Our Team

Dr. Rama Khokha is a Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM), University Health Network. She is Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics, cross appointed to the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto. Dr. Khokha received her MSc from the University of Delhi, India, and PhD in biochemistry in 1985 from University of Western Ontario. She was a postdoctorate fellow at Cancer Research Labs in London, Ontario until 1989 and a von Humboldt Fellow at European Molecular Biology Labs from 1990 to 1992. She began her independent program in 1990 at the London Regional Cancer Centre and then joined Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in 1996. Dr. Khokha received Canadian Institutes of Cancer Research Studentship among other awards and was a Canadian Institutes of Cancer Research Scholar. Recently, her work was recognized by the prestigious 2014 Robert L Noble Prize from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute.


Orcid ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6028-1524

Link to biography: https://medbio.utoronto.ca/faculty/khokha

Link to Google Scholar Citations: https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=Pjqs-jAH3OcC&hl=en

Affiliate Scientists

Paul Waterhousehe/him (paul.waterhouse@uhnresearch.ca)







Research Associates

Virginie Defamie, she/her (virginie.defamie@uhnresearch.ca)

I have obtained my Ph.D in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis in France. My PhD work has focused on Orthotopic Liver Transplantation, the primary therapy for end-stage liver disease and acute liver failure. I have characterized the early response of Human grafts following transplantation and, using a rat model, I have demonstrated that the use of a MMP inhibitor significantly improved liver function and decreased hepatocellular damages. I am currently investigating the role of MMPs/TIMPs in Hepatic Progenitor Cell expansion and their differentiation into mature hepatic cells.




Sanjay Saw, he/him (sanjay.saw@uhnresearch.ca)

I received my Ph.D in Biotechnology in India, where I specialized in Lab Allergy and Immunology. My current work in the Khokha Lab explores the role of TIMPs in hematopoiesis.






Postdoctoral Fellows

Curtis McCloskey, he/him (curtis.mccloskey@uhnresearch.ca)

I received my Ph.D from the University of Ottawa in 2018 where I worked on ovarian cancer prevention and treatment. I joined the Khokha lab in January 2019 largely due to Dr. Khokha's interest in breast cancer prevention and rich-training environment. My work involves functional profiling of high-risk human breast tissue with a goal of improving patient risk assessment and prevention.  I throw rocks and sweep ice in my spare time a.k.a curling.





Matthew Waas, he/him (matt.waas@uhnresearch.ca)







Shawn Hercules, he/they (shawn.hercules@uhnresarch.ca)

I earned my Ph.D. in Cancer Biology and Epidemiology from McMaster University in 2021 where I investigated genomics and epidemiological profiles of Barbadian, Nigerian and Jamaican women of African ancestry with triple negative breast cancer. I joined Dr. Khokha’s lab because of the multi-omics approach to breast cancer prevention. I am passionate about science communication and challenging racial and cis/heteronormative stereotypes in science. Fun facts about me: I play the violin and I went to school with Rihanna in Barbados!




Abhijith Kuttanamkuzhi​, he/him (abhijith.kuttanamkuzhi@uhn.ca)

I received my Ph.D. in Biology from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, India, where I investigated the role of an anti-apoptotic protein in breast carcinogenesis. At Khokha lab, my work involves understanding the regulation of DNA damage response in human breast epithelial cells. Apart from wet lab research, I am very passionate about exploring new places and trails, long drives, and camping.





Graduate Students

Foram Vyas, she/her (foram.vyas@uhnresearch.ca)

Ph.D Candidate

I completed my undergrad at the University of Toronto (B.Sc., 2020). As a MSc. candidate, my work investigates proteolytic networks in pancreatic cancer subtypes. I am also learning to broaden my bioinformatics skills. Outside of the lab, I like to make music.   





Bowen Zhang, he/him (bowen.zhang@uhnresearch.ca)

Ph.D Candidate

I received my B.Sc (2020) at Western University where I developed a passion for both cancer and stem cell research. I joined the Khokha Lab to learn about how stem cell biology can be used to improve cancer prevention and therapy. Currently, I'm investigating the heterogeneity within human mammary stem cell/progenitor populations. Hobby-wise, I enjoy fencing and chess!




Soumili Sarkar, she/her (soumili.sarkar@uhnresearch.ca)

Ph.D Candidate

I received my Master's in Biotechnology from IIT Bombay, India. My major goal is to identify the extrinsic factors that regulate the expansion of Liver progenitor cells as well as their cell fate, using hepatic organoids. Other than research, I enjoy playing keyboard and covering songs with my Ukulele during my spare time.





Research Technicians

Iris Fang, she/her (hui.fang@uhnresearch.ca)

I received my MD from Tianjin Medical University in China. In 2003, I joined Dr. Khokha’s lab. Working as a technician, my major job is to maintain animal models and keep lab routine. I like to spend my spare time with my family.






Nathan Chan, he/him

I've received my undergraduate degree at UofT (B.Sc). I have dual reasons for joining the lab. I'm interested in cancer research and secondly the lab is supportive of training and learning! Did you know that sloths can't shiver when it's cold?






