Trainee Communications Committee

The Trainee Communications Committee represents the views of SCN trainees from across Canada and plays an important role in the development of training programs for young investigators. Members provide insight and recommendations to the Training Education Committee on the types of workshops and skill development activities that would best support trainees in the stem cell and regenerative medicine research space. Members actively participate in the organization of workshops that take place during the annual Till & McCulloch Meetings. Members also develop and implement tactics to ensure SCN trainees remain informed about SCN training and career development opportunities.


JOSHUA DIEROLF, CHAIR, PhD candidate, Western University
Joshua Dierolf is a PhD candidate at Western University studying the influence of metabolism on stem cell pluripotency and early development in the lab of Dr. Dean Betts.
Between lab experiments, Josh is active in entrepreneurship and biomedical start-up culture, working to innovate creative 3D printed solutions.
SEPIDEH ABBASI, postdoctoral fellow, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM) & McGill University
I’m a postdoctoral fellow at the IRCM & McGill (Montreal), I have a Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Shiraz University (Iran), did my Masters in Reproductive Biology at the University of Saskatchewan and my PhD in Stem Cell Biology at the University of Calgary.
Since fall 2010, I have been a SCN trainee and also been involved with StemCellTalks (SCT) outreach program, currently being the national co-chair of SCT.
DIANA CANALS HERNAEZ, PhD candidate, University of British Columbia
I am a PhD student in the McNagny lab at the Biomedical Research Centre at the University of British Columbia. My research focuses on studying a protein (podocalyxin) that gets over-expressed in the surface of some cells when they become cancerous. In humans, this protein marks a highly aggressive subset of tumors in several types of cancer, including breast, ovarian and pancreatic, within others. My thesis focuses on studying how podocalyxin is actively helping cancer cells grow and metastasize, as well as on developing an antibody-based therapy to target podocalyxin expressed exclusively on these cancer cells.
I am passionate about helping other graduate students during their grad school journey, which is why I joined the SCN Trainee Communication Committee in 2017. In addition, I have also been involved in other initiatives to support graduate students such as the CBR Health and Wellness committee or the UBC Graduate Student Ambassador Program.
COLIN HAMMOND, PhD candidate, BC Cancer Research Centre
Colin is a PhD Candidate in Connie Eaves’ lab in Vancouver BC. Colin studies the regulation of survival and proliferation in healthy human blood stem cells with a particular focus on how these mechanisms may change with development and advancing age. Outside of the lab Colin enjoys cooking and trying to craft the perfect cocktail.
ERIKA KLEIDERMAN, Academic Associate, Centre of Genomics and Policy (CGP) at McGill University & PhD candidate, Université de Montréal
Erika Kleiderman is a lawyer and an Academic Associate at the Centre of Genomics and Policy (CGP) at McGill University, as well as a PhD student (bioethics) at the Université de Montréal. Her research focuses on the ethical, legal, and social implications surrounding human genome editing, new assisted reproductive technologies, stem cell research, and cell and gene therapies, as well as access to data and genetic information (biobanking). Erika is also interested in implications of gene therapy and enhancement in minors within a sporting context. She is actively engaged in the stem cell and regenerative medicine community through her involvement with various committees, networks and initiatives.
MARISSA LITHOPOULOS, PhD candidate, University of Ottawa
Marissa is a senior PhD candidate in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa, working under the supervision of Dr. Bernard Thébaud at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Marissa studies how neural progenitor cells are impaired in neonatal chronic lung disease and whether umbilical cord progenitor cells can be used to protect the lungs and the brain. Marissa has been a Stem Cell Network trainee for 7 years and is passionate about science outreach, as she has been a Co-Chair of the StemCellTalks National Advisory Committee and StemCellTalks Ottawa.
FOROUGH NOOHI, PhD candidate, McGill University
Forough has a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Honours), 2013 and a Master of Science in Human Genetics, 2016. Her research activities revolve around the ethical, societal and regulatory aspects of genome editing, three-Parent IVF and regenerative medicine.
DAVID DATZKIW, PhD candidate, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
I currently study the mechanisms driving symmetric muscle stem cell division under the supervision of Dr. Michael Rudnicki at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. My previous research includes breast cancer studies at the University of Winnipeg, and probiotic and immune studies at the National Institute of Science, Education, and Research in India. I am also active within my graduate department’s student council, advocating for student wellness and organizing wellness events.
PRIYE IWORIMA, PhD candidate, University of British Columbia
Priye is a Nigerian-Canadian Biomedical engineering student whose research focuses on developing a differentiation protocol to generate stem cell-derived insulin-producing cells that may be used as a potential therapy for type 1 diabetes. She is also interested in the optimizing process parameters for large scale manufacturing of stem cell-derived products. In her free time, she loves travelling to explore new places and cultures, music, eating and socializing with friends and family.
ALEX KOZLOV, PhD candidate, Western University
I am a third year PhD student at Western University studying the impact of metabolite fuel sources on somatic cell reprogramming. Outside of research I am involved in youth outreach as the StemCellTalks London director and as a Let’s Talk Science Teacher Partnership Program volunteer. In my spare time I enjoy backcountry camping, baking, and sailing.
LAURA STANKIEWICZ, PhD candidate, University of British Columbia
I’m passionate about creating a common language between scientists and engineers to facilitate sharing of diverse skills and expertise. I believe training young researchers on how to effectively communicate their work is integral to the translation of cell therapies to the clinic, and I’m excited to implement workshops for trainees that address these skill sets!
KEVIN ROBB, PhD candidate, University of Toronto
I am a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Toronto working under the supervision of Dr. Sowmya Viswanathan. My project focus is on engineering culture strategies to enhance mesenchymal stromal cell potency for treatment of osteoarthritis. I’ve attended TMM annually and am looking forward to being part of the TCC!
KELLY MCNAGNY, Professor, University of British Columbia
Professor in Medical Genetics at The Biomedical Research Centre where his work focuses on stem cell behavior, inflammatory disease, cancer biology and therapeutics. In 2015 he also served as the Scientific Director of the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), a National Centre of Excellence aimed at translating early stage scientific discoveries into therapies. He has garnered several awards including the 2004 Showell-Pfizer Junior Faculty Award from the American Association for Immunology, a MSFHR Career Investigator Award and a visiting professorship at the Phillip’s University of Marburg.

Training & Education Committee

The Training & Education Committee members develop, implement, monitor and review multidisciplinary training strategies and programs that will recruit and train highly-qualified personnel (HQP) to the field of stem cell research and to Canada’s research environment, to increase the value of HQP to prospective employers and their profile to funding agencies, and to facilitate involvement of HQP in SCN.


Assistant Professor, Western University

Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

PhD candidate, Western University

Principal Scientist, STEMCELL Technologies

Academic Associate, McGill University

Professor, University of British Columbia