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THE RESEARCH TEAM

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Dr. Edana Cassol (Principal Investigator)

Edana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences with a cross appointment in the Department of Neuroscience. She started the Systems Immunology Lab after exploring the world as a graduate student and a post doctoral fellow (South Africa, Italy and USA) and developing expertise in cellular and molecular immunology, infectious disease and systems biology approaches. Her research group uses a combination of transcriptomics, metabolomics, biochemical and immunological techniques to understand how cellular metabolism contributes to the regulation innate immune function during infection. A detailed description of the current research projects in the lab can be found under the Research tab. 

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Duale Ahmed (PDF)

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Duale Ahmed received his BSc in Biochmeistry from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. It was during his undergraduate studies where he was first exposed to laboratory research and decided to pursue research as a career. Remaining at Carleton, Duale completed his MSc in Biology where is his research focused on the metabolic disorder homocystinuria and how genetic mutations in Cystathionine b-synthase contributed to its pathogenesis. His PhD investigated the role that cellular metabolism plays in the regulation of antiviral responses in macrophages. These studies used a combination of immunological, biochemical and systems biology approaches to have a global understanding of the interactions between metabolic networks and immune responses. He is currently a MITACS funded PDF examining how oncolytic viruses reprogram tumour associated macrophage function in vivo.

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Mary-Elizabeth Sheridan (PhD Student)

Mary-Elizabeth originates from Montreal, where she received her first undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology from McGill University. For her thesis she studied children’s lying behavior in the classroom, where she both conducted interviews and cognitive testing of children under the age of 12. It was during this time that she realized her career goals had shifted and obtained a second bachelor’s degree, this time an Honors Bachelor of Science at Carleton, majoring in Biology. For her second undergraduate thesis she worked in the field of microbiology, specifically antimicrobial resistance. It was during this time that she fine-tuned her career aspirations of working in the field of infectious diseases. She is currently a PhD student in the Cassol lab where her research focuses on identifying new ways to restore macrophage function in aging individuals by targeting mitochondrial pathways.

Robyn Skillings (PhD Student)

Robyn was born and raised in Ottawa, where she received her BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Ottawa. During a summer research internship with the CHEO Research Institute, she worked on novel oncolytic virus therapies to treat cancer and found she had a strong passion for cancer research. Robyn  decided to complete an MSc in Microbiology and Immunology with the same lab, where she characterized the neurosafety profile of the oncolytic Farmington virus for the treatment of glioblastoma. Taking a break from research, Robyn discovered a love for teaching and science communication through her work as Teaching Labs Coordinator for the Health Sciences department at Carleton University teaching third year immunology labs. Having worked closely with Dr. Cassol and her lab during this position, Robyn decided to join the Cassol lab as a PhD student. She is currently a MITACS funded PhD student examining how oncolytic viruses reprogram tumour associated macrophages both in vitro and in vivo.

Aroosha Fareghdeli (PhD Student, co-supervised by Dr. Leila Mostaco-Guidolin)

Aroosha was born and raised in Iran. Her interest in engineering and biology drove her to receive her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Biomedical Engineering at Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. During her M.Sc. studies, she started working on bioprinting, and her focus was bioprinted skin substitutes based on alginate/gelatin bioinks. Following her passion for Biomedical Engineering and bioprinting, she started her Ph.D. studies at Carleton University in Biomedical Engineering program. Currently, she is a MITACS-funded Ph.D. student, and her project focus is evaluating tumor associated macrophages in bioprinted tumor microenvironments in response to viruses. The biology part of this project will be conducted in Cassol Lab, while the engineering part will be conducted at Tissue Engineering and BioImaging (TEB) lab.

Rayhane Mejlaoui (MSc Student, co-supervised by Dr. Joerg Overhage)

Rayhane was born in Morocco and grew up in Montreal. She decided to come to Ottawa to pursue an Honors BSc in Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Ottawa. During this time, she developed an interest for research and health sciences through her labs and courses. In her final year, she completed an honor's thesis studying the effect of a Parkinson's disease-linked gene on the immune system. She became fascinated by the field of immunology and joined the Cassol lab to complete her MSc. Her project combines immunology and microbiology to better understand the effects of bacterial biofilms on macrophage metabolism and function in the context of chronic wounds.

Malak Al Daraawi (MSc Student)

Malak was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where she developed a natural curiosity for science and health. After moving to Ottawa, she pursued a Bachelor's Honours degree in Health Sciences (BHSc) with a Minor in Biology at Carleton University, receiving her degree in early 2023. Her keen interest in immunology drove her to join the Cassol Lab during her undergrad. Her Honours Thesis Project focused on investigating the inflammatory responses of macrophages to bacterial biofilms using immunological and microbiological techniques. She is currently a Master's of Health Sciences student at Carleton University, where she aims to use immunological and bio-imaging approaches to investigate how mitochondrial reprogramming can regulate tissue remodeling and fibrosis processes in macrophages and fibroblasts as it relates to wound healing and cancer processes.

Zoya Versey (TEAM Hub, Lab Technician; co-supervised by Dr. Leila Mostaco-Guidolin)

Zoya grew up in Botswana, where she spent many years nurturing her penchant for science and medicine. Upon returning to Canada, she pursued a BSc Honours degree in Biochemistry at Carleton University, receiving her degree in 2020. Her Honours Thesis Project focused on designing methods to characterize the interactions occurring between macrophages and bacterial biofilms in vitro. Building on this research, her MSc Thesis used immunological and microbiological approaches to investigate how these immune-microbe/host-pathogen interactions play a role in driving chronic wound formation in collaboration with the Overhage Lab. She is now working as a lab technician for the TEAM Hub, helping establish new cellular workflows for the development of 3D tissue models. 

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

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Omar Abdo (BHSc Student, fourth year thesis)

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Alicia Boxma (BHSc, fourth year thesis)

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Amelia Neto (BHSc, fourth year thesis)

LAB ALUMNI

David Roy (MSc Student)

Allan Humphrey (Lab technician)

Undergraduate Students:

Emily Russell (BHSc Student, fourth year thesis)

Romanah Ahmed (BHSc Student, fourth year thesis)

Olivia Robin (Health Sciences; Thesis student)

Emma Rektor (Journalism, Capstone project student)

Catherine Copley (Neuroscience, Thesis)

James Donner (Health Sciences, Thesis)

  

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