Dr. Todd Gillis got his BSc and MSc from the University of Guelph and his PhD from Simon Fraser University. Dr. Gillis then worked in the Department of Bioengineering in the School of Medicine at the University of Washington as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow. Dr. Gillis joined the University of Guelph as an Assistant Professor in 2005. The work in the Gillis Lab is focused upon the vertebrate heart and the mechanisms that regulate its function. Please take a look at the research pages for further detail.

[email protected]



Derin Calik

I graduated with a BSc in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Guelph. Currently, I am interested in the comparative physiology and environmental stress responses of aquatic vertebrates. My research with the Alderman and Gillis Labs focuses on the toxicity of diluted bitumen on Coho salmon embryos, and whether an ambient temperature differential alters their physiological response, from a molecular and developmental perspective. 



Maria Yutsyschyna

I graduated from the University of Manitoba with an Honours B.Sc. in Environmental and Integrative Physiology. I am carrying out my PhD project in the Gillis Lab. My research focuses on the physiological responses of Pacific Hagfish to prolonged anoxia. I am particularly interested in identifying the physiological adaptations that allow this primitive fish to survive anoxia for over a day. To this end I am examining the hagfish mitochondria for signs of dysfunction caused by anoxia exposure. I am also investigating functional capacity of the hagfish’s antioxidant enzymes and if this capacity is up-regulated by exposing the fish to anoxic conditions. The third leg of my research involves using ultrasound imaging to examine the functional characteristics of the Pacific hagfish heart, searching for arrhythmias caused by anoxia.


Jared Shaftoe

I graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc. in Marine and Freshwater Biology. I am interested in the physiological response of aquatic vertebrates to environmental stressors. My M.Sc. project in the Gillis lab focuses on how acclimation of zebrafish to low temperatures affects protein expression and gene transcription in the heart. This work focuses particularly on the regulation of  myofilament function and calcium cycling.


Reece Long

I graduated from the University of British Columbia with an Honours B.Sc. in Animal Biology. I then moved to Guelph to begin an M.Sc. in the Gillis Lab where I am focusing on the topic of heart regeneration. Specifically, I am analyzing if and how thyroid hormones influence the collagen composition and immune response in the regenerating heart of zebrafish following cryoinjury. I am also conducting a proteomic analysis on the regenerating gecko heart to help identify key proteins involved in the process of heart regeneration.



Chacko Sujith I graduated from the University of Ottawa with an Honours B.Sc. in Biology. I am interested in ecotoxicology and moved to Guelph to begin my M.Sc. My research in the Alderman and Gillis lab focuses on effects of diluted bitumen on the thyroid axis and olfactory epithelium in Coho salmon. I am specifically looking at the chronic and acute exposures of diluted bitumen on the early life stages using molecular and histological methods



Elizabeth Manchester




Past members of the Gillis Lab

Post Doctoral Fellows

Dr. Georgina Cox, 2019-2020 Project: Metabolic function of the hagfish heart during anoxia exposure. Current Position: Assistant Professor, Washington State University

Dr. Sarah Alderman, 2014-2018 Project: Physiological consequence of bitumen on Atlantic and Pacific salmon. Current Position: Assistant Professor, University of Guelph

Dr. Laura Dindia, 2014 Project: Identification of serum biomarkers in salmonids to detect cardiac and skeletal damage to improve the monitor of salmonid health in farmed and wild populations


Graduate Students

Leonardi Nataprawira MSc 2019-2022 Thesis title: The influence of environmental and endocrine factors on collagen regulatory pathways in rainbow trout cardiac fibroblasts

Sophy Ding, MSc 2017-2020 Thesis title: The effects of thermal acclimation on cardiac cellular signalling pathways in rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss

Sean Avey, MSc 2017-2019 Thesis Title: Diluted bitumen exposure in juvenile Atlantic and sockeye salmon: whole-animal metabolic ad molecular responses

Calli Freeman, MSc 2017-2019 Thesis Title:  Molecular regulation of the trout heart to altered oxygen and
temperature Current Position: Veterinarian

Dr. Elizabeth Johnston, PhD 2012-2019 Thesis Title:  Molecular regulation of collagen deposition in the extracellular matrix of cultured ventricular fibroblasts from rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss Current Position: Research Scientist, Rapid Novor

Dr. Sarah Schorno, PhD 2013-2018 Thesis title: Biogenesis of Hagfish Slime: Timing and Process of Slime Gland Refilling in Hagfishes (Eptatretus stoutii and Myxine glutinosa) Current position: Lab Instructor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph

Lauren Gatrell, MSc. 2015-2017 Thesis title:The role of glycerol in supporting energy production in the hagfish heart during anoxia exposure Current Position: Veterinary technician

Elizabeth Sears, MSc 2011-2014
Thesis title: Evolution of cardiac troponin function in vertebrates
Current position Research technician, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Jordan Klaiman, PhD, 2007- 2014
Thesis title: The effects of thermal acclimation on the functional properties of the trout myocardium
Current position: Project Manager, Heart Regeneration Program, University of Washington, Seattle WA.

