Dr. John Valliant
Dr. Valliant is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fusion Pharmaceuticals. John has been instrumental in securing both investment and scientific and medical collaborations with the industrial and academic partners of Fusion.
Prior to Fusion, Dr. Valliant founded the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), a radiopharmaceutical research and development centre of excellence established in 2008 through funding from the Federal and Provincial governments, industry and academic partners.
Dr. Saman Sadeghi
Dr. Sadeghi graduated from University of Toronto, Engineering Science program and received his Ph. D. from U of Toronto in analytical/physical chemistry as an NSERC scholar in 2008. He was a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA Crump institute 2009-2011. Prior to joining McMaster University, Dr. Sadeghi was an associate professor in the department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA, where he maintains an adjunct position. He has a background in managing a GMP compliant facility and research in radiochemistry, radiopharmaceutical development and validation, electrochemistry, microfluidics and instrumentation.
Dr. Sadeghi serves on peer review panels and has been a cofounder and an independent scientific and engineering consultant to several startups and small companies. He has previously served as the director of the Ahmanson Biomedical Cyclotron Facility at UCLA, which produces a wide variety of clinical position emission tomography tracers, and facilitates the clinical translation of successful research radiopharmaceuticals.
Dr. James Inkster
Dr. Inkster is a synthetic organic chemist and radiochemist with degrees from Simon Fraser University (MSc, PhD). His PhD research was completed at TRIUMF, Canada’s National Laboratory for Nuclear & Particle Physics in Vancouver. After post-doctoral studies at Les Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève in Switzerland, James held joint appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital as a Research Associate (Division of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging) and Harvard Medical School (Radiology) as a Research Fellow. In 2021, James returned to Canada to join Prof. Eric Price’s lab in the University of Saskatchewan Dept. of Chemistry as a Research Associate.
Central to Dr. Inkster’s research is the discovery of innovative and broadly useful radio-labelling and radio-bioconjugate strategies, which he has leveraged towards the development of PET radiotracers for imaging cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Parkinsonian disorders. Current interests lie in the synthesis of molecular imaging agents targeting bacterial infections and beta cell function.
We've asked some of the undergraduate students to share their biographies and interests.
Carol is in her final year of completing her undergraduate degree in Chemical Biology. She initially joined our lab as an Audrey Cameron Academic Excellence Award (ACAEA) scholarship winner in Summer 2023, and will continue to work under the supervision of Dr. Sadeghi for the completion of her 4th year thesis. Her work focuses on developing and fine tuning various FAP-targeting (FAPI) ligands that have the potential for radiopharmaceutical applications in cancer therapy. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing volleyball!
Research Support Staff
Dr. Afaf Genady
Afaf received her PhD degree in organic chemistry (2003) with Professor Detlef Gabel from the University of Bremen, Germany. From 2003 to 2006 she worked as a lecturer at Tanta University, Egypt. After a period of post-doctoral research work with Professor Hiroki Nakamura, Tokyo Institute of Technology, she moved back to the University of Tanta to start her independent academic career. In 2008 she became Associate Professor at Tanta University. Her research interests focused on the use of boron clusters as new entities for medical drugs and studied their interaction with biological systems to investigate their
Dr. Mohamed El-Zaria
Research Scientist and project manager
Mohamed obtained his PhD in Germany at the Bremen University working in the development of boron-neutron capture cancer therapeutics. He worked as postdoctoral fellow/Scientific visiting professor in both Bremen University in Germany and at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, Japan (JSPS Fellow). He joined the Valliant group as postdoctoral fellow focusing on radiopharmaceutical chemistry. He worked as an associate researcher with Dr. Humphrey Fonge, at the University of Saskatchewan. Currently, he is a radiochemist and project manager in the MRG at McMaster University, working towards the discovery and development of novel molecular imaging compounds for use in pre-clinical drug studies for cancer therapy and diagnosis.
Laboratory technician (biology)
Rafael completed a B. Sc in Biochemistry at Sherbrooke University and a M.Sc. in Experimental Health Sciences at INRS University (Laval QC). His professional background includes Research Assistant positions with GIOSTAR Chicago (Glenview IL), Rosalind Franklin University (North Chicago IL) and MangoGen Pharma (Montreal QC). He contributes with his expertise in in vivo procedures in murine models, PET imaging, standard molecular biology techniques, aseptic cell culture and in the development and optimization of immuno-assays and cell-based assays.
