Welcome to Our Lab! Meet our staff and students.

Lab Director

Gabriela Ilie

Principal Investigator, and Soillse Lab Director: Dr. Gabriela Ilie, BA (York), MA (York), PhD (University of Toronto)

DMRF Endowed Soillse Research Scientist in Prostate Cancer Quality of Life Research

Associate Professor
Community Health and Epidemiology
Radiation Oncology
Psychology and Neuroscience
Faculty of Medicine
Dalhousie University

Postdocs: St. Michael’s Hospital, Neurosurgery; Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Psychosocial determinants of health

Link to Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute affiliation: http://bhcri.ca/dr.-gabriela-ilie

Research Topics:

    • Prostate cancer
      Stress and well being
      Concussions and traumatic brain injury
      Injury prevention
      Cognition and Decision Making
      Mental health
      Substance use and addiction
      Health policy
      Patient and partner reported quality of life outcomes

Dr. Gabriela Ilie is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Community Health and Epidemiology, Urology, Radiation Oncology and Psychology, and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University. She is an Affiliated Scientist with Nova Scotia Health Authority, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Associate Scientist with Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario, and an Adjunct Associate Professor University of Toronto, Music and Health Research Collaboratory in Toronto, Ontario

Cody MacDonald

I am the Project Research Coordinator in the Soillse Prostate Cancer Quality of Life Research Laboratory. I have been involved in the Soillse Lab since the summer of 2018 as a student volunteer and then from May – August 2019 I held a student Research Assistant Practicum position in the lab, and from September 2019 to August 31, 2021 I was the Research Coordinator of the Soillse Lab.  I completed my Bachelor of Science in Medical Sciences degree at Dalhousie University and throughout the course of my studies I became very interested in epidemiology and community health research. I am now a second year student in Epidemiology at Dalhousie and the Project Research Coordinator of the Lab. For years I have been involved with a non-for profit mental health charity and I have long been passionate about improving people’s quality of life.  Originally from Pictou County, Nova Scotia, I am very excited to help coordinate the many exciting research projects being undertaken to improve the quality of life for prostate cancer patients here in the Maritimes. In my free time, I love spending as much time outdoors as possible, cycling around the city, hiking by the ocean, or travelling.

Cassidy Bradley

I am a 2nd year MSc student studying Epidemiology and Applied Health Research, with Dr Ilie as my supervisor, and the Research Coordinator for the Soillse Lab. For my thesis I am studying quality of life outcomes among men with a prostate cancer diagnosis. I became involved in the Soillse Lab in December 2019, during my final year of my BSc in Kinesiology at Dalhousie. My role with PC-PEP has primarily been assisting with the participant exercise testing, as well as with Dr Ilie’s studies based on the RCT data. My primary research interests include chronic disease management, quality of life, health equity and mental health. After finishing my studies in CH&E, I hope to pursue a career in medicine, while continuing to be involved with clinical research. In my free time I enjoy working spending time outdoors, doing art and propagating plants

Jasmine Vo

I am a Research Assistant in the Soillse Lab. I am going into my final year as a student in the Psychology and Neuroscience Department at Dalhousie University. I joined the lab as volunteer in January 2020.  I have always had an interest in the human mind and the psychological factors affecting physical illness. Originally from Vietnam, I am fascinated by the healthcare standard and the quality of life of Canadians, which shaped by passionate, talented researchers and healthcare professionals. I would love to be part of a team that exercise outstanding research and contribute to the society that nurtured my love for science. Living by the ocean for most of my life, I love spending my free time walking by the water, go mushroom hunting and cooking Vietnamese food.

Lia Massoeurs

I am an incoming first-year master’s student in the Epidemiology and Applied Health Sciences Research program at Dalhousie University and a Research Assistant in the Soillse Prostate Cancer Quality of Life Research Laboratory. I have completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biology at Mount Allison University and graduated in May of 2021. I am new to Nova Scotia as I am originally from Moncton, New Brunswick, and I am very excited to join the Soillse Lab and to explore Halifax! In my free time I enjoy going to the gym, enjoying nature, and doing jigsaw puzzles. I have a strong passion for healthcare, and I am very interested in the intersection of psychology and biology and the impact of mental health on one’s wellbeing. I will be working throughout my master’s to identify links between relationship satisfaction and emotionality as well as social isolation and other indicators of mental health in prostate cancer survivors. I am thankful to have been the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Hoskin summer studentship award from the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute to jump start my research this summer!

