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While teaching genetics to budding scientists, Helen Dimaras is also researching childhood eye cancer, running a full marathon (and a handful of half marathons) and blogging.
This 32-year-old is one of those people who always finds the time to do just about everything they set their mind to.
Dimaras is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at the University of Toronto and affiliate scientist at the Toronto Western Research Institute. She also teaches undergraduate courses in genetics and global health in the department of Human Biology at the University of Toronto.
In 2007, she completed a PhD in the department of Molecular & Medical genetics at the University of Toronto, where she studied the molecular genetic development of the childhood eye cancer called retinoblastoma. Her PhD thesis work filled a 25-year gap in knowledge and was cited over 50 times, spurring related research from other research groups around the world.
After graduating, she declined an offer to teach at MIT, and shifted her research focus from the laboratory to global health and clinical trials. Her dream is to one day eradicate the health inequalities that result in poor outcomes for children with retinoblastoma in developing countries.
Dimaras also served as a steering committee member of the Canadian National Retinoblastoma Strategy Guidelines for Care. These guidelines were not only adopted by Canada, but by several countries around the world including Kenya where she is a member of the Kenyan National Retinoblastoma Strategy group.
Dimaras has worked in Egypt and India developing several research initiatives. She has also coordinated a major international clinical trial with sites throughout Canada, Singapore, India and Chile.
Dimaras was also just awarded a Canada's Rising Stars in Global Health" grant from Grand Challenges Canada.