Faculty

Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research Heart Failure Symposium December 10-11, 2021, Virtual

Planning Committee

Dr. Michael McDonald is a cardiologist at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, 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.

Soror Sharifpoor is director of strategy & translation at the Ted Rogers Centre's Translational Biology and Engineering Program where she has helped implement sustainable research plans, successful partnerships, scientific and clinical translation strategies, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and multifaceted training programs in the cardiovascular health sector. She is co-founder of Entrepreneurship for Cardiovascular Health Opportunities (ECHO). Soror has over 15 years of experience in the fields of biomaterials, biomedical engineering, and regenerative medicine, specializing in cardiovascular and soft tissue research and innovation.

Michelle Bendeck is professor and director of research in the U of T’s department of laboratory medicine and pathobiology. 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.

Hai-Ling Margaret Cheng is associate professor in U of T’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. A Ted Rogers Centre investigator, Margaret’s 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.

Sarah Dick is postdoctoral fellow in the Epelman lab at the Ted Rogers Centre. Her research focuses on the characterization of tissue resident macrophages and their role in myocardial infarction. She previously studied the molecular mechanisms that underlie skeletal muscle regeneration at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Dr. Mansoor Husain is executive director of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. Professor of medicine at U of T, Dr. Husain is attending physician in the cardiac intensive care unit and nuclear cardiology laboratories of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (UHN). His extensive research focuses on elucidating the molecular bases of cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure and diabetes, and identifying therapeutic targets involved in pathophysiology.

A frequent contributor to CBC News, Dr. Peter Lin is director of primary care initiatives at the Canadian Heart Research Centre. The Toronto family physician is associate editor of Elsevier’s PracticeUpdate Primary Care, as well as medical director of LinCorp Medical Inc. Dr. Lin was medical director at the Health & Wellness Centre at U of T Scarborough for seven years. He lectures and speaks throughout the world and maintains two busy family practices in Toronto.

Chris McIntosh is a scientist at the Techna Institute, the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, and the Joint Department of Medical Imaging at the University Health Network. He is assistant professor in the department of medical biophysics at the University of Toronto, and a faculty affiliate of the Vector Institute.

Scientific lead for the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, Dr. Seema Mital is head of cardiovascular research at SickKids. There, she is principal investigator for the Heart Centre Biobank – one of the world’s largest biorepositories for childhood-onset heart disease. She is also professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto. Dr. Mital’s research targets cardiac precision medicine including genomics, pharmacogenomics and stem cell applications to model childhood heart disease and discover new therapies.

Dr. Zainab Najarali is a resident in U of T’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. She recently completed her medical school at McMaster University and has a strong interest in cardiology.

Daniel Szulc earned a PhD in biomedical engineering in 2021. His research focuses on the development of molecular imaging probes and materials for stem cell tracking and scaffold monitoring in tissue engineering applications. In 2020, Daniel cofounded UnityOR, a smart digital assistant for surgical teams.

Nadia Thomson is a nurse practitioner in the Ted Rogers Centre, with a specialty-based practice in advanced heart failure. In addition to her clinical practice, she has an interest in developing educational resources for patients living with heart failure and using remote monitoring programs to improve patient care. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at University of Toronto and currently teaches in the nurse practitioner program.

Speakers – December 10

Rafael Alonso-Gonzalez is assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and director of the Toronto Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program. His research interests include the management of advanced heart failure in patients with congenital heart disease and the long-term sequelae of single ventricle physiology.

Mike Seed is head of the division of cardiology at The Hospital for Sick Children and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto. His clinical work at SickKids includes cross-sectional cardiac imaging and fetal cardiology. His research is in fetal and infant circulatory physiology and brain development. He is also working on a swine model of the artificial placenta.

Jonathan Epstein is the William Wikoff Smith Professor, executive vice dean and chief scientific officer at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and senior vice president and chief scientific officer at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. His research has focused on the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular development and implications for understanding and treating human disease. His group has been at the forefront of utilizing animal models of congenital heart disease to determine genetic and molecular pathways required for cardiac morphogenesis, with implications for pediatric and adult cardiovascular disease. Stem cell, angiogenesis and epigenetic studies have had direct implications for the development of new therapeutic agents for heart failure and myocardial infarction.

Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez is an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Cell and Systems Biology, and Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Cell Biology and Morphogenesis. A Ted Rogers Centre principal investigator, 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.

Craig Simmons is Distinguished Professor of Mechanobiology in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto, and Scientific Lead at the Ted Rogers Centre. The Simmons Lab studies new treatments for heart valve, heart muscle, and blood vessel diseases, including strategies to regenerate cardiovascular tissues using stem cells and biomaterials. Members also build novel microfluidic platforms to model vascularized tissues and organs. Craig is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the Engineering Institute of Canada.

Soror Sharifpoor is director of strategy & translation at the Ted Rogers Centre’s Translational Biology and Engineering Program where she has helped implement sustainable research plans, successful partnerships, scientific and clinical translation strategies, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and multifaceted training programs in the cardiovascular health sector. She is co-founder of Entrepreneurship for Cardiovascular Health Opportunities (ECHO). Soror has over 15 years of experience in the fields of biomaterials, biomedical engineering, and regenerative medicine, specializing in cardiovascular and soft tissue research and innovation.

