Molly Towell Fellows

In accordance with Molly Towell’s wishes and directions, the philosophy of the Molly Towell Perinatal Research Foundation is to provide financial encouragement for young scientists to pursue training in basic biomedical mechanisms of Perinatal health and disease and to provide financial assistance to help launch the academic careers of such individuals. The Foundation’s objective is to provide one Fellowship and one New Investigator award annually, though this is contingent on the quality of the applications and Foundation resources.

Since its inception in 1988, the Foundation has provided more than $1.4 million to support these programs. In addition, The Foundation has contributed more than $200,000 to support educational conferences that are focused on dissemination of research information to clinicians and scientists.

The following is a list of Fellows who have been recipients of MTPRF Awards. An asterisk (*) beside the name indicates that papers acknowledging the MTPRF-supported work have been appended in the MTPRF-supported Research section.

Dr Megan O’Reilly

2014-2016  Dr O’Reilly received her Ph.D. from Monash University where, under the direction of Dr Richard Harding, she studied the influence of environmental influences in early lung development on lung function and respiratory health throughout life. She then went to the University of Alberta Department of Pediatrics as a post-doctoral Fellow to study mechanisms and potential preventive strategies for hyperoxia-induced bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Her work will be supervised by Drs. John Greer and Bernard Thebaud and will work as part of the Neonatal Research Unit.

Dr Marie-Amelie Lukaszewski*

2013-2015  Dr Lukaszewski received her Ph.D. in Biology and Health from Universite Lille-Nord de France. Her pre-doctoral studies were focused on the effects of maternal nutrition on fetal hypothalamic function and adipose tissue deposition. She immigrated to Canada to continue her studies at the Universite de Montreal. Her work will be supervised by Dr Anne Monique Nuyt at the Sainte-Justine Research Centre, and will investigate the impact of oxidative stress on neonatal circadian rhythm of energy metabolism.  View Dr Lukaszewski’s paper

Dr Jane Ng

2012-2014 Dr Ng received her M.D. degree from McGill and completed a residency in Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia. She was awarded a Fellowship to make use of epigenetic methods to determine the correlation between DNA methylation profiles and maternal tobacco exposure. Her studies will form part of her Ph.D. thesis. Her supervisor is Dr David Olson at the University of Alberta Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the other investigators involved in collaboration with the Accessible Resource for Integrated Epigenetic Studies (ARIES) project situated at Bristol University.

Dr Nardhy Gomez-Lopez*

2011-2013  After receiving her Ph.D. from the National School of Biological Sciences in Mexico, Dr Gomez-Lopez was awarded a Fellowship to study immunoregulation during pregnancy. Her Fellowship was split between two locations: with Dr David Olson in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Alberta and Dr Sarah Robertson at the University of Adelaide, Australia. After a very successful and prolific Fellowship, she was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the C S Mott Centre for Human Growth and Development at Wayne State University and is the Director of the Perinatal Immunobiology Unit, Perinatology Research Branch of the NICHD/NIH/DHHS.  View Dr Gomez-Lopez’s papers: Gomez-Lopez-2014-2, Gomez-Lopez-2014-1, Gomez-Lopez-2013, Gomez-Lopez-2011

Dr Sascha Drewlo*

2010-2012  Following his Ph.D. studies at the University of Cologne, Dr Drewlo was awarded a Fellowship to investigate the effects of heparin on placental function, under the supervision of Dr John Kingdom at the Lunenfeld Research Institute at the University of Toronto. After a productive Fellowship, he was appointed as Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the C S Mott Centre for Human Growth and Development at Wayne State University to continue his research regarding placental abnormalities in human pregnancy. View Dr Drewlo’s paper: Drewlo-2013, Drewlo-2012, Drewlo-2011-3, Drewlo-2011-2, Drewlo-2011-1

Dr Shannon Bainbridge*

2008-2010  After receiving her Ph.D. from Queen’s and completing a post-doctoral Fellowship with Dr Jim Roberts at Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh, Dr Bainbridge was awarded a MTPRF Fellowship to study placental growth and development under the supervision of Drs. Lee Adamson and John Kingdom at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at the University of Toronto. She then successfully obtained a national peer-reviewed Fellowship and has subsequently been appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences and as an affiliate investigator in the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute at the University of Ottawa. Of interest, Dr Bainbridge recently won a MTPRF New Investigator award to continue her studies on pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction.  View Dr Bainbridge’s paper: Bainbridge-2012-2

Russell Friesen*

2002-2005  A Fellowship was awarded to Mr. Friesen for post-graduate studies of maternal-fetal lipid metabolism with Dr Sheila Innis in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia. Mr. Friesen is now a registered dietician working with Providence Health Care in Vancouver.  View Friesen’s papers: Friesen-2006-2, Friesen-2006-1

Dr Chun-Yuan Guo*

1997-1998 A fellowship was provided for Dr Guo to work with Dr Stephanie Atkinson in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University. The project studied the effects of corticosteroids on growth and skeletal delay in the neonatal period. View Dr Guo’s paper

