Ayesh Seneviratne, Institute of Medical Science
Supervisor’s full name and title: Dr. Aaron Schimmer Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, and Director, Research Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
PhD thesis (title and brief overview): Role of Tafazzin in Hematopoiesis and Leukemogenesis
Ayesh Seneviratne is a 7th year MD/Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto. He completed his Ph.D. in Dr. Aaron Schimmer’s lab, where he studied the role of mitochondrial lipid (fat) synthesis pathways in leukemia cell growth. His research showed that the inhibition of the cardiolipin (a mitochondrial lipid) remodeling enzyme tafazzin increased the lipid phosphatidylserine levels and decreased the growth and survival of leukemia stem cells. Interestingly, the loss of tafazzin had no effects on healthy blood cells, highlighting a potential therapeutic strategy for leukemia.
During his graduate studies, Ayesh authored thirteen peer-reviewed publications. In addition, he was awarded the Siminovitch-Salter award (2020), the Canadian Hematology Society’s best paper of 2019, the best paper award in the Mimi and Charles Hollenberg research competition (2018), and the CIHR doctoral research award (2017). Along-side his Ph.D., he was a founding member/President of Apollo Toronto (2015-2018, a translational medicine student group), worked with Toronto notes as Production Manager (2018-2019), and Editor-in-Chief (2019-2020).
Ayesh is currently in the middle of clinical rotations for the MD portion of his degree and has developed an interest in geriatric medicine. He hopes to pursue a career as a clinician-researcher and use his knowledge in clinical medicine, stem cell biology to implement novel therapies that delay or even prevent geriatric syndromes like frailty into clinical practice.