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Learn more about The Olson Laboratory Team

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David M. Olson

University of Alberta Distinguished

Primary Investigator

His career and research program have been dedicated to improving maternal-child health.

I am David Olson, Ph.D., D.Sc., FRCOG, FCAHS, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology with adjunct appointments to the Departments of Pediatrics and Physiology. As a perinatal physiologist in a clinical department, my work focuses on improving women’s pregnancy and newborn health. This work has resulted in almost 200 peer-reviewed publications, 26 book chapters, and over 400 conference abstracts.


My studies and patents on products to diagnose and treat preterm birth and fetal/newborn inflammation and on pregnant women’s vulnerability to environmental mental health stressors are internationally renowned. I served the University of Alberta community for 31 years as Director of the Perinatal Research Centre, chair/member of faculty strategic planning committees, course coordinator, mentor of trainees and colleagues, and collaborator.


Beyond, I founded the Canadian National Perinatal Research Meeting, the International Inflammatory Pathways to Preterm Birth Team, and the Optimal Pregnancy Environment Risk Assessment (OPERA) program. I chair the Worldwide Universities Network Public Health Committee and was an elected officer in three societies. In 2021, I was awarded a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) from U Lethbridge for my contributions to women's pregnancy health. I received the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry Tier I Basic Science Mentor Award in 2022 and was named a University of Alberta Distinguished Professor in 2023. 


I am a firm believer in the importance of translating scientific discoveries into products that serve society. I have founded two companies, and my trainees witness and participate in the process of commercialization, broadening their perspectives and career choices.

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Kelycia Leimert
B.Sc., Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

I'm a Senior Scientist in The Olson Laboratory. I manage the lab and work with our trainees to advance our projects.

My career is dedicated to improving health outcomes for individuals impacted by preterm birth. During my Ph.D., I examined the inflammatory cooperativity between ligands, cells, and tissues in the uterus as a hallmark of human parturition. A unique postdoctoral experience in Accra, Ghana, solidified my intent to improve women's pregnancy health by translating discovery science into valuable products. Together with our collaborators, I am now developing diagnostic tools and therapies for preterm birth and fetal inflammation. 

I am a founder of Livmor Biosciences, Inc., and I am a member of the management team of Maternica Therapeutics, Inc.

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Carla S. Alvarado 
B.Sc., M.Sc., M.Sc.

Laboratory Technologist

I am a Laboratory Technologist in The Olson Laboratory, where I oversee the animal colonies and the projects related to them. I also teach the trainees the animal techniques they need to complete their projects, and I advise them as needed.


I have two master’s degrees: one is in Biochemical Science from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City, and the other is in Nutrition and Metabolism from the University of Alberta.


Currently, I’m working with several trainees on a newborn mouse model of inflammation and testing the efficacy of our allosteric antagonists in improving lifelong tissue and organ health.

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Anna Noga
B.Sc., Ph.D.

Project Translation Coordinator

I am The Olson Laboratory Project Translation Coordinator. I help team members with their publications, grant applications, and any other communication materials.


I obtained my Ph.D. in the Department of Biochemistry, and I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Pediatrics, both at the University of Alberta.


Since then, my work experience has included science outreach, non-profit administration, diversity and inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), teaching, and knowledge translation. 

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Kazumasa Fuwa
M.D., Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

I’m a Neonatologist from Nihon University in Tokyo and have treated many preterm infants.


Treating these babies is challenging because many are so sick from developing in an inflammatory environment and then being born before their organs are fully developed.


My clinical experiences made me interested in finding solutions to intrauterine inflammation and preterm birth. During my Ph.D., I created a novel detection method for Ureaplasma, a bacterium that commonly causes chorioamnionitis. I have since patented it in Japan.


I’m now working in The Olson Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Fellow. I am researching the IL-6 and IL-1ß receptor antagonists as novel therapies against preterm birth and fetal inflammation.

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Nayara A. Lopes
PharmB., Ph.D.

Graduate Student

I am a trained Pharmacist, graduated from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG - Brazil) and I am in the final year of my Ph.D. studies in Physiology.


I am researching the implications of stress exposure during pregnancy by analyzing the uterine inflammatory profiles of rats and the health outcomes of their offspring. I am also investigating the inflammatory patterns in the placenta after chronic use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy.


My interest in the role the environment plays in pregnancy outcomes and child health grew while working at maternity hospitals in Brazil. I witnessed many cases of poor maternal health and adverse child outcomes due to pregnancy complications. 

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Tania Rodezno

Graduate Student

I am a graduate student in The Olson Laboratory.


I graduated with a B.A. in Biology from Augustana University, SD, USA, where my previous mentor and I collaborated briefly with Dr. Olson.


Here, I strive to continue that research and elucidate the role of neutrophil activation on term and preterm labour and determine the chemokine composition of human placental membranes at the time of term and preterm parturition.

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Wendy Xu

Graduate Student

I am a graduate student in the Olson Lab.

