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Our Team

Lead by Dr. Keijzer, MD, MSc, PhD, FACS

Principal Investigator

Dr. Keijzer was born and raised in The Netherlands. He did his clinical training (General Surgery and Pediatric Surgery) at ErasmusMC-Sophia in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and a fellowship in Pediatric Endoscopic Surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama. His research training consisted of MSc and Ph.D. degrees at the Departments of Pediatric Surgery and Cell Biology & Genetics of ErasmusMC in Rotterdam and the Department of Lung Biology Research in the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. After completion of his General Surgery training, he did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Physiology & Experimental Medicine of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.


In 2010 he joined the Department of Surgery at the University of Manitoba and the Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba as a pediatric surgeon-scientist. His clinical interest concentrates on minimal invasive Pediatric General Surgery. He has established a research program in normal and abnormal lung development related to congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH). His ultimate research goal is to develop a prenatal therapeutic intervention to modulate the natural course of the abnormal lung development in CDH and improve the outcome of babies born with this anomaly.


Dr. Keijzer was awarded a Career Development Award from the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program in 2012 and was named the inaugural Dr. Paul H.T. Thorlakson Chair in Surgical Research and Director of Research for the Department of Surgery in July 2012. He also received a New Investigator Salary Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba/Manitoba Lung Association in 2013.

Dr. Andrew Tse, PhD

Research Associate

Dr. Andrew (Wai Hei) Tse obtained his Bachelors of Medical Science (Honours) and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario in the field of Medical Biophysics. Trained under the guidance of Dr. Jin Zhang in biomedical and chemical engineering, Andrew honed his research focus on the design, modification, and application of nanoparticles for clinical practice. He aspires to apply a theranostic approach, a combination of diagnostics and therapeutics, using nanoparticles to act as a therapeutic chauffeur for clinical application. For his endeavours and contributions he was awarded an NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship (Doctoral) and Western's Doctoral Excellence Research Award (DERA). In 2017, he joined the miRacla Lab as a postdoctoral fellow. He is currently investigating potential methods of drug delivery to administer microRNAs (miR), in particular, miR-200b as a potential therapeutic option using nanoparticles to rescue abnormal fetal lung development in CDH. The objective is to deliver a nanoparticle construct laden with miR-200b via transplacental transmission to selectively target and rescue lung hypoplasia while minimizing maternal exposure. Furthermore, Andrew is currently exploring prospective proponents of CDH in the established nitrofen model. In particular, he is interested in the environmental triggers affecting the pathogenesis of CDH and their relationship with the onset of lung hypoplasia.

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Daywin Patel

Laboratory Technician

Daywin is a lab technician with a background in Zoology, Physiology, and Roller Derby. Daywin is an expert in animal studies and has been a member of Miracla lab team for many years.

Dr. Arzu Ozturk

Senior Research Scientist

Dr. Arzu Ozturk received a PhD in the department of Physiology in 2007 at the University of Manitoba. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biochemistry and Medical Genetics in 2012. Arzu brought her expertise in molecular and cellular biology to the miRacla lab when she joined in March of 2022.


Nolan de Leon (BSc-Coop, PhD student, MD student)

Medical Student

Nolan de Leon is an MD/PhD student looking to pursue a career as a clinician-scientist. Nolan completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Science (Co-op Designation, Joint Major in Biochemistry and Microbiology) at Université de Saint-Boniface where he began his research endeavors with Dr. Keijzer studying the pathophysiology of CDH and potential treatment options. Recognizing his passion for child health, Nolan is continuing his research on circular RNAs as a prenatal biomarker of congenital anomalies. Nolan has been awarded the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Graduate Scholarship and the Newman Stephens Award for Excellence in Respiratory Physiology. He has also been recognized as the 2021 winner of both the English “3-Minute Thesis” and French “Ma Thèse en 180 secondes” competitions.