Dr. Daniel Hernández Valdés
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Chemistry
Dr. Daniel Hernández Valdés is a postdoctoral researcher at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Saman Sadeghi. Daniel studied Radiochemistry at the Higher Institute of Technologies and
Applied Sciences (InSTEC), University of Havana. He received his PhD in Chemistry in 2020 from the University of Zurich. During this time, he worked under the supervision of Prof. Roger Alberto in the fundamental organometallic chemistry of technetium and rhenium and in artificial photosynthesis. His current research concerns topics related to new radiofluorination methods and the synthesis and evaluation of new potential radiopharmaceuticals of 99mTc.
Dr. Ayman A. Ibrahim
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Biology
Dr. Ayman A. Ibrahim is a visiting postdoctoral scholar at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Saman Sadeghi. Ayman finished his Ph.D in Pharmacology & Toxicology at Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University, Egypt (2019). He also received his master’s degree in 2016 from Zagazig University, Egypt. Noteworthy, he has a strong experience in Quality control, Quality assurance, GMP and production of 99Mo/99mTc, 131I, 125I & 51Cr radiopharmaceuticals.
Generally, his main scientific interests are pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of novel radiopharmaceuticals used in diagnosis and therapy & development of new treatment strategies against multiple diseases induced by ionizing radiation.
We've asked some of the graduate students to share their biography and interests.
Kevin completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at McMaster University before joining the program in 2017. He enjoys McMaster's Radiopharmaceuticals Program for its holistic approach to research and translation, where synthetic chemistry, protein biochemistry, radiochemistry and pharmaceutical biology combine to create novel radiopharmaceuticals for clinical translation.
Rowan received her undergraduate degree in Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Ottawa in 2018 and gained experience in both government and academic laboratories through the universities CO-OP program. Upon graduating from uOttawa Rowan began studying at McMaster University to fulfill a Master's degree in Chemical Biology under the supervision of Dr. John Valliant and Dr. Sam Sedeghi with a focus on synthesizing molecularly targeted photoacoustic imaging agents. 2020 marked the beginning of her studies towards a PhD in Chemical Biology.
Pamela completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry in 2018 at New York University before moving back to Nigeria to serve in the National Youth program for recent graduates. During the program, she worked as a laboratory assistant in an analytical chemistry lab and as a research assistant in the Centre for Applied Research on Separation Sciences.
Alanna Wade was born and raised in Thunder Bay, ON, a city in northwestern Ontario. She began her educational journey by completing a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Waterloo. Afterwards, she moved back to Thunder Bay, ON, where she obtained a Master of Science degree at Lakehead University, researching hyperpolarized gas MRI. Afterwards, Alanna worked at ALS Limited (a lab), followed by NOSM (a medical school). Alanna wanted to further her education, so she decided to pursue her PhD at McMaster University to conduct research work in radiopharmaceutical chemistry.
Shirley obtained her undergraduate degree in Chemical Biology at the McMaster University in 2021. During her 4th thesis year, she worked on the synthetic pathway of lactone-based Pramanicin analogs. Upon graduating from McMaster, Shirley began her Master's degree in Chemical Biology at McMaster University in 2022 Winter, where she worked with Dr. Sam Sadeghi on Electrolysis and Nucleophilic Radio-fluorination substitution.
Fikrican obtained his undergrad in Chemistry at Nigde University (Turkey) in 2013 and his master's degree in Izmir Institute of Technology in 2018. During his master's education, Ficrican synthesized small molecules drug candidates. In January 2021, he started his PhD at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. John Valliant and Dr. Sam Sedeghi. Fikrican's thesis focuses on synthesizing New Tetrazine-Derived Near-Infrared Heptamethine Cyanine Photoacoustic Dyes.
Rojin graduated from Azad University of Tehran, Iran, as a general Doctorate in pharmaceutical science in 2019. Rojin started her chemical biology MsC program under supervision of Dr. Sadeghi on January 2022 at McMaster University. currently, her project focuses on synthesis and demonstrating the retrograde transport of 125I-NGF in Alzheimer’s disease model.
