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The Karimi Lab Personnel

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The Karimi Neural Regeneration and Stem Cell Program

Lab 2019


Lab photo-2018



Principal Investigator


Soheila Karimi, PhD

Professor, Dept. of Physiology and Pathophysiology
Senior Scientist, Regenerative Medicine Program
Principal Investigator, Spinal Cord Research Center
Scientist, Manitoba Institute of Child Health
Faculty of Medicine
University of Manitoba

Positions outside the University of Manitoba:

- Member: Executive Committee of International Women in Multiple Sclerosis (iWiMS)
- Member: Board of Directors for the Canadian Association for Neuroscience
- Associate Editor: Frontiers in Neurology (Neurotrauma Section)
- Associate Editor: BMC Neuroscience

Soheila Karimi received her PhD degree in Neuroscience from the University of Saskatchewan in 2001. She then undertook a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Spinal Cord Injury and Stem Cell Research at the Toronto Western Research Institute. During her graduate and postdoctoral training, Soheila received a number of research awards including postdoctoral fellowships from the CIHR, the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. In 2006, she was the recipient of the prestigious Synthes Award from The American Association of Neurological Surgeons in USA for her work on spinal cord injury and neural stem cell therapy.

In 2007, Soheila joined the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto as an adjunct Assistant Professor until 2009 when she moved to the University of Manitoba. She has had a long term interest in spinal cord repair and regeneration with a special focus on the application of neural stem cells for the treatment of spinal cord injury.  Current research in her neuroscience laboratory has focused on regenerative medicine strategies to therapeutically optimize the application of neural stem cells for tissue regeneration and recovery of function after spinal cord injury. Her laboratory is physically located within the newly constructed state of the art Regenerative Medicine Program at the University of Manitoba. Karimi's program is affiliated with the Neuroscience and Spinal Cord Injury Division of the Department of Physiology and  Pathophysiology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. She is also a core member  of the Spinal Cord Research Center at U of M. Her program is well-funded by the national and international grants. Soheila has also received several awards including Merit Award from the University of Manitoba for for her outstanding contributions to research, teaching and service,  and the 2017 Ed Kroeger Award for Distinction in Mentorship of graduate students. Soheila serves in numerous panels and committees and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, Scientific Advisory Committee of the International Neurotrauma Society and serves in the Executive Committee of the International Women in Multiple Sclerosis..

Research Staff and Trainees

Hardeep Kataria, PhD

Research Associate


Hardeep Kataria received his PhD in Life Sciences in 2012, with focus on Neuro-oncology and Neuroprotection. During his PhD, Hardeep received IBRO-APRC exchange fellowship and Japan Neuroscience society (JNS) travel award. In 2013, he joined Center for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH), Germany as Postdoctoral research fellow. He worked on regenerative potential of small molecule agonists of cell adhesion molecule L1 using in vitro and in vivo functional assays.

Hardeep joined Karimi’s lab in 2015 as Postdoctoral research trainee and in 2019 became a research associate. He is a recipient of Research Manitoba/Rick Hansen Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (2015). Hardeep leads several projects aimed at understanding the role of remyelination following multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury. This work focuses on remyelination from endogenous progenitor cells and role of neuroinflammation and trophic factors to replace myelin after demyelination. Hardeep has contributed to numerous high impact publications. Please refer to our publication page.


Harshita Chaudhary, PhD
Research Associate


Harshita Chaudhary received her PhD in Life Sciences in 2012, with focus on rodent model for hepatocarcinogenesis and multidrug resistance. In 2013, she joined Center for Molecular Neurobiology Hamburg (ZMNH), Germany as Postdoctoral research fellow. She worked on the interaction and regulation of cell adhesion molecule CHL1 with serotonin/dopamine receptors and expression analysis of cell adhesion molecule L1 in tissue microarray from neurofibromatosis patients. Later she joined Exigence Technologies, Winnipeg as Life Science Lead Scientist where she led and participated in the evaluation and development processes for existing and new products. Harshita joined Karimi’s lab in January, 2020 as a research associate. She is involved in assisting with several projects related to multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.



