LEAH E. COWEN, Ph.D.
I pursued my doctoral research with Jim Anderson and Linda Kohn at the University of Toronto focused on the genomic architecture of adaptation to antifungal drugs. As a postdoctoral fellow with Susan Lindquist at the Whitehead Institute, I then investigated how the molecular chaperone Hsp90 impacts on fungal evolution and phenotypic diversity. Since 2007, I have been a Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Infectious Disease in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. My research has been recognized with a myriad of awards including a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, a Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award, an E. W. R. Steacie Award from the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council, a Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award, and a Grand Challenges Canada Star in Global Health Award.
I grew up in Toronto and attended the University of Toronto for my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry. After working for many years in the Department of Immunology and watching my supervisor retire, I was extremely fortunate to begin working with Leah Cowen in January 2007 as she opened her lab. The world of fungal evolution has been a whole new experience for me and I am thrilled to be learning mechanisms of how it impacts infectious disease and drug resistance.
NICOLE ROBBINS, Ph.D.
I pursued my doctoral research here in the Cowen lab from 2007-2012 where I focused on mechanisms by which the molecular chaperone Hsp90 governed fungal drug resistance in C. albicans. I then worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Gerry Wright where I used high-throughput screening methodologies to look for novel compound combinations with efficacy against diverse fungal pathogens. I am thrilled to be back in the Cowen lab as a Senior Research Associate where I am involved in many lab projects that aim to provide a global view of the circuitry in fungal pathogens that governs drug resistance, morphogenesis and virulence.
TERESA O’MEARA, Ph.D.
I completed my Honors BA at the University of Chicago, where I worked with Martin Feder on the evolutionary genetics of transposable elements in the promoters of Drosophila small heat shock proteins. I pursued my doctoral research with Andrew Alspaugh at Duke University, focused on the signal transduction pathways that are important in regulating virulence factors of Cryptococcus neoformans in response to entry into the human host. I joined the Cowen lab in 2013, with the goal of understanding how pathogenic fungi are able to sense and respond to the host environment. Towards this goal, I am examining Hsp90 co-chaperones and client proteins in Candida albicans and the mechanisms by which they regulate drug resistance, development, and pathogenesis.
MICHELLE LEACH, Ph.D.
I completed my B.Sc. (Hons) in Genetics and Immunology at the University of Aberdeen. I was then was awarded a Caledonian Scholarship from the Carnegie Trust to undertake my Ph.D in Molecular Biology with Al Brown at the Aberdeen Fungal Group. It was here that I became interested in C. albicans, where my studies focussed on determining the impact of post-translational mechanisms in response to stress. I joined the Cowen lab in January 2012 as a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow, where my research is aimed at determining the mechanisms by which pathogenic fungi such as Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans sense and adapt to temperature, enabling them to be successful as pathogens.
JING LIN (LUCY) XIE
I was born in China and moved to Canada when I was 11. I received my Hon.B.Sc. in Molecular Genetics & Microbiology from the University of Toronto. As an undergrad, I studied PoxA, a virulence factor in Salmonella typhimurium, in Dr. William Navarre’s lab. In September 2010, I joined the Cowen Lab where I became interested in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. My main project is to elucidate the role of Protein Kinase C (PKC) signalling in fungal drug resistance and to establish the connection between Hsp90, calcineurin, and the cell wall integrity (CWI) response pathway.
I completed an Honours B.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Waterloo. As a co-op student during my undergraduate studies I worked in Dr. Elise Heon’s lab focusing on the molecular mechanisms underlying a rare inherited disorder, Bardet Biedl Syndrome. I joined the Cowen lab in January 2011 and am interested in learning about cellular processes mediating antifungal drug resistance in the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Currently, I am focusing on determining the mechanisms underlying synergistic drug combinations.
I completed my BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax. There, I worked in Dr. Melanie Dobson’s lab where I investigated the inheritance of the 2µm plasmid in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I joined the Cowen lab in January 2012, where I am currently interested in dissecting the mechanisms underlying echinocandin resistance in the human fungal pathogens Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans.
