Meet the Spinal Cord Injury Team

RESTORE, SCI

 

Our team is comprised of Scientists and Clinicians with the expertise to conduct multidisciplinary and integrative clinical research in spinal cord injury. 

Principal Investigators

Aaron Phillips

Aaron Phillips, PhD (Medicine)

Dr. Aaron Phillips is the Director of the RESTORE Network and Lead of the Spinal Cord Injury Team. He was trained in Biosciences and Experimental Medicine. His appreciation of the elegant interactions between the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and understanding how these interactions are disrupted in clinical conditions, has driven his research into the development of novel therapeutics for people with neurological health issues. After obtaining the Banting, CIHR, NSERC, and Craig Neilsen Fellowships as well as the Killam Research Award during his post-doc at the University of British Columba (UBC), he established his laboratory at the University of Calgary in 2017. He is now an Associate Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology, Clinical Neurosciences Biomedical Engineering, and Cardiac Sciences. He has received a number of awards including the Science.org & PINS Prize in Neuromodulation, The Arthur Guyton Award in Excellence in Physiology from the American Physiological Society, and the Top 40 Under 40 from Avenue Magazine. His group publishes in top journals including Nature, Neurology, and Nature Biotechnology. He has funding through CIHR, NSERC, Brain Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation, US Department of Defence, and Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).

Whelan

Patrick Whelan, PhD (Neuroscience)

Dr. Patrick Whelan is currently a Professor appointed in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine and the Faculty of Kinesiology. He is the Director of the optogenetics facility at the University of Calgary. His work centres on understanding the descending circuits that control walking. Over the years his work has led to a new understanding of the role of sensorimotor function that has identified sets of therapeutic targets to improve locomotor function. 

Staff

Kelly Larkin-Kaiser

Kelly Larkin-Kaiser, PhD

Dr. Kelly Larkin-Kaiser is currently the Associate Director of the RESTORE Network. Dr. Larkin-Kaiser is also an Adjunct Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary. She holds a PhD from the University of Florida in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology and completed her Postdoctoral training at the University of Calgary in the Faculty of Kinesiology. Her training focused on investigating the functional and phenotypic neuromuscular adaptations that occur in response to injury, aging, and disease in both pre-clinical and clinical models. Dr. Larkin-Kaiser continues to be passionate about research endeavors centred around studying and implementing novel neurorehabilitation technology to ultimately improve patient care.

Marcus Tso, MSc

Marcus Tso, MSc

Marcus is currently a Research Technician in the RESTORE Network. He completed his Bachelor of Health Sciences degree at the University of Calgary with a research thesis investigating physiological changes during skin inflammation with a focus on the lymphatics system, and a Master of Science Degree at the University of Calgary under Dr. Aaron Phillips' supervision. His graduate thesis focused on developing and optimizing the closed-loop electrical and optogenetic stimulation of spinal cord neurons in order to modulate blood pressure. Marcus is now working with the Phillips Lab to support multiple ongoing projects at the RESTORE Network. He is driven to pursue a career in medicine and is passionate in working in a multidisciplinary team on biomedical technology that could one day change the way patients are managed.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Anthony Incognito, PhD

Anthony Incognito, PhD

Anthony is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Calgary with Dr. Aaron Phillips. Prior to joining the Phillips Lab, he completed his PhD at the University of Guelph and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Calgary with Dr. Richard Wilson and Dr. Keith Sharkey. His research focuses on understanding how the baroreflexes and chemoreflexes work to maintain blood pressure and blood chemical status within optimal levels, and how these reflexes can become impaired in disease states. The end goal is to develop new clinical therapies aimed at restoring autonomic reflex function in hopes to improve functional outcomes and quality of life in affected patients. 

Recipient of Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship and Achievers in Medical Science Postdoctoral Fellowship

Jordan Lee, PhD

Jordan Lee, PhD

Jordan completed his PhD at the University of Guelph, studying neural control of cardiovascular function during exercise. His research in the Phillips lab includes both preclinical and clinical models to investigate whether long-term spinal cord stimulation can restore function of nerves controlling blood pressure following spinal cord injury.


