Nishali Patel, Co-President

Born and raised in ‘the peg’ (Winnipeg), Nishali is currently enrolled in her 3rd year of an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences with a minor in Psychology in pursuit of a career in health care. Her interests include running, cooking, painting, and travelling the globe. Nishali’s out-of-school experiences include working in a student position at the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as taking on a position as a research volunteer at The Hospital for Sick Children and The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Throughout her education, she states that her most notable experience has been starting the CARRM@uOttawa chapter with her exec teamimg and being able to work with the co-founders to achieve CARRM’s goals in the Ottawa region.

Jennifer Perley, Co-President

Jennifer is currently an undergraduate student at University of Ottawa entering her 3rd year of an Honors Bachelors in Health Sciences. She is a heavily involved with all aspects of student life on campus—she was a grade representative for the Health Sciences Student Association, frosh week team guide, and volunteer for various clubs across campus. Jennifer is originally from Ottawa, and loves to call the capital of Canada her hometown. Currently, she works at DND in the Canadian Forces Health Services Department. Jennifer’s post-graduation plans lie in graduate studies within Canada in the healthcare field!

Melissa Lavigne, Secretary

Melissa is originally from the city of Toronto and is currently enrolled in her 4th year of undergraduate studies at University of Ottawa, taking an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences. Melissa has demonstrated initiative and the ability to work effectively under pressure, qualities which she believes have allowed her to be successful inside and outside school. Furthermore, she has been able to work independently in many diverse environments, which have strengthened her communication and organizational skills. Her experiences include currently working with Bruyere at St-Vincent’s Hospital as a meal helper and as a student research officer for Health Canada. Additionally, Melissa’s Canadian identity is strengthened by the fact that she is proficient in both French and English. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Melissa has been a member of numerous clubs including her position as Secretary of CARRM@uOttawa and Co-Chair of Communication and Translation of CSEB (Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics). Her hobbies include playing sports, keeping physically active and listening to music!

Hadi Djokhdem, Events coordinator

Hadi Djokhdem is currently a 3rd year Health Sciences student at University of Ottawa and is hoping to pursue a career in medicine. Apart from exploring his interest in regenerative medicine through his position as Events Coordinator at CARRM@uOttawa, he enjoys stay active at the gym and on the soccer pitch as often as possible. Hadi likes to stay up to date with new research related to regenerative medicine and is excited to help foster change in the healthcare field.

Amol Gill

Amol Gill is a 3rd year undergraduate student in the Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences program at University of Ottawa. Apart from dedicating much of his time and efforts to school and fostering awareness about regenerative medicine, Amol is passionate about sports and is a dedicated fan of the Spanish soccer club. Amol finds gratification in educating the general public about regenerative medicine and views the process of enacting change as a community-wide collaboration. Specifically, he emphasizes the importance of disseminating knowledge pertaining to the field, in addition to funding local research facilities in order to develop effective treatment options for patients suffering from debilitating diseases. Inspired by researchers who are working on repairing damaged heart tissue with stem cells, Amol aspires to one day use the power of regenerative medicine in a future career as a cardiologist.

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Learn more about the Sprott Centre

Dr. Worton, current CEO and Scientific Director of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), trained in laboratories in Toronto where stem cells were first discovered, and in 1986 he led the team that discovered the gene responsible for Duchenne Muscular Distrophy. He said “I knew from my research that stem cells had the best hope for replacing and regenerating tissues lost due to genetic muscle disorders, and it quickly became clear that stem cells had the potential to treat and even cure many other diseases as well.” This was the idea and vision that lead to the inception of the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research.

With unprecedented donations from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, federal and provincial agencies, and the local Ottawa community, the Sprott Centre was opened as a part of the OHRI in 2000. Currently, it houses over 120 researchers and staff and contains state-of-the-art equipment to visualize stem cells and unlock their molecular secrets. The Sprott Centre acts as a hub for a large interdisciplinary group of researchers, including molecular biologists, physicians, and transplant specialists affiliated with the OHRI, the University of Ottawa, and The Ottawa Hospital.

Here are a few examples of the centre’s most recent discoveries:

1. Dr. Duncan Stewart’s discovery of MiR-26a in patients suffering from pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). PAH is rare and deadly disease that affects young women. With his team, Dr. Stewart discovered a molecule called MiR-26a, a type of microRNA that derives from DNA, but does not code for any of the body’s proteins. After studying hundreds of microRNAs, Dr. Stewart discovered that only this molecule was found in abnormal levels in the blood of both patients and rats with PAH. His discovery has the potential to lead to new methods of diagnosis, monitoring, and possibly treating PAH.

2. Dr. Michael Rudnicki’s group has found a novel approach to enhancing the efficiency of stem cell therapy for skeletal muscle diseases. They have shown that a short treatment of muscle stem cells with a protein called Wnt7a is sufficient to significantly enhance their transplantation in dystrophic muscle, improving both muscle regeneration and function. This discovery provides a unique biotherapeutic approach to improve the outcome of cell therapy for muscle-wasting conditions and diseases.

3. Dr. Rashmi Korthary is currently developing a targeted gene therapy in order to potentially find an effective treatment for patients with spinal muscular atrophy, the most common genetic disease leading to infant death. It is caused by mutations in a single gene, SMN1, which affects neurons and skeletal muscle leading to paralysis. Dr. Kothary and his team have been awarded over $250,000 dollars from the Muscular Dystrophy Association to develop a targeted gene therapy to fix the pathways disrupted by this disease.

All research conducted through the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research is organized around three central goals: investigating the fundamental mechanisms regulating the function of stem cells, undertake rigorous preclinical studies find the best approach for therapy, and design and conduct early phase clinical trials to evaluate innovative biotherapeutics. The researchers at the Sprott Centre are making crucial scientific discoveries about the fundamental mechanisms. With annual contributions from CARRM@uOttawa, The Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research strives to change the interface of healthcare with their discoveries regarding regenerative medicine.

CARRM Ottawa Gallery