Former Lab Members
William E. Louch
Originally from from Fall River, Nova Scotia, William studied at Dalhousie during undergrad (BSc in Chemistry/Neuroscience, 1997) and graduate school (PhD in Pharmacology with Susan Howlett, 2001). After postdocing in Leuven, Belgium and then Oslo, Norway, he stayed on in Oslo to establish his own research group. The group’s research is focused on the structure and function of cardiac muscle cells. Cardiac function is tightly controlled by the contraction and relaxation of these cells; processes which are in turn reliant on carefully controlled calcium homeostasis. Cardiac dysfunction during diseases such as heart failure and atrial fibrillation can often be traced to abnormal cellular calcium handling.
William's research is aimed at understanding these abnormalities, with focus on the structures and proteins that control calcium cycling. How are these structures and proteins put together during development, and what causes them to disassemble during disease? What is the consequence of such alterations? To examine these questions, the lab combines molecular biology and electrophysiology techniques with advanced 3D imaging (super-resolution, confocal, and electron microscopy). They strive to mechanistically link subcellular structure and calcium handling to whole-heart function, and to reverse dysfunction during disease.
Randi finished her PhD in the Howlett lab in 2014, and is presently a postdoctoral fellow at the NIH. Her overall research interest is in calcium signaling within subcellular compartments of the heart, both physiological and pathophysiological. Her current postdoctoral research is focused on understanding cardiac mitochondrial calcium flux and how calcium overload mediates mitochondria-triggered cell death via the permeability transition pore.
Current location: Laboratory of Cardiac Physiology, Cardiovascular Branch, NHLBI, NIH.
Michael moved to Halifax in 2000 and has lived in Halifax since. He completed his undergraduate studies at Saint Mary’s University in 2011, majoring in Biology and graduating with Honours in Biology. Following graduation, he began a Master’s of Science degree in Dr. Susan Howlett’s lab. His Master’s thesis, “The impact of frailty on cardiac contractile function in the mouse model” focused on developing a frailty index in the mouse model, and assessing how frailty predicts cardiac cell morphology and contractile function in mouse hearts. Following his graduate studies, he began medical school at Dalhousie University, where he continued to work with Dr. Susan Howlett, developing a heart frailty index (FI-Heart) as part of his Research in Medicine project. Following medical school, Michael's plan is to begin residency training in Internal Medicine and subspecialize in a career in Geriatrics.
Dr. Scott Grandy
Dr. Scott Grandy is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Human Performance (Kinesiology) and Pharmacology at Dalhousie University. He is an affiliate scientist in the Division of Cardiology (Nova Scotia Health Authority), an associate scientist with the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and a research scientist with the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health Study. His research focuses on the relationship between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Specifically, he is interested in how cancer treatments lead to increased risk of CVD in cancer survivors and why CVD increases the risk of certain types of cancer. He is also interested in how physical activity can be used to decrease the risk of cancer as well as reduce the cardiotoxic side effects of cancer treatments. His translational research uses a combination of preclinical, clinical and population health studies to better understand the relationship between CVD and cancer and how physical activity can be used to prevent treatment related CVD in cancer survivors.
Jessica started working in the Howlett lab after graduating from Mount Allison University. Here she completed innovative research with masters and PhD students, and had the opportunity to complete projects on her own that challenged her to step outside her comfort zone and grow both professionally and personally.
After her time in Dr. Howlett's lab, she started the 2-year NSCC Environmental Engineering Technology program which has lead her to where she is today: working full time with Praxair Canada as the Atlantic Canada Territory Manager. Jessica works in the Specialty Gas division which includes working with private research institutions, hospital research facilities and University labs (including the Howlett lab) as well as technology companies, government institutions and consulting firms to name a few.
Jessica says things have come full circle since her time in the lab. "Susan, along with the wonderful friends and colleagues I made while working in her lab, have been a huge support to me both during and after my time at Dalhousie. If you have the opportunity to be a part of the amazing research and wonderful environment in the Howlett lab, go for it! It will be an adventure that you will never forget."
