Current team

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Dr. Jonathon Ditlev, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Ditlev earned his B.Sc. in Biology from Calvin College in 2003. Following graduation, he worked as a research assistant in Dr. Bin Tean Teh’s laboratory at the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, MI. In 2012, he earned his PhD at the University of Connecticut Health Center under the advisorship of Dr. Bruce Mayer and Dr. Les Loew. Dr. Ditlev was a Ruth L. Kirschstein postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Rosen. He joined The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) Research Institute in 2019.

See Dr. Ditlev’s full profile on

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Steve Chung, M.Sc.

Laboratory Technologist II

Steve earned in his B.Sc. at the University of Toronto double majoring in Human Biology and Neuroscience. He then proceeded to complete his M.Sc. in Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Western Ontario where he studied stromal interaction molecule (STIM) 1 Ca2+ intake interactions in the endoplasmic reticulum. Currently, Steve is a laboratory technologist II in the Ditlev Lab where he manages the lab and plays a supportive role in assisting his fellow lab members whilst studying the interactions that occur between various postsynaptic density scaffolds and their control of actin polymerization.

Dr. Leshani Ahangama Liyanage, PhD

Research Fellow

Dr. Liyanage grew up in Sri Lanka and completed her undergraduate studies at University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, where she earned her B.Sc. in Chemistry in 2013. Following graduation, she worked a year in the Department of Chemistry, University of Kelaniya as a Teaching Assistant. In 2014 she moved to the United States to join the Oklahoma State University PhD program, and in 2019 she earned her PhD in Chemistry at OSU under the advisorship of Dr. Gabriel Cook. Her thesis work focused on the characterization of the post-translationally modified membrane proteins using in vitro and amino acid substitution methods. She joined the Ditlev Lab at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) Research Institute in December 2020, where she studies the role of Shank2 in the formation and maintenance of the postsynaptic density and its role in regulating RNA translation in dendritic spines. Dr. Liyanage is pursuing a career in academia, in the fields of protein chemistry and molecular biology. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music, cook, bake, and enjoy a good happy hour with her family.

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Gaddy Rakhaminov, PhD Candidate

Graduate Student

Gaddy graduated with an Honours B.Sc. from York University in 2019, majoring in Biology (Biomedical Science). As an undergraduate he worked in the lab of Dr. Dasantila Golemi-Kotra studying the Staphylococcus aureus protein FmtA, an enzyme involved in the modification of wall teichoic acids. In the Ditlev Lab, he is using biophysical and proteomic approaches to investigate the role of neuronal scaffold proteins in the organization of postsynaptic density condensates. In his spare time, Gaddy is an avid gamer, basketball player, and a massive fan of the greatest show of all time, Seinfeld.

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Zeynep Bekci-Baltaci, PhD Candidate

Graduate Student, MSc

Zeynep earned her B.Sc. from the University of Toronto, specializing in Biochemistry and minoring in Immunology. She is currently working to assess the function significance of coupling of lipid and protein phase separation in T cell signaling. The aim of her project is to understand the biophysical mechanisms that drive signal transduction downstream of the stabilization of protein condensates by ordered lipid domains. In the future, she wants to become a professor and open her own lab. She is obsessed with her Siberian Husky and she enjoys baking in her free time.

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Cathy Zhang, M.Sc. Candidate

Research Student

Cathy graduated with a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto in 2022, double majoring in Biomedical Toxicology and Health & Disease. She is currently an M.Sc. candidate in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. She is working to understand the role of intrinsically disordered regions of PSD-95 in the organization of neuronal receptors.

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Angela Skoutakis

Research Admin

Angela is the Ditlev Lab’s administrator. She acts as the mediator between our lab and several companies involved in manufacturing our reagents and equipment. She enjoys spending her free time with her family where they would team up and go for long distance runs, or competitive races at the track.

Ditlev Lab Alumni

Cindy Wan

Masters of Science

Cindy graduated with an Honours B.Sc. from the University of Toronto in 2021, specializing in Biochemistry. As an undergraduate, she worked in the lab of Dr. Walid A. Houry studying the role of the human R2TP chaperone complex in primary ciliogenesis. She was coo-supervised by Dr. Ditlev and Dr. Forman-Kay and is investigating the biophysical principles underlying CFTR membrane cluster formation and function. Cindy successfully defended her thesis on July 2023 and is now currently pursuing her M.D at Yale medical school.

Ali Bin Munim

Undergraduate Thesis Student

Ali is currently completing his B.Sc. at the University of Toronto.

David Sapp

Undergraduate Thesis Student

David is earning his M.Sc. in the Department of Pathology at Dalhousie University.

Samuel Ben Sofia

Research Assistant

Samuel is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto majoring in Cell & Molecular Biology and Human Biology. During his time as a research student in the Ditlev Lab, he studied the mechanisms that drive postsynaptic density condensate formation. Samuel enjoys playing tennis and video games in his free time.

Claire MacMurray

Claire is currently a graduate student at the University of Paris.