart from my research, I also enjoy indulging my passion for culinary experimentation by trying out new recipes in the kitchen. When I'm not there, you'll likely find me on a new travel adventure!

Ms. Sneha Senthil

Ms. Ateyeh Soroush

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Brain Imaging

Institution: University of Calgary

Email: ateyeh.soroush@ucalgary.ca

I am third-year Ph.D. student at Dr. Jeff Dunn's lab. My academic journey began with my undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering, where I majored in Bioelectrics, at Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT). In 2020, I began my graduate studies in the Neuroscience program, focusing on clinical research in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Working on this project has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and I am passionate about the potential impact that our research can have on improving the lives of those living with MS. I am dedicated to continuing my education and professional development, and currently enrolled in various training programs including BRAIN CREATE, VAST, AMSN, and endMS SPRINT. These programs offer a fantastic environment to learn, share knowledge, and collaborate with other professionals in the field. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and look forward to continuing my academic journey. In addition to my passion for learning, playing piano is my favorite pastime, and I enjoy snowboarding during the Winter season.

Ms. Ateyeh Soroush

Mr. Todd Stang

Research Area: Physiology

Institution: University of Saskatchewan

Email: tes465@usask.ca

Todd grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan. He knows many community and family members diagnosed with MS due to the high prevalence of MS in Canada and Saskatchewan. Todd obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. Todd was drawn to neuroscience research due to his fascination with the central nervous system. After his second year of school, he began a journey in MS research at the Cameco MS Neuroscience Research Center (CMSNRC) under the supervision of Dr. Michael Levin. Since then, Todd has completed two additional summer research projects and an honours thesis. His research focuses on the degeneration of neurons in MS patients. He began a Master of Science degree in the Fall of 2022 to continue his Honour’s thesis project focusing on the nuclear pore complex as a mechanism of neurodegeneration in MS. In his free time, Todd likes to take advantage of the weather in Canada by participating in winter activities like snowmobiling, skating, and snowboarding. In the summer, he enjoys the outdoors, being active, playing sports and relaxing at the lake.

Mr. Todd Stang

Ms. Doriana Taccardi

Research Area: Clinical Epidemiology

Institution: Queen’s University

Email: taccardi.doriana@queensu.ca

I'm originally from Italy, but I lived in London UK for the last 3 years for part of my studies and then work. I have a background in Clinical Psychology (MSc.) and I worked as a clinical researcher in Mental Health in London, UK. I fell in love with Canada and decided to move here for my PhD. I loved working in a clinical environment and being in contact with patients, but I realized I wanted to be in research to develop innovative interventions to help people. So, in September 2022 I started a PhD in Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen's. People in my lab are mainly basic scientists working on pre-clinical models, while I run epidemiology studies to translate their findings into the clinical population. It's great to work alongside basic scientists and be able to give each other suggestions and inspirations to make our work more applicable and translational. I lead several projects: my main project is an epidemiological study of the circadian control of chronic pain. I also coordinate other projects such as a project on circadian rhythmicity in biopsychosocial outcomes of Multiple Sclerosis and a project on circadian control of pain sensitivity in healthy individuals. I'm not a morning person but I would wake up at 5 am for my hot yoga class and nothing else!

Ms. Doriana Taccardi

Ms. Fiona Tea

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Biomarkers

Institution: Centre de Recherche du CHUM

Email: fiona.tea@unmontreal.ca

Twitter: @ FionaTea_

My name is Fiona Tea and I am a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr Alexandre Prat. My research investigates immune biomarkers in multiple sclerosis, as part of the CanProCo study. I am happiest when eating or travelling!