Jeanne Egar (BScH, MSc) began her career in research as an honours student in Dr. Howlett’s lab investigating the effects of ischemia and reperfusion on individual murine cardiomyocytes. After graduation Jeanne worked for a year in the Howlett laboratory as a Research Assistant on various projects including a collaboration with Dr. Stacy O’Blenes looking at the effects of adding a sodium-calcium exchange blocker to cardioplegia solutions. This project ultimately evolved into a Master’s thesis under the supervision of Drs. O’Blenes, Hancock-Friesen and Howlett. After graduating with an MSc Jeanne worked as Project Manager for the Genome Canada-funded project IGNITE (Orphan Diseases: Identifying Genes and Novel Therapeutics to Enhance Treatment). When the IGNITE project ended Jeanne worked as a Research Project Coordinator at the IWK Health Centre in the Strengthening Transitions in Pediatric Care Laboratory. She is currently the Direction of Operations for the Scientific and Clinical Hub of Orphan Drug Discovery at Dalhousie University.
Omar joined the Howlett lab after graduating with a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His PhD research focused on investigating the long-term effects of testosterone withdrawal in the hearts of male mice. The results of his experiments suggested that low testosterone levels promote arrhythmias, diastolic dysfunction, and impair Ca2+movement in heart cells. Omar learned how to clearly communicate his scientific research as part of the Howlett lab, which helped him earn 4 presentation awards at scientific meetings. He also had the opportunity to present his work on three occasions at the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR) conference. Omar successfully defended his thesis and graduated with his PhD on October 2017. He currently works at a healthcare technology Startup called Medicalchain, which leverages blockchain technology to provide patients mobile access to their electronic health records.
Spring Farrell is an Instrutor in the Department of Pharmacology. She received her BSc and PhD from Dalhousie University in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Her dissertation research involved characterizing age-related changes in the responsiveness of ventricular myocytes to adrenergic stimulation. During her postdoctoral training, she studied the modulation of ion channels in retinal ganglion cells using single cell patch-clamp electrophysiology. Current research interests include developing novel technologies for imaging retinal ganglion cells in vivo, as part of a research project at the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Kaitlyn Keller, has been a Research Technician in the Howlett lab since Sept 2016. Previous to that, she completed her MSc in Pharmacology with Dr. Susan Howlett, finishing in August 2016. Kaitlyn's project focused on the influence of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme inhibitors on attenuating frailty, through modifying cardiovascular function. Before coming to Dalhousie, she completed my BSc(Hons) in Biomedical Science at the University of Guelph (Guelph, ON). In her spare time, she enjoys singing in the Dalhousie Health Professions Chorale and baking whenever she can.
Anjali Ghimire completed her Master's degree in Dr. Susan Howlett’s lab. She had a bachelors degree in Pharmacy from Kathmandu University, Nepal. She also worked as a Product Executive in Qmed Formulation Pvt. Ltd. (Pharmaceutical Company, Nepal) and trained Medical Representatives about the pharmacological aspects of the drugs. Presently, Anjali has returned to Nepal and is planning to complete doctoral studies in Clinical Pharmacy/Pharmacology.
Hirad completed his PhD in Dr. Susan Howlett’s lab in 2017. He had a great time in the Howlett lab, and says he had the privilege of presenting his work all around the world, including Buenos Aires, Miami FL., Seattle WA., and New Orleans LA. He is presently pursuing post-doctoral studies with Dr. Christopher McMaster in the Atlantic Research Centre inthe Department of Pharmacology and in the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie in Halifax.
Jonathan is currently a Research Scientist at the Masonic Medical Research Institute (MMRI). He has established a broad based research program aimed at identifying the functional roles of ion channels in various regions of the heart. In particular, his laboratory is interested in how mutations or pharmacological manipulations of ion channels affect the cardiac action potential and how the contraction of the heart is coordinated. They have extensive experience with heterologously expressed ion channels in mammalian cell lines as well as with recordings of native ionic currents in isolated cardiomyocytes. More recently, they have utilized human induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes from normal and individuals carrying mutations to determine the functional impact of these mutations on the action potential and ionic currents.
Dr. G.P. Thomas
Dr. John Sapp
Dr. D. Jassel
Dr. Alice Kane
Former PhD students
Former MSc students
Former BSc (Med)