Meet The 2022/2023 TC3 Fellows
We are excited to announce our second cohort of TC3 Fellows.
They come from all corners of the University of Toronto and Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network and are each advancing impactful cannabis and cannabinoid-related research projects.
Dr. Bernard Le Foll
I am a MSc student in Dr. Bernard Le Foll’s lab at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. I completed my HBSc in Neuroscience at the University of Toronto prior to enrolling in the Graduate Pharmacology and Toxicology program.
My project uses functional neuroimaging to investigate how chronic exposure to the synthetic cannabinoid drug nabilone affects neural activity in individuals with obesity.
Our group is conducting a clinical pilot trial investigating nabilone as a potential treatment for obesity. Determining the neural mechanisms of nabilone treatment will advance our understanding of the role of the endocannabinoid system in appetite and weight regulation.
I am excited about cannabis/cannabinoid research because of the countless therapeutic applications and potential for direct clinical impacts of cannabinoid drugs.
I love photography and my favourite show is Law and Order.
Helena Fetter Filippini
Dr. Robert Bonin
I am a postdoctoral fellow at Dr. Bonin's Lab at the Faculty of Pharmacy and collaborate with Dr. Kapoor's lab at the University Health Network (UHN). I hold a D.D.S., specialty degree, master's, and Ph.D. in Endodontics and a specialty in Orofacial Pain.
My project aims to assess the effects of cannabinoids on pain, anxiety, memory, and disease stages of osteoarthritis in mice.
Cannabis is a potential therapy for osteoarthritis and may provide analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and disease-modifying effects. The research results will inform drug administration protocols for planned clinical studies of cannabis for OA pain and provide unique information on how cannabinoids relieve pain.
I am excited about my research project because it will bring responses to key questions about cannabinoid mechanisms in pain, memory and osteoarthritis disease
You can find me on twitter @HelenaFilippini
Dr. Sheena Josselyn and Dr. Ruth Ross
I'm a neuroscientist who did her PhD in Amsterdam, and moved to Toronto for my postdoctoral research.
I study the mechanisms behind how stressful events are stored within the brain, and propose that endocannabinoid signaling can play a key role in this process.
While this research is first and foremost fundamental in nature, a better understanding of how (endo)cannabinoid signaling contributes to memory formation can guide us in understanding the basis of how memories are formed and stored in the brain under different circumstances.
I am excited about my research because a better understanding of how stressful memories become more generalized could have great implications in the understanding of psychiatric disorders.
A fun/random fact about me is that the 4 members of my household were born on 3 different continents.
I enjoy ice skating
You can find me on twitter @SLLesuis
Dr. Stefan Kloiber and Dr. Isabelle Boileau
I am currently in my second year of my MSc program at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto.
My project uses positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to investigate the levels of the endocannabinoid metabolizing enzyme, Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH), in the brains of individuals with social anxiety disorder.
This research is important because it has the potential to provide evidence for altered endocannabinoid system functioning in people with social anxiety disorder. As such, these findings may be used to inform the development of new treatments targeting the endocannabinoid system in the future.
I am excited about my research project because I get to investigate a clinical condition that impacts the lives of millions of Canadians using cutting-edge technology that can aid in the improvement of clinical outcomes in future patients.
When I am not in the lab, you can find me reading or playing with my dog, Milo.
Dr. Tony P. George and Dr. Ahmed Hassan
After completing my HBSc in Biomedical Science at Toronto Metropolitan University, I started a master's degree at the Institute of Medical Science where I am currently in my second year of studies with Dr. Tony George and Dr. Ahmed Hassan at CAMH.
My research project uses contingency management to examine whether individuals with co-morbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cannabis use disorder (CUD) experience improvements in PTSD symptoms and cognitive function after 4, 8 and 12 weeks of cannabis abstinence.
Individuals that use cannabis to manage their PTSD symptoms often report mixed outcomes; whether cannabis is exacerbating or ameliorating their PTSD symptoms is inconclusive due to a lack of controlled studies. Results from our study will help fill this knowledge gap and may inform patients, healthcare providers, policy makers, and other key stakeholders on the effects of cannabis in PTSD.
I am excited about my project because it will help shed light on the therapeutic potential of cannabis/cannabinoids in PTSD.
When I'm not in the lab, you can find me thrifting, listening to music, or cuddling with my dog.
You can find me on twitter @RodasJD
Dr. Tony P. George
I am completing my Doctoral Degree in Medical Science with a specialization in Addiction Studies at the University of Toronto.
My research project uses a sex-and-gender based informed lens to examine whether a prolonged (28-day) cannabis abstinence intervention will lead to improvements in clinical symptomology and cognitive functioning in patients with major depression and comorbid cannabis use disorder.
This is the first controlled study examining the effects of cannabis on behavioural outcomes in major depression, which may inform treatment planning for this concurrent disorder. Moreover, the findings may inform sex- and gender-specific treatment planning for cannabis use disorder.