Narjes Shahsavani, MSc
PhD Student

Narjes Shahsavani obtained her BSc and MSc degrees from Isfahan University and Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences, respectively, in Iran. In 2018, Narjes joined Karimi’s laboratory as a M.Sc. student and successfully transferred to the PhD program in May 2019. Narjes holds a Manitoba Graduate Fellowship. Narjes leads an important project in Karimi's lab that investigates the role of Neuregulin-1 in neuronal injury and oxidative stress after traumatic spinal cord injury. Narjes' work was selected for a podium presentation at the 2019 Canadian Spinal Cord Injury Meeting in Vancouver.

MHSeyed Mojtaba
eini, MD
MSc Student

Mojtaba Hosseini graduated from Medicine in 2016 from Shiraz University of Medical Science in Iran. Mojtaba worked extensively on neural stem cells and neurotrauma research during his medicine program and afterwards in collaboration with Royan Institute in Tehran.  Mojtaba joined Karimi’s laboratory in 2019 as a MSc student. He currently holds a University of Manitoba Graduate Students Fellowship for his MSc project. Mojtaba leads several projects in Karimi's lab that develops combinatorial approaches to optimize the regenerative capacity of neural stem cell endogenously and in transplantation studies in spinal cord injury. Mojtaba will transfer to the PhD program in 2020.


Ben Borys, BSc
Medical Student


Ben Borys is a medical student at the University of Manitoba. He joined Karimi’s lab for the summer of 2020 through a RFHS Summer Research Program. Ben project focusing on neural stem cells. He contributed to a review article as a co-author and assisted with cellular analysis of neural stem cells.


Lab Graduates and Alumni (Gone but not forgotten)


Arsalan Alizadeh, MD, PhD
PhD Graduate         2012-2018
Research Associate 2018-2020

Arsalan Alizadeh graduated with a MD degree from Gilan university of Medical Sciences in Iran in 2010. He started as a M.Sc. student in Karimi's lab in 2012 and transferred to PhD program in 2014. Arsalan defended his PhD and graduated in July 2018. He was in a research associate in Karimi's lab from 2018 to 2020.

Arsalan’s PhD thesis investigated the mechanisms and  therapeutic potential of Neuregulin-1 for the repair of spinal cord injury. Arsalan is recipient of numerous awards including the 2017 Drewry Award for Excellence of Research in the Health Sciences, Excellence in Translational Research from the Diagnostic Services Manitoba, two Research Manitoba studentships, the Larry Jordan Award of Excellence in Neurophysiology, CIHR Gold Poster Award in the 2017 Canadian Student Health Research Forum,  two Gold and Silver Medals in CHRIM Research Day in 2014 and 2015, and Poster prize at Manitoba Neuroscience Network in 2015. Arsalan has contributed to numerous high impact publications. Please refer to our publication page.


Christopher Hart, BSc , PhD
PhD Graduate


Christopher Hart graduated from Miles Macdonell Collegiate through the International Baccalaureate program in April 2009, and completed a BSc. Honours Degree in Genetics (First Class) at the University of Manitoba in February 2014.
  Christopher started as a Masters student in Karimi’s lab in the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology in 2014, investigating the modulatory role of astrocytes in neural stem cell (NSC) differentiation following spinal cord injury (SCI). In 2015, Chris transitioned to a PhD program. Chris is the recipient on NSERC and Research Manitoba Studentships in 2015 and 2017. Chris has also received the Nick Shepel  poster award at the 2017 Manitoba Neuroscience Network Meeting as well as gold poster prizes in the 2018 Manitoba Health Research Forum and the Canadian Student Health Research Forum, as well as the Larry Jordan Award of Excellence in Neurophysiology in 2019. Chris contributed to several publications in the lab. He defended his PhD thesis in May 2020

Axel Honore,  PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Axel Honoré received his PhD in cell Biology in 2017 at the University of Rouen, France. During his PhD, Axel studied the effect of transplanted olfactory ensheathing cells on resident ependyma neural precursor cells after spinal cord injury. For the first time, using hFoxJ1-CreERT2 and rasless mouse models, Axel showed that olfactory ensheathing cells can act directly on the proliferation and differentiation of ependymal cells in vitro and in vivo. This provides a beneficial environment for neuronal survival. Axel was in Karimi’s lab as a post doctorate fellow from April to June 2019 to study neural stem cells in spinal cord injury.

