Team Members

Cardiac Precision Medicine Program

Scientific lead: Dr. Seema Mital

Tanya Daljevic

Program manager for the Precision Medicine initiative, Tanya Daljevic is involved in managing the many activities of the program – including the Heart Centre Biobank Registry, which fuels many of the research activities of the program.

James Ellis

At SickKids, James Ellis is senior scientist in developmental and stem cell biology as well as research integrity advisor. Also a professor in U of T’s department of molecular genetics, he focuses his research on reprogramming induced pluripotent stem cell for use in regenerative medicine to model human disease and test potential therapies for individualized medicine. To that end, the mission of the Ellis lab is to discover basic mechanisms that control gene expression and epigenetic reprogramming.

Robin Hayeems

Robin Hayeems is a scientist-track investigator in Child Health Evaluative Sciences at SickKids, and assistant professor at U of T’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at U of T. She is trained in genetic counselling, public health and bioethics, health policy research, and health services research. Using applied health services and policy research methods, Robin’s work focuses on the delivery, evaluation, and governance of genomic and other screening/diagnostic tools in the prenatal, newborn, and early childhood periods.  For more, visit SickKids.

Caroline Kinnear

Caroline Kinnear is lab research project coordinator for the Precision Medicine program at SickKids, and Mital lab  research project manager working on disease modeling using induced pluripotent stem cells. Caroline, and her collaborators and lab members, generated smooth muscle cells that can be used to identify drugs that may rescue the abnormalities seen in vitro (see study here). This approach may help the search for new therapies for children with vascular disorders.

Michael Moran

A SickKids senior scientist in cell biology, Michael Moran is director of the SPARC BioCentre and U of T professor in the department of molecular genetics and the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research. He is Canada Research Chair in molecular signatures, as well as affiliate scientist at Princess Margaret Hospital. His group uses proteomics technologies, including mass spectrometry and bioinformatics, to identify and characterize proteins activated in cancers, and to determine drug mechanisms of action. For more, visit SickKids.

Ian Scott

Ian Scott is SickKids senior scientist in developmental and stem cell biology, and associate professor at U of T’s department of molecular genetics. His team focuses on using the genetic and imaging tools available in the zebrafish embryo to study the earliest molecular and cellular events associated with heart development. As the genetic pathways that regulate heart formation are highly conserved across animal species, they are able to use the zebrafish embryo to model human congenital heart defects and heart failure. A major interest is exploring how the regenerative capacity of the zebrafish heart can be exploited to repair the damaged human heart. Ultimately, they hope to use these models to interrogate novel therapeutic approaches. For more, visit SickKids.

Wendy Ungar

Wendy Ungar is a senior scientist in Child Health Evaluative Sciences at SickKids, professor in the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at U of T, and adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Wendy’s team investigates the application of health economic methods to the pediatric population to understand how to value emerging technologies to patients, to the health-care system and to society. In 2007, Ungar started Technology Assessment at Sick Kids (TASK), a specialized unit that focuses on health technology assessment of pediatric health interventions. Ungar and her team also manage the PEDE database, a repository of published pediatric economic evaluations used in evidence synthesis.  For more, visit SickKids.

Dr. Glen Van Arsdell

Dr. Van Arsdell is head of cardiovascular surgery and chair of cardiovascular research at SickKids, as well as U of T professor of surgery. His clinical practice focuses on neonatal repairs, palliation, complex cases, and adult congenital surgery. His academic and research focus is on defining the detailed physiology of infants and neonates following single ventricle surgery. Dr. Van Arsdell is a Royal College of Surgeons Canada fellow and diplomat at both the American Board of Surgery and American Board of Thoracic Surgery. For more, visit SickKids.

Cardiac Genome Clinic

Scientific lead: Dr. Raymond Kim

Dr. Mohsen Hosseini

Physician, human geneticist and genetic epidemiologist, Dr. Mohsen Hosseini focuses on translational genetics and genomics research that can bring us closer to personalized medicine. Recent work includes discovering genetic determinants of complex traits such as microvascular diabetic complications, diabetes glycemic control, refractive errors, intraocular pressure, and serum lipid levels. As genome scientist for the Centre’s Cardiac Genome Clinic, he leads the development, implementation and maintenance of genetic approaches and bioinformatics tools for the clinical analysis of genomic sequence data.