Dr. Yuichiro Miyake

Pediatric Surgeon

Dr. Yuichiro Miyake started his work at the Miracla Lab as a visiting researcher from September 2021. He is a pediatric surgeon, and he did his clinical training (General Surgery and Pediatric Surgery) at Juntendo University in Japan. He would like to improve the clinical outcome of CDH babies, and he is currently investigating potential methods of prenatal therapy using nanoparticles to improve fetal lung development.



Dr. Muntahi Mourin

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Mourin is a Postdoctoral Fellow working on development of biomarkers for early detection of congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) during pregnancy.  She completed her PhD in 2019, from Dept. of Microbiology, University of Manitoba. Dr. Mourin research interest includes Protein structure analysis, Molecular dynamics simulations to analyze drug-target interaction, Antimicrobial drug development. She has several publications in renowned scientific journals.

Jackie Wang

Undergraduate Student

Jackie is a 4th year undergraduate student currently completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Science at the University of Manitoba. He joined the miRacla lab in November 2021 hoping to learn more about biomedical research and important lab techniques. He assists other lab members with their projects in addition to his own. Outside of his studies, he enjoys watching and playing basketball, listening to music, and gaming.


Jaida Albrechsten

Undergraduate Student

Jaida is a fourth year undergraduate student at University of Alberta. She is currently completing her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Kinesiology. Jaida began working in the Miracla Lab in Summer 2021 and currently assists others in their research projects. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, cycling, and spending time outside

Jai Sareen

Undergraduate Student

Jai is a Bachelor of Science undergraduate student going into his second year at the University of Winnipeg. He joined the miracla lab in the summer of 2021 and received a CHRIM summer studentship grant to return in the summer of 2022. Jai assists other members of the lab in their research on using circular RNAs as a biomarker for CDH. He also enjoys volunteering at an elderly care home and playing soccer in his free time.


Claire McCallum

Undergraduate Student

Claire is a Grade 11 student at Kelvin High School. She started working in the miRacla Lab as a summer student in 2022 with an interest in learning about medical research. She currently assists other lab members with their projects. Outside of the lab, she enjoys swimming, running, and reading.


Carly Fraser

Carly Fraser earned her Honours degree in Biopsychology from the University of Winnipeg. She received the MICH student summer-ship in May 2011 where she joined MIRACLA and evaluated the role of microRNA-200b in lung cells and became skilled in the techniques of real-time PCR and Luciferase assays. Carly returned to the lab in May 2012, and switched focus on miR-10a using rt-qPCR and luciferase assays. Carly presently remains as a lab technician in the MIRACLA lab, and is focusing on methylation patterns in DNA and pyrosequencing. “I am very honoured to have become a part of the MIRACLA lab, and to work with such a dynamic, interesting team of people. This place is like a second home to me. I would encourage undergraduate science students to apply for the MICH summer student-ship to get a feel for techniques used in the lab.”

Fuquin Zhu

Fuqin Zhu joined the MIRACLA lab in 2012 as a laboratory technician. Her duties include preparing experimental materials; collecting, organizing, and processing research samples; performing experiments; and conducting statistical analysis of research data. She is skilled in methods such as in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, standard/confocal bright field and fluorescent microscopy. She enjoys doing research on microRNA's and Congenital Lung Anomalies within the excellent team environment.

Patricia Daniela Pereira Terra

Patricia Daniela Pereira Terra joined the lab in September of 2012. She received her Masters in Biological Engineering from The University of Minho in 2007 where she worked with patients with mitochondrial cytophaties. She then joined Hospital de Sao Joao in Porto as a research Fellowship since March 2008 until October 2010 where she worked on a project entitled “Diabetes and the somatosensory system: effects of dysfunctions in insulin and its related peptides in painful diabetic neuropathy.” She is now a PhD student in the MIRACLA lab and works in Lung Development – Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia in collaboration between Portugal and Canada. She is trying to find differences between CDH and normal patients and to find new therapeutic targets to treat and improve quality of life in these patients.