Jessica Franco
Undergraduate MITACS Student 2019

Jessica Franco is an undergraduate student from Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Querétaro, México pursuing a Bachelor in Biotech Engineering. Jessica has received a scholarship from the Neurobiology Institute of the National Autonomous University of México with the project: "Extraction and purification of RNA to evaluate the expression of the housekeeping genes of mouse liver and chicken cardiomyocytes", being only two people working on this project at the national level and is the actual president of the International Biotechnology Congress Quorum.

Jessica joined Dr. Karimi’s lab in May 2019 in the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology and the Regenerative Medicine Program where she worked as an intern for the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship in the areas of spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. Jessica contributed to immunohistochemistry, imaging and tissue/cell quantification in a project related to our multiple sclerosis research.

Khuong Le, BSc
Technician 2018-2019

Khuong Le was a research technician in Karimi’s lab from July 2018-2019. Khuong received his BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Manitoba. Soon after graduation, he joined Dr. Shiu and Dr. Peter Watson labs in the Department of Physiology, University of Manitoba as a technician. Then, from 1993 to 2005, he worked at the cancer research institute, Novopharmaceutical Bitotech, in Winnipeg first a R&D technician and then as a senior research associate. From 2005 – 2018, Khuong worked in  Dr. Mohammed Moghadasian as a research technician in the areas of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Also during 2014 – 2018, Khuong was a part-time technician in Dr Eftekharpour. In Karimi's lab, Khuong performed basic histology, PCR and Western blot techniques.

Shana Kahnamoui, MSc
Technician 2019

Shana Kahnamoui Shana was a technician in Karimi’s laboratory from May-August 2019. Shana graduated from Azad University-Tehran Medical Science branch in 2014, where she received a BSc degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Throughout her undergraduate degree Shana worked in different laboratories to learn practical skills. After graduation, she started her research work at the Cancer Institute of Iran by focusing on the molecular pathways underlying programmed cell death and epigenetics in cancer biology. In 2016, Shana started M.Sc. program in the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology at the University of Manitoba under the supervision of Dr. Richard Keijzer. Her project was focused on identifying the role of non-coding RNAs in normal and hypoplastic lung development due to Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). In Karimi's Lab Shana performed basic immunohistochemistry and Western blot techniques.

Brahim Gargouri,  PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow 2019

Brahim Gargouri was born and raised in Sfax, south of Tunisia. He did His Bachelors’ degree in Molecular and cellular Biology and biotechnology from Faculty of Sciences of Sfax. Brahim joined Prof. Fetoui’s Lab for his MSC studies in neurotoxicology, and neurobehavioral, in which he studied the effect of occupational pesticides on human health. After the successful completion of Masters studies in genomics and proteomics, Brahim joined Dr. Fiebich’s laboratory in Albert-Ludwigs Uin neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. Brahim received his PhD in 2018. Brahim was a member of Dr. Karimi’s Laboratory in 2019.


Ghazaleh Shahriary, MSc

MSc Graduate

Ghazaleh joined the Karimi Laboratory in September 2015 after receiving a MSc degree from Shahid Chamran University, Ahvaz in Iran. Ghazaleh is working towards a MSc degree under the supervision of Dr. Karimi. Her project elucidate the role of Neuregulin-1 in regulating microglia. Ghazaleh is a recipient of Research Manitoba  studentship and a gold poster medal  at the 2016 CHRIM Research Day. Ghazaleh completed her MSc thesis and graduated in August 2018. Ghazalehhas also contributed to several original research articles in the lab. Please refer to our publication page.