Dr. Rebekah Jobling

Dr. Rebekah Jobling is co-director of the Ted Rogers Centre Cardiac Genome Clinic. She holds a dual position medical geneticist in the Division of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics at Sickkids and a molecular geneticist in the Genome Diagnostics Molecular Laboratory at SickKids. Dr. Jobling uses this unique combination to pursue personalized genomic medicine in both the clinical and research settings. During her training and work at SickKids she has developed expertise in the analysis and interpretation of data from whole exome and genome sequencing, and the translation of these findings into the clinical setting.

Reem Khan

Reem Khan is a PMP-certified project manager with a focus on delivering projects to create maximum impact. In addition to the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, Reem also works with the Centre for Genetic Medicine in advancing the vision for precision medicine at SickKids. She is trained in economics and has previously worked in healthcare and immigration.

Eriskay Liston

A SickKids genetic counsellor, Eriskay Liston brings to the Cardiac Genome Clinic 12 years of experience in this critical area and a keen interest in helping integrate genomic medicine into clinical practice. Before joining the SickKids genome diagnostic lab in 2011, Eriskay was genetic counsellor in prenatal and cancer genetics at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is also actively involved in the masters of genetic counselling program at U of T and serves as a mentor, course coordinator and lecturer to the students.

Integrated Program for Excellence in Heart Function

Scientific lead: Dr. Heather Ross

Dr. Carolina Alba

Dr. Carolina Alba, a cardiologist from Argentina, is clinician-scientist in the heart failure and transplant program at UHN. Her research interests are related to predictors of prognosis in heart failure, using both clinical and laboratory research. Dr. Alba has developed a prognostic model for more accurate prognosis assessment in contemporary heart failure patients. She is also evaluating outcomes on patients undergoing a mechanical hear implantation or heart transplant.

Dr. Mitesh Badiwala 

Dr. Mitesh Badiwala is surgical director of the heart transplant program at UHN and cardiac surgeon at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. He is assistant professor of surgery at U of T’s faculty of medicine. Dr. Badiwala’s main areas of clinical interest are heart transplantation, mechanical circulatory assistance, mitral valve repair and minimally invasive valve surgery. His research interests center on donor organ protection strategies, and he is working on an ex-vivo heart perfusion system to resuscitate and evaluate donor hearts. Learn more in this 2015 story.

Linda Belford

Linda Belford is a Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research nurse practitioner at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, specializing in heart failure since 2008 at UHN. As of September 2015, she also practices half time in the cardio-oncology program. Linda is a regular presenter and expert member of such forums as the Cardiac Care Network of Ontario Heart Failure Working Group and the Health Quality Ontario Best Practice Guidelines. She is an advocate for heart failure patient care and for advancing the nurse practitioner practice overall.

Dr. Sacha Bhatia

Dr. Sacha Bhatia is director of the Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care at Women’s College Hospital – an innovation laboratory that develops and tests new ideas, programs and policy approaches for ambulatory care. Cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital and UHN, Dr. Bhatia is assistant professor of medicine at U of T and the Institute for Health Policy Management and Evaluation, as well as adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. He chairs the UHN department of medicine quality committee and the heart failure quality committee for the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. He has deep expertise in health policy and quality of care. For more, visit U of T.

Dr. Phyllis Billia 

At UHN, Dr. Phyllis Billia is director of research at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, medical director of the Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, and co-director of the Cardiovascular Biobank. A Toronto General Research Institute scientist, Dr. Billia leads a team that studies the molecular mechanisms involved in heart failure, toward a mission of improving the prognosis and quality of life for patients. For more, visit UHN.

Joseph Cafazzo 

Joseph Cafazzo is lead for the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, a state-of-the-art research facility devoted to the evaluation and design of healthcare technology. A biomedical engineer, he observes health care delivery within hospitals and creates self-care technologies that are well-designed and effective, to help keep patients at home. Such technologies are key to improving the patient experience. Joseph is associate professor at U of T in the areas of clinical engineering, human factors, and health informatics. He has received the career scientist award by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Dr. Robert James Cusimano

Dr. Robert James Cusimano is widely considered one of Canada’s most skilled cardiac surgeons, operating at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and a member of its transplant team. He is also associate staff cardiovascular surgeon at SickKids, assistant professor of surgery at U of T, and a member of the Adult Congenital Network in Toronto. Additionally, a pacemaker implanter and lead extraction expert, Dr. Cusimano’s major research interest is the development of minimally invasive techniques of cardiac surgery, as well as methods to increase collateral blood vessel formation in ischemic myocardium. For more, see these National Post, Toronto Star and CBC Radio stories.