I first joined The Olson Laboratory for my undergraduate Honours Physiology thesis project, where I studied the paternal influence on the transgenerational inheritance of stress and preterm birth in rats.

After graduating with my B.Sc. in Physiology from the University of Alberta in June 2021, I stayed on as a Laboratory Technologist for a year. 
Now, my project focuses on examining the effects of Interleukin (IL)-6 and HSJ633, an IL-6 receptor antagonist, on cytokine and chemokine regulation in human fetal membranes.



  • Alumni Postdoctoral Fellows:
    David S.C. Lee, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C), (1986–89) Retired. Formerly, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Western Ontario, London, ON Jonathon J. Hirst, Ph.D. (1991–1994) Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia Drew W. Sadowsky, Ph.D. (1992–1994) Unknown. Formerly, Research Associate, Oregon Regional Primate Center, OHSU, Portland, OR, USA Vera Boros, M.D. (1992–1995) Retired. Formerly, Chair of Pediatrics, Szent Janos Hosp, Budapest, Hungary Anna Radomski, M.D. (1995–1996) Assistant Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada Kathrine Peters, Ph.D. (1997–1999), Retired, Formerly, Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Xu Xiong, Ph.D. (1997–2001), Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA Jocelynn Cook, Ph.D. (1997–2000), Chief Scientific Officer, Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Canada, Ottawa, ON,  Jacob Ross, Ph.D. (2000–2002), Unknown. Formerly, Research Associate, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia Andrea Lines, Ph.D. (2000–2002), Health Ethics Officer, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia Hisashi Yonemoto, M.D. (2002–2003), Owner, Yonemoto Private Hospital, Tokyo, Japan Ichiro Yamamoto, Ph.D. (2003–2005), High-Tech Research Centre, Nippon Veterinary and Animal Science University, Tokyo, Japan Shintaro Makino, M.D. (2005–2006), Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Juntendo Medical University, Tokyo, Japan Yuka Yamamoto, M.D. (2007–2009) Obstetrician, Fetal Echocardiology, Associate Professor, Juntendo University, Tokyo, Japan Nardhy Gomez-Lopez, Ph.D. (2009–2011) Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA Satomi Tanaka, M.D. (2009–2011) Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Juntendo Medical University, Tokyo, Japan Tomohito Ishiguro, M.D. (2011–2013) Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Juntendo Medical University, Tokyo, Japan Jun Takeda, M.D. (2012–2014) Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Juntendo Medical University, Tokyo, Japan Barbara Verstraeten, M.D., Ph.D. (2019–2021) Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Kelycia Leimert, Ph.D. (2019–2022) Senior Scientist, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Divyanu Jain M.D., Ph.D. (2020–2021) Obstetrics & Gynecology Resident Training Program, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA Kazumasa Fuwa, M.D., Ph.D. (2022–2024) Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Nihon University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
  • Alumni Graduate Students:
    Frank Potestio (M.Sc. 1991) Obstetrician, Thunder Bay, ON Zofia Smieja (M.Sc. 1992) Retired, Hamilton, ON Kim Koyanagi (M.Sc. 1993) Lab Technician, London, ON Fernando Teixeira (M.Sc. 1993) Emergency Medicine Physician, St. Michaels Hospital, Toronto, ON Jacqueline Burghardt (Ph.D. 1998) Homemaker, Winnipeg, MB Jane E. Mijovic (Ph.D. 1998) Scientific Writer/Grant Facilitator/Consultant, St. Catherines, ON Debra Sung (M.Sc. 1999) Family Physician, Calgary, AB Maria Shallow (M.Sc. 2001) Physical Therapist, Halifax, NS Gayle Hosford (Ph.D. 2002) Manager, Novartis Pharmaceutical, Dublin, Ireland Jason Beyea (Ph.D. 2005) Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Queens University, Kingston, ON Shauna McGill (M.Sc. 2003) Research Associate, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON Stephen Reynolds (M.Sc. 2007) Internal Medicine Specialist, Calgary, AB Kathryn Brennan (Ph.D., University of Nottingham 2006) QIAGEN Territory Business Representative Inge Christiaens, M.D., (Ph.D. 2012) Registrar in Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Newcastle, United Kingdom Sara Gracie (M.Sc. 2011) Clinical Trial Coordinator, Edmonton, AB Chen Xu (Ph.D., 2012) Associate Professor of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Fudan University, Shanghai, PR China Nanlin Yin, M.D. (Ph.D. 2016) Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, PR China Han Lee (M.Sc. 2018)  Kelycia Leimert (Ph.D. 2018) Senior Scientist with DM Olson Barbara Verstraeten, M.D. (Ph.D. 2019) Postdoctoral Fellow with School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Jane Ng, M.D. (Ph.D. 2021) Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB Nayara Lopes, PharmB. (Ph.D. 2023) Strategic Lead for Knowledge Mobilization and Communication in Genomics and Genetics, CIHR, Calgary, AB
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