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Quantity & Quality: Dr. James Kennedy graduates 6 students at June convocation

Dr. James Kennedy with six graduating students

From left to right: Daniel Felsky, Sarah Gagliano, Jennie Pouget, Gwyneth Zai, James Kennedy, Maitri Patel, Maxine Kish

IMS faculty Dr. James Kennedy was extremely pleased to sit on the stage of Convocation Hall and watch 6 of his students graduate during the June 7, 2016 convocation ceremony. He supervised four PhD graduate and one Master’s student.  Four of the graduates were IMS students.  After each student shook the hand of President Gertler and Chancellor Michael Wilson, Dr. Kennedy stepped forward and gave each a congratulatory hug as they exited the stage. In conversation with President Gertler after the ceremony, the question was raised as to whether having six supervised graduate students convocate in the same ceremony was a record achievement!

A little more about the students:

Daniel Felsky

Daniel Felsky was co-supervised by Drs. Kennedy and Aristotle Voineskos for his PhD degree in the IMS. Dan was very successful during his graduate training and published 4 first author papers in high impact journals. Following the June 7, 2016 graduation ceremony, Dan departed for his new Postdoctoral research position at Harvard University. He his pursuing advanced studies in neuroimaging and genetics.

Sarah Gagliano

Sarah Gagliano completed her PhD under the co-supervision of Drs. Kennedy and Joanne Knight in the IMS. Sarah preformed sophisticated genetic statistical analyses of large datasets incorporating tens of thousands of human subjects. She investigated genetic factors relating to neuropsychiatric illnesses including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. She compared advanced machine learning methodologies including support vector machine and random forest analyses, publishing her work in the high impact journals such as PLOS One and Science Reports. After graduation, Sarah moved to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor to pursue postdoctoral studies with world experts in statistical genetics.

Jennie Pouget

Jennie Pouget was co-supervised by Drs. Kennedy and Knight and she did her graduate work in the context of the University of Toronto MD-PhD program/Institute of Medical Science. Jennie did her PhD thesis on the intriguing mystery of the role of immune factors in the cause of schizophrenia. In particular she analyzed the methodologically difficult region called the major histocompatibility complex on human chromosome 6. In this region there was a major genetic effect hiding within the complexity. Jennie dissected this causative signal for schizophrenia and also compared its role in other immune disorders including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. She published her work the high impact journal Schizophrenia Bulletin and in Pharmacogenomics. Jennie returned to medical school and is expecting to graduate with her MD degree in 2017.

Gwyneth Zai

Gwyneth Zai was doing her PhD in the IMS, in conjunction with her advanced psychiatry training in the Clinician-Scientist program. Her PhD was focused on genetics of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and its treatment. She published her PhD work in 6 different papers demonstrating a high degree of productivity for a PhD. Following her graduation, she got married and is now considering Clinician-Scientist job offers from several Canadian hospitals.

Maitri Patel

Maitri Patel was a member of the first cohort of Masters students pursuing their degree in the new Applied Clinical Pharmacology program. She worked on pharmacogenetics of psychiatric disorders, supervised by Dr. Kennedy. She is in the process of publishing her Master’s work on mitochondrial gene factors in antipsychotic medication response. Following her graduation, Maitri is investigating PhD programs in pharmacology and genetics.

Maxine Kish

Maxine Kish had Dr. Daniel Mueller for her primary supervisor for her Master’s degree in pharmacology. Dr. Kennedy served as an advisor for her work. She investigated genetic factors in antidepressant response and side effects. Maxine was overjoyed to be accepted into Medical School at Queens University which she is starting in September.

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