SANG HU (DAVID) KIM
I was first introduced to the world of fungi during my co-op placement at Iogen Corporation where I worked with a filamentous fungus, Trichoderma reesei. In 2012, I received an Honours B.Sc. in Biochemistry at the University of Waterloo. As an undergraduate thesis student under Dr. Kesen Ma’s supervision, I characterized heat stable recombinant xylulokinases from hyperthermophiles, Thermotoga maritima and Thermotoga petrophila. Currently, I am investigating the fungal microbiome of cystic fibrosis patient lungs, assessing fungal population over time and studying the interaction with other microbial communities.
I completed my Honours B.Sc in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. As an undergrad I studied the effects of small molecules on Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms in Dr. Lori Burrows’ lab and learned proteomic approaches to studying human phosphatases in Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras’ lab. I joined the Cowen lab in January 2013 and am interested in studying the mechanisms regulating drug resistance and morphogenesis in Candida albicans.
I received my Honours BSc. in Biomedical Science, with specialization in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, at the University of Ottawa. I was first introduced to the field of microbiology when I had the opportunity to study under Dr. Dele Ogunremi at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. My work focused on using comparative genomics to investigate the virulence of various Listeria monocytogenes strains. I joined the Cowen Lab in January 2016, with interest in dissecting novel mechanisms governing morphogenesis in Candida albicans. Currently, I am focused on the specific factors controlling filamentation in host immune cells.
I completed my BSc in Microbiology at the University of Guelph. During this time, I worked for Dr. Janet Wood to help uncover the mechanism behind the osmosensing transporter ProP in Escherichia coli. I joined the Cowen lab and the world of pathogenic fungi in 2015, and am currently investigating novel strategies to abrogate echinocandin resistance and the mechanisms governing drug resistance in Candida albicans.
NSERC USRA Student, MGY480 Thesis Project Student. My research focuses on functional genomic analysis of fungal drug resistance in Candida albicans.
GLSE Summer Student, Work Study Student. My research focuses on dissecting mechanisms by which the fungal pathogen Candida albicans induces active program cell death in host immune cells such as macrophages.
Molecular Genetics Summer Scholar. 2016.
Molecular Genetics Summer Student. 2016.
Xinliu (Angel) Li. Master's in Cowen lab (2014-2016).
Jason Tjia, M.Sc. Master's in Cowen lab (2014-2016).
Jessica Hill, Ph.D. Doctoral work in Cowen lab (2009-2014). Postdoctoral Fellowship at SickKids Research Institute. Currently a course builder at the University of Toronto.
Nicole Robbins, Ph.D. Doctoral work in Cowen lab (2008-2012). Senior Research Associate at the University of Toronto.
Rebecca Shapiro, Ph.D. Doctoral work in Cowen lab (2008-2012). Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Broad Institute.
Sheena Singh-Babak, Ph.D. Doctoral work in Cowen lab (2007-2011). Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSF.
Shantelle LaFayette, M.Sc. Master's in Cowen lab (2008-2010). Doctoral Student at McGill University.
Heather Senn, M.Sc., M.D. Master's in Cowen lab (2009-2010). Medical Student at the University of Toronto.
Stephanie Diezmann, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellowship in Cowen lab (2009-2013). Lecturer, University of Bath.
Trevor Sless. Life Sciences Summer Project Student and Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (MGY480). 2014-2015.
Erin Wong. Life Sciences Summer Project Student and Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (MGY480). 2013-2014.
Kristi Papamihali. DTL Undergraduate Summer Project Student and Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (HMB499). 2013-2014.
Kaitlin Anstett. NSERC USRA and Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (MGY480). 2012-2013.
Fereshteh Valaei. UTEA Undergraduate Summer Project Student and Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (BIOD99Y3). 2012-2013.
Gilvonette Lages. Science Without Borders Undergraduate Summer Project Student. 2013.
Carly Weiss. Undergraduate Summer Project Student. 2011.
Meirui Li. Undergraduate Summer Project Student. 2011.
Danielle Sexton. Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (HMB499Y) 2010-2011.
Daniel Merritt. Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (MGY480). 2010-2011.
Janine Gabriel. Undergraduate NSERC USRA. 2010.
Jess Morhayim. Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (MGY480). 2007-2008.
Kathleen Turner. Undergraduate Thesis Project Student (HMB499Y1). 2007-2008.