Meet the Trainee Committee

The CMMT Trainee committee organizes scientific and social events to increase networking between CMMT members and represent the interests of CMMT trainees to CMMT faculty. The goal of the committee is to initiate cross talk between the various labs at CMMT, ignite friendships, and create a nurturing scientific community for both new and established members of CMMT.

Laura Lynn Chan – Leavitt Lab

I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Medical Genetics as a part of the Leavitt Research Team. I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Genetics, where my previous thesis reported the role of a transcription factor in cardiac fibrosis following myocardial infarction. My current research investigates huntingtin function and variants in pro-survival and development. Away from the lab I spend my time with my two dogs Link and Nala, taking care of my plants, and hiking. 

Jessica Dawson – Hayden Lab

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Dr. Michael Hayden’s Laboratory. I am keenly interested in exploring genetic modifiers of neurodegenerative disease and genetic diversity. My current research is focused on refining our understanding of genetic modifiers of Huntington disease (HD) to elucidate the underlying mechanism as potential therapeutic targets to slow disease onset. I completed my doctorate at the University of Witwatersrand in my home country, South Africa. Where my research focused on the allele sequence diversity and genetic modifiers of Huntington disease and its phenocopy Huntington Disease-Like 2 in understudied African patients. Outside the lab, I enjoy running, hiking, skiing, cooking, and exploring all the beauty in my new home.

Hannah-Ruth Engelbrecht – Kobor Lab

I am a South African student who made the leap across the hemispheres to begin my PhD at UBC in the Kobor lab.  I work on the characterisation of DNA methylation-based biomarkers in healthy aging, and the comparison between regions where longevity is relatively common to those where it is not. If you’ve heard of Blue Zones via the Netflix series or elsewhere, that’s what I spend my time investigating! I enjoy reading, crochet, hiking, and cold sea swims when I’m not behind a computer!

Rachel Spencer – Taubert Lab

I started my MSc in the Taubert lab in September 2020, after completing my undergraduate at the University of Saskatchewan. I study the role of a transcriptional coactivator in the maturation and function of pancreatic beta cells under Type 2 Diabetes stress. Outside of the lab I spend my time riding horses, shooting photography, scuba diving, and baking.

Mia Frier – Conibear Lab

I am working toward my PhD in Medical Genetics in the Conibear lab. Using high-throughput genetic screens and live-cell microscopy my work aims to uncover mechanisms that maintain balance between degradation and recycling of membrane-embedded proteins – a balance which is often disrupted in neurodegenerative disease. Outside of the lab I enjoy gravel biking, reading, and birdwatching.

Oguz (Oz) Kaan Ozgoren – Pouladi Lab

I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Medical Genetics as a part of the Pouladi Research Team. I graduated from Dalhousie University with a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Neuroscience and Biology, where my previous thesis reported the effects of maternal nutrient deficiency and high-fat diet exposure during pregnancy on the fetal hypothalamic transcriptome. My current research investigates a rare neurodevelopmental disorder (HLD22) and its pathogenesis. Away from the lab, I spend my time taking pictures, going on hikes, and driving around the Pacific Northwest.

Bruno Freitas – Levings & Verchere Labs

I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Experimental Medicine as a part of the Levings and Verchere research teams. My project focuses on assessing the role of regulatory immune cells (macrophages and Tregs) on the development, maturation, and function of stem cell-derived beta cells. In my off time, I enjoy cooking, playing soccer, and listening to podcasts!