Scott Dyck, BSc, PhD

Scott Dyck graduated from North Dakota State University (NDSU) in May 2008 where he received a degree in Zoology with a minor in microbiology. At NDSU, Scott was a student athlete participating in baseball and has received multiple awards for academic excellence and community service. Scott has previous research experience at NDSU and the University of Manitoba as an undergraduate student.

Scott Joined Karimi’s lab in 2012 as a Masters student and transferred to a PhD program in 2014. His PhD project is focused on understanding the role of a glycoprotein, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan, in modulating the response of neural precursor cells following spinal cord injury. Scott is the recipient of numerous awards including NSERC and three Research Manitoba studentships, the LSAM Most Promising Student Award form Life Science Association of Manitoba in 2017, Larry Jordan Award of Excellence in Neurophysiology, Manitoba Medical Services Foundation Research award, Gold Medal in Manitoba Student Research Poster Competition and Silver Medal in CIHR Student Poster Competition. Scott has contributed to numerous high impact publications. Please refer to our publication page. Scott successfully completed his PhD degree in March 2018.

Santhosh Kallivalappil, PhD

Research Associate


Santhosh Kallivalappil obtained Undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Biochemistry and  Ph.D. degree for thesis entitled “Dopamine D2 receptor functional regulation:  cAMP and IP3 in Pancreatic regeneration” in 2006 from Cochin University of Science and Technology, Cochin, India. He joined the Dept. of Physiology, University of Manitoba in 2006 for Post Doctoral research training with scholarship from the Manitoba Institute of Child Health. During Post Doctoral research, he worked on “Molecular pharmacology of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs)”. Studies were focused on post translational modifications that effect the thromboxane receptor kinetics during pulmonary hypertension in neonates.
Santhosh joined Karimi's laboratory in the Regenerative Medicine Program as a Research Associate in 2013. His current research is focused on developing clinically-relevant bioengineering and pharmacological approaches for drug and stem cell delivery in spinal cord injury. Santhosh has contributed to several publications in the lab. Please refer to our publication page.


Khashayar Akbari
Undergraduate Student


Khashayar  is an Undergraduate student at McMaster University pursuing a Bachelor of Health Sciences honours degree. Khashayar has been a summer student in the lab since 2016. He has learned several techniques in neurosciences and stem cell research. He has also contributed to several projects in the lab on spinal cord injury. Khashayar has received an NSERC Undergraduate Summer Studentship. Khashayar contributed a high impact article in our lab.

Graham McLeod, BSc
BSc Med Graduate


Graham is a medical student at the University of Manitoba. He first joined Karimi’s lab in the summer of 2015 and contributed to a project that investigates the role of astrocytes and glial scar on the behavior of neural stem cells. He has returned to the lab for a two-year BSc Med program focusing on multiple sclerosis research.

Graham has received several awards for his academic achievements and community service, including the Isbister Scholarship and the UMSU Student Contribution award. Graham is a 2015 recipient of the Undergraduate Research Award.

Maria Astrid Bravo Jimenes
Undergraduate MITACS Student

Astrid is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor in Biological and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at University La Salle in Mexico. She has been in summer research programs developing and synthesizing novel potential compounds with pharmacological activity since 2015. She joined Dr. Karimi’s lab as a summer MITACS student. She is learning techniques in neurosciences and taking part on the research of Multiple Sclerosis.

PeiyuPeiyu Wang
Undergraduate MITACS Student

Peiyu Wang is an undergraduate student from Wuhan University majoring in biology. He joined Karimi's lab through Mitacs Globlink Research Internship.
Peiyu has won a silver medal in iGEM competition of MIT as a member of a team, and also received some scholarships from Wuhan University. In Karimi's lab, he enrolled in a project working on Nrg-1, received some training and learned concepts in Neuroscience.

Chenxi (Lillian) Li
Undergraduate MITACS Student

Chenxi (Lillian) is an undergraduate student majoring in clinical medicine in Shandong University in China. She has won Outstanding Student Scholarship of Shandong University for two times. Chenxi joined  Karimi’s lab as a summer student through MITACS and is supported by both MITACS and China Scholarship Council. She has learned several techniques in neurosciences and stem cell.

