WHAT WE DO
Our Mission is to Link Patient Disease with Molecular Mechanism and Generate New Therapeutic Avenues in the Pediatric Population
Heart Failure, Cardiac Dysfunction and Stem Cell-Derived Tissue
Integrin-linked Kinase and New Therapies for Heart Failure
Integrin-linked kinase (ILK) is a pseudo-kinase (i.e. kinase fold without protein phosphorylation activity) that scaffolds focal adhesion proteins in many cell types, including cardiomyocytes. We have illustrated how ILK can also improve cardiac inotropy through the regulation of cellular calcium currents. Using iPSC-cardiomyocyte models, we have shown how ILK interacts with the calcium pump SERCA-2a and how upregulation of ILK can prevent cancer chemotherapy-induced cardiac dysfunction and reduce arrhythmias. We continue to determine key ILK protein:protein interactions that affect cardiomyocyte function and develop new therapeutics for heart failure based on ILK. This includes investigating the role of ILK in potential regenerative cardiac therapies.
Mitochondrial Function, Cellular Energy and Metabolomics
Mitochondrial Form and Function in Disease States
Mitochondrial function is increasingly being discovered to be important in disease processes. Using biophysical methods, we study how both the function of the mitochondrial and the shape of the organelle is altered by disease and pharmacology. Mitochondrial shape (covered by fusion and fission) is a newly discovered mechanism by which mitochondria repair their protein and DNA components, in particular under the constantly oxidative environment of the mitochondria.
Examples of projects ongoing in this area include:
Disease Modelling, Assay Development and Drug Screening
Identifying novel treatments for cardiac fibrosis, heart failure, and viral infection
High attrition rates within clinical trials, due to safety or efficacy reasons, poses a significant barrier to drug development. More predictive disease models and assays are needed to improve the translation of research findings to patients. Addressing methodological gaps and creating better tools to study disease is an important goal of the research conducted in the Maynes laboratory. We employ a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating clinicians, scientists, and engineers with unique areas of expertise, to design comprehensive assays for drug screening. Our screening efforts have yielded a number of promising therapeutic candidates for the treatment cardiac fibrosis, heart failure, and viral infection.
Examples of projects ongoing in this area include:
The Cellular Effects of Anesthetics
Determining How Anesthetic Agents Affect Cellular Processes
One of the largest issues facing pediatric anesthesia and surgery is the potential adverse effects of anesthetics on the developing brain. We investigate how pharmaceuticals used in a common anesthesia - inhalational and IV anesthetics, opiates, benzodiazepines - affect various cellular processes including protein function and metabolism.
Examples of projects ongoing in this area include:
WHO WE ARE
Current Lab Members
Jason T Maynes, PhD/MD
aka Gru, Chief Man, Boss man, Big Daddy
Jason T Maynes, PhD/MD is the Chief of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, the Associate Chief of Research (Surgical Services) and a Staff Anesthesiologist at The Hospital for Sick Children. He has research training in biophysics from the University of Alberta, Los Alamos National Weapons Lab and Washington University.
Favorite Food or Drink: Scotch
Favorite Quote: " Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts." - Richard Feynman
Ramesh Vanama, PhD
aka The Man
Ramesh Babu Vanama, PhD. is the Lab Manager in the Maynes Lab at the Hospital for Sick Children. He previously completed his PhD in Genetics from the University of Osmania. His past work experience includes working as a Research Associate in the Hybrid Rice department at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, a Postdoctoral fellow in the department of Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, and a Lab Manager in the Department of Immunology at University Health Network. He is currently working on mitochondrial fission factor protein.
Libo Zhang, MD
I received my MD degree and an M.Sc. degree in Surgery from Dalian Medical University. After working as a surgeon for 3 years, I moved to Canada and received my M.Sc. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Calgary. Since 2004, I have been working as a Research Associate at SickKids, specializing in pediatric cancer research. In 2017, I joined this wonderful team and started working on proteomic analysis in cardiovascular diseases. My goal is to find out why people suffer from “broken hearts” and how we can heal them from molecular level.
