Other researchers

Peter Szaraz, PhD, Director of Cardiovascular Regeneration Research Program

Peter completed a Master`s degree in 2005, at the ELTE Science University and the Semmelweis Medical University in Budapest, Hungary. There, his research focused on the impact of oxidative stress on intracellular organelles and the subsequent effects on the entire organism. From 2006 to 2010, he completed PhD studies at the University of Siena, Italy. There, he developed a particular interest in stem cells and tissue regeneration through his studies of the interconnections between cell stress, cell survival and cell fate decisions in diabetes and Alzheimer’s models. He also studied stem cell differentiation in the context of heart muscle development and function in a post-doctoral fellowship program at the University of Toronto. He joined the stem cell research program at Create in 2012. As a part of a rapidly expanding research group, he has conducted research both in vitro and in vivo using human umbilical cord-derived perivascular cells – a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells. His projects aim to develop and apply tissue regeneration strategies for heart disease using this cell type, in the hopes of reaching clinical trial stages for myocardial infarction therapy by 2020.

Denis Gallagher, PhD, Research Scientist / Neurovascular Research Director

Denis completed a PhD in developmental neurobiology at Cardiff University, U.K in 2008. During his PhD, his research was focused on cytokines, growth factors and cell signalling pathways regulating neuronal survival and axon growth during critical developmental windows. Denis received a McEwen Centre for regenerative medicine postdoctoral fellowship in 2009, which he completed at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. During his postdoctoral studies, Denis discovered novel genetic and environmental factors, implicated in autism spectrum disorders, which regulate embryonic development of the cerebral cortex. Denis joined the CReATe team in April 2016 as Director of Neurovascular Research and currently oversees multiple preclinical-stage projects, with the common goal of uncovering regenerative capabilities of human umbilical cord stem cells in neurological disorders. Ongoing research in the neurovascular group includes preclinical models of Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, neuropathy and neuroinflammation.

Valeriy Kuznyetsov, PhD, Director of preimplantation genetics research

Valeriy earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biology at the St. Petersburg Research Institute for Animal Genetics and Breeding in Russia, where he studied cytogenetic mechanisms that regulate meiotic and ameiotic parthenogenesis of animal oocytes, and how these mechanisms impact on developmental competence of parthenogenetic embryos after chemical and electrical activation. In his ensuing postdoctoral studies, he conducted research in the field of cloning of animal embryos by nuclear transfer, conversion of interphase nuclei into metaphase chromosomes  from single human blastomeres for PGD of chromosomal rearrangements, studied cytogenetic mechanisms leading to duplication of the human sperm genome and  haploidization of human somatic cells, conducted research in development of method of human spermatozoa vitrification without permeable cryoprotectants, production and characterization of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) lines. Valeriy joined the CReATe team in October 2010 as Director of Preimplantation Genetics Program, and established team and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosic (PGD) and Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) programs using first in IVF-clinics of Canada array comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH) technique and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology to investigate chromosomal abnormalities in human preimplantation embryos in ART. He is currently working on the impact of embryo mosaicism on PGS, examining the potential for less- and non-invasive PGD and PGS to test IVF embryos for chromosomal abnormalities and genetic diseases, collaborates on multiple clinic research projects in PGD and PGS, embryology and andrology, and coordinates research training in embryology and PGS at CReATe.

Stewart Russell, PhD Research Associate, Director of the Human Embryo and Implantation Research Program

Stewart graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Honours, in Biology from Wilfrid Laurier University before post-graduate studies at the University of Guelph. There, he began a Masters in Biomedical Science with Dr. Allan King, and directly entered into a PhD with Dr. Jonathan LaMarre after a year of courses and research. His PhD thesis was focused on the Piwi pathway and its influence on the epigenetics of gamete and embryo development. Stewart joined CReATe in September 2016 to lead projects investigating non-invasive markers of embryo health and viability.

Samantha Yee, MSW, PhD, Psychosocial Researcher

Samantha joined the CReATe Fertility Centre in September 2015 after obtaining her Ph.D. in May 2015 from the University of Toronto’ Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. Her doctoral thesis examined the factors associated with the receipt of fertility preservation services in young female cancer patients. http://goo.gl/c37dx8. Before joining CReATe, she was a social worker at Mount Sinai Hospital from 1999 to 2014 in the Department of Psychiatry and the Fertility Centre. Samantha brings 15 years of direct patient care experiences to CReATe. Samantha’s research work is grounded in her understanding of patients’ experiences in infertility, assisted reproductive treatments, and third party reproduction. She is a co-investigator of a CIHR/CBCF funded project that aims to encourage early fertility preservation referrals of young breast cancer patients by surgeons (http://www.womensresearch.ca/ruby-study). Her current research initiatives at CReATe are in the areas of egg freezing, decision support in fertility preservation, and gestational surrogacy. Samantha is a registered social worker (R.S.W.) in good standing of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). In 2007-2009, she was the Chair of the Counselling Special Interest Group of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS), and was one of the taskforce members in drafting the CFAS Assisted Human Reproduction Counselling Practice Guidelines 2009. Samantha was a recipient of various awards, including the Outstanding Abstract Award (5th International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health, 2006); Karen McGibbon Award of Excellence (Mount Sinai Hospital, 2007); Rose Torno Bursary Research Award (Mount Sinai Hospital, 2009); Best Psychosocial Paper Awards (CFAS, 2010; CFAS 2013); Research Skills Development Award (CIHR Institute of Gender and Health, 2011); Travel Award (CFAS, 2013); and Graduate Student Travel Award (CIHR Institute of Cancer, 2014).