Lab Members

Principal investigator

Dr. Che Colpitts was born and raised in Saskatchewan. She obtained BSc and MSc degrees in biochemistry at the University of Regina, where she became fascinated by viruses and how viruses hijack host cells. Dr. Colpitts obtained her PhD in virology from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, where she trained with Dr. Luis Schang and characterized the mechanisms of novel broad-spectrum antivirals targeting the entry of unrelated viruses. She then moved to the lab of Dr. Thomas Baumert at the University of Strasbourg (France) to focus on hepatitis B and C virus entry and to identify novel antiviral strategies targeting entry of these viruses. Most recently, she has been working with Dr. Greg Towers at University College London (UK) to understand how hepatitis C virus uses a host protein, cyclophilin A, to evade intrinsic cellular antiviral responses. Dr. Colpitts is now an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston.

Graduate students

Emma LeBlanc
MD/PhD student

Emma completed an Honours BSc in Pharmacology at McGill University. She was highly motivated by her first research project where she focused on the synthesis of small molecules inhibitors to a resistance pathway in Salmonella, in the lab of Dr. Karine Auclair. Wanting to learn more about microbial pathogenesis, she completed her MSc at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Dr. Leah Cowen, investigating strategies to selectively target fungal pathogens. She is thrilled to broaden her research skills to the study of virus-host interactions. She is investigating the roles of host and viral glycans in coronavirus cell entry.
Emma is supported by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Carla E. Gallardo Flores
PhD student

Carla completed an Honours BSc in Biology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has been interested in viruses since high school, and pursued that interest through her academic life. She completed her MSc at the Center of Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) under the supervision of Dr. Rosa María del Ángel, studying the viral content in exosomes derived from dengue virus infected cells. Carla is now focusing on coronaviruses, studying the antiviral mechanisms of cyclophilin inhibitors. She likes travelling to new places, and swimming.
Carla is supported by a Mitacs Globalink Graduate Fellowship.

Isabella Delano
MSc student

Isabella completed an Honours BSc at McMaster University. Throughout her undergrad she was passionate about viral immunology and infectious disease, and particularly intrigued by mechanisms of viral immune evasion. She is currently working in the Colpitts lab to characterize how intracellular antiviral mechanisms target viral replication organelles to inhibit the transcription and replication of positive-sense RNA viruses.

John Mamatis
MSc student

John is a graduate student with an Honours BSc in Life Sciences. During his undergraduate studies, he was particularly interested in the capability of viruses to evade host innate immune responses. He is investigating the role of cellular cyclophilins in coronavirus replication and determining antiviral mechanisms of cyclophilin inhibitors against coronaviruses. John enjoys cooking and running.

Undergraduate students

Kim Siwak
NSERC USRA and MICR 499

Kim is a 4th year Life Sciences Specialization student from Red Deer, Alberta. After having the opportunity to study the basics of microbiology and virology she found a particular interest in understanding the mechanisms employed by viruses and the immune system during viral infection. She is excited to build on her previous class experiences through her thesis project investigating how cells work to counteract SARS-CoV-2 entry.  Outside of the lab Kim helps out with the Canadian Undergraduate Conference on Healthcare as a Vice President.

Taylor Walsh
MICR 499

Taylor is a 4th year Life Science specialization student from Peterborough, Ontario.  Throughout his undergrad so far, Taylor has gotten the opportunity to study a broad range of topics such as immunology and virology which led to his interest in joining the Colpitts lab. He is eager to build on his previous knowledge in these topics by studying how specific SARS-CoV-2 proteins interact with cellular cyclophilins, resulting in innate immune evasion. Taylor plays on the National floorball team which has allowed him to train and compete all over Scandinavian Europe throughout the past few years.

Nicole Coman
HSCI 592/593

Nicole is a 3rd year Health Sciences student from Richmond Hill, Ontario. Ever since taking high school biology, Nicole has been interested in studying virology and analyzing the mechanisms used by the host immune system to disrupt viral entry and replication. Nicole is excited to learn more about positive-sense RNA viruses and build off her previous coursework. Outside of class, Nicole enjoys working with the QSuccess program to support first-year students, or spending time outdoors with friends and family!

Celine Tsai
ASURF project

Celine is a 4th year student majoring in Life Sciences and minoring in Statistics. Her interest in microbiology and virology was piqued by the movies Contagion and World War Z. Since then, she has always been curious about how viruses evade cellular antiviral responses. As a result, she is currently investigating the role of cellular host factors in coronavirus replication and evasion of immunity. When not in the lab or in class, Celine can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes, playing tennis and volleyball, and writing poetry.
Celine’s project is supported by a Queen’s University Arts & Science Undergraduate Research Fund award.

Alumni

Lauren Fernandez (MICR 499, 2020-2021). Next step: MSc program, University of Toronto

Yilun Huang (LISC 595, 2020-2021). Next step: PhD program, University of Cincinnati

Caleb Morin (NSERC USRA and MICR 499, 2020-2021)