Meet Our Amgen Scholars


  Allysia ChinAllysia Chin Allysia Chin
Home Institute: McMaster University
Supervisor: Molly Shoichet
  Ajay (Luke) DavidAjay (Luke) David Ajay (Luke) David
Home Institute : University of Toronto
Supervisor: Carol Schuurmans
  Dushanthi DissanayakeDushanthi Dissanayake Dushanthi Dissanayake
Home Institute: University of Victoria
Supervisor: Tania Watts
  Linda (Ling Yi) GuoLinda (Ling Yi) Guo Linda (Ling Yi) Guo
Home Institute: University of Western
Supervisor: Brian Cox
  Alina HeckAlina Heck Alina Heck
Home Institute: University of Alberta
Supervisor: Anne Wheeler

Please share your thoughts on the value of the experience in the Amgen Scholars Program:

I am so grateful for this program and everyone who came together to make it happen! My summer 2019 research through Amgen provided me a foundation to expand my knowledge, research skills, and network within the neuroscience (and broader) research community. Aside from the research portion of the program, the friendships formed through the social activities, accommodation arrangements and professional development sessions made Amgen much more than a research program.
  Karen MaoKaren Mao Karen Mao
Home Institute: University of Toronto
Supervisor: Rima Al-awar

Please share your thoughts on the value of the experience in the Amgen Scholars Program:

This program is truly phenomenal. And I am beyond grateful for all the opportunities I have given under this program. Amgen Scholars Canada program provides you with cutting-edge research experiences, a global network and authentic and meaningful interactions with peer mentors and your supervisor. It is structured to power your career in science as well as connect you with ambitious, like-minded peers.

Laura MengLaura Meng Laura (Xiang Qi) Meng
Home Institute: McGill University
Supervisor: Michael Fehlings

Please share your thoughts on the value of the experience in the Amgen Scholars Program:

My experience in the Amgen Scholars Program was incredibly valuable. Throughout this Summer, I was able to work in a world class neuroscience laboratory at the Krembil Discovery Tower with Professor Michael Fehlings. I conducted research to understand the etiology and develop prospective treatments for spinal cord injuries, and I learned a lot about the clinical and scientific factors that contribute to this field of research. I was taken aback by how extensive the program was. In addition to research, we also took part in professional development and social bonding sessions that helped us gain valuable insight into various career paths and refine our communication and presentation skills. We were privileged to have a discussion with Dr Nicola Jones, director of University of Toronto's MD/PHD program, about the rigourous journey to becoming a physician scientist. I'm already beginning to apply the knowledge I've learned, and I hope to continue to do so into the future. Visiting University of California, Los Angeles for the National Amgen Scholars Symposium was also incredibly enriching, and I was privileged to be able to present our laboratory's research to fellow scholars from the United States. What was most magical to me--and not completely what I expected--was that I was able to make lifelong friends with scholars from across North America. I will certainly cherish the connections I formed with such talented and ambitious people. I would like to thank the Amgen Foundation and the University of Toronto for this opportunity. I'm sure that I'll be thinking back to this Summer for a long time.

  Maryanne OketchMaryanne Oketch Maryanne Oketch
Home Institute: McMaster University
Supervisor: Lori Frappier
  Denis QeskaDenis Qeska Denis Qeska
Home Institute: University of Ottawa
Supervisor: Molly Shoichet
  Megh RathodMegh Rathod Megh Rathod
Home Institute: McMaster University
Supervisor: Shaf Keshavjee

Please share your thoughts on the value of the experience in the Amgen Scholars Program:

Absolutely amazing experience. Boosted my confidence majorly and it was such a fantastic experience. Living in Toronto with the other scholars, just being so busy in such an amazing city. Thank you so much to the planning committee and Dr. Jessica Hill for facilitating this. By far the highlight of my life so far, and I am hoping I can somehow springboard from this opportunity into other opportunities (which is one thing I wished we spent more professional development time on).  I got to discuss with other international scholars, present a poster, and proudly talk about my work in front of so many very smart people. Looking back 3 months later, it was such a surreal experience jammed pack into one summer. As a testimony, this is an excerpt from one of my emails I sent to during the program (July 9th) to thank a reference in my application to the ASP and highlights my thoughts on the program