Dr. Diego Delgado

At UHN, Dr. Diego Delgado is heart failure and transplant cardiologist and Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Failure lead on clinical trials. Associate professor of cardiology at U of T’s faculty of medicine, he is the author of publications in the area of transplantation and mechanical assist devices. Dr. Delgado’s interests are immunologic aspects of advanced heart failure and transplantation, myocardial recovery post mechanical assist devices and decision analysis in cardiac transplantation. He is president of the Interamerican Society of Cardiology. Follow him on Twitter.

Dr. Mike Farkouh

Dr. Michael Farkouh is the Peter Munk Chair in Multinational Clinical Trials at UHN. He was recently appointed as vice-chair, research in the department of medicine and directs the Heart and Stroke Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research, both at the U of T. Dr. Farkouh leads numerous international cardiovascular clinical trials including the FREEDOM and TAILOR trials and in 2015 was recognized by the International Academy of Cardiology for achievements in cardiovascular disease prevention. For more, visit UHN.

Dr. Jeremy Kobulnik

Dr. Jeremy Kobulnik is advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist at UHN and Mount Sinai Health System. He is also assistant professor of cardiology at U of T’s faculty of medicine. A clinician teacher, he currently attends in the heart failure clinic and echocardiography laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospital and on the advanced heart failure and cardiac transplant service at UHN and Mount Sinai. His academic interests are in heart failure education, bioethics education, and ethical approaches to resource allocation.

Dr. Douglas Lee

In July 2016, Dr. Douglas Lee accepted the position as Ted Rogers Chair in Heart Function Outcomes. He is cardiovascular program lead at the Toronto General Research Institute, staff cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, and senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Dr. Lee’s research interests include heart failure epidemiology and outcomes, implantable cardioverter defibrillator utilization, and cardiovascular disease prevention and care. In 2014, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society recognized him for research carrying the greatest potential impact. For more, visit UHN.

Meredith Linghorne

Meredith Linghorne is a Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research nurse practitioner who helps ensure the Integrated Program for Excellence in Heart Function achieves high-quality patient care. She currently divides her time between inpatient and outpatient settings. Meredith’s non-clinical priorities include quality improvement, the rollout of the Medly remote heart failure patient monitor, the application of CardioMems technology, and developing a standardized heart failure admission order set for UHN.

Dr. Adriana Luk

Dr. Adriana Luk is an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist, as well as a cardiac intensivist at UHN.  She completed her cardiology and critical care training at U of T, and her heart failure fellowship at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her academic interests include quality improvement and patient safety for the critically ill patients admitted with heart failure.

Dr. Michael McDonald 

Dr. Michael McDonald is a cardiologist at UHN, and a member of the cardiovascular investigations unit and heart function, heart transplant, and ventricular assist device clinics. His clinical focus is the management of patients with advanced heart failure, implantable devices and  cardiac transplantation. Dr. McDonald’s areas of academic interest include clinical guideline development and knowledge translation, multilevel medical education, and quality improvement in heart failure. For more, visit UHN.

Jane MacIver

Jane MacIver is a Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research nursing professor in cardiovascular research, with specialty training in bioethics, cardiovascular sciences and regenerative medicine. Her research focus is on understanding heart failure patient preferences for end-of-life care using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Cedric Manlhiot

As director of the Cardiovascular Data Management Centre (CVDMC), Cedric Manlhiot oversees scientific activities and operations. CVDMC is dedicated to extracting new knowledge from clinical and scientific activities through enlightened data integration. CVDMC harnesses advanced technical solutions and a highly skilled team to realize these objectives. The team is presently in development of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research Computational Biomedicine Program, a brand new, secure and high performance data integration platform for secondary use of clinical data. For more information about the team and this initiative, visit CVDMC.

Dr. Juan Duero Posada

Dr. Juan Duero Posada is as a cardiologist in UHN’s heart failure and transplantation program. He completed his residency and fellowship training (advanced heart failure and transplantation) at U of T. During his training, Dr. Duero Posada was chief cardiology resident (Sunnybrook) and then chief fellow both for the heart failure/transplant and multi-organ transplant fellowship programs. He has a strong interest in the area of quality improvement (QI) — among several initiatives, he is leading a project to improve the screening rates and management of iron deficiency among ambulatory patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. His long-term plan is to optimize the use of information technology for daily care and to facilitate ongoing QI initiatives.