Yusra completed her undergraduate degree in Chemical Biology in 2022 at McMaster University, during her 4th year, she completed her thesis in our lab, where she worked on the synthesis of novel dyes for photoacoustic imaging. Upon graduation, she worked as a biology laboratory assistant in the lab. She has since started her master’s degree in Chemical Biology at McMaster University in the Fall of 2022, under the supervision of Dr. Sadeghi, where she is focusing on the development of Molecularly Targeted Photoacoustic Imaging agents.
Stefano Armando Biasi
Stefano graduated from the Honours Life Sciences program at McMaster University in 2022. During his third year, he took a course about radioisotopes and how they are used in medicine where he discovered a particular interest in radiopharmaceutical development. This ultimately led to him joining the McMaster Radiochemistry and Radiopharmaceutical Research Group as a Master’s student under the supervision of Dr. Sadeghi. His project is focused on the development of antibody-based radiopharmaceuticals for the targeted imaging and treatment of metastatic melanoma.
Laiba completed her Undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto Mississauga with a double major in chemistry and health science, where she was able to fulfil a senior thesis that allowed her work on the interface of both medicinal and biological chemistry. Via SARs, Laiba was able to work towards modulating the reactivity of functionalized moieties by chemically tuning molecular scaffolds with a goal to produce a potent, isoform-selective inhibitor with improved pharmacokinetics. Laiba will continue her journey in drug discovery at McMaster University within the chemical Biology department in the Sadeghi Lab, where she will be working towards exploring the response of PMSA when manipulated with bifunctional radiotherapeutics for protein degradation. In her free time, Laiba enjoys spending time in nature and exploring new cafes within the city.
Dr. Paul Schaffer
Dr. Paul Schaffer graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1998 with a BSc in chemistry and biochemistry, followed by a Ph.D. in Chemistry from McMaster University in 2003. His doctoral work focused on the design and synthesis of technetium and rhenium chelates as potential new radioimaging or radiotherapy agents. In the latter half of 2009, Dr. Schaffer returned to Canada to accept his new role as Deputy Head, and is now Head of the Life Sciences program at TRIUMF. He is responsible for maintaining TRIUMF’s medical isotope and radiotracer production programs in support of neurological and oncology research.
In response to the 2007-2009 99mTc supply crises, Dr. Schaffer and his collaborators spearheaded a successful effort to establish proof of concept commercial-scale, non-reactor production of 99mTc. This effort saw four institutions come together with funding from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to demonstrate direct production of this isotope using Canada’s existing medical cyclotron infrastructure. Dr. Schaffer is currently serving as founding CEO of ARTMS Products, Inc., a spin-off company looking to commercialize the technology developed through the NRCan-funded initiative. Under his direction, ARTMS was chosen as the winner of ‘Most Promising Pre-Commercial Technology’ at the 2017 BC Tech’s Technology Impact Awards.
For his leadership efforts, Dr. Schaffer was recognized by Business in Vancouver as one of British Columbia’s 2013 Top Forty under 40 individuals; recognizing him as an effective researcher with an ability to create teams that produce high-impact results on short time scales. The NRCan-ITAP team was also recently awarded the 2015 NSERC Brockhouse Prize for Interdisciplinary Research.
Dr. Schaffer continues to re-define the TRIUMF Life Sciences program by focusing on its core competencies and continues to connect the TRIUMF program with industrial and commercial interests. Dr. Schaffer is a leader, an entrepreneur and one of British Columbia's most promising talents.
Dr. Abdolreza Yazdani
My PhD research project in the Valliant group (2011-2017) centered on the synthesis, stability and photophysical properties of [2 + 1] Re(I) and Tc(I) complexes derived from bipyridine type ligands and a series of imidazole derivatives were investigated as a means of identifying complexes suitable for creating targeted isostructural optical/nuclear molecular imaging probes. I am interested in radiopharmaceutical chemistry and in particular, development and optimization of novel molecular imaging probes.
Dr. Stuart Mahoney
My post-doctoral research in the Valliant group (2013-14) centered on developing radiolabeling methods with a rapid and efficient purification protocol which complemented my synthetic methodology graduate work and prepared me to pursue a career in the radiopharmaceutical industry.
Over the past 6 years I have worked as a research scientist first with the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization and most recently with the for profit spin-off company Fusion Pharmaceuticals. My research has focused primarily on discovering new intellectual property around bifunctional chelates and linkers while working closely within a multidisciplinary team to develop new targeted alpha radiotherapeutics.