Ryan Henrie, BSc
BSc Medical Student Graduate

Ryan is a medical student at the University of Manitoba. He completed a BSc in 2014 and joined the Karimi ab as a student of the BSc (Med) program for 2015-2016. His work is supported by the Manitoba Medical College Foundation - Anna Widiner BSc Med and American Academy of Neurology Scholarships. Ryan is a recipient of several academic awards.  Ryan contributes to a project that investigate the impact of neuregulin-1 on promoting remyelination following spinal cord injury. To complement his research training, Ryan is also completing a Summer Early Exposure in the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at Health Sciences Centre.
In summer of 2016, Ryan received three  Awards from the Faculty of Health Sciences for his BSc Med project including top BSc Med Student Award to present at National Student Research Forum  in 2017 in the USA, which he received the Outstanding Poster Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2017 in Texas. Ryan has contributed to a major publication in our lab as a co-author.

ShekoofehShekoofeh Saboktakin Rizi, MSc
Medical Student

Shekoofeh is a medical student at the University of Manitoba. She graduated with a M.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Manitoba in 2011. Her thesis was focused on formulating a novel characterization method for electromagnetic field sensors. She received her B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology in 2007.

As a MED II Summer researcher in Karimi’s Lab, Shekoofeh will be working on investigating the role of neuregulin-1 in oligodendrocyte differentiation in models of multiple sclerosis. At the end of her term, Shekoofeh received an award for her MedII project. She is also a co-author in a high impact publication in the lab.

Davood Mehrabani, VMD, MPH, PhD
Visiting Scientist

Davood Mehrabani is an Assistant Professor in Pathology and Principal Investigator in Stem Cell and Transgenic Technology Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran. He received his PhD degree in Pathology from Shiraz University in 2008. Davood is a recipient of  a number of research awards including Iran Talent Organization, Office of Research of Iran Presidency and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. His Current research has focused on mesenchymal stem cells and regenerative medicine. In January 2015, Dr. Mehrabani joined Karimi's Lab in Regenerative Medicine Program and Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology, University of Manitoba to share Dr. Karimi’s experience in regenerative medicine strategies and application of neural stem cells in spinal cord injury in order to establish a neural stem cell lab in Shiraz University for future collaboration.


Byung Heon Cho, BSc
Undergraduate Student


Byung Heon Cho is an Undergraduate student at the University of Manitoba where he is pursuing a BSc. Honours Degree in Microbiology. Byung joined Karimi’s lab in the summer of 2015 and contributed to a project that investigates the role of neuregulin-1 on axonal ensheathment and myelination.
Byung Heon has received multiple undergraduate awards, including the Undergraduate Research Award in 2015. Byung is currently a medical student at the University of Manitoba.

Marie-Krystel Gauthier, MSc
Research Technician (2011-2013)

Marie-Krystel received the Research Associate and Technician Poster Competition Award- MICH Child Health Research Day in two consecutive years in 2011 and 2012. Marie is the leading author of an original article in our lab. She left the lab to accept a governmental position.

Dung Hoang Nguyen, MSc , MD
BSc Med Student (2012-2013)

Hoang received undergraduate awards from the CIHR  and  the American Academy of Neurology in 2012 and 2013. He also received Neuroscience Society Winnipeg Chapter  Award and J.R. Nicholson for Greatest Scientific Merit Award in 2013 for his BSc Med project. Hoang is a co-author of a major article in our lab.
Hoang obtained his Medical degree in May 2015 and was accepted into Neurology at U of M.

Evan Proulx, BSc
Undergraduate Student (2013)
Recipient of the U of M Undergraduate
 Research Award

Laura Tapley, BSc
Undergraduate CO-OP student, U of M (2011) Currently a Medical Student at U of M

Kamilla Kosciuczyk, BSc
Undergraduate CO-OP student, U of M (2011) Currently a graduate student at U of M