Trainees/Student Members

Dr. Chris Rider, Postdoctoral Researcher

RIDER, ChrisChris joined the lab in January 2015 after completing a PhD at the University of Calgary supervised by Drs. Robert Newton and Mark Giembycz. His PhD work focused on glucocorticoid resistance and how this could be combated with long acting beta2-adrenoceptor agonists, in the context of asthma and COPD. Chris is applying his expertise with in vitro epithelial cell models to examine how air pollution alters immune responses in COPD and asthma, examining effects on DNA methylation, miRNA and gene expression. Through collaborations with researchers in the Tebbutt, Sin and Kobor labs at UBC, he is leveraging his bioinformatics skills to analyse data collected from current and earlier clinical trials. When not in the lab or at a computer, Chris enjoys running, sailing, kayaking, camping and snowboarding.

Jason Curran, PhD Student

Jasoncurranj is a Bridge CIHR Strategic Training Fellow in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. His current research examines the effects of traffic pollution on learning and cognition. He holds a MPH from Simon Fraser University, as well as degrees in journalism (Ryerson University) and biological sciences (University of Alberta). Jason worked in communications for the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver, and Capital Health in Edmonton.

Min Hyung Ryu, PhD Student

RYU, Min HyungMin is a young, enthusiastic and ambitious student who wants to make scientific discoveries that will improve the lung health of Canadians, by contributing to and influencing the leading respiratory research that Canadians are globally recognized for. Currently, the primary focus of Min’s study is to understand the link between traffic-related air pollution and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Min works with COERD team to coordinate controlled human exposure study and to conduct laboratory experiments. His interest in the subject stems from diverse research training he received as M.Sc. and B.Sc. at the University of Manitoba and the Queen’s University, respectively. During M.Sc. under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Halayko, Min studied the impact of the environmental pollutant on asthma susceptibility using a unique murine model. At Queen’s, he received B.Sc. (Honor) in Life Sciences with Subject of Specialization in Cardiorespiratory stream and early exposure to experimental medicine. Min enjoys traveling, socializing with friends and exploring Vancouver, as well as meeting new people.

Danay Maestre-Batlle, PhD Student


Danay joined the COERD team in 2015 and since then she assumed the leading role in the Phthalate-Allergen Immune Response (PAIR) clinical study. Her goal is to understand how inhaled environmental pollutants, like phthalates, may alter the immune response to an allergen in the human airway and at a systemic level. Surrounded by a multidisciplinary team with vast expertise in the field of airway immunology, she aims to improve the lives of Canadians, specifically vulnerable groups who suffer from chronic inflammatory airway diseases like asthma. Danay received her B.Sc. (Hons) in Biochemistry at the University of Havana, Cuba and has a strong background working in the Canadian biotechnology industry. As a current part-time employee at Stemcell Technologies (RND) and DeNovo Software (consultant), while conducting successfully her PhD project, she is continuously expanding her skill-set in both academic and industry settings. In her spare time, she likes to hike, run, dance salsa and unwind watching classic movies and documentaries about politics, religion, science and technology. Her passion is to travel and learn about different cultures around the world.

Ryan Huff, PhD Student

HUFF, Ryan

Ryan is currently pursing a PhD in the Experimental Medicine program at UBC where his research focuses on the interaction between environmental exposures and frontline asthma medications.  Specifically, he is investigating how air pollution interrupts the function of inhaled corticosteroids in asthmatic airways in a controlled human exposure study (DIGR).  The aim of this research is to guide treatment and prevention policies with the hope of reducing asthma exacerbations, as well as identify air pollution-associated molecular pathways that could potentially be therapeutically targeted.  Previously Ryan received his Bachelor of Medical Sciences in Biochemistry from the University of Western Ontario, and completed his MSc in Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia in 2015 under the supervision of Dr. Marco Marra at the Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre.  His MSc thesis focused on using genome-engineering tools to investigate the gene KMT2D, which encodes an epigenetic modifier frequently mutated in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Outside of the lab Ryan is an avid long distance runner, hiker, and skier.

Denise Wooding, Masters Student

WOODING, DeniseDenise is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Experimental Medicine where her research focuses on how air pollution modulates the immune response in the lungs. Specifically, she is investigating whether inhaled air pollution changes the behavior of neutrophils, our immune system’s first-responders. She hopes that elucidating these mechanisms will help us find new therapeutic targets for people who are at-risk, and strengthen the body of evidence needed to encourage policy-driven air quality improvement worldwide. Denise obtained a Bachelor of Kinesiology in 2016 from the University of Toronto where she fell in love with biology and the human body. She then joined COERD to pursue her true passion of helping people with disease. She competed for U of T’s varsity volleyball team and represented Canada at the U23 beach volleyball world championships. If the sun is shining, you can be sure to find her at the courts on Kits beach!

Juma Orach, Masters Student

keeperJuma Orach is currently pursuing a Master’s degree where he studies how the human body responds to different doses of diesel exhaust in a controlled human exposure. By studying this dose-response relationship (DICE), Juma hopes to improve bio-monitoring in occupational diesel exhaust exposure by developing a biologically and clinically relevant bio-signature. This research could improve our ability to assess occupational injury, design interventions and inform compensation. Besides conducting clinical and basic laboratory research, Juma maintains the COERD website through which he increases awareness on pollution and opportunities at COERD. Juma received a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology at UBC (2018) where he studied the effects of environmental pollutants (phthalates) on gut bacteria. He joined pollution lab in 2015 as a volunteer and has since then supported general laboratory tasks, study recruitment, serological testing and the COERD website. In his spare time, he enjoys tutoring, dancing salsa-rueda, playing football, watching movies/TV shows and socializing with friends.

Chantane Yeung, Co op student

29598044_10215854946551800_6067383998374137215_nChantane is a 4th year Integrated Sciences student currently on a co-op term with COERD. From joining COERD, she hopes to learn more about respiratory physiology and the effects air pollution has on lung function, as well as experimental procedures used in the research. Ultimately, she hopes to work in the healthcare sector and apply the skills she’s learned to make a difference in the medical community. In the lab, she works closely with the lab technicians and is responsible for sample processing, as well as the assistance of other lab members with their projects. In her free time she likes to draw, write, hit the gym or binge five seasons of a show in one night!

Hang Li, Visiting PhD Student

Hannah-headshotHang is a visiting MD/Ph.D. student at COERD, majoring in Otorhinolaryngology at the Sun Yat-sen University. Her research focuses on how air pollution does epigenetic regulation in allergic airway inflammation, including asthma and allergic rhinitis, especially the effect on local inflammation and systemic inflammation. If you ask Hang why she came here, she will tell you it is because of APEL – “The best facility to investigate what air pollution does to our bodies!” Hang grew up by the ocean, and she loves the sea so much. She likes swimming, hiking, reading and playing puzzles.