People

Principal Investigators

Jason Plemel, Ph.D.

Dr. Jason Plemel began his training in the laboratory of Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff at the University of British Columbia where he completed his Doctorate. There he investigated two separate strategies to improve white matter regeneration: transplantation of precursor cells to replace lost oligodendrocytes and cell culture to find novel targets to improve remyelination. During Dr. Plemel’s postdoctoral work he studied the contribution of microglia following myelin injury in the laboratories of Dr. Peter Stys and Dr. Wee Yong at the University of Calgary. His interdisciplinary project investigated mechanisms of how immune cells respond to primary degeneration and developed a new tool to image cell death and injury using spectral microscopy. In his new faculty appointment at the University of Alberta, Dr. Plemel and his laboratory will investigate how microglia play an important role in the regeneration of injured white matter, but also how microglia can induce injury to white matter during different disease conditions.

Bradley Kerr, Ph.D.

Dr. Bradley Kerr received his BSc in Psychology from McGill University. He then went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of London-King’s College in the UK. His Ph.D. research was aimed at understanding the role of novel modulatory peptides, growth factors and pro-inflammatory cytokines in persistent pain. Dr. Kerr went on to do postdoctoral work at the California Institute of Technology and at McGill University where his work focused on studying inflammatory responses after nervous system injury. Dr. Kerr joined the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the University of Alberta in 2007 and is also an adjunct associate professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry. The focus of research in his lab is aimed at addressing the mechanisms of chronic pain after injury or disease with a major focus on chronic pain associated with Multiple Sclerosis.

Graduate Students

Zoe Dworsky-Fried, M.Sc. Student

Zoe is a first year Master’s student in the Department of Pharmacology under the supervision of Drs. Bradley Kerr and Anna Taylor. She moved to Edmonton from Halifax where she completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at Dalhousie University. Zoe is currently investigating if there are sex differences in neuroinflammation and microglial activation in the motivational and affective domains in the EAE model of MS.

Kevin Thorburn, Ph.D. Candidate

Kevin completed his BSc in neuroscience at the University of Alberta in 2014. He started as a volunteer in Bradley Kerr’s lab in 2012 and continued on to pursue a PhD under Dr. Kerr’s supervision. Kevin is currently studying 1) trigeminal pathology and dysfunction in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis 2) astrocyte biology after CNS injury and disease and 3) effects of systemic inflammation on the regeneration/sprouting state of dorsal root ganglion neurons. Outside of the lab, Kevin enjoys hiking, camping and cycling. Kevin’s bike team, Go for Spoke, recently made its debut at the 2018 Johnson MS Bike ride and raised $2880 for the MS Society of Canada.

Caylin Chadwick, M.Sc. Student

Caylin is a first year MSc student in Neuroscience as of September 2018 under the supervision of Drs. Bradley Kerr and Anna Taylor. She was born and raised on Vancouver Island and completed her B.Sc. degree in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge. She will be exploring the role of corticotropin-releasing factor in two models of pain: chronic nerve pain and EAE (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; a model of MS).

Timo Friedman, Ph.D. Student

Timo is a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Bradley Kerr. He is investigating the role of microRNAs in pain syndromes using computational and bioinformatics methodology. His other interests include data mining and machine learning.

Charbel Baaklini, M.Sc. Student

All the way from Lebanon, Charbel came to Edmonton for his masters in neuroscience. He graduated with a BSc in Biology. As Plemel’s first graduate student, he’s so excited to be in the process of discovering new ways to treat one of the most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases, multiple sclerosis. His project will focus on the roles of microglia in the process of remyelination and he hopes to find molecular targets to induce this regenerative process in MS patients.

Aislinn Maguire, M.Sc Student

Aislinn finished her neuroscience BSc at the UofA in 2019 and is now a neuroscience masters student under the supervision of Dr. Bradley Kerr. She is studying the contribution of ER stress in the peripheral nervous system to central neuropathic pain in Multiple Sclerosis. In her spare time Aislinn enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and boxing.

Brady Hammond, M.Sc Student

Brady received his BSc in Biology at the University of Alberta: Augustana Faculty and joined the Plemel lab as a graduate student in 2019. He is now in his first year of study as a Master’s student in the Department of Neuroscience under the supervision of Dr. Jason Plemel. Brady is currently studying the capacity of Interleukin-1 cytokines to stimulate proliferation of microglia during neurodevelopment using serum-free cell culture and mouse models. Outside of the lab, Brady enjoys riding motorcycles, skiing, and camping.  

