This summer has been incredibly busy and we can’t believe it’s almost over! We’ve been working with two incredible student teams in Toronto and Kenya on a variety of projects. To get an idea of current research being conducted in the Dimaras lab, our students have provided a little information on their projects below.

Beth White
MPH Candidate, University of Toronto

I am currently working on a national retinoblastoma (RB) patient engagement strategy that was developed to create meaningful, co-directed RB research that is relevant to patients and improves outcomes. Including patients in research leads to knowledge that is more likely to be relevant to patients and adopted into common practice. It is my hope that this work will shape the future of retinoblastoma research.






Jamie Fujioka
MPH Candidate, University of Toronto
I am currently supporting the One Retinoblastoma World Map (, an online platform that maps existing retinoblastoma health services across the globe. Currently, there are huge disparities in retinoblastoma survivorship between the developed and developing world. This initiative is instrumental in identifying priority areas in need of resources and expertise, and fosters collaborative networks of care to ensure that every child with retinoblastoma can receive treatment. I feel blessed to be part of this project, as it has given me a real world perspective of how global collaboration and research can be harnessed to reduce inequities facing children.




Max Gelkopf
H.B.Sc. Candidate, University of Guelph
I’m currently working on a priority setting project looking at establishing the “top 10” retinoblastoma research priorities. This project is important to me because I think it is essential to include all perspectives in research. In line with the patient engagement strategy there is truly great value in empowering the patient voice. As well, priority setting is an essential exercise that can direct finite resources in a manner that both maximizes public health benefits and drives health equity, a notion which I find incredibly powerful.






Victoria Lee-Kim
B.M.Sc. Candidate, University of Western Ontario
A biobank is a collection of biospecimens (such as blood, urine, tumour tissue) and the associated data, for the purpose of research. I am helping to develop a novel biobank for the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at SickKids. Biobanking is at the forefront of translational research, personalized medicine, and targeted treatments.  Its advantages in regard to sample integrity and quality are endless. This is the first eye specific pediatric biobank in Canada I’m excited to be part of such a unique endavour that can enhance internal and external collaboration.





Arunan Selvarajah
H.B.Sc. Candidate, University of Toronto
Retinoblastoma is a rare childhood cancer of the retina. By conducting a retrospective chart review, this study seeks to identify preventable causes of retinoblastoma “treatment failures” at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). The findings of this study may inform SickKids retinoblastoma standard operating procedures. This work is important to me because there is a great potential impact that may improve retinoblastoma patient outcomes.






Leslie Oldfield
M.Sc. Candidate, University of Toronto
Currently I am in Nairobi, Kenya as a Queen Elizabeth Scholar trying to understand the barriers and opportunities to setting up next generation sequencing facilities and biobanking at the University of Nairobi. This work is important to me because researchers in Kenya are eager to engage in genomic research but are limited by accessible human specimens and sequencing, with sequencing only available out-of-country through collaborations.






Adrina Zhong
MD Candidate, University of Western Ontario
MPH, University of Toronto
This summer, I am conducting research in Nairobi on the barriers and opportunities of genetic testing and counselling in Kenya. I am collecting data through surveys and semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals who deal directly with these genetic services. Understanding the issues related to the implementation of these clinical services is the first step to identifying areas for improvement and capacity-building in the future. I love working on this project because it’s an important piece of the overall puzzle in creating better clinical care for patients with genetic disorders in Kenya.




Kaiwen Xia
H.B.Sc. Candidate, University of Toronto
Currently, I’m working with Adrina evaluating genetic services in Kenya. The project shed valuable insight regarding the intersection of technology and social progression, which I believe is a crucial (but sometimes undervalued) factor for aspiring scientists to consider when planning their trajectories.






Hannah Girdler
H.B.Sc. Candidate, University of Toronto
I am working on completing a social network analysis on the One Retinoblastoma World map network.  This is important to me because I think we need to critically analyse why we enter into national and international partnerships, as well as the impact these collaborations have on everyone involved.