Barbra Iwasiow

Barbara Maria Iwasiow received her Masters of Science degree in Biochemistry from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She worked in the laboratory of Dr Robert Shiu, Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Physiology for many years. Her interest in cancer research started with her Masters degree project on the effects of radiation on pigmented and non-pigmented melanoma in hamster, and was continued in research of regulatory mechanisms and molecular factors involved in human breast cancer. Her first work in Dr Shiu’s lab was on the project that lead to the discovery of PiP /GCDFP-15 protein. In this laboratory over the years she acquired a wide expertise in numerous molecular biology techniques. She joined Dr Richard Keijzer’s effort in organizing his new laboratory within the Biology of Breathing Group, Manitoba Institute of Child Health and is welcoming new investigators, students and researchers to his laboratory. She plays a managerial role in the lab’s every day running, develops/establishes lab technologies and introduces members to new techniques. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to help establish Dr Keijzer’s lab, to be able to enter this new area of research - normal and abnormal pulmonary development and disease - and have a chance to work in a rapidly developing field of microRNA research, which is now a frontier of fascinating scientific developments and discoveries.”​​

Phillip Snarr

Phillip is one of the lab technicians in Dr. Keijzers lab.  He graduated from the University of Manitoba with his B.Sc in Microbiology and Chemistry.  Outside of the lab Phillip spends his time with his wife Marilyn and their two children Julia and Jack.  Phillip is a big hockey fan and some of his other interests include fishing, playing golf, and camping.

Drew Mulhall

Drew earned his BSc from McGill University in 2015 and is now a medical student at the University of Toronto. He has been a summer student in the miRacla lab since 2012 and has played a large role in optimizing certain histological techniques, such as fluorescent in situ hybridization. His work in this lab is focused on exploring the role of the microRNA-200 family in pulmonary hypoplasia associated with congenital diaphragmatic hernia. In his free time, Drew enjoys playing sports, such as hockey, soccer, and golf. When his NHL career didn’t pan out as planned he settled for the U of T med intramural hockey team. Drew’s other interests include listening to music, watching sports and movies, enjoying the outdoors, and hanging out with friends and family. 

Naghmeh Khoshgoo

Naghmeh is a PhD candidate in Dr. Richard Keijzer's lab. In her project she uses a miR-200b knockout mouse model as well as a rat model of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) in order to address the role of miR-200b in normal and abnormal lung development associated with CDH. Naghmeh revieved a BSc in Animal Biology and MSc in Molecular Biology in Iran where she was born and raised. Coming to Canada and the MIRACLA lab, gave her the opportunity to extensively increase her knowledge in pulmonary development and more importantly be actively involved in research that has the potential to be able to diagnose and treat babies born with pulmonary diseases. Apart from her research and academic achievements, Naghmeh enjoys being in Winnipeg and experiencing many "firsts" like her first time skiing, temperature less than -40° C, hiking in extremely dense woods and swimming in so many different lakes.

Lojine Ayoub

Lojine Ayoub, is a graduate of medicine and surgery from King Abdulaziz University where she also obtained her Masters in physiology. In the MIRACLA lab, she is working on her second Masters program focussing on autopsy paediatric lung tissue from Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia cases for targeting a specific sequence of microRNAs using immunohistochemical and molecular biology analysis techniques and comparing it to age-matched controls.

Shana Kahnamoui

Shana has been passionate about biological sciences ever since she was a teenager, so in 2010 she choose to pursue an undergraduate degree with a major in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Throughout her undergraduate degree Shana began working in different laboratories to learn more practical skills. Finally, after about 2 years of working in molecular genetics, hematology, biochemistry, microbiology and immunology laboratories and getting an A in her bachelor program, she was confident that she was ready to start her work as a researcher at the Cancer Institute of Iran by focusing on molecular pathways of programmed cell death and epigenetics in cancer biology. In 2016, she started her Master’s of Physiology and Pathophysiology at the University of Manitoba. Shana believes that combining molecular vison while considering clinical aspects will help her to reach her goal of preventing life threatening diseases. Shana’s molecular background in addition to her physiological knowledge help her in completing her Master’s project in the miRacla Lab, which is identifying miR-200b targets in normal and abnormal lung development.

