Jessica Esseltine, PhD

Principal Investigator 

Division of BioMedical Sciences
Assistant Professor of Cancer and Development
PhD (University of Western Ontario)


I grew up in a small town in south western Ontario made famous for killing Jumbo the Elephant. I completed my PhD at Western University studying GPCR signal transduction and protein trafficking. After a brief postdoctoral fellowship in Seattle, WA, I returned to Canada to study cell-cell communication. I discovered pluripotent stem cells quite late in my training and was blown away by the idea that they can become any cell type in the body and that they can be used for personalized regenerative medicine when generated from individuals with disease. 

Since moving to beautiful Newfoundland I am tackling how cells communicate with each other during cell fate specification. Additionally, with the support of the sudden cardiac death team we use patient-derived iPSCs in order to understand hereditary heart disease in Newfoundland. 

Highly Qualified Personnel

Rebecca Frohlich, MSc

Research Assistant

I obtained my BSc in Biotechnology from Trinity Western University and spent the following 5 years working with stem cells in industry before starting the MSc program at Memorial University. I enjoy using human pluripotent stem cells to examine how cells communicate with one another as they become various tissues.  

Sina Heravi, MSc

Research Assistant

I obtained my B.Sc. at Tehran University of Medical Sciences with research experience in different labs, including immunology and clinical biochemistry. Then, I moved to Canada to do my M.Sc. in protein biochemistry at Memorial University. I am interested in proteomics and genomics research in cardiovascular diseases and cancer. 

Hanrui Zhu, BSc

MSc Candidate

I am from Nanjing, a pretty city in China. I have studied in Canada since high school. I graduated from University of Toronto where I double majored in Cell & Molecular Biology, and Fundamental Genetics & its Application. During my undergraduate study, I developed my interest in stem cell research. In the Esseltine laboratory, my project is gap junction based stem cell communication which is a continuation of my journey in the field of stem cell studies.

Wesam Salman, BSc

MSc Candidate

I grew up in a small city in Palestine called Bethlehem. Then I moved to beautiful Newfoundland to do my BSc in biology with a concentration in health professions and a minor in Biochemistry. Now I am studying at the Esseltine laboratory where I am researching about IPSC-cardiomyocytes and their relation to heredity Heart disease in Newfoundland.

Camila Fuchs, BSc

MSc Candidate

I was born in Brazil but grew up in China before moving to Newfoundland to start my BSc in Biology at Memorial University. I started in the lab through a shadowing opportunity and was fascinated with the work being done, now I am currently completing my SURA program where I am researching about the TMEM43 protein which plays a great factor in a hereditary heart disease in Newfoundland.

Zachary Porter, BSc

MSc Candidate

I am originally from Deer Lake, a town in western Newfoundland. I moved to St. John's to complete my Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in biochemistry at Memorial University. I then enrolled as a graduate student at Memorial to continue my training in the Esseltine Laboratory, where I study hereditary heart disease in Newfoundland. This is where I was first introduced to stem cell research and the great potential these cells have in medical research.

Former Lab Members

Zachary Porter, MSc - Master's Student. Now in Medical School!

Hooman Sadighian, MSc - Master's Student. Now at Bristol Myers Squibb! 

Grace Christopher, MSc - Master's Student. Now at StemCell Technologies! 

Robert Flemmer, MSc - Lab Manager. Now at Abcellera!

Mark Hemmings, BSc - Undergraduate Honors Student. Now a grad student at McGill!

Margaret Henley, BSc - Undergraduate Summer Student. Now in Medical School!