MITO Innovation Scholars In Mitochondrial Health and Medicine


The MITO Innovation Scholars in Mitochondrial Health and Medicine represent a growing community of brilliant minds at the forefront of advancing mitochondrial health and medicine. As recipients of the prestigious MITO2i post-doctoral fellowship, these scholars are dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of mitochondrial function and its profound impact on human health. United by a common passion for innovation, they form a dynamic network of trailblazers committed to pushing the boundaries of mitochondrial research.

Minesh Kapadia

Minesh Kapadia

Regulation of PINK1-Parkin Mitophagy by Molecular Chaperones

Division of Neurosurgery Dept of Genetics and Development. UHN

Suneil Kalia, Department of Surgery, UofT

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common disabling neurodegenerative disorder. affecting an increasing number of Canadians. for which we have no cure This deficiency is due to the lack of treatments that target the key molecular pathways involved in the underlying pathogenesis of PD. We have recently identified a chaperone protein that modulates protein quality control and cell death by disrupting the removal of damaged mitochondria. These organelles are known as the powerhouses of the cell since they supply energy and regulate pathways important for cell survival known to be affected in PD. In this project we will use an approach that combines gene therapy and specialized targeting sequences that can engage this chaperone protein to test if this improves outcomes in preclinical models of PD. This work will provide the foundation to develop therapeutics that regulate chaperone proteins in the brain as a novel approach to treat PD.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease (PD), Neurodegenerative disorder, Molecular pathways, Protein quality control, Gene therapy, Targeting sequences, Chaperone proteins, Preclinical models

Neda Rashidi-Ranjbar

Neda Rashidi-Ranjbar

Mitochondrial and Neural Mechanisms of Photobiomodulation (PBM) in Early Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

Unity Health

Tom Schweizer and Corinne Fischer

This study aims to investigate the effectiveness of photobiomodulation (PBM), a therapeutic approach utilizing light, in early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) treatment. Mitochondria, present in most human cells, play a crucial role in generating chemical energy essential for cellular functions, stored in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules. Dysfunction of brain mitochondria is implicated as a potential mechanism in AD pathogenesis, yet a viable therapy targeting mitochondrial dysfunction is lacking. PBM offers a noninvasive method to enhance mitochondrial function by reducing oxidative stress and increasing ATP levels. Administered through infrared light to the brain, PBM shows promise as a novel therapy for early AD. However, the effectiveness and underlying mechanisms of PBM in AD require further investigation.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Photobiomodulation (PBM), Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), Pathogenesis, Light Therapy, Oxidative stress, Infrared light

MITO2i extends heartfelt gratitude to Thomas Zachos for his unwavering support of MITO2i and the Graduate Student Scholarships. Through the generous contributions of the Zachos Chair, collaborative research partnerships, and the dedication of donors, MITO2i can sustain its mission of fostering groundbreaking research and providing invaluable funding opportunities for emerging scholars in mitochondrial health and medicine. Your support ensures that promising minds have the resources they need to advance crucial research in this vital field. Thank you, Thomas Zachos, for your ongoing commitment to mitochondrial innovation and scholarship.


MITO2i Post-Doctoral Fellowships of 2022, 2023, and 2024 were funded in part by:

The Hospital For Sick Children (SickKids)

SickKids, is Canada’s foremost pediatric research hospital. They provide child and family-centred care, facilitate scientific advancements, and are a leader in mitochondrial health research.

The University Health Network

The University Health Network (UHN), Canada’s largest health research organization and part of the University of Toronto, plays a pivotal role in facilitating collaborative research with Mito2i.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Sunnybrook is Canada’s largest trauma and veterans’ center. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Sunnybrook collaborates with Mito2i in supporting groundbreaking research. 

Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health consists of three locations, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital, and Providence Healthcare. Affiliated with the University of Toronto, Unity Health serves a diverse population in the Greater Toronto Area.