Scientist, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
U of T Positions
- Associate Professor, Department of Surgery
- Associate Member, Institute of Medical Science
Dr. Zani received his MD and completed his paediatric surgical training at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. He earned his PhD from University College London, U.K., investigating stem cell therapy in necrotizing enterocolitis. Following this period, he advanced his clinical training in the U.K. by working in renowned teaching institutions like Great Ormond Street Hospital and King’s College Hospital, London, where he focused on neonatal and paediatric surgery. He then moved to Toronto for a fellowship in neonatal surgery. In 2016 he joined SickKids as a Staff Surgeon in the Division of General and Thoracic Surgery and Scientist-Track Investigator in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program at SickKids Research Institute.
Dr. Zani has two main areas of research interest:
- Basic science research in fetal and neonatal surgical conditions that are burdened by high morbidity and mortality rates, such ascongenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Specifically, the Zani Lab has been studying the biology of extracellular vesicles (exosomes) derived from a variety of sources, including stem cells, asa regenerative medicine tool to address these conditions.
- Outcomes research in paediatric surgery, aiming to provide the best available evidence on known controversies in the management of pediatric surgical conditions such as appendicitis, gastroesophageal reflux, CDH, and NEC, through systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and randomized control trials.
Education and experience
- 2019–Present: Scientist, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program, PGCRL, SickKids, Toronto, Canada.
- 2018–Present: Member, Translational Research Program, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto.
- 2017–Present: Associate Member, Institute Medical Sciences, University of Toronto.
- 2016–2019: Scientist-Track Investigator, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program, PGCRL, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.
- 2016–Present: Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- 2016–Present: Staff Surgeon, Division of General and Thoracic Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.
- 2014–2015: Neonatal Surgical Fellow, Division of General and Thoracic Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.
- 2012–2014: Specialist Registrar, Paediatric Surgery, Royal London Hospital, London, U.K.
- 2011–2012: Specialist Registrar, Paediatric Surgery, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
- 2009–2011: Senior Clinical Fellow, Paediatric Surgery, King’s College Hospital, London, U.K.
- 2008–2009: Specialist Registrar, Paediatric Surgery, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, U.K
- 2006–2008: PhD, Paediatric Surgery, Institute of Child Health, University College London, U.K.
- 2004 May–2004 Oct: Senior House Officer, Paediatric Surgery, National Children’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
- 2001–2006: Specialty training in Paediatric Surgery, Policlinico Umberto I, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
- 1995–2001: MD Degree in Medicine and Surgery, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
- 2023: Dr. Kasra Khalaj, Recipient of the 35th Annual Andrew Sass-Kortsak Award "Regenerative effects of amniotic fluid stem cell extracellular vesicles in pulmonary hypoplasia" Supervisor: Dr. Augusto Zani
- 2022: Best of the Best in Pediatric Surgery Competition, Rebeca Figueira, Zani Lab
- 2021: Best of the Best in Pediatric Surgery Competition, Kasra Khalaj, Zani Lab
- 2020: Merit Award, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto
- European Paediatric Surgeons’ Association (EUPSA) Executive Board Member
- Pediatric Surgery International journal, Executive Editorial Board Member
- Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Assistant Editor
- European Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Editorial Consultants
- European Journal of Pediatric Surgery Reports, Editorial Board Member
- Frontiers in Pediatrics, Associate Editor
- Zani A, Chung WK, Deprest J, Harting MT, Jancelewicz T, Kunisaki SM, Patel N, Antounians L, Puligandla PS, Keijzer R. Congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2022 Jun 1;8(1):37. doi: 10.1038/s41572-022-00362-w. PMID: 35650272.
- Doktor F, Antounians L, Lacher M, Zani A. Congenital lung malformations: Dysregulated lung developmental processes and altered signaling pathways. Semin Pediatr Surg. 2022 Dec;31(6):151228. doi: 10.1016/j.sempedsurg.2022.151228. Epub 2022 Nov 16. PMID: 36442455.
- Khalaj K, Antounians L, Figueira RL, Post M, Zani A. Autophagy Is Impaired in Fetal Hypoplastic Lungs and Rescued by Administration of Amniotic Fluid Stem Cell Extracellular Vesicles. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2022 Aug 15;206(4):476-487. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202109-2168OC. PMID: 35671495.
- Khalaj K, Figueira RL, Antounians L, Gandhi S, Wales M, Montalva L, Biouss G, Zani A. Treatment with Amniotic Fluid Stem Cell Extracellular Vesicles Promotes Fetal Lung Branching and Cell Differentiation at Canalicular and Saccular Stages in Experimental Pulmonary Hypoplasia Secondary to Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2022 Oct 21;11(10):1089-1102. doi: 10.1093/stcltm/szac063. PMID: 36103370; PMCID: PMC9585953.
- Antounians L, Catania VD, Montalva L, Liu BD, Hou H, Chan C, Tzanetakis A, Li B, Figueira RL, da Costa KM, Wong AP, Mitchell R, David AL, Patel K, De Coppi P, Sbragia-Neto L, Wilson MD, Rossant J, Zani A. Fetal lung underdevelopment is rescued by amniotic fluid stem cell extracellular vesicles. Sci Transl Med. 2021 Apr 21;13(590):eaax5941. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aax5941. PMID: 33883273
- SickKids-CIHR IHDCYH New Investigator Grants in Child and Youth Health "Stem Cell Derived Therapy for Pulmonary Hypoplasia: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia"
- Catalyst Research Grant, SickKids, “A novel strategy for fetal lung regeneration: Big hopes in small vesicles”
- Catalyst Research Grant, HSBC Bank Canada, “Astrocyte-derived Exosomes to Rescue Rett Syndrome Neurons”
- Merit Award, Department of Surgery, “Extracellular vesicles derived from amniotic fluid stem cells as a novel strategy to prevent pulmonary hypertension secondary to congenital diaphragmatic hernia