Recipient of Alberta Innovates Fellowship, Libin Fellowship and Brain Create Fellowship.

Jordan Squair, PhD, MD Student

Jordan Squair, PhD, MD Student

Dr. Jordan Squair is a translational neurophysiologist with a specific interest in understanding sympathetic-cardiovascular control. He has gained experience and training using both preclinical and clinical models of research to translate his findings directly into the human reality. He also deploys a number of computational approaches to better understand data and harness large data-sets. 

Recipient of the Banting Fellowship, Killam Fellowship, and Alberta Innovates Fellowship.

PhD Students

Donovan Smith, MSc

Donovan Smith, MSc

Donovan completed his BSc (Hons) in Biomechanics at the University of Calgary in 2019, where his research project helped develop a computer model of rabbit tibiae that could predict failure under mechanical loading. During his BSc, he developed a keen interest in neuroscience, and chose to pursue his MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Calgary. For his thesis, Donovan examined ipsilesional arm impairments in subacute stroke survivors, quantifying motor impairments and the factors that influenced them. After defending his thesis in January 2022, he started his PhD in Clinical Neuroscience in the Phillips Lab. Donovan is currently involved with both the preclinical and clinical aspects of the lab, with the overarching theme of his work being the restoration of blood pressure stability following spinal cord injury through novel technologies.

Recipient of NSERC Brain CREATE - PhD Funding

Julien Rimok, BEng, MSc

Julien Rimok, BEng, MSc

Julien is passionate about finding ways to improve the well-being for people with spinal cord injuries. Coming from a background in engineering, neuroscience, and data science, he hopes to combine knowledge from these fields to develop novel technologies, which make use of brain computer interfaces, to help those with spinal cord injuries regain autonomy in their daily lives.

Recipient of the Mitacs Accelerate Fellowship.

Ryan Miller, MSc

Ryan Miller, MSc

Ryan is a graduate of the Sensorimotor Neuroscience specialization (MSc) from the University of Calgary. In the Sensorimotor Neuroscience Lab, his research focused on how the nervous system adapts to unpredictable environments. Ryan used state of the art robotics technology, augmented reality, electrophysiological and metabolic measuring systems throughout his projects. He is now a doctoral researcher at the Phillips Lab. The goal of Ryan's current work is to develop technologies that restore blood pressure responses and motor function in individuals living with spinal cord injury. 

Recipient of SCNIP, NSERC, CGS-m, and AGES scholarships.

MSc Students

Haskirat (Kira) Grewal, BSc & BA

Haskirat (Kira) Grewal, BSc & BA

Kira is currently pursuing the MSc-Neuroscience program in the Phillips Lab. She completed a combined undergraduate degree program (Bachelor of Science (1st Class Honours) in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology & Bachelor of Arts (With Distinction) in Sociology) in the spring of 2021. Her research interests lie in developing clinical interventions after spinal cord injury to improve blood flow and reduce the severity of the final injury. As an aspiring clinician-scientist, she is excited to gain translational research experience.

Recipient of the CIHR – Master’s Funding & NSERC – Brain CREATE Graduate Award

Undergraduate Students

Berkeley Scott, BScH

Berkeley Scott, BScH

Berkeley is a master’s student within the Cumming School of Medicine in the Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences program under the supervision of Dr. Aaron Phillips and Dr. James White. Her current research focuses on how cardiovascular health changes within the chronic stage of individuals with cervical-level spinal cord injuries and the role of orthostatic hypotension in the progression of cardiovascular disease in this population. She has a keen interest in bridging the fields of cardiovascular sciences and clinical neurosciences to ultimately improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. In her future, she hopes to play a leading role in shaping clinical care through research as a clinical scientist.

Recipient of the RESTORE Network Graduate Scholarship.