International Student & Alumni Profiles

Hear about the IMS experience from some of our international alumni and current students.

Pratiek

"I can unequivocally say that choosing IMS and the University of Toronto was one of my best life decisions." - Pratiek Matkar

With an undeterred passion for medical science, I joined the Ph.D. program at IMS in 2012, as its research initiatives have a stellar reputation worldwide. As an international student, the inability to work off-campus to supplement stipend severely affected my financial stability. Understanding the gravity of this situation, IMS instigated the Fee Differential Award that helped international students like me to solely focus on academic research. To make my research findings clinically relevant, IMS facilitated collaboration with a leading oncologist and guided me to include him on my program advisory committee. 

My favorite memory at IMS would be attending the annual scientific days. Showcasing our research, interacting with peers, and listening to some of the world leaders in medical research were great experiences. I would want to give a special kudos to all the IMS graduate coordinators, Vasu in particular, who by their warm and helping nature have been the support system for hundreds of students. By leveraging my contacts at IMS, I was able to hold key executive positions on various committees to improve student life at the University of Toronto. In recognition of my leadership roles and their positive impact on students, I was honored with the Gordon Cressy Leadership Award. 

I can unequivocally say that choosing IMS and the University of Toronto was one of my best life decisions. Over 20 publications and $100,000 won in scholarships reflect the success of my Ph.D. My academic prowess was recognized internationally when I was awarded the Scholar-In-Training Award by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Recognizing my exceptional achievements, IMS awarded me with the Sara Al-Bader Memorial Award for being a promising international student. IMS has truly been instrumental in my academic triumphs, extracurricular accomplishments, and has equipped me to excel in my career in healthcare.  

Pratiek conducted cancer research and graduated from the IMS in 2017.

Tahani Baakdhah

"At the IMS, I always felt surrounded by family. I got support whenever I needed it, everyone within the institute was willing to listen, guide and help to the best of their ability. Even during the most difficult days in my PhD, they got my back and kept me standing." - Tahani Baakdhah

My name is Tahani Baakdhah, a PhD candidate at the Institute of Medical science under the supervision of Prof. Derek van der Kooy. My thesis focuses on studying the biology of retinal stem cells and their use in curing blindness. Before joining the UofT, I graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah - Saudi Arabia back in 2003, then moved to Canada where I got an MSc degree in molecular genetics from the University of Winnipeg in 2011. After graduation, I joined the IMS at the University of Toronto, which since has become my second home, a place where I never felt away from home. At the IMS, I always felt surrounded by family. I got support whenever I needed it, everyone within the institute was willing to listen, guide and help to the best of their ability. Even during the most difficult days in my PhD, they got my back and kept me standing. At the IMS, I discovered myself both inside and outside the lab. The department celebrated both my academic and extracurricular science communication achievements. I will not forget when they featured my science art crochet work on their website or when they invited me to crochet the IMS 50 speaker's gift, a special moment that motivated me to keep doing better and inspire others. As a medical graduate, I was looking for a lab where basic and clinical research intersect and a department that supports translational and regenerative medicine research, this is exactly what I found at the IMS.  

Tahani anticipates graduating from the IMS this year.