I am excited about my research project because I have a strong interest in elucidating the effects of cannabis use in psychiatric populations, with a particular interest in characterizing sex differences.
A fun/random fact about me is that I rescued my pet cat!
When I'm not in the lab, you can find me trying new restaurants in Toronto!
You can find me on twitter @maryamsorkhou97
Dr. Susan R. George
I completed my BSc. in Pharmacology and Therapeutics at McGill University. Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Susan R. George.
I study neuroinflammatory mechanisms mediated by glial cells, which may underlie adverse effects of adolescent cannabinoid exposure, using non-human primate, rat, and cell culture models.
Our research will identify novel mechanisms in how cannabis exposure during a critical neurodevelopmental window may predispose individuals to adverse psychiatric consequences. In identifying how this occurs, potential therapeutic targets can be found to ameliorate the long-term psychiatric symptoms following chronic, adolescent cannabis use.
I am excited about my research project because I enjoy how unique the brain's endocannabinoid system is, and it is exciting to be a part of research with such multifaceted implications and applications.
I enjoy cooking and baking-- and sharing the end products with friends and family!
Hui Jue (Janet) Wang
Dr. Krista Lanctôt
I am a second-year Pharmacology PhD student in the lab of Dr. Krista Lanctôt at Sunnybrook Research Institute.
I am working on the Nabilone for Agitation Blinded Intervention Trial (NAB-IT) project, which will investigate the efficacy of a synthetic cannabinoid called nabilone in treating agitation in patients with moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Investigating biomarkers of agitation severity and response to nabilone will help identify subgroups of agitated patients who are more likely to benefit from nabilone treatment. Having an effective drug treatment for agitation in AD could greatly improve the quality of life for patients and decrease the physical and psychological burden on their caregivers.
I am excited about my research project because I like that it is a relatively new and “controversial” topic to scientists and the general public alike; introducing my research to the people around me has prompted many thought-provoking conversations.
Dr. Christine Allen
I am currently a second-year MSc student in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toronto.
My research project focuses on the development of lipid-based drug delivery systems for cannabidiol.
A pharmaceutical-grade formulation of cannabidiol that provides extended stability and improved absorption can be used to address a range of clinical applications, including sleep disorders. Achieving such a formulation can increase the bioavailability of the cannabinoid, allowing for the development of new therapies.
I am excited about my research project because the current landscape of cannabinoid products is diverse, and contributing a science-based approach to cannabinoid formulation development is one exciting aspect of moving towards clinically relevant applications.
A fun/random fact about me is that I really like house plants and currently care for over 20 of them!
Dr. Bernard Le Foll
I am a fifth-year PhD student at the Institute of Medical Science at University of Toronto.
My research project focuses on investigating motivations and expectancies for cannabis use in individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
By determining motivations and expectancies of the effects of cannabis use in individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder in comparison to the psychiatrically healthy population that uses cannabis, we are hoping to plan better cannabis use prevention and treatment efforts.
I am excited about my research project because it will help addiction healthcare workers better understand how to plan cannabis use and abuse prevention efforts specifically in individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder
A fun/random fact about me is that I am Raptors and Leafs fan
When I'm not in the lab, you can find me binge watching any kind of TV show
You can find me on twitter @sonja5555
Dr. Bernard Le Foll and Dr. Christine Wickens
I completed my HBSc in Translational and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa and am currently a MSc candidate in Pharmacology with a Collaborative Specialization in Neuroscience.
My research involves characterization of differences in the effects of cannabis on simulated driving in different populations (age, frequency of use, etc.).
Since cannabis legalization in Canada, its use and abuse have increased and have devastating results on road safety. Characterization of the differences in driving under the influence of cannabis between populations can inform policies designed to lower the risk of unsafe driving.
I am excited about my research project because I enjoy seeing potential applications of this research for public policy in the near future and being able to explain its significance easily to friends and family.
A fun/random fact about me is that I love learning new languages!
I enjoy watching sitcoms and playing board games with friends!
You can find me on twitter @Isaac_Kuk
Dr. Lakshmi P. Kotra
I graduated from Florida International University with a BSc in Chemistry and am currently a PhD student in the department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
I am investigating the role of medical cannabis in the treatment of Osteoarthritis (OA) and, additionally, I am working on the synthesis of the four enantiomers of cannabidiol (CBD) to explore their biological activities.
Our study assesses the benefits and/or disadvantages of cannabis in OA patients, which is necessary to establish new guidelines for the prescription of cannabis and to develop novel cannabinoid-based therapies tailored for the treatment of pain and inflammation. A better understanding of CBD and its enantiomers will allow us to explore their stereoselectivity to receptors within the endocannabinoid system and expand on their therapeutic potentials.
I am excited about my research project because I enjoy contributing to our current understanding of cannabis as a treatment of pain and inflammation.
One fun fact about me is that I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and it was a 5-minute drive to the beach!
I like doing yoga at home after a long day in the lab and I love psychological thrillers.
