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Team MitoMetabLab

~ FALL 2023 ~

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Kimberly Dunham-Snary, MPS, PhD

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Dr. Kimberly Dunham-Snary received her PhD in Molecular & Cellular Pathology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2014 under the supervision of Dr. Scott Ballinger, where she elucidated the connections between mitochondrial genetics and body composition. In 2015, she joined Dr. Stephen Archer's laboratory in the Department of Medicine at Queen's University for her postdoctoral fellowship. There, she identified the mitochondrial pulmonary vascular oxygen sensor, and discovered a novel role for mitochondria in neutrophil function. In 2020, she accepted an Assistant Professor position in the Departments of Biomedical & Molecular Sciences, and Medicine at Queen's and is currently a Tier II Canada Research Chair. Her research interests remain in the field of mitochondrial biology – how genetic and structural changes to mitochondria alter cell function in both physiology and pathology, specifically the interplay between mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial genetics and proliferative signalling in cardiometabolic diseases. Her goal is to understand how these processes intersect in the context of disease and to develop a 'mitochondrial-metabolomic fingerprint' of cardiometabolic diseases. An avid motorsports and canine enthusiast, when not in the lab, she can be found exploring with her loyal companion, Steve McQueen, or catching the latest Grand Prix or Motor Speedway event.

Graduate Students

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Samsara Boots

Sam is a DBMS MSc student from Kingston, Ontario, who originally joined the team as a Work Study student. Through her studies at university, as well as prior experiences working in patient care, she developed a strong passion for molecular genetics and medicine. She is an integral team member, helping manage the lab's resources, and collaborates on every ongoing project in the lab. Her MSc will explore differences in endothelial cell metabolism in MNX mice. Outside of the lab she is an artist and a musician, as well as an executive member of the Queens’ Trivia team.

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Dalia Miller

Dalia is a Translational Medicine MSc student who originally joined the team as a volunteer, remained as a student technician, and then completed a research independent study! Dalia's MSc project is investigating the impact of mitochondrial DNA signature on temporal morphometric differences in MNX mice fed a Western-style diet. She will be exploring ongoing measures such as weight gain, relative glucose tolerance and insulin resistance, and endpoint measures such as fat mass vs lean body mass, white adipose tissue distribution, and intramuscular lipid accumulation.

MitoMetabLab History Note: Dalia was the lab's first employee!

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Abhishek Shastry

Abhishek is a Translational Medicine MSc student who is continuing his studies with MitoMetabLab after completing his fourth year Life Sciences Honours Thesis. He identified changes in key metabolic pathways in the skeletal muscle between strains of laboratory mouse and the implications for type II diabetes treatment. Abhi hails from Ajax, Ontario and his MSc project will explore links between the skeletal muscle metabolome and transcriptome in preclinical cardiometabolic disease. Outside of the lab, he is an Academic Coordinator with Queen's Tamil Students' Association.

Mia Wilkinson

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Mia is a Translational Medicine MSc student who is continuing her studies with MitoMetabLab after completing her fourth year Life Sciences Honours Thesis. She determined tissue-specific changes in gene expression between white adipose tissue depots, and examined the complicated matrix of mitochondrial genetics, white adipose tissue location, and diet. From Vancouver Island, BC, she is passionate about investigating the role mitochondrial genetics plays in the aetiology and pathology of cardiometabolic diseases. Her MSc project (that's expanding to a PhD - stay tuned!) will develop and optimize a method for assessing murine skeletal muscle health using circulating platelets. Outside of the lab, she is an Events Coodinator for Operation Smile Queen’s Chapter and the Fundraising Chair for Queen’s Lyme Disease Coalition – Madoc Chapter.

MitoMetabLab Staff

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Jennifer Veeneman | Research Assistant

After completing a VERY successful PATH 499 project in 2022/2023, Jennifer has joined Team MitoMetabLab as a Research Assistant. Jennifer's appointment is joint with Dr. Jacob Rullo, a clinician-scientist at Queen's, practicing ophthalmologist, and academic researcher. Drs. Dunham-Snary and Rullo are conducting joint research investigating mitochondrial structure and function changes in ocular diseases (and have affectionately dubbed their blended lab family "Team Mito Eyeball").

Undergraduate Students

Frances Ford

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Frances is a fourth year Life Sciences Honours thesis student in MitoMetabLab. She exploring differences platelet count, aggregation and activation in various CMD disease states in MNX mice. Before joining the team, Frances completed a summer research project at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto where she was a Charles Hollenberg studentship recipient and worked on differentiating hESC’s to definitive endoderm and pancreatic progenitors using a small molecule protocol. Outside of the lab, Frances is a general member on Extra Awesome and Queen’s x Camp Erin Clubs and has previously been an Orientation Coordinator for ASUS Orientation.

Aleksa Groen in 't Woud

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Aleksa is a member of the inaugural Queen's Discovery Lab Research Team, Team METAGENE.

Jayne Kang

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Jayne is a third year Health Sciences student pursuing her third- and fourth-year research project(s) in MitoMetabLab. She is optimizing protocols to assess differences in mitochondrial structure in aortic endothelial cells in mouse models of cardiometabolic disease and will explore changes in mitochondrial dynamics in endothelial cells ofMNX mice. Outside of the lab, Jayne volunteers as a Run Club executive and as an outreach director at MEDLIFE Queen’s.

Michelle Kuriakose

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Michelle is a member of the inaugural Queen's Discovery Lab Research Team, Team METAGENE!

Naomi Loughlin

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Naomi is a fourth-year Life Sciences Honours thesis student in MitoMetabLab and proud member of Team Mito Eyeball. She is exploring differences in mitochondrial abundance and activity in the retina and optic nerve in mice. Before joining the team, Naomi held a SWEP Research Assistant position in the diCenzo Lab in the Queen's Biology department, developing bioinformatics tools. Outside of the lab, Naomi volunteers on the Maple Family Health research team investigating efficiency in primary care and is a general member of QLIFT and QGEM.

Ethan Morad

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Ethan is a member of the inaugural Queen's Discovery Lab Research Team, Team METAGENE!

Sydney Pendleton

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Sydney is a fourth year Life Sciences student completing independent study in mitochondrial biology for LISC 595. She is optimizing protocols for mitochondrial enzyme activity assays that will be implemented in various projects in the lab, including aconitase, fumarase, and succinate dehydrogenase. Sydney will also explore differential regulation of these enzymes in MNX mice. Outside of the lab, Sydney plays on the Varsity Women’s Fastpitch team, is a Varsity Leadership Council representative, and is a volunteer at the Revved Up gym on campus.”

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Raymond Popescu

Raymond is a fourth year Health Sciences student pursuing his (third- and) fourth-year research project(s) in MitoMetabLab. Raymond’s interest in both oxygen sensing mechanisms in vasculature and applied immunology have drawn his focus to the mitochondrion and its extensive role in metabolic pathologies. Outside of the lab, he’s a host at the QueensU radio station, CFRC 101.9, researcher at KHSC and an avid cyclist

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