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

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.

Madelene Ho, M.Sc Student

Madelene initially started in the Plemel lab in 2018-2019 academic year to intern as a Research Assistant to gain more laboratory experience and techniques and be part of the front lines in Multiple Sclerosis research. Since then, she began an M.Sc. in Neuroscience on a collaborative project between the Kerr and Plemel Lab. Her projects focuses on immune cells and how they contribute to neuropathic pain. 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.

Sharmistha Panda, Ph.D Student

Sharmistha is an international student from India, doing her Ph.D. in the Plemel Lab (joined in Fall 2021). Her project explores how age impairs remyelination and the roles played by microglia/macrophages in it. Sharmistha did her MSc in Neuroscience from National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, India (2018-2020) and BSc in Biochemistry & Microbiology(double major) from St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai(2015-2018). Her hobbies include: making podcasts, travelling, dancing, reading up psychology and watching movies!

Undergraduate Students

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.

Celine Zhang

Celine is a fifth year Immunology and Infections Student at the University of Alberta. Her current project in the Kerr lab is examining sex differences in cutaneous inflammation, characterizing the recruitment of immune cells, and investigating whether TLR7 is a required receptor in that pathway. Celine also runs a business as a photographer outside of school, and loves painting, walking her dog and rabbit, and exploring the hiking trails of Alberta.

Carina Thomas

Carina is a fifth year BSc Hon. Neuroscience student at the University of Alberta. She is completing her honours thesis project in the Plemel Lab researching the role of Interleukin-1 cytokines in microglia proliferation. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, painting, and volunteering in the community. 

Curtis Ostertag

Curtis is a fourth year BSc. Hon. Neuroscience student at the University of Alberta and is currently working on a honours thesis project in the Kerr Lab. His project aims to characterize cerebrospinal fluid profiles in patients with Trigeminal Neuralgia, and to assess influence of their cerebrospinal fluid on neuronal plasticity. Outside of the lab, he loves to be active!

Dania Villarreal Andrade

Dania is a fourth-year Bsc. Honours Neuroscience student at the University of Alberta. She is currently undertaking a project on neuroplasticity in the context of neuroinflammation in the Kerr Lab. She hopes to complete her degree in April of next year and plans to pursue further studies after graduation.

Keiana Pfeifle

Keiana is a fourth-year B.Sc. Hon. Neuroscience student at the University of Alberta and is working on a project in the Kerr Lab. She is using a mouse model of MS and exploring both the neuronal changes to the peripheral nervous system and the sex differences that are associated with pain in MS. Outside the lab, Keiana enjoys being in the mountains, going on road trips, and visiting local coffee shops.

Abhisha Patel

Abhisha is a fourth-year BSc Hon. Neuroscience student at the University of Alberta. She is working on a project in the Plemel Lab to understand microglia diversity during remyelination. Outside of school, she enjoys working with Beyond Barriers with Compassion House Foundation, which addresses barriers to cancer treatment for rural Alberta communities. 

Tristan Lange

Tristan is a fourth-year BSc Hon. Neuroscience student working on his thesis project in the Plemel lab. He is examining the role of microglia during remyelination using electron microscopy. Tristan joined the lab initially at the beginning of 2020 and worked to define the developmental timeline for microglia proliferation. When he is not working on his studies he can be found watching documentaries on Netflix or going for runs or biking in the warmer months.

Riya Prajapati

Riya is a fourth-year BSc Hon. Neuroscience student at the University of Alberta. She is working in the Kerr lab to understand the role of mitochondria in sensory neurons in chronic inflammatory conditions. Outside of the lab, you can find her volunteering in the community and running a food rescue non-profit organization. 

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.

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

Caylin Chadwick, M.Sc.

Current: Research Technician in Anna Taylor lab

Zoe Dworsky-Fried, M.Sc.

Current: Medical Student University of Alberta

Kevin Thorburn, Ph.D.

Muhammad Saad Yousuf, Ph.D

Katherine Mifflin (Ph.D. 2012-2017) *CIHR PhD Studentship, *AI PhD Studentship

Current: Post Doctoral Fellow, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Liam Potter (Ph.D. 2011-2017) *MSSC PhD Studentship

Current: Post Doctoral Fellow, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Curtis Benson (Ph.D. 2010-16) *MSSC PhD Studentship

Post Doctoral Fellow, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

Ana Catuneanu, M.Sc.

Martin Zirngibl (M.Sc. 2019-2020)

Laboratory Assistant, Cawthron Institute, Nelson, New Zealand

Apurba Mainali (Undergraduate Student 2018-2019)

Genetics Assistant, AHS, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Mansi Desai (Undergraduate Student 2018-2019)

Student, Honors Nursing After Degree, Stollery Hospital Emergency Department, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Fajr Haq (Undergraduate Student 2019-2020)

Student, University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine, Calgary, AB Canada

Isabelle Tottenham (Undergraduate Student 2019-2020)

Graduate Student, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB Canada

Tristan Pidner (Undergraduate Student 2019-2020)

Student, University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine, Calgary, AB Canada

Braxton Phillips (Undergraduate Student 2020)

Student, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

Stephanie Brown (support staff 2018-2019)

Financial and Human Resources Assistant, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Mizuki Lopez (Undergraduate)

Jacob Dunn(Undergraduate)

Rupali Manek (Undergraduate), Now medical student at University of Calgary

Anastasia Sizov (Undergraduate), Now medical student at University of Alberta