Our Vision

  • Improving the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of heart disease through “omics” (such as genetics, genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics), environmental and stem cell based research to identify the cause of disease and find new ways to treat patients with heart disease.
  • Expediting scientific discovery through multi-centre participation and sharing of resources, knowledge and expertise to perform population-based studies
  • Translation of research findings to the bedside through the creation of a multi-disciplinary research network of basic and clinical scientists, physicians, geneticists, epidemiologists, statisticians with strong institutional, private and industry support to expedite clinical applications of research findings.

Our Approach


Genes are contained in DNA, the blueprint of life that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all living organisms.  The role of DNA is to store information about ourselves over a long period of time.  Just like a book that contains many chapters and each chapter tells a deeper and deeper story, our DNA is much like a book telling a similar story of ourselves.  The segments of our DNA carry our genetic information called genes.

The Transplant Centre Biobank has collected DNA to assist in providing answers to:

  • Identifying genes that influence outcomes of disease
  • Identifying genes that influence the response to therapy (pharmacogenomics)
  • Gene-environment interactions

The Transplant Centre Biobank collects and banks skin cells.  These skin cells can be reprogrammed to form stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC).  These iPS cells can be differentiated to form virtually any cell type in the body!  These cells can be used for:

  • Disease modeling
  • Drug screening and drug discovery
  • Transplantation in the future

Our Team

Seema Mital, MD

Dr. Seema Mital received a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery in 1989 from Bombay University. She completed her paediatric residency at Wayne State University in 1996 and a fellowship in paediatric cardiology in 1999 from Columbia University in New York. Mital served as Assistant Professor at Columbia University, Morgan-Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York, until 2007 when she joined SickKids as a Staff Cardiologist. She is currently Head of Cardiovascular Research and at SickKids, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at the SickKids Research Institute. She is also the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario Chair of Cardiovascular Science, and the Scientific Co-Lead of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research.

Lab & Clinical Team

Our research focuses on genomics, pharmacogenomics and stem cell applications in childhood heart disease. This includes the study of DNA using next-generation sequencing, and tissue and patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in patients with congenital cardiac malformations and cardiomyopathies. The goals are to identify gene defects that cause heart disease in children, identify the influence of genetic variations on disease severity and outcomes, and apply this knowledge to inform the clinical care of children with heart disease and discovery of new therapies for pediatric heart failure. An equally important goal is to study gene-environment interactions in causing heart disease. The approach to research is translational and includes clinical and basic research methodologies to answer these questions

Pediatric Transplant Genomics Network

The Pediatric Transplant Genomics Network is a collaborative group of transplant physicians from institutions across Canada participating in the cross-Canada Transplant Centre Biobank Registry. The network includes SickKids Hospital (Toronto), Stollery Children’s Hospital (Edmonton), CHU Sainte-Justines (Montreal), Alberta Children’s Hospital (Calgary) and Winnipeg Children’s Hospital. Patients are prospectively enrolled into the biobank for genomics, pharmacogenomics, and biomarker based research with the eventual goal of personalizing the care of these patients.

Dr. Seema Mital, The Hospital for Sick Children

Dr. Mital is a Pediatric Cardiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children, her clinical activities include pediatric heart failure and heart transplantation. Her research interests surround genomics, pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine approaches to study the genomic basis and outcomes of children with heart disease and children after transplant. Other interests also include stem cell regulation in cardiac malformations and use of human iPS cells for disease modeling and drug discovery. Dr. Mital serves at the Principal Investigator of the Transplant & Heart Centre Biobank Registries.

Dr. Simon Urschel, Stollery Children’s Hospital

Dr. Urschel is a Pediatric Cardiologist and the Clinical Director Pediatric Cardiac Transplant for the Heart Transplant Program at Stollery Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Urschel’s research interests include mechanisms of B-cell tolerance after ABO-incompatible heart transplantation in children with immature immune systems, humoral and cellular immune response to vaccines and infections in the immune suppressed or immunocopmromised child and improvement of non-invasive monitoing following pediatric transplantation. His current research focus is on the impact of B cell receptor signaling and the linkage of the innate immune system to the adaptive immune response in the context of organ transplantation.

Dr. Véronique Phan, CHU Sainte-Justine

Dr. Phan is a renal transplant physician with a Masters in clinical epidemiology. Her research interests are in clinically relevant outcome measurements in pediatric renal diseases and transplantation.

​Dr. Patricia Birk, Winnipeg Children’s Hospital

Dr. Birk serves as a Medical Director and Transplant Physician for the Pediatric Kidney Program at Winnipeg Children’s Hospital.  This program serves the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Western Ontario and Nunavut.  Her research focuses include chronic kidney transplant injury, protocol biopsies and quantitative image analysis.

Dr. Lorraine Hamiwka, Alberta Children’s Hospital

Dr. Hamiwka is Director of Pediatric Kidney Transplantation and the Program Director for the Pediatric Nephrology Training Program at Alberta Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Hamiwka’s current research interests are chronic kidney disease in children with particular expertise in kidney transplantation.

Steering Committees

Transplant Centre Biobank Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is a group of stakeholders and organizational peers who are invested in the scientific expansion and clinical application of the project. The purpose of the committee is to provide guidance on overall strategic directions.  The steering committee meets on a regular basis to review the past, present and future directions of the biobank.

Dr. Seema Mital, Staff Cardiologist, Associate Scientist, Genetics & Genome Biology
Dr. Rulan Parekh, Staff Nephrologist
Dr. Binita Kamath, Staff Gastroenterologist
Dr. Upton Allen, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Senior Scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences
Dr. David Grant, Staff Surgeon, Medical Director, Transplant Centre
Dr. Hartmut Grasemann, Staff Respirologist, Associate Scientist, Physiology & Experimental Medicine

Tissue Allocation Committee

This committee reviews and assesses sample and data requests. Committee members will adjudicate sample and data requests based on their scientific merit and feasibility.

Dr. Steven Schwartz, Head, Division of Cardiac Critical Care, SickKids
Dr. Erwin Oechslin, PI, Toronto General Hospital (Adult)
Dr. John Coles, Co-PI, Sickkids Heart Centre Biobank Registry
Robert Hamilton, Co-PI, Sickkids Heart Centre Biobank Registry
Tapas Mondal, PI, Hamilton Health Sciences Centre (Paediatrics)