Nicole Pinto, MSc, 2010-2012, Co-supervisor: Dr. Doug Fudge
Thesis title: Production of a bio-polymer from recombinant vimentin
Current position: PhD Student, Western University

Silvana Miller
, MSc, 2008-2010, Co-supervisor: Dr. Pat Wright

Thesis title: Effect of hypoxia exposure on the development of the cardio-respiratory system in rainbow trout
Current position: Research Associate, Humber College

Kelly Kirkpatrick, MSc 2006-2009
Thesis title: Cloning and functional characterization of trout cardiac troponin I
Current position: Lab Instructor, Bishop Straughn High School Toronto

Undergraduate Thesis Students Supervised

** = thesis published in peer reviewed journal

Elizabeth Manchester, 2021-2022

Thesis title: Influence of rewarming on the structure and function of the cold acclimated zebrafish heart. Current position: MSc student University of Guelph

Jared Shaftoe, 2020-2021 Thesis title: Influence of thermal acclimation on cardiac function in zebrafish
characterized using high frequency ultrasound. Current position: MSc student University of Guelph

Stephanie Gunby, 2019-2020, Thesis title: Digestion in the hagfish during anoxia exposure Current position: MSc student University of Guelph

Rachael MacKinnon, 2019-2020.Thesis title: Protection of the hagfish heart from oxidative damage following anoxia exposure Current position:MSc student UBC

Melissa Fanti-Cocco, 2018-2019, Thesis title: Influence of stretch on collagen deposition in the trout heart

Allegra Pearce, 2017-2018 Thesis title: Fuel utilization by the anoxic hagfish heart.

**Sierra Sutcliffe, 2016-2017 Thesis title: Actin expression in the zebrafish heart during embryonic development

**Sean Avey, 2014-2016, Thesis title: Consequence of Green florescent protein expression on the metabolic rate and aerobic fitness of zebrafish.

Craig Jurkiewicz, 2014-2016, Thesis title: The effects of chronic diurnal hypoxia and exercise training on the cardiovascular system of rainbow trout (Onycorhychus mykiss).

Laura Shaw, 2014-2016, Thesis title: The effects of diurnal hypoxia and exercise on neuroplasticity in juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

David Bakker, 2014-2015,  Thesis title: Influence of cold acclimation on the metabolism of swimming zebrafish.

Ariana Bonder,  2014-2015,  Thesis title: Role of TGF-b in the regulation of trout cardiac fibroblasts

Abiran Sritharan, 2013-2014 Thesis title: Influence of cold acclimation on the aerobic fitness of zebrafish.

**Amy Johnston, 2013, Thesis title: Influence of cold acclimation on the histology and connective tissue content of the zebrafish heart.
Current Position: PhD Student University of Alberta

Melanie Barry, 2013, Thesis title: Influence of cold acclimation on the expression and phosphorylation of SERCA and phospholamban in the hearts of the burbot and crucean carp

**Elizabeth Johnston2013-2014, Thesis title: Influence of hypoxia exposure during embryonic development on the aerobic capacity of trout fry. 2011-2012

Elizabeth Sears, 2012-2013,  Thesis title: Influence of chronic hypoxia exposure on the expression of the cardiac contractile proteins during ontogeny of the rainbow trout.

**Courtney Deck, 2012-2013, Thesis title: Influence of Cold Acclimation on TnI expression in the cardiac, slow skeletal, and fast skeletal muscle of the rainbow trout.

Nicole Pinto, 2011-2012, Thesis title: Cloning of cardiac troponin T from the trout.
Current position: PhD Student, Western University

**Andrew Robertson,  2011-2012, Thesis title: Role of PKA phosphorylation in the regulation of cardiac troponin function
Current position: Medical Doctor, University of Toronto

Emily Van de Laar, 2011-2012Thesis title: Application of DIGE to studying contractile protein phosphorylation.

**Silvana Miller, 2007-2008, Thesis title: Influence of chronic hypoxia exposure on the metabolic rate of salmonid embryos during development.

Caley Nadon, 2007-2008 Thesis title: Changes in the expression of troponin I mRNA during development.
Current position: Dentist, Toronto

Brechan McGooey, 2006-2007 Thesis title: Changes in heart rate of rainbow trout embryos during hypoxia exposure.

Heather Freamo, 2005-2006, Thesis title: Ca2+ sensitivity of actin myosin activity in the trout heart.

Completed MSc, University of Guelph