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Introducing our Newest STAGE Trainees!!!

The CIHR STAGE Program is very proud to welcome our newest trainees who officially joined the program in Fall/Winter 2017. This latest cohort consists of three Ph.D. students and five post-doctoral fellows, each with a unique academic background and a strong potential for success in the fields of genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics.

  • Matthew Warkentin and Sangook Kim are Ph.D. students at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Divisions, respectively. Matthew is supervised by Dr. Rayjean Hung and is based at the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute. Sangook is based at the Hospital for Sick Children and his primary mentor is Dr. Lisa Strug.
  • Lin Zhang is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Toronto and is supervised by Dr. Lei Sun. Yanyan Zhao is also supervised by Dr. Sun, and is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Statistical Sciences.
  • Marie Pigeyre joins the STAGE program with a Ph.D. and medical degree from France, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University with Dr. Guillaume Paré.
  • Elizabeth Corfield completed her PhD in Australia and is now a post-doctoral fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children, with Dr. Lisa Strug as her primary mentor.
  • Myriam Brossard and Razvan Romanescu are postdoctoral fellows under the supervision of Dr. Shelley Bull at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute.

To read more about these new trainees, click here.


  • STAGE had a strong presence at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the International Genetic Epidemiology Society (IGES 2017) in Cambridge, UK from September 9 to 11. Post-doctoral STAGE trainee Sareh Keshavarzi, supervised by STAGE mentor Dr. Andrew Paterson at Sick Kids, presented her poster “A Meta Genome-wide Association Study Identifies a Novel Locus for Cardiovascular Disease in Type 1 Diabetes”. STAGE mentor Dr. Lisa Strug gave a talk on “Improved genotype imputation in disease-relevant regions with inclusion of patient sequence data: lessons from cystic fibrosis”. PhD student at Dalla Lana School of Public Health and STAGE trainee Osvaldo Espin-Garcia, supervised by STAGE co-director Dr. Shelley Bull, also gave a talk entitled “X-chromosome Association on Microbiome data”. Congratulations to Osvaldo for winning the Roger Williams Award which is presented to an outstanding oral presentation given by a student enrolled in a bachelor, master or Ph.D. program (see photo here). STAGE is very proud of Osvaldo’s achievement! Congratulations also to Sareh and Dr. Strug, and everyone who represented STAGE at IGES 2017.
  • STAGE was the sponsor for the Best Poster awards at IGES 2017 and the following were the well-deserved winners:
    • First place: Mathias Gorski, Department of Genetic Epidemiology, University Regensburg, Germany. Poster title:  On the gain of mega-imputation and mega-analysis compared to meta-imputation and meta-analysis exemplified on genetics of age-related macular degeneration.
    • Second place: Aida Eslami, University of British Columbia, Canada. Poster title:  Genome wide meta-analysis of parent-of-origin effects of asthma in four cohorts.
    • Third place: Garrett Weaver, University of Southern California, USA. Poster title:  A Regularized Hierarchical Regression Framework for Incorporating External Information in High-Dimensional Prediction Models.

STAGE represented at IGES 2017

STAGE trainee Osvaldo Espin-Garcia giving his talk.

Poster presented by STAGE trainee Sareh Keshavarzi


  • Congratulations to STAGE trainee Osvaldo Espin-Garcia and STAGE mentor Dr. Lisa Strug who were both invited to give talks at the 2017 International Genetic Epidemiology Society (IGES) Annual Meeting in September in Cambridge, UK. Osvaldo is a PhD student in the Biostatistics Department at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and he was admitted into the STAGE program in September 2016. His supervisor is STAGE co-director Dr. Shelley Bull who is based at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute.  Dr. Lisa Strug is an associate professor in the Biostatistics Department at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She is also a senior scientist in the Genetics and Genome Biology (GGB) Program at Sick Kids and the associate director of The Centre for Applied Genomics also at Sick Kids. We are very proud of both Osvaldo and Dr. Strug for their achievements! For more details on IGES 2017, click here.


  • Congratulations to STAGE trainee Saira Mirza! She is the recipient of the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) Postdoctoral Fellowship which will support her project entitled: Genetic association study of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarkers of neurodegeneration across dementias – A data-driving approach. Her application was ranked #1 in her funding stream. Saira is based at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and was admitted into the STAGE program in September 2016. Her primary STAGE mentor is Dr. Joanne Knight. The STAGE program is very proud of Saira’s accomplishment !!!


  • Congratulations to STAGE mentor Dr. Laurent Briollais as his work on genetic association with aggressive prostate cancer has been recognized by the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. The study has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. STAGE trainee and PhD student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Jingxiong (Amelia) Xu who is supervised by Dr. Briollais, was a major contributor to the study and publication. For more details, click here.