"So this summer, I'm working under Dr. Shaf Keshavjee at the Latner Thoracic Surgery Research lab, which part of UHN's Toronto General Research Institute. This lab is huge! There are 11 PIs, and it's a multimillion dollar facility, with so many international post-docs and research fellows. The focus is improving lung transplant outcomes by studying before, during, and after the surgery. They are famous for the Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion system, which allows clinicians to diagnose and treat lungs outside of the body, which increases the number of available lungs for transplant. There are so many projects going on, and it's literally the definition of integrated (ex. engineer's using physics to utilize negative pressure systems in recellularizing lungs, reversing the aging process in lungs, immunology, virology, basic chemistry, animal experiments, air quality assessment, and so much more). Since we're a part of the hospital, I've also gotten the chance to get in scrubs and observe the operating room! … (I would later go on and get the opportunity to see an entire lung transplantation in the middle of the night).

In terms of what I am doing, one of my projects involves looking at correlation between early secondary biomarkers from donor lungs and transplant success rate. The other project involves measuring lipopolysaccharides in serum samples of donors and correlating that with immune response and inflammation markers, which have been demonstrated to have an impact on overall transplant success rate. I've had to do a ridiculous amount of stats so far, and a lot of scientific communication... We're actually going to research symposium this week at UCLA!

Overall this experience has made me feel more competent in my abilities, while also recognizing areas of improvement. It is so cool being here, and I finally feel like I belong in a place like this. I've heard a lot of "no"s in the past, and I finally got a yes this time! This is exactly the opportunity I have dreamed of and worked towards, it's empowering."

I'd be happy to help out and provide more detail in the future!

  Anas SammanAnas Samman Anas Samman
Home Institute: University of Toronto
Supervisor: Vinod Chandran

Please share your thoughts on the value of the experience in the Amgen Scholars Program:

It was an incredible experience where I got to do some awesome research and meet some awesome people. I’m very glad that I had the chance to make connections with other students and with researchers during my time!

Ayni SharifAyni Sharif Ayni Sharif
Home Institute: University of Ottawa
Supervisor: Leah Cowen

Please share your thoughts on the value of the experience in the Amgen Scholars Program:

The Amgen Scholars Program is an amazing opportunity to conduct world-class research in state of the art facilities at the University of Toronto. The mentorship that I received from my research was incredible. Not only did I get to further explore my research interests and career paths, but I also had the opportunity to listen and experience various cutting-edge research topics from well-renouned professors and physicians from the university. Most importantly, I got to meet brilliant students from across the country who I could share this once in a life experience with.

  Sabrina (Mianchen) WangSabrina (Mianchen) Wang Sabrina (Mianchen) Wang
Home Institute: McMaster University
Supervisor: James Dowling

Please share your thoughts on the value of the experience in the Amgen Scholars Program:

The Amgen Scholars Canada Program has been an incredible experience that has strengthened my passion for research and curiosity for discovery. Living in the heart of Toronto where I can be immersed in cutting edge research on congenital myopathies in Dr. Dowling's lab has challenged and inspired me to continue translational research. This summer I was able to work on developing and characterizing various mutant zebrafish models for future use in targeting treatments and therapies for congenital myopathies. Beyond the lab, I was able to build lasting friendships with fellow Canadian scholars, as well as those I met at the US Symposium at UCLA. I am incredibly grateful for this experience and the lasting impact it has made for my personal growth and my career aspirations.
  Noah WarnerNoah Warner Noah Warner
Home Institute: Mount Allison University
Supervisor: Raymond Reilly
  Jenny (Jie Wei) ZhuJenny (Jie Wei) Zhu Jenny (Jie Wei) Zhu
Home Institute: McMaster University
Supervisor: Mohammad Akbari

Please share your thoughts on the value of the experience in the Amgen Scholars Program:

I think the Amgen Scholars Program helped me gain exposure and the technical skills to be more confident in pursuing more wet lab experiences in the future. It also helped me become a lot more comfortable talking about research, both in the context of formal presentations as well as casually in conversation with my peers. It has further fuelled my motivation to pursue research as an integral component of my future career, whatever it may be. I also really appreciated the social components to the program, as I would definitely say that I have made some lifelong friends this summer.