Meet our Scientists

  • Gelareh Mazarei, PhD

    Gelareh Mazarei, PhD

    Dr. Gelareh Mazarei received her PhD in Medical Genetics from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Gelareh has done research on the neurodegenerative disease, Huntington’s disease, and has published articles about the changes that occur in the brain of Huntington’s disease patients. Gelareh is the Editor in Chief of and is highly interested in science outreach, communication, and journalism. She believes that the society has the right to understand and get informed of what exactly happens in research laboratories and how medical research is improving the quality of our lives. When outside the lab, Gelareh enjoys social activities, teaching, volunteering, painting, and hiking. Ask Gelareh about Huntington's Disease Research.

  • Ali Razmara, MD PhD

    Ali Razmara, MD PhD

    Dr. Razmara received both his medical and graduate degrees from University of California, Irvine. Ali’s PhD degree was in cerebrovascular Pharmacology and Toxicology focusing on sex hormones and neurovascular protection. He eventually went to Boston for further medical training at Harvard Medical School where he completed his internship and neurology residency. Ali will continue his career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and as Director of Vascular Neurology Fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. When he is not working in the hospital, he enjoys traveling and discovering new places. Over the last couple of years he has camped at various scenic sites in New Zealand as well as discovered new cultures in Guatemala, trekked volcanic rocks in Hawaii, enjoyed the sunshine of pink sand beaches in Bermuda, and attended a soccer match at the London Olympics of 2012. Ali is also an avid photographer, pursues yoga for relaxation, plays tennis and squash, and enjoys riding his bike around Boston and Cambridge. His goal for this year is to learn how to play the piano.

  • Karla Bretherick, PhD

    Karla Bretherick, PhD

    Dr Bretherick is a Research and Development Scientist in the Molecular Genetics Laboratory at the Children's and Women's Health Centre of BC and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Karla has a B.Sc. in Cellular Molecular and Microbial Biology from the University of Calgary, a Ph.D. in Medical Genetics from the University of British Columbia, and 5 years of postdoctoral experience in cancer genetics research at the Genome Sciences Centre in the BC Cancer Research Centre. Her research experience is in molecular biology and examining how common genetic variants influence risk for complex diseases including Type 1 Diabetes, premature ovarian failure, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She is interested and experienced in the use of next generation sequencing to identify genetic risk factors in families with rare diseases. In her current position she is responsible for implementing and validating new molecular assays for clinical genetic testing.

  • Jane O'Hara, PhD

    Jane O'Hara, PhD

    Dr. O'Hara is from Dublin, Ireland, where she got her PhD in Breast Cancer Biology from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She shipped out to Canada in 2011 and joined a laboratory at the University of British Columbia, where as a postdoctoral researcher she investigates mechanisms of breast cancer progression in cell-based models that mimic this disease. Jane is also interested in how science is communicated outside of academia, and is passionate about increasing wider engagement with science to allow the public to make more informed decisions about health issues, and government to create evidence-based public policies. She enjoys exploring the great outdoors in B.C., especially cycling in the summer and skiing in the winter.

  • Alice Wang, PhD

    Alice Wang, PhD

    Dr Wang obtained her PhD in Genetics from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. She studied chromatin biology in Dr. Michael Kobor's laboratory at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics. Now, she is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Samuel Weiss, at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, in the University of Calgary. For her postdoctoral research, she is now studying the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the tumour initiating cells of Glioblastoma Multiforme. Outside the lab, Alice enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, running, watching movies, and trying out new wines.

  • Kristina Bečanović, PhD

    Kristina Bečanović, PhD

    Dr. Bečanović is originally from Sweden where she graduated in 2003 with a PhD in experimental medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. She then moved to Vancouver, Canada in 2005 where she worked as a postdoctoral fellow and Research Associate at the University of British Columbia for seven years. Before her move to Canada, she did research on multiple sclerosis (MS), which is a complex disease. She worked on the identification of genes that increase the risk of developing MS. Her curiosity led her to change her focus from a complex disease to a monogenic disease during the next phase of her research career. Therefore, she decided to improve her understanding of why individuals with one single mutation in the Huntington’s Disease gene develop this devastating brain disease. Aside from her work as a researcher, Kristina loves outdoor adventures; she spends most of her free time by the oceans or in the mountains playing beach volleyball, windsurfing, kayaking, mountaineering, backcountry skiing and rock climbing. During her seven years in Canada, she climbed many mountains in the coastal range. She has now switched to exploring the mountains of Europe. She loves Italy and everything it has to offer and she tries to spend as much time as possible there visiting friends.

  • Austen Milnerwood, PhD

    Austen Milnerwood, PhD

    Dr Milnerwood graduated in 2004 with a PhD in Neurophysiology from the Open University, United Kingdom. He is an Assistant Professor in Neurology at the University of British Columbia, working in the Centre for Applied Neurogenetics and the Centre for Brain Health. Austen runs a laboratory that is Milnerwood.HeadShot1focused on working out the underlying causes and initial disturbances that eventually lead to brain disease in adults. When not working, Austen is mostly a husband and father to three young boys. He coaches his eldest son's elite soccer team and loves to watch and play the game himself. When able he likes to socialize; he enjoys music from Opera to Dubstep and he loves to dance, eat and drink with friends and colleagues. Asides from skimboarding and surfing in the summer, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, he has recently put a mid-life crisis to good use and become a keen endurance athlete; in 2013 he ran his first two half-marathons, an olympic triathlon and a full marathon. In his opinion, life is a precious commodity that should be filled with shared enjoyment as much as possible, especially with those less fortunate. Science is increasingly proving that an intellectually and physically stimulating existence leads to improved mental well-being and brain / body health.