Richard Wagner

Richard joined the miRacla Lab as a Research Fellow in January 2018. He studied Medicine in Germany (Leipzig), Australia (Sydney and Perth) and Colombia (Medellin) and graduated in 2016 from Medical School. In 2017 he started his training in Paediatric Surgery in Leipzig at the University Hospital. After his Fellowship, he plans to return to Leipzig and continue his training and research in cooperation with the miRacla lab. His project in Dr. Keijzer's Lab is focused on improving the diagnosis of CDH babies prenatally and continuing  the investigation of CDH lungs using novel large scale analysis methods. In his free time he enjoys reading, making music, surfing and spending time with friends and family.

Dustin Ameis

Dustin joined the miRacla lab in August 2015, before entering his final year at the University of Winnipeg and beginning work on his Honours Project. The goal was to study the differential expression of proteins between wildtype and miR-200b knockout mouse lungs, particularly those involved in epithelial-to-mesencyhmal transition (EMT). Since then, he has been investigating the mechanisms behind pulmonary miR-200b downregulation in fetal rats that have nitrofen-induced diaphragmatic hernias. The idea is that production of mature miR-200b is disrupted during its biogenesis, and the hope is to link any findings to dysregulation of miR-200b in human congenital diaphragmatic hernia. In his spare time, Dustin does rock climbing and skate skiing, but mostly eats.

Franklin Liu

Franklin is entering his second year at the University of Manitoba as a biology student. He joined the miRacla lab this summer with hopes of garnering basic research experience and techniques. He is currently working with another lab member to investigate the role of the quaking gene in lung morphology. In his spare time Franklin enjoys volunteering, spending time with family and friends, and playing a few video games.

Henry Li

Henry is a medical student entering his 2nd year at the University of Manitoba. Having previously completed a B.Sc, he joined the miRacla Lab this summer to further develop his research skills and contribute to the understanding of congenital respiratory disorders. Over the summer, he will be studying the expression of Cadherin-26 in CPAM to explore its involvement in the disease. Outside of his studies, Henry fills his time with commitments in student politics and cultural education. He also enjoys playing basketball, weight training, and expanding his wardrobe and shoe collection.

Sean Higgins

Sean graduated from the University of Winnipeg in the spring of 2017 with a BSc. in Biology before beginning medical school at the University of Manitoba in August 2017. He will be in the lab over the next two summers working towards completing a BSc. Medicine with Dr. Keijzer and Dr. Tse. Sean's project involves the use of in vitro and in vivo models to study the use of nanoparticles as a trans placental delivery vehicle for miR-200b therapy. This includes examining any potential maternal and fetal toxicities, developmental effects, bio distribution and bioavailability and the effectiveness of its trans placental transport. In his spare time he enjosy playing golf, playing and listening to music and cheering on the Jets.

Paula Lieckfeldt

Ms. Lieckfeldt is a medical student of Leipzig University currently working on her medical doctor degree. During her one year of basic research she is spending 4 months at our lab. Ms. Lieckfeldt’s research interests are to further explore the pathophysiology of congenital diaphragmatic hernia and possible treatment opportunities. Maily she is working with lung explants of early CDH stages to get more insight in the inflammatory status of these lungs.

Dr. med. Moritz Markel

Dr. Markel is a former postdoctoral fellow, in-training pediatric surgeon and specialist in visceral surgery from Germany who worked in the lab in 2021. He is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Department of Pediatric Surgery of the University of Leipzig and the Miracla Lab.His research focuses on the pathophysiology of congenital diaphragmatic hernia, in particular on the role of DNA sensing and inflammation. His surgical interests include pediatric minimally-invasive, visceral and oncologic surgery.

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