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Training

Timal Kannangara

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

I grew up in Chilliwack, B.C., and completed my undergraduate and graduate work at the University of British Columbia with Dr. Brian Christie. Currently, I’m conducting postdoctoral work at the University of Ottawa, co-supervised by two excellent professors – Dr. Diane Lagace and Dr. Jean-Claude Béïque.

  1. What compelled you to pursue stroke research?

While my graduate work was (and still is) very interesting to me, it was by and large focused on basic science questions. With stroke, it is exciting to work on one of the most common health problems affecting Canadians today, and to work on clinically-relevant models.

  1. What is the focus of your research?

I currently have two on-going projects. The first focuses on endogenous, adult-born stem and precursor cells. Following stroke, these cells proliferate and migrate to areas surrounding the stroke site. This proliferation and migration occurs along the timelines of stroke recovery, but it is still unknown whether these new cells contribute to stroke recovery. This is the question that we hope to answer with our work. The second project examines on how new cortical and subcortical networks are recruited to take control of the lost function following a stroke. To do this, we are using a novel mouse model that allows us to permanently label cells throughout the brain and spinal cord in a living animal while performing a clinically-relevant task.

  1.   At what stage are you in your research, and what are your current future plans?

We have submitted our first manuscript right now while setting up experiments to employ optogenetics to investigate the in vivo functional role of these new cells in stroke recovery.

  1. How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?

I feel that the NTA is best used as a networking tool, allowing researchers to talk about the challenges in studying stroke as well as introducing possible collaborations. Also, I’m a particular fan of the SPiN workshop, which provided me with the opportunity to see the clinical practices involved in stroke recovery up close.

  1. What other interests do you have?

I have a three year old daughter and a one year old son. I find them interesting – does that answer the question?