Chloe Blackman

I completed my MSc in Dalhousie’s Community Health and Epidemiology program, supervised by Dr. Ilie, and now first year medical student at Dalhousie. Originally from Calgary, I moved to Halifax to pursue a combined Honour degree in Neuroscience and Biology. My honours research focused on epigenetics, particularly DNA methylation, in the memory regions of the Black Capped Chickadees. I was drawn to epidemiology after I attended a public talk hosted by the Global Health Office called Healthcare in Chaos: Best Practices in Global Humanitarian Work. During the talk the panel speakers highlighted the need for emphasis on prevention and primary care to manage diseases and disorders faced by patients abroad. Although the main topic of discussion focused on humanitarianism, the talk sparked my interest in the prevention and primary care that is involved in the field of mental health. My master’s thesis focused on the association of lifetime history of prostate cancer diagnosis and mental outcomes (anxiety and depression). My study examined if status of lifetime history of prostate cancer diagnosis can be used to predict mental health after differences in diet, sleep, exercise, and substance use are statistically controlled. Outside of the research lab, I love spending my time volunteering with the Dalhousie Medical Campus Response team, working at the Ronald McDonald House, hiking, and painting.

Ryan Gainer

I completed my MSc in Dalhousie’s Community Health and Epidemiology Department, supervised by Dr. Ilie. Previously, I graduated with Honours Bachelor of Psychology at Cape Breton University in 2009.  I joined the Division of Cardiac Surgery as a research associate through Dalhousie, focusing on patient-centered quality of care and outcomes research in 2010 and have been working there since. Now designated through the NSHA, I am currently piloting a research project in shared decision making between cardiac surgery patients and their surgeons, in a bid to step away from the conventional paternalistic approach to medicine in the Canadian healthcare system. Gainer is also involved with a project assessing frailty in elderly patients referred for cardiac surgery; quantifying it, measuring it and how to utilize that information when it comes to patient’s surgical outcomes. I am a passionate advocate for patients rights and I want to continue my  work in changing how informed consent in the healthcare system operates while I pursue a MSc in Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie. Outside of the research lab, I prefers to spend the majority of my time outdoors – whether it be hiking, cycling or rock climbing. I credit my Cape Breton roots for my love of music and my collection of stringed instruments.

Louise Moodie

I completed my MSc student in Dalhousie’s Community Health and Epidemiology program, supervised by Dr. Gabriela Ilie. After graduating from the MSc program in 2019, a started my studies in the MD program in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine. I completed my undergraduate degree, B.Sc. in Neuroscience and Religious Studies, at Dalhousie University. During my undergraduate degree I was lucky enough to work for a Halifax-based medical technology start-up, Mindful Scientific Inc., on traumatic brain injury (TBI) research. This research experience stimulated my interest in community health. I have a personal interest in how TBI affects aggression and substance use. My Master’s research was part of Dr. Ilie’s larger project in Prostate Cancer Quality of Life. This project examined the association between prostate cancer survivorship and mental health. Additional projects in the lab involve issues related to measurement and quality of life, in the context of patient reported outcomes assessments.  I hope the knowledge gained from this research can help improve lives of survivors of prostate cancer and their families. I am the lucky guardian of two little companions, Ernie and Penny, who are miniature dachshunds. They are the ultimate cuddle buddies! I love to spend my free time in a hot yoga studio or riding my bike on a trail.

Tarek Lawen

I am a Urology resident at Dalhousie University and I have been volunteering and I became involved in several projects in the Soillse Lab since 2018 I received my BSc from McGill University in 2012 and my MSc in Physiology & Biophysics from Dalhousie University in 2015. My Master’s project aimed to better understand the lethal cardiac rhythms (“arrhythmias”) underlying heart attacks. It was extremely rewarding research, introduced me to an incredible community and sparked my interest in studying these highly morbid conditions.

In medical school, I became quite interested in oncology and have spent the last few years working on a Canada-wide database for prostate cancer patients. Meeting these patients over the years has opened my eyes to the significant impact a cancer diagnosis has on individuals, families, relationships and overall quality of life. I was immediately fascinated when I learned of Dr. Ilie’s research and I am so happy to join the Soillse Team!