Natalie Galant is the co-founder of Paradox Immunotherapeutics, which won the inaugural ECHO Pitch competition in 2019, earning $250,000 in startup capital. She completed her PhD in Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto and was a Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research Education Fund trainee. Natalie's company seeks to create antibody therapies for rare protein misfolding diseases, particularly those linked to amyloidosis.

Mohammad Qadura is staff surgeon in the division of vascular surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital, a scientist at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. His research focus takes aim at identifying miRNA, proteins and metabolites that are strongly associated with peripheral arterial disease. He is co-founder of Arterial Solutions, which created a new blood test to diagnose peripheral arterial disease.

Richard Gilbert is professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair in Diabetes Complications, and head of the division of endocrinology at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He co-founded Fibrotech, a biotech company that has brought novel anti-fibrotic therapies from the bench to early phase human trials. He then founded another biotech company, Fibrocor Therapeutics, for which he serves as chief scientific officer.

Misti Ushio is the founding CEO of TARA Biosystems. She has more than 20 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, and early stage life science company building. She previously served as chief strategy officer at Harris & Harris Group, where she worked with, and invested in, life science companies to help them translate their transformational science into commercially successful companies.

Husam Abdel-Qadir is cardiologist and scientist at Women’s College Hospital and University Health Network, as well as senior scientist in the cardiovascular research program at ICES. His primary area of study, building off a PhD he earned at the University of Toronto, is the long-term cardiovascular health of breast cancer survivors. He has earned young investigator awards from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society (2021), European Society of Cardiology (2017) and the Global Cardio-Oncology Summit (2017). He also earned a 2018 Polanyi prize in medicine. Husam is a member of the Ted Rogers Centre cardiotoxicity prevention program.

Jason Fish is Canada Research Chair in Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology, senior scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute and associate professor at the University of Toronto. His lab investigates the molecular mechanisms that control endothelial cell biology, seeking to decipher the signaling pathways and downstream transcriptional and epigenetic mediators that control responses to differentiation signals and pro-inflammatory factors.

Marie Chaix is cardiologist at the Montreal Health Institute, and earned fellowships in echocardiography at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and in the genetics of congenital heart disease at SickKids, under the direction of Ted Rogers Centre scientific lead Seema Mital. She is first author of a recent paper studying the use of artificial intelligence in predicting cardiotoxicity.

Speakers – December 11

Shelley Zieroth is professor in the Max Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba as well as director of its heart failure and heart transplant clinics at St. Boniface Hospital. She heads the medical heart failure program for Cardiac Sciences Manitoba and is the immediate past president of the Canadian Heart Failure Society. She serves on the Canadian Cardiovascular Society’s primary panels for both the HF and heart transplant guidelines, and as the scientific planning committee chair for the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

Dr. Michael McDonald is a cardiologist at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, 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.

Dr. Mansoor Husain is executive director of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. Professor of medicine at U of T, Dr. Husain is attending physician in the cardiac intensive care unit and nuclear cardiology laboratories of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (UHN). His extensive research focuses on elucidating the molecular bases of cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure and diabetes, and identifying therapeutic targets involved in pathophysiology.

Sonia Anand is professor of medicine and director of the population genomics program at McMaster University, and senior scientist at the Population Health Research Institute at Hamilton Health Sciences. She holds a Canada Research Chair in Ethnic Diversity and Cardiovascular Disease, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario/Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Population Health Research and Epidemiology. Her research focuses on environmental and genetic determinants of vascular disease in populations of varying ancestral origin, women and cardiovascular disease.

Jeffrey is professor at Simon Fraser University and First Nations Health Authority Chair in Heart Health and Wellness at St. Paul’s Hospital. He has more than two decades of experience enhancing knowledge in Indigenous health issues, both in Canada and globally and was the first endowed research chair in public health sciences at the University of Toronto. Jeff’s broad research interests include the social determinants of health, environmental issues, health promotion and disease prevention, heart health, and accessibility of care among Aboriginal Canadians.

Jeremy Kobulnik is advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist at UHN and Sinai Health System. He is an assistant professor of cardiology at the U of T Faculty of Medicine. A clinician teacher, he currently attends in the CCU heart failure clinic and echocardiography laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospital and on the advanced heart failure and cardiac transplant service at UHN.

Leah Steinberg has a degree in family medicine from McMaster University and has for two decades developed expertise in palliative care and communication at the Temmy Latner Centre at Sinai Health. Her research includes creating models for integrating palliative care into chronic disease management.

Nadia Thomson is a nurse practitioner in the Ted Rogers Centre, with a specialty-based practice in advanced heart failure. In addition to her clinical practice, she has an interest in developing educational resources for patients living with heart failure and using remote monitoring programs to improve patient care. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at University of Toronto and currently teaches in the nurse practitioner program.

Paul Oh is GoodLife Fitness Chair in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Prevention, medical director of the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program at Toronto Rehab, and senior scientist at KITE. A leading expert on the role of exercise in rehabilitation, he leads a comprehensive research program that includes investigating best practices in cardiac rehabilitation and analyzing cardiovascular databases to better understand long-term patient outcomes.

Darshan Brahmbhatt is a University of Toronto clinical fellow in heart failure and cardiac transplantation at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. His academic interest lies in heart failure innovations and remote monitoring, which he applies to the Ted Rogers Centre's Integrated Program for Excellence in Heart Function, with support from a post-doctoral fellowship awarded by our TRANSFORM HF program. He previously studied at Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge.