The Team

This page lists our current and honorary members. Perhaps you’d like to see our growing list of amazing Alumni?

Graduate Students:

Christian Bellissimo (PhD student – co-supervised with Dr. Deborah Sloboda) got inspired to study immunology and pregnancy after taking Advanced Immunology. He studies how the immune cells of the placenta change when the mother is exposed to stress. Early life stress influences how well or how poorly you age and so Christian’s work may help develop strategies to give all babies a healthy start. Distinctions: Ontario Graduate Scholarship 2017. Canada Graduate Scholarship-MSC, 2018, Canada Graduate Scholarhsip-Doctoral 2019. Best Poster Presentation in Placental Biology at the Canadian National Perinatal Research Meeting(2019). 

Elnur Shayhidin (PhD 2019- ) has a MSc from Laval University and has worked as a technician at Cornell University. She brings a wealth of skills and experience to the Bowdish lab. In collaboration with Dr. Jose Moran-Mirabal (Chemistry) she uses microscopy and other tools to discover why aging macrophages are not very good at defending us against the bacteria that cause pneumonia. Distinctions: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2020/2021). 

Anastasia Chouvalov (MSc student, 2019- ) is a McMaster graduate and a registered nurse who brings her lived experience seeing the impact of infections in children to her work in the Bowdish lab. Although it’s been known for decades that children born to mom’s who have experienced stress or adversity during pregnancy are more susceptible to infections like pneumonia, no one knows why and consequently, we can’t protect them. Working with Dr. Deborah Sloboda and her team, Ana aspires to change that. Distinctions: Canada Graduate Scholarship -MSc (2020).

Dominika Boron (MSc student, 2020-) graduated from the University of Windsor and joined the Bowdish lab to study how the airway microbiome changes with age and whether these changes are one of the reasons older adults are more likely to get sick with respiratory infections. In collaboration with Dr. Michael Surette’s lab she aims find the ‘probiotics of the nose’ that might be a novel way to keep us from developing respiratory infections. Distinctions: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2020/21), Award for best short talk at the Medical Sciences Graduate Program Virtual Research Day (March 2021).

Lab Manager & Manager of the PreClinical Studies in Aging Lab:

Erica de Jong (MSc  2018-2020) did a BSc project with Dr. John McCormick at Western University and an MSc in the Bowdish lab entitled “Unhealthy Aging and themicrobiota”. She is helping us uncover how the microbes that live in and on us conspire against us as we grow older, manages our biobank and industrial and academic collaborations. She is also the lead scientist in the PreClinical Studies in Aging Lab. Distinctions: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2019/2020). Certificate of Excellence from the Summer Program in Aging, CIHR (2019).

Post-doctoral fellows:

Dr. Candice Quin (PDF 2020-) joins us after having done a PhD on interactions between the diet and the microbiome during early life at UBC. She is pivoting from early life to help us understand how the aging microenvironment alters the development and function of immune cells. This is the first step to understand if we can manipulate inflammation to improve immune function in older adults. Distinctions: CIHR Fellowship (2020-2023). 

Dr. Jessica Breznik (PDF 2020-) was a PhD in the Bowdish lab (see her many distinctions under our ‘alumni’ section). She is contributing to our team’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 by leading our study on cellular immune correlates of protection to COVID-19 vaccination in long-term care. These data will help us understand how long and how well our most vulnerable residents will be protected.

Research Coordinator:

Sussan Kianpour:

Technical staff:

Braeden Cowborough (2019 – ) got an MSc from the McMaster Immunology Research Centre with Dr. Matt Miller in 2017. After working briefly in industry he joined the Bowdish team. Braeden’s portfolio is extensive, he is leading our labs serological studies of antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infections and vaccinations.

Lucas Bilaver (2021-)


Kevin Dai (Thesis student, September 2020-April 2020). Distinctions: Best presentation (Undergraduate category) at the  MIRA Trainee Network’s Pitch Your Project event (2020).

Ansha Suleman (Thesis student, September 2020-April 2020).

Clare Edwards (Co-op student, January 2021- August 2021).

Fearless leaderDawn‘s project is – in theory – pushing back the boundaries of macrophage biology. Dawn-feeding-data-wall-smIn practice she spends a lot of time writing grants, writing more grants, filling out interminable paperwork, and basically keeping all those macrophage shaped balls in the air. She is pictured here doing what she loves best – keeping the data gods fed and happy with exciting new discoveries. An office covered with figures from papers planned and in progress is a happy office.