Team Members

Principle Investigator

Dr. Jeff Biernaskie

Dr. Jeff Biernaskie


Dr. Biernaskie completed his BSc in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, his PhD in Neuroscience at Memorial University and postdoctoral training in Stem Cell Biology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. In 2009, he joined the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary, where is he currently a Professor in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. He is a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and he holds the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society Chair in Skin Regeneration and Wound Healing.  In 2019, he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada College of Scientists, Artists and Scholars.

His research program is focused on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying tissue regeneration and the potential to exploit tissue-resident stem cells toward restoration of function following injury or disease. He is specifically interested in how skin and brain stem/progenitors cells are regulated during homeostasis and how factors like injury, advanced aging and the immune system impact their function.

Graduate Students

Wisoo Shin, MD/PhD Candidate

Wisoo Shin, MD/PhD Candidate

My primary research interests are in understanding how the natural aging process negatively impacts the regenerative capacity of adult stem cells, and how the accumulation of DNA damage throughout life can lead to stem cell dysfunction. I utilize in vivo lineage tracing techniques, confocal imaging, in vitro tissue culture and large data bioinformatics to answer my research questions.

I received my Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from the University of Calgary in 2015. As an undergraduate research student, I worked with Dr. William Brook to study how the expression of a single transcription factor midline determines cell fate during development. Outside the lab and away from research, I like to play sports (soccer, flag football, and dodgeball), I am a volunteer with Stem Cell Talks and I assist in teaching an undergraduate course (MDSC 408).

Sarthak Sinha, MD/PhD Candidate

Sarthak Sinha, MD/PhD Candidate

Sarthak is an MD-PhD Candidate and a Vanier Scholar in the Leaders in Medicine program at the University of Calgary. He graduated from University of Toronto with a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience and Psychology in 2018. His research utilizes single-cell sequencing technologies to understand mechanisms driving tissue fibrosis and regeneration.

Nilesh Sharma, MSc Student

Nilesh Sharma, MSc Student

My primary research interest is understanding how ependymal cell metabolism regulates the neural stem cell niche, and how ependymal cell biology can be manipulated to improve brain injury repair. In order to investigate these, I am performing conditional gene knockouts, examining the transcriptional signature of ependymal cells and developing tools to manipulate their cell-state in vivo.

I received my Bachelor of Science at the University of Calgary where I focused on Neuroscience. For my undergraduate thesis, I worked under Dr. Patrik Ernfors at Karolinska Insititute in Stockholm, Sweden, where I worked on identifying sensory pathways in the spinal cord that underlie neuropathic pain.

Whenever I get a break from the lab, you can find me hiking, playing cricket or traveling some random city.

Kabita Baral, MSc, PhD Student

Kabita Baral, MSc, PhD Student

My project is focused on glial cells of the central and peripheral nervous systems viz. redial glial cells and Schwann Cells. I utilize single-cell RNA-sequencing in order to conduct comparative study of various cells' core signatures. The overarching goal of my project is to find a regenerative alternative to glial cells of the nervous system as a therapeutic venture.

I completed my undergraduate from Nepal in Pharmaceutical Science and my Masters from Texas, USA in Bioinformatics. Besides research, I love outdoor activities and cooking/baking. I am also very enthusiastic about gardening and origami.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Elodie Labit, PhD

Elodie Labit, PhD

After a Master in Pathophysiology, I completed my PhD at STROMALab (Toulouse, France) on adipose tissue regeneration. I was interested in the opioid control of immune cells during adipose tissue regeneration, and the regionalization of the browning process of the inguinal white adipose tissue as well.

I arrived in the Biernaskie Lab in March 2018 to work on skin regeneration. More specifically, I am interested in understanding the general mechanisms of regeneration in the Large Open Wound model. My main objective is to understand, in an integrative way, how the fibroblasts interact with their niches (immune cells, adipocytes, nerves, ...) to enable skin regeneration in adult (young and aging) mammals.

As a side project, I have worked with Dr. Midha's lab on human nerve and skin derived Schwann Cells for improving peripheral nervous system regeneration.

Outside of the lab? I like cooking, doing photography, playing table tennis & I would love to have more time to travel around the world and do more often scuba-diving. Since I have been a Postdoc in Calgary, I love to go to the Rockies for hiking, camping, and for discovering & observing the wonderful Canadian wildlife. Of course, I enjoy sharing a glass of red wine & a cheese board with my friends on Friday evenings.

Kiran Todkar, PhD

Kiran Todkar, MSc, PhD

After completion of master’s degree in molecular biology in Sweden, I worked as Researcher in various labs in Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, India and South Korea. Then, I pursued my Ph.D. on the project “Selective packaging of mitochondrial proteins into extracellular vesicles prevents the release of mitochondrial DAMPs” at The Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières under the supervision of Dr. Marc Germain.

I have joined as Postdoctoral Fellow at Biernaskie Lab to understand the genetics of Skin regeneration and wound healing by implementing molecular biology and bioinformatics tools. It will provide critical insight about molecular mechanisms that drives skin regeneration versus scar formation.

In the free time, I like to explore the beauty of the earth by traveling to different places, go for hikes and doing photography to preserve memories of those wonderful moments.

Lab Support

Dr. Nicole Rosin, Lab Manager/RA

Nicole Rosin, PhD - Lab Manager/RA

Nicole completed her PhD at Dalhousie University, and her BSc at UBC. She was a postdoc at UCalgary (with the Biernaskie/Gabriel/Matyas labs) and worked at UBC as a Grant Writer and Research Manager before returning to Calgary.

Undergraduate Students

  • Arzina Jaffer
  • Rohit Arora
  • Leslie Cao
  • Eren Kutluberk 

Lab Alumni

Min Cheng - Retired Lab Manager

Sepideh Abbasi, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow, McGill University

Garrett Moffatt – Medical Student, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Hayley Robbins – DVM Student, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary

Kevin Gowing – Medical Student, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Raquel Gonzalez Herrero, DVM, PhD 

Holly Malyk, DVM, PhD - Assistant Professor, University of Calgary

Katie Anker – Medical Student, University of Alberta

Jo Anne Stratton, PhD - Assistant Professor, McGill University

Katie Schuller 

Natacha Agabalyan - Process Development Scientist, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, London

Andrew Hagner, PhD  - Postdoctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia

Ranjan Kumar, PhD - Founder and CEO, Delta Brewery

Morgan Stykel - University of Guelph

Waleed Rahmani, MD, PhD  - Doctor of Medicine, University of Calgary

Eko Raharjo 

Lauren Stark - Clinical Research Coordinator, Institute for Skin Advancement