Our team members are at the core of what makes AZAD LAB such a unique and fulfilling place to work. We take pride in the diversity of our staff, with each member contributing their unique skills to the projects we are working on.
Taha Azad PhD, Principal Investigator
I was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Bell’s laboratory at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) where I studied Oncolytic Virotherapy and its interaction with signaling pathway activity in the context of immunology using systems biology approaches. Through my graduate and post-graduate work, I have created multiple novel methods that allow real-time and quantitative interrogation of signaling pathway activity, including biosensors directed at components of the Hippo signaling pathway (Molecular Therapy (2022)-IF: 12.7; Nature Communications (2018)-IF:14.9 ; Oncogene (2020)- IF:9.8). The impact of my scientific work has allowed me to be the recipient of top provincial, national and international awards. These include my being the first ranked applicant in the Vanier scholarship competition; attendance at the 68th Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany; receipt of two Gold medals and one Silver medal in CIHR National Competition; receipt of a Governor General Gold Medal for my doctoral research; and, most recently, being selected for a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Meet the SynBio Team
Pioneering the Next Wave in Cancer Therapeutics and Synthetic Biology
Co-supervised by Pr. Raymund J. Wellinger
My PhD project focuses on the use of engineered oncolytic virus in order to target and to destroy more effectively tumour cells. More precisely, the goal of my project is to try to develop an oncolytic virus that will improve the host immune response against cancer cells. In order to do that, we will design viruses that induce or prevent inhibition of the immune response. Using synthetic biology, we would like to combine oncolytic virus and immune checkpoint modulators to produce a more effective and safer* treatment against different types of cancer.
Beyond my time in the lab, I spend a lot of my time doing and watching sport no matter the sports, but as a typical born and raised Canadian, I obviously prefer hockey. Other than that, I spend my time with my family, most likely playing with my nieces and nephew.
Nika Kooshki Zamani
My research interest lies in using oncolytic viruses to treat cancer. I am specifically focused on using the Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) virus, to address Glioblastoma, a challenging form of brain cancer. Outside the lab, I enjoy swimming, running, and playing board games.
I am passionate about Oncolytic Viral Therapy, specifically regarding development of new oncolytic virus for the treatment of breast cancer. In Azad's lab, I am involved in engineering the HSV, VSV, and VV virus and exploring how these oncolytic viruses might contribute to treatment of the breast cancer through recruiting immune system. Outside of the lab, you'll usually find me at the gym, hiking, biking, or trying out new recipes in the kitchen!
Abril Ixchel Munoz Zuniga
My research interests include the exploration of innovative cancer therapies, with my current project centered around the development of self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) for precise targeting of cancerous tumors. Beyond the laboratory, I am a fan of indoor cycling, and cooking for my friends and family. Additionally, I have an interest in traveling and exploring new cultures. In winter, I find joy in skiing and concluding the day with a comforting cup of hot chocolate.