Ms. Fiona Tea

Ms. Karine Thai

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer
Research Area: Neuroscience

Institution: Centre de Recherche du CHUM

Email: Karine.thai@umontreal.ca

Twitter: @KarineThai_

I am a second-year PhD student in the laboratory of Dr Alexandre Prat at the CRCHUM. I have lived in Montreal for most of my life until I started my undergraduate studies, when I moved to Sherbrooke. There, I completed my undergraduate studies in the co-op program of pharmacology at Université de Sherbrooke. During that time, I did four research internships throughout my program and had the opportunity to live in Dijon, France and San Francisco, US for a few months. I then returned to Montreal in 2020 to start a Master’s in Dr Prat’s lab, and I fast-tracked to PhD in 2021. My research project aims to identify peripheral immune cell signatures that can predict MS trajectory. I am working with high-parameter flow cytometry and biobanked MS samples with longitudinal clinical follow up. Outside the lab, I love sports and outdoor activities. I often go to the gym, go on road bike rides or go for runs. But besides that, my ultimate hobby is to train my two cats to learn new tricks.

Ms. Karine Thai

Ms. Risavarshni Thevakumaran

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Neuroimaging, with focus on MRI

Institution: McConnell Brain Imaging Centre, McGill University

Email: Risa.thevakumaran@mail.mcgill.ca

I am a PhD candidate in the Quantitative Microstructure Imaging Lab at McConnell Brain Imaging Centre of the Montreal Neurological Institute (McGill University). My research area is neuroimaging applied to the study of Multiple Sclerosis, with a focus on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). During my master’s degree, I developed an MRI pulse sequence for imaging the human brain with a contrast specific to myelin phospholipids at ultra-high field (7 Tesla). Using this sequence, I am presently studying demyelination and other pathological mechanisms in the WM and cortical GM of ex-vivo human brain tissue from donors with MS. Simultaneously, I am developing this sequence for in-vivo imaging of the human cortex at high resolution at 7 Tesla, with the eventual aim of better visualizing and studying subpial lesions in persons with MS. I am also conducting research on cortical subpial demyelination in a preclinical imaging study involving healthy participants and participants with MS. In this imaging study, we use multi-contrast MRI at 7 Tesla to measure demyelination and leptomeningeal inflammation, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to measure microglial activation in the human cortex. My purpose is to study the spatial association between leptomeningeal inflammation, microglial activation and subpial demyelination in MS, to better understand the mechanism(s) linking inflammatory infiltrates in the meninges to cortical inflammation and subpial lesion formation in severe cases of secondary progressive MS. In my pastime, I enjoy sculpting, portraiture drawing and acrylic painting.

Ms. Risavarshni Thevakumaran

Ms. Cassandra Thompson

Research Area: Neuroimmunology

Institution: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Email: cethompson@mun.ca

I am currently a Ph.D. Student at Memorial University of Newfoundland studying neuroimmunology with Dr. Craig Moore. During my neuroscience undergraduate degree, I conducted research on the effects of curcumin on glioblastoma-related inflammation and fell in love with studying CNS inflammation. My current thesis aims to understand the role of inflammasome activation in oligodendrocyte differentiation from neural stem cells and mediation via MS-relevant microRNAs. This has exciting applications for MS, as it relates to limiting disease progression and encouraging remission, as well as the potential for accessible biomarkers. Most of my current research involves cell culturing, microscopy, measuring cytokines/chemokines, and micro-RT qPCR. I love hiking around Newfoundland to hunt for icebergs, whales, and puffins, as well as painting, cooking new recipes, and watching old Star Trek reruns!

Ms. Cassandra Thompson

Mr. Gerald Trojillo

Research Area: Genomics

Institution: University of Manitoba

Email: trojillg@myumanitoba.ca

I am a MSc (Genetics) student at the University of Manitoba in Dr. Kaarina Kowalec’s lab. I started my MSc program in September 2022. My main research interests are in genomics and genetic epidemiology. I am doing a validation study on the association between cognitive ability and educational attainment within people with MS, investigating the connection using polygenic risk scores and regression analyses. In January, I received the University of Manitoba Graduate Studentship. This year, I did a poster presentation with preliminary results of my research at ACTRIMS Forum 2023 in San Diego! In my free time, I enjoy playing basketball, playing chess, and learning Japanese!

