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 the roles of cyclophilins in regulating PKR and stress granule formation in the context of hepatitis C virus and coronavirus infection. She likes travelling to new places, and swimming.
Carla was a recipient of a Mitacs Globalink Graduate Fellowship. She is currently supported by a PhD studentship from the Canadian Network on Hepatitis C.

Isabella Delano
PhD 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.

Kim Siwak
MSc student

Kim completed an Honours BSc in Life Sciences at Queen’s University. During her undergraduate studies she was particularly drawn to her microbiology classes, which led her to the Colpitts lab to complete a MICR 499 research project investigating emerging coronaviruses and their entry mechanisms. Currently, she is expanding her insight from her previous MICR 499 project to characterize the role of heparan sulfate in coronavirus infection and pathogenesis. Outside of the lab Kim enjoys staying active and reading!

Madison Roth
MSc student
Co-supervisor: Dr. Katrina Gee

Maddie completed an Honours BSc at Queen’s University. Throughout her undergraduate studies, she completed a variety of microbiology and immunology courses and completed a MICR 499 research project investigating the therapeutic potential of the cytokine IL-27 in human prostate cancer, in Dr. Katrina Gee’s lab. She is currently working in the Gee and Colpitts lab to identify the antiviral functions of IL-27 during dengue virus infection in human macrophages.

Emily Halajian
MSc student
Co-supervisor: Dr. Katrina Gee

Emily grew up in British Columbia and completed a BSc in Biology at the University of Alberta. During her undergraduate studies she became interested in microbiology and immunology, particularly in immune responses to infectious diseases. She is currently working in the Gee and Colpitts lab to study interactions between Dengue NS1 protein and the immune receptor TLR4. Outside of the lab, Emily is an avid swimmer and enjoys reading, cooking, and birding. 

Undergraduate students

Heidi Scott
Summer student

Heidi is a fourth year Biology student. She has become increasingly interested in disease pathogenesis and immunology throughout her undergraduate degree, and is particularly fascinated by virus-host immune interactions. Heidi is excited to work on a project exploring the functional impacts of polymorphisms in the TLR4 immune receptor in viral infections. Outside of the lab, she enjoys being active outdoors, doing artwork, and spending time with animals.

Nicole Coman
HSCI 592/593

Nicole is a 4th 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!

Alumni

Taylor Walsh (MICR 499, 2021-2022)

Celine Tsai (volunteer, 2019-2022). Next step: Master of Public Health program

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)