Loukmane Karim, PhD
Originally from Algeria, I completed my PhD at the University of Strasbourg (France) in Molecular and Cell Biology with a particular interest in mitochondrial biology. After a Postdoctoral training at Temple University (Philadelphia, USA) and a short industrial experience at AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK) both in the Pulmonary diseases field, I moved to Canada in 2022 and joined Dr. Maynes lab at the SickKids as a Research Associate. I'm involved in the preclinical evaluation of new therapeutics in the treatment of Cardiac dysfunctions. In addition to my passion for sciences, I enjoy playing volleyball and soccer.
Research Project Manager
Abdel is a Lab Research Project Manager, splitting his time between Dr. Maynes and Dr. Bear’s labs to support the SickKids Tissue Avatars for Therapies (STAT) project. Abdel received his PhD in China and completed his Postdoctoral training at the Medical University of South Carolina. His work focuses on using patient-derived stem cells for precision medicine and drug screening. In his spare time, Abdel enjoys playing soccer and traveling with his family.
Hello, I am Wenkun! I completed my BSc at the Dalian university of Technology and PhD in mechanical engineering at the University of Toronto. I am currently a Postdoctoral research fellow at the U of T and SickKids. My project focuses on developing micro-engineered platforms, biosensors, and Heart-on-a-Chip technologies to characterize the contractile function of in vitro cardiac models for drug testing and cardiac disease modeling. I like to play with the “engineering toys” I developed for heart research. In my spare time, I like swimming and hiking with friends.
Post Doctoral Fellow
Hi, I'm Julia! I am currently a PDF, previously graduated co-op Biochemistry at the University of Waterloo and PhD at the University of Toronto. I study proteins that relay tension in the heart. I pretend to rule over the elements, but really, I just mix colourful liquids.
Hello, I’m Tim! I am originally from Vancouver and I completed my BSc in Pharmacology at the University of Alberta. Now that I am a grad student at the UofT I can’t help but think I will eventually end up somewhere further East because I just keep moving in that direction throughout my education. I am interested in the pathophysiology of heart diseases, disease prevention and drug discovery. Currently, I study an ion channel mutation in the heart that leads to arrhythmias and cardiomyopathies. When I am not in the lab you can expect to find me at the climbing gym or on the basketball court, staying active is good for your cardiovascular health!
Fatemeh Mirshafiei Langari
I did my bachelor’s degree in biology at the American University of Sharjah in the UAE. Then I moved to the second coolest London in the world and did my masters in Neuroscience at Western University before joining the Maynes lab for my PhD. I am currently studying the metabolic effects of neonatal heart-derived secretome on cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts or how my non-scientist friends like to say: “studying secretome of baby hearts and what is special about them”. I am also a cat enthusiast, so if you ever need a cat sitter, you know who to call.
Hi everyone, I’m Shirley! I am a MASc candidate in Biomedical Engineering at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto. In 2020, I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a specialization in Biotechnology at the University of Waterloo. Currently, my research project aims to develop a delivery system for neonatal stem cell secretomes as a potential regenerative therapy for heart failure. Outside of the lab I enjoy hiking, travelling, and trying out new cooking recipes.
Hello, I am Adam! I completed my Bsc in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto in 2020 and am currently enrolled in the same program for my graduate studies. My research project in the JTM lab is to study the epigenetics of a focal adhesion protein called beta parvins, and its relationship to the contractility of the heart. In my spare time, I love trying out new restaurants, traveling with my friends, and going to karaoke. If anyone is down for going to karaoke, I would be delighted if anyone wants to join but be warned beforehand of my terrible singing.
Hi, I’m Kaley! I am currently a laboratory technician in the JTM lab. Prior to starting here, I completed an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology & Genetics and Biomedical Sciences and a master’s degree in Pharmacology & Toxicology, both from the University of Guelph. When I’m not working on my power swing, I find time to study the effects of various anesthetics on mitochondrial function. Still working on hitting for the Krebs cycle!
I graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree and obtained my Master of Nursing Degree from Athabasca University. By day, I help coordinate research studies in the Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine and am responsible for various nursing/research-related tasks. By night I am a part time fitness/Zumba instructor and also enjoy tap dancing, playing the piano and traveling the world.
Past Lab Members
Most are missed.....
Fellows/Research Associates (current location/position)
Students (current location/last identified position)
Never Make the Same Mistake Twice
Please don't ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine
Hospital for Sick Children
Toronto, Ontario, Canada