Nicola Pic

Dr. Nicola Jones

Senior Scientist and Staff Physician, SickKids

Dr. Nicola Jones is a Senior Scientist in the Cell Biology Program at SickKids Research Institute and staff physician in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at SickKids. She is a Professor of Paediatrics and Physiology at the University of Toronto. Currently, she serves as the Director of the Integrated Physician Scientist Training Program at the University of Toronto and the President of the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation. Dr. Jones completed her medical degree at the University of Toronto, paediatric residency and GI fellowship at SickKids and her PhD with Dr. Philip Sherman in Molecular Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto.

As a clinician scientist and paediatric gastroenterologist, her translational research program focuses on understanding the mechanisms responsible for gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases including Helicobacter pylori, gastric cancer and inflammatory bowel disease with the aim of developing novel therapies.

Mariana Isabel Capurro
Mariana Capurro

Senior Research Associate

Originally from Argentina, Mariana has devoted her research career to Cancer Biology.

After obtaining her PhD in the University of Buenos Aires (breast cancer), she moved to Canada and joined Dr. Jorge Filmus’ laboratory at Sunnybrook Research Institute for her postdoctoral studies. Her research focused on understanding how signaling pathways control normal development, and how deregulation of these pathways lead to cancer.

In 2015 she joined Dr. Jones’ lab, where she focuses on understanding the mechanisms responsible for gastric disease caused by Helicobacter pylori infections. This knowledge is crucial for the development of novel mechanism-based eradication therapies, which are highly required due to increasing antibiotic resistance worldwide.

In addition, as Research Associate she is involved in the mentoring of the students and trainees.

Akriti Prashar
Akriti Prashar


Akriti obtained her PhD in 2015 in Cell and Systems Biology from the University of Toronto. Her doctoral work was focused on studying the cellular mechanisms of Legionella pathogenesis. After a short post-doc at the Francis Crick Institute (UK) studying the intracellular survival of M.tuberculosis, she joined the Jones lab in 2018 where she is currently investigating the effects of H.pylori on host mitochondria

Laurel McGillis
Laurel McGillis

PhD Student

Laurel joined the Jones lab in 2016 as a PhD student with the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto.

Laurel’s project is centred on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a family of chronic gastrointestinal illnesses including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD pathogenesis is complex and multifactorial. Many predisposing genetic mutations have been discovered, but the risk they incur is minimal. Other risk factors, such as environmental contributions, are important in driving IBD onset in genetically susceptible individuals.

Her project focuses on vitamin D deficiency, which has been identified as an IBD environmental risk factor. She explores the effects of vitamin D deficiency on the intestine; both alone and in the setting of genetic risk to Crohn’s disease, using mouse models and IBD patient intestinal biopsies. We hope that uncovering gene-environment interactions will help to elucidate IBD pathogenesis and uncover new therapeutic targets.

Sunny Xia
Sunny Xia

PhD Student

Sunny is working on disease models of Cystic Fibrosis. Interested in using primary and stem cell derived intestinal organoids to characterize CF intestinal disease defects at the molecular, cellular and tissue level.

Kristen Bortolin
Kristen Bortolin

Postdoctoral Fellow, MD, FRCPC

Kristen Bortolin is a fellow in the Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Training Program at the Hospital for Sick Children, a first-year student in the IMS Master’s Program and in the Clinician Investigator Program at the University of Toronto.

Her research interest is in eosinophilic esophagitis – an allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus – which her master’s thesis will focus on. She is co-supervised by Dr. Nicola Jones and Dr. Jessie Hulst. Her main project will compare whether a new non-invasive device called the Cytosponge™ will perform similarly to standard endoscopy and biopsies in its ability to assess disease activity. Another project will assess if dose adjustments made to PPIs in individuals who are ultra-rapid or rapid metabolisers due to polymorphisms in CYP2C19 improve disease response to therapy based on histology and symptom scores.

Xiadong Gao

Research Tech II

Xiaodong got her Master’s degree in medical Pathology and Bachelors in Chemistry. She has experience with molecular biology, histology/cytology, tissue and cell culture, animal colony management, and laboratory animal surgery. She has worked under the direction of the Principal Investigator to support the operations of the laboratories and perform routine and moderately complex laboratory functions and experiments. She assists senior fellows or students on various experiments.

Sriprada Thallapalli

Research Student

Sriprada is a fourth year Chemical Biology student at McMaster University. As a co-op student in the Jones lab, she developed several technical skills, such as culturing cells, performing Western blots, and immunofluorescence staining. Her project is currently focused on the preparation of parietal cells from the gastric epithelium of mice to study H. pylori infection.