Mr. Gerald Trojillo

Mr. Darrin Wijeyaratnam

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Sensorimotor Neuroscience

Institution: University of Ottawa

Email: dwije080@uottawa.ca

Twitter: @darrinwijey

I am a PhD candidate in sensorimotor neuroscience at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Dr. Erin Cressman. Generally, my scientific career will revolve around the factors that influence upper limb movement planning, control and adaptation across various sensorimotor environments. I have been previously funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada via an endMS Doctoral Studentship with the goal to assess sensory, motor, and cognitive function in people with multiple sclerosis when performing upper limb goal directed movements. Our initial project has since grown in scope thanks to the funding from the University of Ottawa’s research initiative fund as well as the Trainee Research in Multiple Sclerosis Award from the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute. We are currently setting up two follow up experiments to assess cognitive-motor processes when reaching in a novel and challenging visuomotor environment. This work is in collaboration with Dr. Lara Pilutti’s clinical exercise physiology lab, since 2018. Overall, our work will add to our current understanding of how the central nervous system functions, but to enable use to make a direct impact on the quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis. Twitter: @darrinwijey LinkedIn: darrin-wijeyaratnam

Mr. Darrin Wijeyaratnam

Mr. Kaihim Wong

2023-2024 endMS SPRINTer
Recipient of the Raifta Shwedyk Bursary Fund for the 2023 endMS Summer School

Research Area: Neuroimaging

Institution: University of Manitoba

Email: wongk9@myumanitoba.ca

This is the second year of my Ph.D. Program in medical physics at the University of Manitoba. My research primarily focuses on analyzing a multiple sclerosis (MS) dataset with a variety of quantitative MRI (qMRI) techniques (e.g., diffusion imaging, myelin water imaging, quantitative susceptibility mapping, etc.). The project started off by looking at the correlation between different qMRI signals in the MS brain followed by exploiting the potential usage of these methods using perilesional tissue in terms of disease progress prediction to streamline and improve future brain MRI studies of multiple sclerosis. I play piano and guitar in my own time (but my cat hates it).

Mr. Kaihim Wong

Mr. Tom Worthington

Research Area: Virology and Immunology

Institution: University of British Columbia

Email: tworth01@student.ubc.ca

I am a PhD student in the Horwitz Lab at UBC, where we study how viruses manipulate the immune response to promote autoimmunity. Specifically, I'm interested in the role gamma Herpesviruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus, play in the development of multiple sclerosis. My PhD project aims to use immunotherapies to target virally infected cells and determine if this impacts the progression of MS-like disease in mice. My hobbies include hanging out with friends, swimming, and hiking!

Mr. Tom Worthington

Ms. Emily Wuerch

2022-2023 endMS SPRINTer

Research Area: Neuroimmunology

Institution: University of Calgary

Email: emily.wuerch@ucalgary.ca

After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour from McMaster University, I began my training at the University of Calgary as an MD/PhD student in the lab of Dr. Wee Yong. My research interests lie in understanding the complex interactions that take place between the nervous and immune systems, and how these interactions go awry in MS. My project focuses on combining immune-modifying therapies with exercise, in order to further increase remyelination in the EAE model of MS. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking in the mountains, reading autobiographies, and exploring Calgary on my bike.

Ms. Emily Wuerch

Ms. Jenn Zagrodnik

Research Area: Neuroscience

Institution: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Email: jlzagrodnik@mun.ca

I am a second year PhD student. I am currently investigating potential application of extracellular vesicles (EVs) as functionally relevant biomarkers for MS. Specifically, I am analyzing longitudinal changes in immune cell-derived EVs in individuals with RRMS, and the functional effects of EVs in the context of neuroinflammation and MS. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, crocheting and kickboxing.

Ms. Jenn Zagrodnik
Powered by Fourwaves