Sameera Zia, M.Sc Student

Sameera completed her BSc at the University of Toronto and is now a first year Master’s student under the supervision of Drs. Jason Plemel and Bradley Kerr. Her research explores the heterogeneity of microglia phenotypes using single cell sequencing.

Olivia La Caprara, M.Sc Student

After completing her undergraduate degree in neuroscience at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Olivia moved to Edmonton to pursue a Master’s in pharmacology to contribute to multiple sclerosis research. Under the guidance of Dr. Bradley Kerr and Dr. Anna Taylor, she is studying the mechanisms of neuropathic pain signalling and inflammation, focusing on understanding novel pathways in pain, itch, and analgesia.

Undergraduate Students

Jacob Dunn

Co-supervised by Dr. Plemel and Dr. Kerr, Jacob is exploring how resident and infiltrating immune cells in the dorsal root ganglion and spinal cord contribute to the development of neuropathic pain in experimental autoimmune encephalitis, a model of multiple sclerosis in mice, and peripheral nerve injury. Jacob is enrolled in the BSc honors neuroscience program. He enjoys volunteering as a patient advisor with the Stollery Children’s Hospital and Alberta Health Services, and is currently exploring the joys (and challenges) of winter cycling in Edmonton. 

Mizuki Lopez

Mizuki is a 3rd year undergraduate student in the BSc Honours in Neuroscience program. Under the supervision of Dr. Plemel and Charbel Baalkini, she will be taking Neuro 451/452, an Honours Research Project in Neuroscience, in the 2019/2020 school year, focusing in the role of microglia in remyelination.

Rupali Manek

Rupali is a third-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Science. Under the supervision of Dr. Jason Plemel and Brady Hammond, she will be studying interleukin-1 cytokines as regulators of developmental microglia proliferation as part of a Cell 398 Research Project. In her free time, Rupali enjoys travelling, spending time with family and friends, and playing soccer!

Anastasia Sizov

Anastasia is a fourth year undergraduate Neuroscience student at the University of Alberta. She will be completing her honours research project with the Plemel lab investigating pyroptosis and ferroptosis as potential cell death mechanisms in the cuprizone model of multiple sclerosis. Outside of the lab, Anastasia likes running, reading, hanging out with her roommates, or doing gymnastics at Saville!

Mena Burr

Mena is a second year BSc Hon. Neuroscience student at the University of Alberta and is working on a project in the Plemel Lab exploring the complex microglia phenotypes during remyelination. Outside of school, she enjoys being outdoors, hiking, and biking. She annually participates in MS bike and has raised about $2000 for the MS Society.

Daria Antoszko

Daria is a third year BSc Biology student completing a BIOL 399 research project. Under the supervision of Dr. Plemel and graduate student, Charbel Baaklini, she will be investigating the role of microglia on remyelination. In her spare time, she likes to bake and go to the mountains.

Lab Support

Kelly Lee

Kelly completed her MSc at the University of Toronto in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics.  The main focus of her research will be using Cuprizone model of progressive Multiple Sclerosis in mice to investigate how microglial cells respond to demyelination and the factors that are released into the extracellular matrix as a result of the toxin.

Madelene Ho

As an undergraduate in the BSc Specialization in Cell Biology program, Madelene chose the 2018-2019 academic year to intern as a Research Assistant for the Plemel Lab to gain more laboratory experience and techniques and be part of the front lines in Multiple Sclerosis research. Since then, she continues her duties as research assistant while taking course-based research projects in the Plemel Lab. Her projects focus on microglia remyelination activity. Now in her final semester, she is currently investigating CD33 as a target for myelin regeneration improvement for her CELL 498. Apart from her love of the daring environment of research labs, she is passionate about curative research and care in the clinical sciences. Recently, she has been fascinated by auto/immune and degenerative diseases and disorders; she likes being involved in working with MS, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and HIV/AIDS.

Gustavo Tenorio

After completing an MSc from the University of Alberta, Gustavo started working with Dr. Kerr and has been working with him for the past 9 years. Gustavo is an important lab resource. He trains new staff and students on a variety of tasks ranging from bench work to data processing. Recently, his work has shifted more towards lab administration, as well as identifying hazards and implementing controls in order to make sure the lab follows EHS standards.

Alumni and Past Members

Ana Catuneanu, M.Sc.

Martin Zirngibl, M.Sc Student

Apurba Mainali (Undergraduate)

Mansi Desai (Undergraduate)

Fajr Haq (Undergraduate)

Isabelle Tottenham (Undergraduate)

Tristan Pidner (Undergraduate)

Braxton Phillips (Undergraduate)

Muhammad Saad Yousuf, Ph.D

Stephanie Brown (support staff)