Walk with a Researcher

The 2018 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes for JDRF is coming up soon, and we have something special planned for our top fundraisers! Participants in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver who raised $5000 or more will have the opportunity to Walk With a Researcher. Some of the brightest minds in type 1 diabetes will be joining us on June 11th, and are excited to talk about new developments in type 1 diabetes research! We are incredibly grateful to our researchers for graciously agreeing to share their knowledge and time at our Walks. What a great reason to step up your fundraising efforts. Contact us for more details at mfletcher@jdrf.ca.

Dr. Anne M. Pesenacker, Vancouver
Dr. Anne M. Pesenacker’s research focuses on how regulatory T cell (Treg) function is controlled in health versus autoimmunity. She has been part of Dr. Megan Levings’ lab since 2013, where she currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship from JDRF to focus on molecular mechanisms of Treg function in type 1 diabetes (T1D). In particular, she developed a Treg gene signature that can be used as a biomarker for Treg fitness (Diabetes 2016, provisional patent). Dr. Pesenacker also discovered that mouse and human Tregs produce chemokines (small proteins made by the immune system to attack foreign invaders) upon activation, but that T1D Tregs have lost this ability (JCI, 2016). Moreover, Dr. Pesenacker initiated a new laboratory-based research program in collaboration with the Rheumatology unit at BC Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Jennifer Yamamoto, Calgary
Dr. Jennifer Yamamoto graduated from medical school and subsequently completed her internal medicine residency training at the University of Manitoba. She completed her endocrinology and metabolism training at the University of Calgary. Dr. Yamamoto is currently a member of the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Calgary and is conducting her clinical work at the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre and the Foothills Medical Centre Diabetes in Pregnancy Clinic.

Dr. Gregory Korbutt, Edmonton
Dr. Korbutt, a professor of surgery at the University of Alberta, is using different techniques to safeguard cells with the goal of developing a more accessible source of insulin-producing tissue for transplantation into patients with type 1 diabetes. He and his team are using their new 3D ‘scaffolding’ technology to make islet transplants more widely available and functional. A scaffold is a polymer (a sheet of repeating molecules) that can be made biologically active, meaning it can be made to have an effect on a living being. The scaffolding technology can help improve blood flow and oxygen to the transplant site, as well as allow incorporation of proteins into the scaffolds that will help keep the cells healthy. Find out more about Dr. Korbutt’s research.

Yesmino Elia, Toronto 
Yesmino Elia completed her Bachelor of Science in human biology and physiology at the University of Toronto. She received graduate training in vision sciences and diabetes at The Hospital for Sick Children and later completed her Master of Science degree from the Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto. She went on to pursuing a career in drug trials with specific focus in pediatrics, diabetes and its complications. For the past 10 years, Ms. Elia has worked as a senior research manager under Dr. Farid Mahmud in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes at The Hospital for Sick Children. Overseeing the operations of the international Adolescent Type 1 Diabetes Cardio-Renal Intervention Trial (AdDIT), she evaluates the protective effects of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and statins in high-risk adolescents with T1D and other projects related to the JDRF Canadian Clinical Trials Network at The Hospital for Sick Children. She will continue to follow AdDIT participants tracking their kidney and cardiovascular risk.

Dr. Nadine Taleb, Montreal
Dr. Nadine Taleb is an MD endocrinologist trained at the American University of Beirut. Her interest in diabetes research led her to pursue a fellowship at McGill University in endocrine genetics where she contributed to the discovery of an essential gene for the development and function of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Dr. Taleb joined the team of Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM) where she completed a Master's degree, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in biomedical sciences to further develop her career as a physician scientist. She has several publications and is the recipient of several awards and training grants (CIHR and FRQS). Her current work includes finding effective strategies to manage glucose control during exercise using technological advances (insulin pumps, glucose sensors and artificial pancreas systems) in addition to studying the factors that modulate glucagon effects in the dual-hormone artificial pancreas and tailoring hypoglycemia treatment strategies in diabetes.

Dr. Corinne Hoesli, Montreal
Dr. Hoesli, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University, is testing an innovative method using 3D printing to create a bio artificial pancreas system. The goal is to create a system that can supply insulin-producing beta cells with the blood flow and oxygen they need to survive post-transplantation. Read more about Dr. Hoesli’s research.

Ariane Beland, Montreal
Ariane Beland is a research trainee from Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec. She obtained her bachelor of chemical engineering from McGill University in 2016. She is now a Master’s candidate in the McGill Department of Chemical Engineering. For over two years, Ms. Beland has been working under the supervision of Prof. Corinne Hoesli in the Stem Cell Bioprocessing Laboratory. Her efforts to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D) have revolved around pancreatic cell encapsulation methods and studying the interactions between immune cells and biomaterials. Her Master’s thesis focuses on induced pluripotent stem cells (which are stem cells capable of giving rise to several different cell types). Ms. Beland loves to make connections between biology and engineering, as well as with the people who contribute and benefit from these connections. She hopes her enthusiasm for research will one day help those affected by T1D.

Christina Bitar, Montreal
Christina Bitar studied chemical engineering with a specialization in biomedical engineering at the University of Ottawa, graduating in 2016. Ms. Bitar is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in chemical engineering at McGill University, under the supervision of Prof. Corinne Hoesli. Her research involves optimizing a microchannel emulsification process for pancreatic islet cell encapsulation and implantation, as an alternative type 1 diabetes (T1D) treatment option. This project requires expertise in various fields of chemical and biomedical engineering, including fluid mechanics, mammalian cell culture, biochemical engineering, and encapsulation technologies. Ms. Bitar’s interest in this project stems from her desire to apply the knowledge and skills acquired during her education, to aid in the eradication of T1D.

Lets turn type one into type none