Dr. Ray Truant, Ph.D – Principal Investigator
Ray Truant completed his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto and continued on to his graduate studies in the Department of Medical Genetics in the lab of Jack F. Greenblatt at the C.H. Best Institute.
For his graduate work, his studies focused on protein-protein interactions of the p53 tumor-suppressor protein and its mechanism of activation of transcription. After receiving his doctorate in 1996, Ray studied as a post-doctoral Research Associate at the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute at Duke University in the department of Genetics with Dr. Bryan R. Cullen. While at the HHMI, his research centered on protein-protein interactions of HIV-1 proteins and into mechanisms of protein transport to and from the nucleus using biochemical and cell biological techniques.
In 1999, Ray was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at McMaster University, where he started new projects on polyglutamine diseases, focusing on Huntington’s Disease. In 2001, Ray won the CIHR “New Scientist” award and his group is supported by ongoing operating grants from the CIHR and the Krembil Foundation, as well as the Huntington Society of Canada, The Huntington’s Disease Society of America and the Hereditary Disease Foundation. In 2012 he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for public service and in 2014 the Michael Wright Community Leadership Award.
Dr. Truant is currently Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and was Chair of the Scientific Advisory board, and Board Officer of the Huntington Society of Canada, 2007-2021. The lab is currently supported by operating grants from the CIHR Institute of Genetics (2020-2025), NSERC (2020-2025), NFRF (2020-2022), HDF (2019-2020) and CFI (2020-2023).
Dr. Tamara Maiuri, Ph.D – Research Associate
After obtaining her PhD in the Medical Biophysics Department at University of Toronto, Tam joined the Truant lab in 2010. In 2017, she received the HDSA Berman/Topper HD Career Development Fellowship to study DNA repair-specific huntingtin interactions. Tam is also an active member of the HD community, acting as an editor for HDBuzz.net and a regular speaker for Huntington Society of Canada events. She is a member of the indie band, Eli & the Straw Man, who has partnered with the HSC to raise awareness about HD and funds exceeding $70,000 through benefit concerts.
Celeste Suart, BhSc – Ph.D Candidate
Celeste joined the lab in 2016 as an undergraduate student from the Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization (BDC) program at McMaster. She then graduated with her BHSc in 2017. Her work now focuses on the DNA damage response of the ataxin-1 protein in Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1 (SCA1). In September 2018, Celeste co-founded scasource.net, a knowledge translation website for ataxia research.
Carlos Barba, BSc- Ph.D Student
Carlos completed his fourth year thesis in the Honours Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences program in the lab. He is now a PhD student investigating the involvement of poly ADP-ribose in Huntington’s Disease.
Natasha Savic, BSC – Masters Student
Natasha completed her third and fourth year thesis courses in the Honours Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences program in the lab. She is now investigating the impact of kinetin derivatives in multiple HD and SCA1 cell lines.
Christina Peng, Bsc – Masters Student
Christina completed her fourth year thesis course in the Honours Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences program in the lab. She is currently working with Tam to investigate the role of alpha-synuclein in DNA damage repair.
Kaitlyn Neuman, Bhsc – Masters Student
Kaitlyn joined the Truant lab in 2020 after completing her BHSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a Specialization in Health Sciences at Trent University. Kaitlyn was recently featured in the Huntington Society of Canada’s Newsletter “Horizon” (Issue 162 – Fall). Her current work focuses on mitochondrial imaging using a newly developed stain called PKMR. Her intention is to use this information as a baseline to explore the relationship between circadian rhythm, the DNA damage repair protein PARP1, and Huntington’s Disease.
Neeti Jain – UNdergraduate Thesis Student
Neeti is a fourth year undergraduate student in the Honours Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences: Research Specialization program. She is completing her senior thesis in the lab on elucidating a molecular link between Huntington’s Disease and disrupted circadian rhythm, which she has written a literature review on. She loves all animals, especially snakes and cats!
Siobhan Goss – Undergraduate Thesis Student
Siobhan joined the Truant lab in 2020 as a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Honours Biochemistry program, with a Biomedical Research Specialization and co-op. She is currently working with Tam and Carlos to complete her senior thesis, which focuses on the connection between poly(ADP-ribose) and bioenergetic failure in Huntington’s disease.
Abigail Mansley – Undergraduate Thesis Student
Abby is a fourth year undergraduate student in the Honours Biochemistry program with a biomedical research specialization. For her undergraduate thesis project she is studying protein-protein interactions involving poly(ADP)-ribose 1 in Huntington’s disease.
Preston Chan -Undergraduate Thesis Student
Preston is a fourth year undergraduate student in the Honours Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization program. He is working with Celeste to complete his senior thesis, which focuses on examining if poly(ADP-ribose) influences ataxin-1 localization to DNA damage and function. He is also studying the potential of PARP-1 as a future target for Alzheimer’s Disease research. Outside of the lab, he is an avid curler and photographer!