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Dr. Amish Jain Early Identification of Preterm Neonates with Evolving Chronic Pulmonary Hypertension: Utility of Functional Echocardiographic Markers

Dr. Amish Jain completed his PhD in Cardiovascular Physiology from the University of Toronto and through that, established comprehensive ultrasound methods for assessment of heart function and pulmonary hemodynamics for newborn babies. This functional echocardiography protocol has already become a standard of practice in regional neonatal intensive care units and is being adopted in several units across Canada. Dr. Jain works as a staff neonatologist and clinician scientist at the Sinai Health System and is an Assistant Professor in Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. Dr. Jain’s current research is focused on right ventricular function and pulmonary hypertension in neonates. In an effort to improve clinical care for extreme prematurely born newborn babies who subsequently develop and suffer from significant pulmonary hypertension, Dr. Jain aims to use the funds provided by the New Investigator Award, to conduct a large prospective cohort study and use ultrasound methods to establish new robust and sensitive criteria to allow early diagnosis of this condition. This will facilitate earlier institution of preventative and curative management strategies.
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Dr. Ashley Harris Neurobiology of Prepubertal Migraine and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation as a Therapy

Dr. Ashley Harris obtained her PhD from the University of Calgary in Biomedical Engineering and then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Cardiff University prior to moving to the Johns Hopkins University. She has since returned to the University of Calgary as an Assistant Professor in Radiology. Dr. Harris develops and applies magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and in particular magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to understand the brain. With this New Investigator Award, Dr. Harris will apply MRS in to study paediatric migraine to understand the underlying metabolic differences in children with migraine, compared to controls. In particular, she is interested in studying younger populations (pre-pubertal) as puberty is a transition time for migraine and chronic pain. She then aims to apply this knowledge to evaluate a novel therapy.

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Dr. Augusto Zani Stem Cell Derived Therapy for Pulmonary Hypoplasia: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia

Dr. Augusto Zani, a Neonatal and Paediatric Surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, earned his MD and completed his paediatric surgical training at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. He earned his PhD from University College London, UK, investigating stem cell research in necrotizing enterocolitis. He then moved to Toronto to work at SickKids as a neonatal surgical fellow and, in 2016, he was appointed as a Staff Surgeon in the Division of General and Thoracic Surgery at SickKids, Assistant Professor at the Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, and Scientist-Track Investigator in the Development and Stem Cell Biology Program at the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, SickKids. Dr. Zani’s research focuses on fetal lung regeneration using stem cell therapy for pulmonary hypoplasia secondary to congenital diaphragmatic hernia. His group has shown that extracellular vesicles, called exosomes, are able to promote lung maturation and growth in multiple models of pulmonary hypoplasia. Using funds awarded by the New Investigators Program, Dr. Zani and his team will investigate the genetic cargo (microRNAs) that is contained in the exosomes and responsible for their beneficial effect on lung growth.
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Dr. Chinthaka Heyn Brain Energy Metabolism and Heat Production in Adolescents with Bipolar Disorder

Dr. Chinthaka Heyn is a graduate of the University of Toronto MD/PhD Program and subsequently completed post-graduate medical training in Diagnostic Radiology and Diagnostic Neuroradiology from the University of Toronto. He is presently Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Imaging, University of Toronto and Staff Neuroradiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.  His current research interests are in development of new techniques for measuring brain metabolism and applying these techniques to the study of neurological and psychiatric disorders.  He will be using the New Investigators Award to evaluate brain metabolism in adolescents with bipolar disorder in order to understand the biological underpinnings of this disease.  This could ultimately lead to novel therapies directed at the underlying cause of this mental illness rather than ameliorating symptoms alone.

Photo credit: Sunnybrook Research Institute/Alisa Kim

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Dr. Jeremy Hirota The Merging of Precision Medicine and Microfluidics for Advances in Cystic Fibrosis Management

Dr. Jeremy Hirota received his PhD in Physiology and Pharmacology from McMaster University at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health, where he studied mechanisms of airway remodeling in mouse models of allergen exposure. Dr. Hirota then pursued postdoctoral studies at the University of British Columbia at the James Hogg Research Centre where he studied airway epithelial cell biology and innate immunity. While at UBC, Dr. Hirota transitioned to a CIHR Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, where he combined his in vivo and in vitro training to address how air pollution can impact chronic respiratory diseases. In January 2015, Dr. Hirota joined faculty at UBC in the Department of Medicine in the Division of Respiratory Medicine. In November 2016, Dr. Hirota returned to McMaster University where he is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Respirology, within the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health and a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Respiratory Mucosal Immunology. Dr. Hirota will use the SickKids New Investigator program funds to develop and validate technology that will grow an individual’s own cells on a palm-sized chip followed by assessing how those cells respond to the available drugs for treating cystic fibrosis. 
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Dr. Sarka Lisonkova Risk of Fetal Death and Optimal Timing of Delivery Among Overweight and Obese Women

Dr. Sarka Lisonkova is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of British Columbia, and the Children's and Women's Hospital of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Her medical training was in the Czech Republic and she obtained her MSc in Epidemiology from the State University of New York, USA, and PhD in Epidemiology and PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UBC. Dr. Lisonkova is a perinatal epidemiologist working in the area of maternal, fetal, and neonatal health and health services research. She holds a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award for her research in maternal and perinatal health. With the New Investigator Award she aims to examine gestational age-specific rates of adverse birth outcomes among overweight and obese women and to determine optimal timing and mode of delivery among these women. 
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Dr. Serge McGraw Impact of Early Embryonic Alcohol Exposure on DNA Methylation Programming in the Etiology of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Dr. Serge McGraw completed his PhD in Reproductive Biology at Université Laval and subsequently furthered his studies in Developmental Epigenetics at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Dr. McGraw is now a Research Scientist at the Centre de Recherche du CHU Sainte-Justine and Assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Université de Montréal. His laboratory aims at understanding how, during embryo development, perturbations in the embryo epigenetic program via harmful environmental insults alter specific brain-related programs and lead to adverse outcomes in children. Dr. McGraw will use funds provided through the New Investigator Program to determine how alcohol-induced epigenetic dysregulation during early embryo development impacts epigenetic programs guiding future neuronal differentiation and brain development associated with Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).