Dr. Vivek Rao

Dr. Vivek Rao is Munk Chair in Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics, head of cardiovascular surgery and director of mechanical circulatory assistance at UHN. He is also professor of surgery at U of T’s faculty of medicine (becoming the youngest faculty member ever in this division), as well as senior scientist at the Toronto General Research Institute. Rao spearheaded Canada’s largest advanced heart failure program at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. His areas of research interest are in myocardial preservation for heart transplantation; ventricular recovery during mechanical circulatory support; influence of aortic valve size on survival following AVR; cell transplantation for end-stage heart disease; and molecular mechanisms underlying transplant coronary artery disease. For more, visit UHN.

Emily Seto

Emily Seto is assistant professor and lead for the health informatics programs at U of T’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. She is a research scientist at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, UHN, and the TECHNA Institute (UHN/U of T). Her research interests include the development, evaluation, and sustained implementation of mobile healthcare technology to facilitate patient self-care and clinical decision support for chronic disease management.

Dr. Danna Spears

A cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr. Danna Spears is clinical director of UHN’s heritable arrhythmia program. There, patients with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, Brugada syndrome, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, idiopathic ventricular fibrillation, and long QT syndrome are evaluated and managed. Dr. Spears is also cardiologist in U of T’s pregnancy and heart disease program where she manages arrhythmia disorders in expecting mothers.

Dr. Dinesh Thavendiranathan 

Dr. Dinesh Thavendiranathan leads the Ted Rogers Program in Cardiotoxicity Prevention at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. He is clinical researcher at the Toronto General Research Institute and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. Thavendiranathan received his cardiology training at the University of Toronto and subsequently advanced cardiac imaging training at both the Ohio State University Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic. For more, visit UHN.

Nadia Thomson

Nadia Thomson is a nurse practitioner in the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. In addition to her clinical work, she has an interest in advancing educational resources for patients living with heart failure. Nadia is an adjunct faculty member at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg faculty of nursing at U of T. She is a course instructor in the nurse practitioner program and teaches pathophysiology and pharmacotherapeutics.

Dr. Terry Yau

At the Toronto General Hospital, Dr. Terry Yau is director of research in the division of cardiovascular surgery. He is the Angelo and Lorenza DeGasperis Chair in Cardiovascular Surgery Research, director of the cardiac stem cell therapy program, professor of surgery at U of T’s faculty of medicine and cardiac surgeon at UHN’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. Affiliate scientist at Toronto General Research Institute, his research focuses on a range of topics including heart failure, cardiac and cell transplant, angiogenesis, and gene therapy. For more, visit UHN.

Translational Biology and Engineering Program

Scientific lead: Craig Simmons

Michelle Bendeck

Michelle Bendeck is professor and director of research in the U of T’s department of laboratory medicine and pathiobiology. Principal investigator for Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, she runs a vascular biology lab that investigates molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Best known for pioneering work in vascular matrix biology, Michelle is a Heart and Stroke Foundation Career Investigator and past president of the Canadian Society of Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. For more, visit U of T.

Steffen-Sebastian Bolz

Steffen-Sebastian Bolz is associate director of the Heart and Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research and professor at the U of T’s department of physiology. A principal investigator for the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, he focuses research on uncovering molecular mechanisms that regulate resistance artery function in health and disease. His lab has developed novel concepts that advance our molecular and functional understanding of microvascular dysfunction in heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and hearing loss. The team has also developed a portfolio of innovative methodological and technological approaches including a new microfluidic platform (“artery on a chip”) that significantly improves the analysis of microvascular function – now in development for a clinical tool to individualize microvascular medicine. Steffen-Sebastian currently heads an international initiative to pilot new models in microvascular research and education. For more, visit U of T.

Hai-Ling Margaret Cheng

Hai-Ling Margaret Cheng is assistant professor in both U of T’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical & computer engineering. Additionally, she is a member of the Leslie Dan faculty of pharmacy and an adjunct scientist in physiology and experimental medicine at SickKids Research Institute. A principal investigator for Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, her research interests include non-invasive MRI for cellular, molecular and physiological imaging, new contrast agents for vascular and cellular imaging and targeting, MRI methods to measure microvascular function, monitoring vascularization and regeneration in tissue-engineered systems, and early cancer detection. (Click here for a recent story about Hai-Ling Margaret’s work advancing stem cell therapy research.)

Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez

Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez is assistant professor cross-appointed to U of T’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and department of cell and systems biology. A principal investigator at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, he is also a member of the developmental and stem cell biology program at SickKids. Rodrigo’s team investigates the physical and molecular signals that coordinate cellular behaviours during embryonic development and tissue repair using advanced fluorescence microscopy, quantitative image analysis, and genetic, biophysical and pharmacological manipulations in Drosophila. For more, visit U of T.

Anthony Gramolini

Canada Research Chair in Cardiovascular Proteomics and Molecular Therapeutics, Anthony Gramolini is professor in the University of Toronto’s department of physiology and scientist at the Toronto General Research Institute. His heart research lab investigates the cellular mechanisms involved in the regulation of calcium cycling at the level of sarcoplasmic reticulum and its role in cardiac disease. A principal investigator for Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, Anthony employs cell and molecular biology, molecular imaging, and mass spectrometry approaches to investigate these problems. For more, visit U of T.

Scott Heximer

Scott Heximer is vice-chair of research in the U of T’s department of physiology. He is also associate professor, cardiovascular and respiratory platform, and principal investigator for Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. His research area of focus currently involves the mechanisms of heterotrimeric G protein signaling, and defining the roles of G proteins and their regulators in the cardiovascular system. For more, visit U of T.

Paul Santerre

Paul Santerre is a professor in U of T’s institute of biomaterials and biomedical engineering, and a recognized international academic leader in the field of cardiovascular biomaterials, recognized with fellowships from the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.  In addition to appointments in the faculties of dentistry and engineering, Paul is director of physical science faculty at UHN’s Techna Institute and co-director of the faculty of medicine’s Health Innovation Hub, which both facilitate driving health care technologies into clinical practice. His entrepreneurial endeavors have led to over 50 patents and the founding of Interface Biologics Inc, a vascular intervention technology company which won the 2014 Manning Innovation Award. For more, visit U of T.

Soror Sharifpoor

Soror Sharifpoor is research program manager at the Translational Biology and Engineering Program. She holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto and has over 13 years of academic and industrial experience in biomaterials, biomedical engineering, and regenerative medicine research, with a focus on cardiovascular applications. Most recently, she played key roles in helping to establish operational procedures within Paul Santerre’s lab, while serving as Chief Executive Officer of Polumiros, Inc., a company that she co-founded.

Close Collaborators

Dr. Kim Connelly

Dr. Kim Connelly runs a basic research laboratory at the Keenan Research Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital where he focuses upon basic mechanisms of disease – primarily around the role of pathological extracellular matrix accumulation and the pro-sclerotic cytokine transforming growth factor beta, with a focus upon translating discoveries into therapies in humans. He is director of the Krembil Stem Cell Facility at St. Michael’s Hospital and uses stem cell-based therapies to improve cardiac and renal dysfunction as a result of diabetes. He is nationally recognized as an expert in human and rodent echocardiography, cardiovascular MRI and the impact of diabetes upon cardiac function. For more, visit the Connelly lab.

Dr. Slava Epelman

Dr. Slava Epelman is a clinician-scientist in the department of medicine, division of cardiology at the University Toronto, and a scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute (UHN). Dr. Epelman obtained his MD/PhD in immunology from the University of Calgary and then completed medical residency/clinical fellowships at the Cleveland Clinic, Baylor College of Medicine and Washington University. He is a staff cardiologist in the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the Toronto General Hospital. His scientific interests are focused on the role macrophages in cardiac tissue injury and regeneration. His lab is exploring therapies that enhance macrophage-mediated regeneration of cardiac tissue as a novel therapeutic avenue. For more, visit UHN Research.

Dr. Michael Laflamme

Dr. Michael Laflamme is McEwen Chair in Cardiac Regenerative Medicine at UHN and senior scientist at the Toronto General Research Institute. His area of study emphasizes novel therapies based on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). Dr. Laflamme helped develop protocols that guide the differentiation of hPSCs into cardiomyocytes, and was the first to demonstrate that transplanting these cells in animal models of myocardial infarction can remuscularize scar tissue with electrically-integrated new myocardium and improve contractile function. In December 2016 he was named founding investigator of BlueRock Therapeutics. For more visit UHN Research.

Milica Radisic

At the University of Toronto, Milica Radisic is professor, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry – and is Canada Research Chair in Functional Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering. Her research is in the field of cardiac tissue engineering and biomaterials, with the aim to cultivate functional heart tissue in vitro. Radisic has received many awards and fellowships this decade, including being named MIT Technology Review Top 35 Innovators Under 35. In 2015, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering inducted Radisic to its College of Fellows. For more, visit the Radisic lab.