Dr Tino Piscione*

1997-1998 Postdoctoral studies were performed in the laboratories of Dr Norman Rosenblum in in the Department of Nephrology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The research explored the role of BMP-2 in branching morphogenesis in the developing kidney. Dr Piscione remains as a faculty member in the Department of Nephrology at Sick Kids and continues to publish research studies focused on renal development.  View Dr Piscione’s paper

Dr Carlos Fernandez-Patron

1996-1997 After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg, Dr Fernandez-Patron came to work with Dr Sandra Davidge at the Perinatal Research Centre and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Alberta. His studies provided exciting and novel data regarding the role of metalloproteinases in metabolism of endogenous vasoconstrictors. He subsequently was appointed to the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta and, as a current Associate Professor, is continuing his research in the area of matrix metalloproteinases in vascular remodeling.

Dr Ande Karimu

1995-1997 Following completion of his M.D. degree in Nigeria, Dr Karimu received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University. He then came to the Perinatal Research Centre at the University of Alberta to perform post-doctoral studies with Dr Peter Mitchell. He investigated the role of estrogen in the regulation of oxytocin receptor gene expression in the human uterus in late gestation. He went on to complete his clinical residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale and the University of Cincinnati and has practiced for many years as a consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology in northern Manitoba.

Dr Yunlong Zhang*

1994-1995 Dr Zhang was an M.D. from China who came to the University of Alberta Department of Physiology and Perinatal Research Centre to complete his Ph.D. with Dr Susan Kaufman. His research was directed towards establishing an animal model for the study of pre-eclampsia. After graduating, he worked as a post-doctoral with Dr Sandra Davidge in the Perinatal Research Centre where he continued his studies in pre-eclampsia. His career has been in the medical device industry and he currently works in California.  View Dr Zhang’s Paper.

Dr Vera Boros*

1993-1994 Dr Boros was a Neonatologist from Budapest, Hungary who worked with Dr David Olson in The Perinatal Research Centre and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Alberta to study the effects of hypoxia on lung development in newborn rats. She returned to Hungary and has been a national leader in Neonatal Intensive Care Medicine.  View Dr Boros’s paper: Boros-1997, Boros-1996

Dr Teresa Davidson*

1991-1993 A Biomedical Engineer, Dr Davidson was a Fellow with Dr James Fewell at the University of Calgary. Her studies focused on the arousal response to upper airway obstruction in young lambs. View Dr Davidson’s paper: Davidson-1995,Davidson-1994

Dr Drew Sadowsky*

1991-1994 Dr Drew Sadowsky, from Cornell University was a post-doctoral Fellow with Dr David Olson at the Perinatal Research Centre and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the University of Alberta. His studies explored the role of cytokines and prostaglandin production from human fetal membranes in the initiation of labour. Dr Sadowsky has gone on to have a productive career as a faculty member in the Division of Reproductive Sciences at the Oregon National Primate Centre. His studies have contributed important information regarding the mechanisms controlling the onset of labour in non-human primates.  View Dr Sadowsky’s paper

Ms. Natalya Moiseeva

1991-1992 Ms. Natalya Moiseeva from the University of Moscow School of Biology studied amino acid metabolism with Dr Sam Bessman at the University of Southern California.

Sarah Dickstein

1990-1992 Sarah Dickstein from Israel, received a Fellowship to perform graduate studies with Dr Stanley Zlotkin at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Her research studied the effect of abnormal amino acid profile on appetite regulation in rats with chronic renal failure.


New Investigator Awardees

From 1988 until 2018 the MTPRF granted new investigator awards. An asterisk (*) bedside the name indicates that papers acknowledging the MTPRF-supported work have been appended in the “MTPRF-supported Research” section.

Dr Simon Hirota

2014-2016 As a new Assistant Professor in the Departments of Physiology & Pharmacology and Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary, Dr Hirota will use a mouse model to investigate mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis. His novel hypotheses suggest interactions between orphan nuclear receptors and the immune system that result in the intestinal pathology of this common disease in newborns. His experiments could lead to novel strategies to prevent or ameliorate the disease.

Dr Shannon Bainbridge

2013-2015 Dr Bainbridge is the first MTPRF Fellow (2007-2008) who has gone on to receive a New Investigator award. Following completion of post-doctoral Fellowships at Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto, she was appointed as Assistant Professor in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences and as an affiliate investigator in the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute at the University of Ottawa. She will continue her research into pathologic mechanisms in the placenta that result in fetal growth restriction.  View Dr Bainbridge’s paper: Bainbridge-2018

Dr Jorge Soliz*

2012-2014 Dr Soliz was appointed as Assistant Professor at Laval University in the Department of Pediatrics, Centre de Recherche de l’Hopital St-Francois d’Assise. He received a New Investigator award to study the role of erythropoietin in the regulation of breathing in newborn infants. With the additional assistance of other local awards, his laboratory already is well established with an impressive output of new information in this important area of research. View Dr Soliz’s papers: Soliz-2013, Soliz-2013-2, Soliz-2013