Dr. Isabelle Boileau
I am a second year MSc student within the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Toronto, and I completed my HBSc in Biomedical Science at York University
My clinical research project aims to probe endocannabinoid status in cannabis users utilizing multimodal brain imaging, and how changes in endocannabinoid status may impact cannabis users in abstinence, both physiologically and behaviourally.
The prevalence of cannabis use in the population is growing, and there is an increased demand to comprehend both its acute and chronic effects on brain; not only to minimize harm and treat cannabis related disorders, but also to make use of its potential therapeutic properties. My project aims to better understand the effects of cannabis on the human brain, and will generate new knowledge that may help move forward therapeutics for cannabis related conditions.
I am excited about my research project because the realm of cannabis is so vast, and there are so many questions to be pondered and explored.
A fun/random fact about me is that I am a professional tennis player, and a certified tennis pro (coach)
When I'm not conducting research at CAMH, I will almost certainly be playing tennis somewhere.. or watching tennis on TV!
Dr. Isabelle Boileau and Dr. Bernard Le Foll
I completed my Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Psychology at Queen’s University prior to joining the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Toronto in 2020.
My research utilizes PET and MRI neuroimaging to investigate how prescription opioid use and addiction impact the endogenous cannabinoid system in patients with chronic pain.
The study could help us understand why certain individuals receiving the same treatments for chronic pain develop opioid addiction while others do not. As opioids will continue to be essential medications in the healthcare system, we hope this research can better inform the current opioid prescribing guidelines and help mitigate the ongoing opioid crisis.
I am excited about my research project because the endocannabinoid system has incredible yet mostly untapped potential for both being the system used for the assessment, identification and prevention of many neurological conditions, as well as being the target of potential pharmacotherapies of these conditions.
A fun/random fact about me is that I love kickboxing
When I'm not in the lab, you can find me strolling through local bookshops around downtown Toronto
Dr. Benjamin Goldstein
I graduated from the University of Toronto with a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology, and am currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder located at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
My research project aims to examine the demographic and clinical correlates of cannabis use in individuals with bipolar disorder across the lifespan, focusing on gender differences.
This research is important and needed to advance knowledge regarding cannabis use among men and women with bipolar disorder across the lifespan, in order to enable more personalized prevention and intervention strategies. Most importantly, this research would benefit individuals with bipolar disorder, alongside clinicians who treat these individuals, and other key stakeholders
I am excited about my research project because I am excited about my cannabis research project because the possibility of making a positive impact and helping future generations through my research is very motivating and rewarding for me.
You can find me on twitter @alyshasultan
Dr. Jean Martin Beaulieu
After completing my MD and the specialty in Adult Psychiatry, since 2018 I started a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Pr. Jean Martin Beaulieu to be able to explore open questions raised from my medical practice and study innovative treatments potentially helpful in a clinical setting.
Starting from my medical experience, I focused my research on the role of cannabinoid receptors in the development of Metabolic Syndrome as potential central regulators of energy imbalance and as a promising drug target for metabolic dysfunction.
Using the CRISPR-Cas9 approach we explored the contribution of central cannabinoid receptors to the complex Metabolic Syndrome phenotype including weight gain, insulin resistance, glucose deregulation, and lipids alterations. This study aims to develop a new therapeutic approach targeting cannabinoid receptors in a cell-type and region-specific manner using the RNA targeting CRISPR-Cas7-11S.
What I enjoy most about my research is the possibility to have a significant impact on patients’ health by developing an alternate strategy to bariatric surgery for the treatment of the life-threatening Metabolic Syndrome, avoiding the side effects observed with currently available CB1R targeting drugs.
You can find me on twitter @Federic25097915
Dr. Matthew Sloan
I am a second year Pharmacology MSc student in Dr. Matthew Sloan's lab at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Our research aims to better understand treatment responses in cannabis use disorder (CUD) patients to psychotherapy using the Addiction Neuroclinical Assessment (ANA) framework.
Currently, there is no FDA-approved medication for CUD, and the most prominent treatment is psychotherapies. Unfortunately, not all patients are responsive to therapy; hence, understanding which individuals are more likely to benefit from the available treatment is essential.
I am excited about my research project because I like how my research may contribute to further understanding of CUD, and how future patients may benefit from the findings.
A fun/random fact about me is that I enjoy reading Chinese novels, despite being unable to read Chinese, hence I read translated novels.
I love listening to the Roz and Mocha podcast, as well as watching Youtube videos on baking.
Dr. Bernard Le Foll & Dr. Christine Wickens
I am a second-year PhD student at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. I am a PharmD graduate from the Lebanese American University.
My research focuses on investigating factors that influence the acute subjective and cognitive effects of cannabis.
Identifying factors that influence the effects of cannabis on cognition is important, particularly in the context of driving, a task that relies on a wide range of cognitive domains. Our research has the potential to inform policy related to driving and cannabis use.
I am excited about my research project because I am excited to work with a multidisciplinary team of students, researchers, nurses and physicians.
I enjoy lane swimming
You can find me on twitter @AdamZaweel