Project Managers






Pirashaanthy Tharmapalan Ph.D, she/her (pirashaanthy.tharmapalan@uhnresearch.ca)




Postdoctoral Fellows
Dr. Ronak Shetty
PhD, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scentific Research, India
Current Position: TBD
Dr. Barbara Grunwald
PhD, Technical University Munich, Germany
Current Position: Assisstant Professor Duisburg Essen University, Germany 2023
Dr. Mona Shehata
PhD, The University of Sydney, Australia 2017
Current Position: Assistant Professor at the Krishnan-Ang Senior Postdoctoral Researcher, Cambridge
Dr. Jinchang Lu
PhD, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China 2015
Current Position: Assistant Professor at Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center
Dr. Purna Joshi
PhD, The University of Texas at Dallas, USA 2022 
Current Position: Assistant Professor - Biological Sciences 
Dr. Alison Casey
PhD, Imperial College London, England, UK 2012
Current Position: Medical Device Analyst
Dr. Yan Chen
PhD, University of Hong Kong, 2003
Current Position: TBA
Dr. Qinglian Tang
PhD, Sun Yet-Sen University 2014 – Joint PhD Program
Current Position: Clinician Scientist and Surgical Oncologist, First Affiliated Hospital of Zhongshan University, China
Dr. Hibret Adissu
DVM, PhD, DVSc University of Toronto, 2010
Current Position: Assistant Professor & Veterinary Scientist, Discovery Pathologist, Covance
Dr. Masayuki Shimoda
PhD, Tokyo University, 2010
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Clinical Pathologist, Tokyo University, Japan
Dr. Ilpo Koskivirta
PhD, University of Helsinki, 2008
Current Position: Clinician Scientist, University of Turku, Finland
Dr. Alexander Beristain
PhD, University of British Columbia, 2007
Current Position: Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada
Dr. Geoffrey Wood
DVM, PhD, DVSc, University of Toronto 2006
Current Position: Associate Professor, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Canada
Dr. Trevor D McKee
PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 2004
Current Position: Scientific Associate, STTARR
Dr. Zamaneh Kassiri
PhD, University of Toronto, 2002
Current Position: Associate Professor, University of Alberta, Canada
Dr. Meenakshi Kashyap
PhD, Mumbai University 2000
Current Position: Education Senior Consultant, Medical Reconciliation at Alberta Health Services, Canada
Dr. Jane English
PhD, University of East Anglia, UK, 2000
Current Position: School Manager at University of East Anglia, UK
Dr. Evelyn Voura
PhD, University of Toronto, 1999
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Dominican College, New York, USA
Dr. Roger A Moorehead
PhD, McMaster University 1997
Current Position: Professor, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Canada
Dr. Otto Sanchez
MD, PhD, McMaster University 1997
Current Position: Professor, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Canada
Dr. Kevin Leco
PhD, University of Calgary 1996
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Okanagan Valley College, BC, Canada
Dr. Achim Kruger
PhD, German Cancer Research Center, DKFZ, 1993
Current Position: Professor, Technical University of Munich, Germany
Graduate Students:
Mathepan Mahendralingam, M.Sc.
Mammary epithelial cells have lineage-restricted metabolic identities
Current Position: MD/PhD student, University of Toronto
Hyeyeon Kim, Ph.D.
Mammary lineage-dependent homologous recombination repair and PARP inhibitor vulnerability
Current Position: Post-doctoral fellow in Khokha Lab
Ashley Weiss, Ph.D.
Current Position: Medical Device Analyst
Sam Molyneux, Ph.D. candidate
Human somatic cell mutagenesis platform for forward genetic screens
Current Position: CEO & Founder of Meta
Yang Shao, Ph.D.
Cross-species genomics of mouse-dog-human osteosarcomas
Current Position: CEO & Founder of Geneseeq
Hartland Jackson, Ph.D.
Combinatorial Timp deficiency and adult mammary stem cells
Current Position: Investigator at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health and Associate Scientist Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.
Alison Aiken, Ph.D.
TIMPless mice reveal disrupted bone morphogenesis due to defective IHH pathway
Current Position: Senior Director at Top Hat Scientific Publishing, Toronto
Yu-Jia Shiah, M.Sc.
Mapping progesterone-induced networks in mammary stem cell subpopulations
Current Position: Manager, Risk Modeling & Machine Learning
Aditya Murthy, Ph.D.
ADAM17-TIMP3 regulation of EGFR and Notch signalling
Current Position: Group Leader – Cancer Immunology Program, Genentech, USA
David Smookler, Ph.D.
Metalloproteinase control of acute inflammation
Current Position: ‎Director of the HCV Education program at Toronto Western Hospital
Carlo Hojilla, Ph.D.
Timp3 function in mouse models of mammary gland apoptosis and cancer
Current position: Clinical Pathologist, Hematology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto
William Cruz, Ph.D.
Proteases in liver cancer and metastasis
Current Position: Research Associate, University of Toronto
Fazilat Mohammed, Ph.D.
Metalloproteinase regulation of TNF bioactivity
Current Position: Radiation Oncologist, Miami, USA
Andrew Ho, M.Sc.
Extracellular proteases and cell contact inhibition
Current Position: Scientist, Paris Diderot University, Paris, France
Jimmie Fata, Ph.D.
TIMPs in mammary gland morphogenesis
Current Position: Associate Professor, College of Staten Island, USA
David Martin, Ph.D.
Metalloproteinases and insulin-like growth factor bioavailability in hepatocellular carcinoma
Current Position: Director of Equity Research, Bloom Burton & Co., Toronto
Sharmela Inderdeo, M.Sc.
Spatiotemporal expression patterns of TIMPs in ovary
Current Position: Physiotherapist, Cambridge, ON
Undergraduate Students:
Mina Alam
Laura Breda