Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health Trainee Endowment Awards! These awards recognize excellence in academics and research activities of our trainees. Special thanks to our donors and the Graduate Program in Neuroscience for their generous support.
Jock & Irene Graham Brain Research Endowment:
Mehwish Anwer, Postdoctoral Fellow
Under the supervision of Dr. Cheryl Wellington, Mehwish investigates the processes that occur in the brain after traumatic injury and how these changes increase the risk for dementia and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Benjamin Feldman and Family Endowment Fund for Transformational Activity in Mental Health:
Karling Luciani, MSc student
Under the supervision of Dr. Christian Schütz, Karling’s research investigates the targeting of the right ventrolateral prefrontal gyrus in the brain during transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to better understand bipolar disorder and develop new treatment options.
Neural Repair (Spinal Cord) Endowment:
Aysha Allard Brown, PhD student
Under the supervision of Dr. Brian Kwon, Aysha’s research examines the combined effect of two clinical therapies on the extent of intraparenchymal hemorrhage after spinal cord injury. This could have significant implications on how treatment can be modified to mitigate hemorrhage risk.
Hong Lu, PhD student
Under the supervision of Dr. Ann Marie Craig, Hong is studying one of the strongest single-gene mutations for schizophrenia and how a rescue of a functional deficit observed in neurons carrying this mutation could have implications for treatment.
DMCBH General Award:
Lucy Aceves-Serrano, PhD student
Under the supervision of Dr. Doris Doudet, Lucy’s research analyzes the effects of chronic repeated TMS treatment on functional, metabolic and structural markers in the brain. The results will aid in understanding the mechanisms associated with rTMS and its use for various neurological disorders.
Nicole Bailey, MSc student
Under the supervision of Dr. John Kramer, Nicole’s research examines the role of stress on chronic pain development. Understanding the relationship between stress and pain is a critical first step in developing new interventions and treatments to manage chronic pain.
Rocio Hollman, PhD student
Under the supervision of Dr. Shernaz Bamji, Rocio’s research examines the role of the enzyme Zdhhc9 in brain development to further understand how a lack of Zdhhc9 contributes to the pathology in patients with X-Linked Intellectual Disability.
Philipp Kreyenmeier, PhD student
Under the supervision of Dr. Miriam Spering, Philipp uses eye movements as a model system to investigate ultra-fast sensorimotor processes and how they are linked to sensory processing, voluntary eye movement control, and visual perception.
Leah Kuzmuk, MSc student
Under the supervision of Dr. Miriam Spering, Leah uses non-invasive eye movement measurements to investigate how Parkinson’s disease patients process reward information when making decisions, and how well they can inhibit unwanted actions.
Joyce Lam, PhD student
Under the supervision of Dr. Silke Appel-Cresswell, Joyce’s research examines whether a multi-strain probiotic improves anxiety as well as depression, fatigue, cognition, motor symptoms, and quality of life in Parkinson’s disease patients.
Amanda Namchuk, MSc student
Under the supervision of Dr. Liisa Galea, Amanda’s research investigates sex differences in the role of neuroinflammation in chronic unpredictable stress-induced negative cognitive bias. The results will provide sex-specific insights that will aid in the development of new therapeutics for major depressive disorder.
Sophia Russo, MSc student
Under the supervision of Dr. David Fedida, Sophia’s research examines the significance of the function of the KCNQ1 ion channel, as loss-of-function mutations to this channel can cause disorders such as long QT-interval syndrome and epilepsy.
Olivia Sullivan, MSc student
Under the supervision of Dr. Annie Ciernia, Olivia is studying the effect of early-life gut inflammation on mental health and neurodevelopment to see if it influences anxiety and depressive-like behaviours in adulthood. Identifying specific microbes or microbiota-generated signalling molecules that are altered could be a potential avenue for individualized treatment.
Tanisse Teale, MSc student
Under the supervision of Dr. Christian Schütz, Tanisse’s research looks at when individuals with concurrent disorders (CD or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders) are at highest risk for relapse and overdose. A greater understanding of CD is needed in order to provide sufficient treatment and therapeutic strategies.
Dongsheng Xiao, Postdoctoral Fellow
Under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Murphy, Dongsheng is developing a transformer-based AI framework to learn high-capacity models that significantly improve the generalization and precision of motion synthesis from cortex-wide spatiotemporal dynamics with wide-field calcium imaging. This will lay the groundwork for a self-supervised learning-based brain-computer interface and lead to uncovering mechanisms underlying the generation of motor commands.
Brittany Zhang, PhD student
Under the supervision of Dr. Jason Snyder, Brittany is studying the neurobiology of electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation used to treat various psychiatric disorders, in order to better target treatment for symptom relief and alleviate side effects.