Josh White

Josh is a Urology Resident at Dalhousie University and has several research projects in the Soillse Lab under Dr. Ilie’s supervision. Josh started his post-secondary career in Calgary, Alberta where he played college basketball for SAIT and Mount Royal University. There he helped lead his teams to two CCAA National finals, finishing second both years. He was accepted to the University of Calgary for medical school and graduated in 2017. He is currently in his second year of residency in Urology through Dalhousie University.

Josh is the co-founder of a custom sock company that manufactures athletic socks for programs across Canada, including: University of Toronto, Queen’s, Laval, McGill, University of British Columbia, University of Western Ontario and many others. He now mostly contributes with product development, as residency has become his top priority.

Josh moved to Halifax with his loyal companion Alice, a 4-year old Labradoodle. She has become somewhat of a celebrity in Halifax and is looking forward to the release of the custom Alice socks with all proceeds going directly towards the Alice Toy Fund. She has been mooching off Josh for the last four years; it’s time for her to start pulling her weight.

Josh has developed an interest in research and is actively working on projects in endourology, oncology and pediatric urology.

Morgan MacDonald

I am a 4th year Medical resident in Urology with several projects in the Soillse Lab under Dr. Ilie’s supervision, including a recent publication accepted to Urology Practice.

Lauren Lewis-Boyce

I am a grade 12 High school student from Halifax West High School volunteering in the Soillse Lab under Dr. Ilie’s supervision. I been volunteering with Dr. Ilie and her Soillse Research team during the 2018 summer, and recently completed three full semesters of co-operative education through the High school in the Soillse Lab. After high school I plan to go to school to become a medical laboratory technologist.

I am a grade 12 High school student from Halifax West High School volunteering in Dr. Ilie’s lab under her supervisor. I have been volunteering with Dr. Ilie and her lab since March 2018. In my free time I play football with the high school team and I am currently going through the interviews for  joining the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve. Next year I will be going to Dalhousie for a Bachelor in Science. I am really excited about the opportunity to work in Dr. Ilie’s lab and contribute in any way I can to supporting men affected by prostate cancer.

I am an MSc Student in the Department of Community Health & Epidemiology currently volunteering in the Soillse Lab. I have many friends in the lab and I tremendously enjoyed helping out with the PC-PEP program.

Smriti Singh

I am a medical student at Dalhousie University completing my Research in Medicine project under Dr. Ilie’s supervision. I am currently doing a RIM project with Dr. Ilie (manuscript submitted for publication) and her lab investigating occupational associations with various cancers. I have almost completed phase 1 of my project which investigated prostate and pancreatic cancer and am expanding to include other cancers. I have always been interested in population level research. Prior to this I completed my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of New Brunswick in 2015 and a Master’s of Environment and Sustainability from Western University in 2016.

Michelle Trenholm

I am a medical student at Dalhousie University completing my Research in Medicine (RIM) student project with Dr Ilie. For my RIM project I am looking at traumatic brain injuries in adolescents with a focus on the association of the timing of multiple traumatic brain injuries and adverse health outcomes. Prior to coming to Dalhousie, I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Prince Edward Island in Biology and Mathematics with an honours project exploring the use of exercise to alleviate symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. I have a special interest in concussions in sports, and hope to incorporate this into my future practice as a physician. Additionally, I worked as a research assistant for Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada in vegetable pathology and entomology during my undergraduate degree.

Jillian Bradfield

Undergraduate Psychology Thesis student in Dr. Ilie’s Lab. I have graduated from Dalhousie, and completed a Bachelor of Arts with honours in psychology, and a minor in French, and on September 2019 will start my Masters Program in Clinical Psychology at Bangor University in Wales! I have 3 papers produced in collaboration with Dr. Ilie which are in complete manuscript form about to be submitted for publication.  I have a keen interest in mental health, and hope to one day become a clinical psychologist. Specific areas of interest of mine include depressive disorders, non-suicidal self-injury and anxiety disorders, as well as alternative therapies and overall quality of life. Over the past three years at Dalhousie, I have previously volunteered in Dr. Simon Gadbois’ canine olfactory laboratory for three years, and Dr. Simon Sherry’s personality research laboratory for one year. I am also a proud member of Alpha Gamma Delta women’s fraternity.