Claudiu Gradinaru
Position: Principal Investigator
Claudiu was born in Bacau, “the town of purple twilights", in eastern Romania. He obtained his Bachelor degree in 1995 from University of Bucharest and his PhD in Physics with Prof. Rienk van Grondelle in 2001 from VU University Amsterdam. After postdoctoral fellowships at Leiden University and at Sandia Labs in Livermore, in 2006 Claudiu started his independent biophysics research lab at University of Toronto. His research program is aimed at studying the dynamics of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) and of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) using single-molecule approaches. Besides research and teaching, Claudiu enjoys football (Visca el Barca!), hiking, cinema, history, philosophy and wine. more >>

Spencer Smyth
Position: PhD Student
Project: Insights into the Dynamic Behaviour of the 4E-BP2 Protein from Single-Molecule Experiments
Background:Spencer obtained his Bachelor degree at UTM, majoring in Physics and Chemistry. After completing his Master in the Gradinaru group in the Fall of 2018, he continues as a PhD working on intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). His research is focused primarily on IDP interactions, e.g., the phospho-regualted binding of the 4E-BP2 protein to the translation initiation factor eIF4E. The main goal is to obtain a fundamental understanding of IDP "structure" and function by interpreting single-molecule data through the lens of simulations and models that incorporate several experimental modalities. Outside the lab, Spencer enjoys playing musical instruments, weightlifting, powersports and being outdoors.
Xiaohan Zhou
Position: PhD Student
Project: The Quaternary Organization and Interaction Dynamics of GPCRs in Live Cells
Background: Xiaohan obtained his Bachelor degree at Nanjing University, majoring in Physics. He joined the Gradinaru group in the Fall of 2020 as a PhD student working on the muscarinic receptors, which are part of the Class A of G Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRS). The goal is to measure the their dynamic spatial distribution and interaction kinetics with G proteins in live cells. He will map out trajectories of individual proteins to quantify their diffusion properties, by combining fluorescence techniques such as dual-color SPT, dual-color FCS and smFRET. Outside the lab, Xiaohan enjoys playing video games, reading and watching his favorite football team, FC Bayern Munich.

Ashraf Modares
Position: MSc Student
Project: Delineating Allosteric Pathways in GPCR-G-Protein Complexes via Single-Molecule Spectroscopy
Background: Ashraf obtained his Bachelor's degree from Amirkabir University of Technology, majoring in Physics and Aerospace Engineering. In the Fall of 2023, he joined the Gradinaru group to work on delineating the conformational dynamics and allosteric pathways in G proteins and their coupled receptors. He will use single-molecule fluorescence techniques, such as FCS and smFRET, to test specific hypotheses regarding how regulatory proteins and GPCRs modulate signaling. The primary goal is to investigate the conformational dynamics and binding kinetics of receptors and G proteins, to inform drug discovery. Outside the lab, Ashraf is exploring new experiences in the new country and seeking ways to rekindle his old hobbies, such as hiking and shooting.
Maria Shemeteva
Position: PhD Student
Project: Studying Initiall Steps of GPCR signalling via Single-Particle Tracking in Live Live Cells
Background: Maria obtained her Bachelor's degree at HSE University in Moscow, majoring in Physics. In the Fall of 2023, she joined the Gradinaru group to study the regulation of Go signalling in live cells in the context of central-nervous system disorders. She will use fluorescence single-particle tracking to study activation of G proteins (Go and Gs) and their regulation in the live cell environment, where expression levels, membrane rigidity and crowding effects are likely critical factors. The goal is to address key questions about receptor-G-protein coupling in the cell membrane, from the perspective of the Adenosine A2A receptor. Outside the lab, Maria enjoys reading, watching films, hiking and skiing (yes, she is crazy about mountains!).

