LYE LAB MEMBERS

A Collaborative & Diverse Group

Our people are at the core of what makes the Lye Lab such a unique and fulfilling place to work. We’re proud of the diversity of our staff, with each member contributing their unique skills to the projects we’re working on. Together, we’ve planned and executed some of the most innovative and cutting edge experiments. Find out more about our team members below.

 

STEPHEN LYE

Principal Investigator & Associate Director

Dr. Stephen Lye is a recognized leader in the field of women's and infants' health. His research holds promise for a new understanding of preeclampsia, a leading global cause of maternal and infant illness and death. In addition, his lab has conducted pre-clinical trials of a drug to stop uterine contractions, which is now being tested on patients in preterm labor at Mount Sinai Hospital.

He has also developed a diagnostic test, pilot tested and now part of a larger study, to distinguish false labor from preterm labor. Once it meets regulatory approval, this test will have a significant impact on patient care, preventing unnecessary hospitalization costs and negative impact on fetal health, since drugs given to stop labor and mature the fetus in case of preterm birth can have damaging side effects when, as is often the case, they are not needed.

Dr. Lye has also joined a fascinating Australian study investigating the developmental origins of health and disease. This project recruited 3,000 pregnant women, recorded their birth parameters and has followed their offspring for 20 years, studying a range of factors including growth, physiology, and psychosocial development. Dr. Lye will be genotyping the children and the parents, a process that will reveal important data about the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors involved in health and susceptibility to illness.

Currently, in collaboration with Dr. Alan Bocking and over a team of 30 clinicians and researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Lye is leading the Ontario Birth Study -  the largest Canadian study of its kind to track the health of women and their babies.

https://publons.com/researcher/2647054/stephen-j-lye/

OKSANA SHYNLOVA

Scientific Associate & Lab Manager

Dr. Oksana Shynlova is a Research Scientist and Assistant Professor dedicated to advancing the field of maternal-fetal medicine and mature women’s health   Dr. Shynlova obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Palladin Institute of Biochemistry at the National Academy of Sciences in Ukraine. She worked as a Junior Scientist at the Institute of Biochemistry where her research focused on investigating membrane mechanisms regulating uterine contractility. After moving to Canada in 1998, Dr. Shynlova joined the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Lye as a Research Scientist in the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Her research focused on molecular mechanisms of regulation of myometrial functions during pregnancy and labor, specifically the role of mechanical and endocrine signals. Dr. Shynlova has extensive experience with animal and human studies of the etiology of Preterm Labour (PTL).

She established multiple animal models of obstetrical/gynecologic events including artificial menopause, pseudopregnancy, unilateral pregnancy, progesterone-delayed labor, infection-induced, and sterile PTL models. Dr. Shynlova is also well-known for her studies of maternal peripheral blood. Her current interest is in improving the identification of women at high risk for spontaneous PTL and developing new therapeutic interventions for its prevention. Recently, Dr. Shynlova was awarded the CIHR grant: Catalyzing Innovation in Preterm Birth Research: "MRI of Cervical Morphology and Maternal Serum Blood Markers Predict Spontaneous Human Preterm Birth”. Dr. Shynlova’s work has resulted in 65 peer-reviewed publications, three reviews, and four invited chapters.

In 2012, Dr. Shynlova joined the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Toronto as an Assistant Professor. In collaboration with colleagues from the Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Shynlova is researching the fundamental molecular mechanisms of the development of Pelvic Floor Disorders in mature women. She has published nine manuscripts on this topic. Recently, in collaboration with Drs Ian Rogers and Mark Kibschull, Dr. Shynlova developed an innovative and highly competitive independent research program to advance basic science in the area of Urogynecology using autologous urine-derived induced pluripotent stem cells to treat two major Pelvic Floor Disorders: Stress Urinary Incontinence and Pelvic Organ Prolapse. She aims to translate her discoveries from bench to bedside.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Shynlova%20O%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=30886179

CAROLINE DUNK

Research Associate

Dr. Caroline Dunk, a research associate in Dr. Stephen Lye's laboratory at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI) at Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Dunk’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms behind uterine spiral artery remodeling in early placentation. She is an expert in placental dissection techniques and has 15 years of experience working with placentas.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Dunk%20CE%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=30256530

LUBNA NADEEM

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Lubna Nadeem obtained her Ph.D. in 2011 from York University, Toronto, under the supervision of Dr. Chun Peng. Her research focused on the role of the cytokine Nodal /ALK7 signaling pathway in the human placenta. During her Ph.D., she discovered that Nodal inhibits trophoblast proliferation and exerts a fine control over their level of invasion in the uterus. She also reported abnormally high levels of Nodal and its receptor ALK7 expression in placenta from patients with preeclampsia which may indicate that Nodal contributes to the development of this pregnancy complication.

Following the completion of Ph.D., she joined Dr. Stephen Lye laboratory at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, for postdoctoral training. Dr. Nadeem’s research focus remained on Women’s and Infants Health. She is currently exploring the mechanism of labor onset in human. The precise molecular mechanism by which labor-associated genes are induced is poorly understood – contributing to our inability to prevent labor when it occurs preterm Progesterone is critical for the maintenance of pregnancy in all species. The initiation of labour in all mammals, excluding humans, is caused by systemic P4 withdrawal. Lubna investigated one of the most perplexing dilemmas in reproductive biology: how human labour could be initiated despite elevated circulating P4 levels. Dr. Nadeem has recently made major discoveries that cast new light on these processes and suggest new targets for intervention and with them novel therapeutic possibilities.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Nadeem%20L%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=29042599

MARK KIBSCHULL

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kibschull is a research specialist in the Lye lab, focusing on the underlying pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and preterm birth. To better understand how human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) develop into the more than 200 specialized cell types that make up the human body, Kibschull and his colleagues need to optimize hESC culture conditions and identify the biochemical cues that induce differentiation.

