Naomi Visanji, PhD

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Dr. Naomi Visanji is an Affiliate Scientist in the Division of Experimental & Translational Neuroscience at Krembil Research Institute, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the use of postmortem human tissues and animal models to probe the pathobiology of proteins associated with neurodegenerative disease.

She received her BSc Hons in Neuroscience from the University of Nottingham (UK) and completed her PhD in Pharmacology at King's College London (UK). She has published over 50 peer reviewed publications. She is also a Senior Scientist at Rosetta Therapeutics, a University of Toronto/MaRS Innovation UTEST startup developing new molecular matter as leads for the cure of neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Visanji leads the in vivo research arm of the Rossy Program for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy at the Krembil Research Institute and the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases. Her research goals are to create a sophisticated animal model that recapitulates the full spectrum of pathology exhibited in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy to study the anatomic and cytopathologic diversity in the disease, identify the factors that contribute to disease etiology, and provide a platform for the future testing of novel therapeutics.

Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) is a devastating and fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by the abnormal accumulation of the protein tau in different cell types in select vulnerable regions of the brain. It currently has no effective treatment. There is no animal model of PSP that replicates the hallmark pathological features of the disease, limiting our understanding of disease pathogenesis and preventing the testing of novel therapies.

Our research program aims to create a sophisticated animal model of PSP. We will use human postmortem brain material donated by patients in the Rossy Program for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy at Toronto Western Hospital to generate an animal model that replicates the full spectrum of pathology exhibited in PSP. Once established, this innovative model will provide a springboard for an array of future work, including 1) studying the role of different cell types in the spreading of tauopathy in PSP, 2) identifying factors implicated in the cause of PSP and critically, and 3) testing novel disease-modifying therapeutics.

For a list of Dr. Visanji's publications, please visit PubMed, Scopus, or ORCID.

Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology, University of Toronto
Principal Investigator, Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Toronto.