Current Lab Members

Dr Nitika PAnt Pai

Principal Investigator

Olivia Vaikla

Laboratory Coordinator

As the lab coordinator, Olivia’s role is to provide administrative support, as well as to contribute to the ongoing research projects within Dr. Pant Pai’s lab. She graduated from McGill University with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Anatomy & Cell Biology, and has explored many multidisciplinary research avenues throughout her studies – spanning physical, life, and social sciences. Olivia is passionate about the fundamental components contributing to our health, and she is eager to engage in projects within the lab involving sexual and reproductive health, and digital innovations.

Current Students and Trainees

ANGELA KARELLIS

Project Manager

Angela completed a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Immunology from Université de Montréal and a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Experimental Surgery from McGill University. Due to her avid interest in infectious diseases, preventive and diagnostic medicine, she has studied sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs), surgical infections, herpes zoster, among others. During the past ten years, she has worked at a clinical research organization, Notre-Dame Hospital and Jewish General Hospital’s Lady Davis Institute. As of 2018, during her postdoctoral fellowship at the RI-MUHC, she is the manager of the Canadian AideSmart! study which aims to evaluate the app-based STBBI multiplex testing strategy. As of 2022, she has taken up the role of project manager for the Canada-wide HIVSmart! clinical trial. She is further involved in four systematic reviews spanning various research topics, such as the evaluation of multiplex rapid screening devices and digital HIV self-testing approaches, to name a few. Angela’s work has been presented in local, national and international conferences and has been published in highly esteemed journals such as the Lancet HIV and Lancet Microbe.

Apoorva Anand

Project Manager

Apoorva completed her Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree from Manipal University, India, and MSc Public Health degree from McGill University, Canada. Currently, Apoorva is managing a COVID-19 self-testing clinical trial in South Africa. Her reviews focus on the deployment of multiplex, point-of-care diagnostic technologies for sexually transmitted infections, as well as the use of digital self-testing innovations for hepatitis C, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea. She also works in collaboration with FIND and WHO to review data on the use of rapid antigen tests for screening of COVID-19 globally. Outside of work, Apoorva volunteers with the diagnostics sub-group of INDIA COVID SOS, an NGO committed to develop evidence based solutions to fight COVID-19, and as a Community Coordinator for WeCanVax, a project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to increase COVID-19 vaccine literacy in racialized and underserved immigrant communities in Montréal.

FIO VIALARD

MSc Epidemiology Candidate

Fio recently graduated from the Microbiology and Immunology Master’s program at McGill University and has a BSc. Honours in Animal Biology. Their master’s thesis investigating the mouse model of malaria disease has instilled them with a passion for infectious diseases, particularly those that affect low and middle income countries. Since high-school, Fio has been involved in community organizing, advocacy and is currently a member of the SAFE (Student Advocating for Equity) committee for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science. They strongly believe in health equity for members of marginalised communities and hope to pursue their academic career in this field.

ASHLYN BEECROFT

MSc Experimental Medicine Candidate

Ashlyn completed her B.Sc. in Honours Life Sciences, with a minor in Health, Aging, and Society, from McMaster University. She is currently working on her M.Sc. of Experimental Medicine at McGill University and hopes to pursue a career within the medical field. Her project is working on the development of HIVSmart!, with specific focus on catering the self-testing app to Indigenous communities in Canada. Ashlyn is very passionate about serving the health needs of marginalised groups and she recognizes the importance of holistic approaches to medical care and research, which she applies to her work.

RONI DELI

Research Assistant

Roni is currently completing his medical degree at McGill University. He completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Physical Therapy at Université Laval as well as a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science at Concordia University. He previously worked on HIVSmart!, a project of Dr. Pant Pai, aimed at supporting self-testing for HIV/AIDS using mobile devices. He is currently working on mobile technologies to provide counselling on menstrual and reproductive health under the supervision of Dr. Pant Pai.

ELIZABETH WOOLHOUSE

Junior Research Assistant

Elizabeth (Liz) is a 3rd year nursing student at Dawson College. After graduation in Spring 2022, Liz plans to continue her education by getting her Bachelor of Nursing degree at McGill University. She has been working at Dr. Pant Pai’s lab since the summer of 2018 and has been researching and writing content for the AnkaSmart! App – a project aiming to help raise awareness of reproductive health in young girls and adolescents in low-and-middle-income countries. Liz is also working with other team members on a systematic review on sexual and reproductive health and digital innovations. Liz is passionate about helping people whether it be through direct bedside nursing care or innovative research work.

Cindy Leung Soo

MSc Epidemiology Candidate

Cindy completed her undergraduate studies in Microbiology and Immunology with a minor in Political Sciences. She previously worked with the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO HQ, with Médecins sans frontières Canada as well as with a clinical research organization specialised in immuno-oncology. Her current research project focuses on using Bayesian regression to predict HIV infection in the South African context. She is co-supervised by Dr. Nitika Pant Pai and Dr. Sahir Bhatnagar.