To assess the effects of culture condition changes and the addition of different biochemical cues, Kibschull uses real-time PCR and looks for the hESC gene expression patterns that are characteristic of pluripotent stem cells and those that are the hallmarks of differentiation. In theory, this is a straightforward undertaking: harvest cells, isolate mRNA, and perform standard real-time PCR analysis. In practice it has proven to be an almost insurmountable challenge. “When you work with stem cells,” he explains “you often have only a tiny amount of material that you would like to analyze for several markers via qPCR. This was not possible with standard column-based RNA purification methods.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Kibschull%20M%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=24866916

JIANHONG ZHANG

Postdoctoral Fellow

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YANXING WEI

Research Fellow

Dr.Yanxing Wei graduated with M.D. degree in 2008 from Tongji Medical College, HUST in China and trained as a Neurosurgeon and then an Obstetrician. Also, he visited Department of OB/GYN in Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University for the training of VBAC and Robot surgery in 2012-2013 and he received his Ph.D. degree in Maternal-fetal Medicine at Southern Medical University in 2016.


Since 2017, Dr. Yanxing Wei joined Dr. Stephen Lye laboratory at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, for postdoctoral training. Dr. Wei mainly focuses on the human trophoblast stem cells and their role in early placentation as well as the possible molecular mechanism causing related pregnancy disorders, such as preeclampsia. He isolated primary human trophoblast stem cells from early trimester villi and also attempts to induce human trophoblast stem cells in vitro to model diseases.

yanxing@lunenfeld.ca

KAYLA ABREGO

Master Student

Kayla previously studied in the Honours Bachelor of Health Science program with a minor in Psychology at the University of Ottawa sparking her current research interests. Obesity amongst children is a rising concern in preventative health care globally. Fetal programming and early life nutrition influence childhood obesity, which is predictive of adulthood obesity and risk for non-communicable diseases. The goal of her research is to understand the relationship between maternal preconception and perinatal BMI with childhood growth trajectories, and if exclusive breastfeeding moderates this relationship. Identifying perinatal interventions aimed at reducing the risk of child obesity introduces an early point of intervention for combating the development of obesity.

ADAM BOROS-RAUSCH

Master Student

After completing an Honors Bachelor of Life Science Biomedical Research Specialization at Queen’s University, Adam joined the Lye Laboratory in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. Since the beginning of his academic career, Adam has worked at Mount Sinai Hospital for the past 4 years working at The Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute as a summer intern in the Rogers, Nagy, Schramek, and now Lye lab – studying stem cell development, cancer biology, and preterm labor immunology. Adam completed his fourth-year thesis project under the supervision of Dr. Mark Ormiston at Queen’s University in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. His project involved studying cardiopulmonary immunobiology and the links of natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system to the pathobiology of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

After completing his project, he joined the Lye lab at Mount Sinai Hospital to combine his interests in immunology with his previous developmental research skills. His current M.Sc. project is focusing on the inhibition of the chemokine responses within the uterine-placental microenvironment to prevent preterm labor.

Adam’s specific objectives are: To study different processes that occur in the human uterus before and during labor; 1) to identify specific inflammatory molecules produced in different parts of the uterus- by myometrium, decidua (the lining of the pregnant womb) and fetal membranes, that control the onset of labor; 2) to test whether drugs that block chemokines (BSCI) can inhibit their actions in human pregnant tissues and in animal models of PTL.

ANTARA CHATTERJEE

Master Student

Antara Chatterjee is a third-year Master's student in the Lye Lab. She completed her Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto back in 2015, during which she developed a passion for women and maternal health. By volunteering for various women empowerment and health-focused groups after she graduated, she sought to pursue something meaningful that can enact change in the field of maternal health. Antara decided to research was the way to fulfill this goal, and thus feels privileged to work in Dr. Lye's lab in improving our understanding of pregnancy complications.

Antara's research project is a collaboration between the Lye Lab and Mouse Imaging Centre (MICe) at SickKids, where they are using MRI to detect changes in the uterine cervix during pregnancy. They are proposing that MRI has the capacity and sensitivity to better detect cervical changes prior to labor compared to existing methods (for example, transvaginal ultrasound), which then has the potential to help clinicians stratify women at risk for delivering preterm. The group is testing this idea first on mouse models through the methods of MRI and histology to assess the integrity of cervical tissue across gestation, and have so far found that the internal os of the uterine cervix may have a sphincter-like property. They believe this property functions mainly to keep the baby in utero and to maintain pregnancy. Based on their results, they propose that disruption of the tissue at the internal os detected by MRI indicates impending delivery both at term and preterm. The implications of this study are two-fold: 1) the cervix is much more dynamic than previously thought, and 2) a weak cervical structure can lead to preterm labor. Feel free to reach out to chatterjee@lunenfeld.ca or Dr. Oksana Shynova (the PI of this study) at shynlova@lunenfeld.ca for more information.

ELONA CANELLARI

Undergraduate Student

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ELZBIETA MATYSIAK-ZABLOCKI

Research Technician

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ANNA DOROGIN

Research Technician

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EDUARDO AGUIAR

Research Technician

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SOPHIA SILAS

Research Technician

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