Undergraduate Research Students
Sami Husaini
CPS489 - Optimization of In-situ Fluorescence Labelling of Single-Particle Tracking in Live Cells
Gillian Chiu
CHM399 - Going Beneath the Membrane: Fluorescence Labelling of G Proteins in Live Cells

Former Group Members
Thomas Tsangaris, MSc 2023
Beyond Order and Disorder: Delineating Structural Propensities of the 4E-BP2 Protein via Integrative Modelling and Unsupervised Learning
Yevgen Moskalenko, MSc 2021
Using smFRET to Determine How Ligands Modulate the Conformational Landscape of the A2A Receptor and its Coupling to Signalling Effectors

Masood Samim
Master student, 2008-2009
Sergei Musikhin
Research Associate, 2007-2008
Denys Marushchak
Postdoctoral Fellow 2009-2010

Abdullah Bahram
Lab technician, 2012-2013
Fei Huang
Research Associate, 2017
Taehyung Chris Lee
Postdoctoral fellow 2017-2019

Daniel Badali
Undegraduate research student, 2008-2010
Maxim Prigozhin
Undegraduate research student, 2008-2009
Sangkyu Lee
Undegraduate research student, 2007

Susanne Scharf
Exchange student, University of Konstantz (Germany), 2008-2009
Sarah Mausle
Exchange student, Univerity of Lubbeck (Germany), 2014
Florent Mercier
Exchange student, University Paris-Sud (France), 2015-2016

Jinkyue Ree
Undergraduate research student, 2009-2010
Soobin Yoo
Undergraduate research student, 2009-2010
Daniel Jacobs
Undergraduate research student, 2011

Darius Chia
Undergraduate research student, 2011
Jordan Rebelo
Undergraduate research student, 2011-2012
Jessica Kun
Undegraduate research student, McMaster, 2013

Amanda Leung
Undergraduate research student, 2012
Matthew Mazzuca
Undergraduate research student, 2012
Ho Fung Siu
Undegraduate research student, 2013-2014

Christopher Huynh
Undergraduate research student, 2014-2015
Dan Yomo
Undergraduate research student, 2015
Juan Castaneda
Undegraduate research student, 2016-2017

Jasbir Bahram
Undergraduate research student, 2016
Mehik Rizvi
Undergraduate research student, 2016
Charles Huston
Undegraduate research student, 2016-2017

Tom Smart
Exchange student, Univ. of St. Andrews (UK) 2017
Mohammed Salama
Undergraduate research student, 2017
Antony Singarayer
Undegraduate research student, 2017

Rohith Kaiyum
Undergraduate research student, 2018
Stefan Sookbir
Undergraduate research student, 2018
Denys Pushenko
Undegraduate research student, 2018

Kaitlyn Liang
NSERC USRA research student, 2018
Aqsa Alam
Undergraduate research student, 2018
Harmsimran Garcha
Undegraduate research student, 2018

Tim Henley
Undegraduate research student, 2018-2019
Rahith Kaiyum
Undegraduate research student, 2018-2019
Maksym Sharma
Undegraduate research student, 2018-2019

Liam Fortier
Undegraduate research student, 2019
Arvi Puka
Undegraduate research student, 2019
Brandon Shew
Undegraduate research student, 2019

Aimen Malik
NSERC USRA research student, 2019-2020
Qirat Ashraf
Undegraduate research student, 2019-2020
Thomas Tsangaris
NSERC USRA research student, 2020-2022

Ashley Namini
Undegraduate research student, 2018-2020
Ivonne Lopez-Miranda
Undegraduate research student, 2020-2021
Jessica McDowell
Undegraduate research student, 2020-2021

Tianzi Yang
Undegraduate research student, 2021
Taras Skotar
Undegraduate research student, 2021
Eric Tran
Undergraduate research student, 2021

Clarissa Ching
Undegraduate research student, 2021
Horacio Septien Gonzalez
Undegraduate research student, 2021-2022
John Castroverde
PhD student, 2017-2021

Christabel Faylinn
Undergraduate research student, 2022
Martine Campbell
Undergraduate research student, 2022
Arya Jafari
Undergraduate research student, 2023

Ryan Unrau
NSERC-USRA research student, 2023