Dr Richard Keijzer*

2011-2013 This clinician-scientist trained first as a surgeon and then completed his Ph.D. at Erasmus University in the Netherlands. He then completed training in Pediatric Surgery at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. He was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Surgery, and Pediatrics and Child Health, and Physiology at the University of Manitoba. He was awarded a New Investigator grant to study the functional role of specific micro-RNAs in the abnormal pulmonary development that occurs in babies with congenital diaphragmatic hernia.  View Dr Keijzer’s paper

Dr Pascal Lavoie*

2009-2010 As a Neonatologist and Assistant Professor in Pediatrics with the Child and Family Research Institute at the University of British Columbia, Dr Lavoie’s special interests are in the field of immunology. He was awarded a New Investigator grant to study systemic inflammation in preterm neonates at risk of lung and brain injury. He also has received a Career Investigator Award from the Michael Smith Foundation and a Child and Family Research Institute Clinician-Scientist award. Lavoie-2011, Lavoie-2017

Dr Martin Frasch*

2010-2012 Following his M.D. and residency training in Germany and completion of his Ph.D. studies at Western University, Dr Frasch was appointed as Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Sainte-Justine Research Centre, University of Montreal. He was awarded a New Investigator award to study interactions between the fetal autonomic nervous system and inflammatory mediators in determining perinatal health following intrauterine sepsis. In 2012 he was successful in obtaining a 5-year CIHR grant to continue his research.  View Dr Frasch’s papers: Frasch-2013, Frasch-2013-2

Dr Justine Turner*

2009-2011 Dr Turner is a clinician-scientist in Pediatric Gastroenterology. Following post-doctoral training at the Hospital for Sick Children, she was appointed to the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and was awarded a New Investigator grant to characterize an animal model for the study of intestinal adaptation to short bowel syndrome in piglets.  View Dr Turner’s paper

Dr Daniel Hardy*

2007-2009 Following a post-doctoral Fellowship with Dr Carol Mendelson at the University of Texas Southwestern, Dr Hardy was appointed as assistant professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Physiology and Pharmacology at Western University. Dr Hardy’s research is focused on the role of nuclear receptors and genetic mechanisms of fetal programming. He was promoted to associate professor at Western in 2013.  View Dr Hardy’s paper

Dr Sarah McDonald

2005-2007 Dr McDonald was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McMaster University and received a New Investigator Award to establish her research program to study mechanisms underlying the development of postnatal obesity in children born with fetal growth restriction. She now is an Associate Professor in Ob/Gyn with cross-appointments in the Departments of Radiology and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Dr Denise Hemmings

2004-2005 A new Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Alberta, Dr Hemmings received start-up funding for her project studying the role of receptors for sphingisine-1-phosphate in the vascular adaptations to pregnancy. She is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr Janet Brunton

1999-2000 A New Investigator award was granted to Dr Brunton of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta to study arginine requirement in piglets. Dr Brunton is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Dr Sheila Innis

1998-1999 A new Investigator in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, Dr Innis was awarded a start-up grant for her research program to study maternal lipid nutrition and the implications of essential fatty acid transfer to the fetus. Dr Innis is now a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Head of the Nutrition and Metabolism Research Program of the Child and Family Research Program.

Dr Michelle Mottola

1997-2000 This Assistant Professor at the University of Western Ontario was awarded funding to study the effect of chronic exercise (stair-climber program) in pregnant women. Dr Mottola remains as an Associate Professor in the Departments of Cell Biology and Anatomy and School of Kinesiology at Western University and is Director of the R. Samuel McLaughlin Foundation – Exercise and Pregnancy Laboratory.

Dr Colin MacCalman

1995-1996 Start-up funding was provided to establish his new laboratory in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of British Columbia. Throughout his career at UBC, Dr MacCalman studied placentation in normal and pathologic pregnancies with support of several national funding agencies until his untimely death in 2011.

Dr John Greer*

1993-1994 A new assistant professor in the Department of Physiology, Division of Neuroscience at the University of Alberta, this award was used to purchase specialized equipment to study the ontogeny of the neural control of breathing. Dr Greer is now a Professor in the Department of Physiology and Director of the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Alberta. He is an international authority in the field of neural regulation of the respiratory system. His studies have contributed to understanding of the central nervous system control of breathing in neonates and adults. He also has studied the role of abnormal neural development leading to congenital diaphragmatic hernia.  View Dr Greer’s paper

Dr Joan Hodgman

1990-1991 Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California received funding to study the role of deficiency of non-essential amino acid synthesis in failure to thrive.

Dr Sugantha Govindarajan

1990-1991 Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Southern California received funding to study the ability of premature infants to synthesize essential amino acids.

Dr Johann (John) Krisinger*

1990-1991 Dr Johann (John) Krisinger, a new investigator in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of British Columbia received funding to study the function and regulation of the calbindin-D9k gene in the human uterus and placenta during pregnancy. Dr Krisinger is now a Professor in Biology and Nursing at Northwest Community College in Prince Rupert, B.C.  View Dr Krisinger’s papers: Krisinger-1992, Krisinger-1995-1Krisinger-1995-2