Learn about the researchers in the lab and out in the field who are undertaking innovative research and making unique discoveries for the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative.
Anastasia Suraev graduated with a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours in Psychology) at the University of Sydney. Following this, she completed a Masters in Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) at the University of Melbourne in 2015, where her thesis focused on the cognitive outcomes of people with a severe and treatment-resistant epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.
In early 2016, she began working as a Clinical Research Officer at the Lambert Initiative where she coordinated the PELICAN research study. Currently, her main role involves providing expertise into decisions regarding study design and cannabinoid-based drugs on a range of clinical research projects. She also actively engages in community outreach through news media and invited talks on the topic of cannabinoid medicine. Anastasia is also partway through her PhD where she is coordinating a clinical trial examining the effects of a cannabinoid-based therapy on sleep and daytime function in people with chronic insomnia, which she is conducting in partnership with Sleep & Circadian Research Group at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.
Dr Adam Ametovski graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Hons I) in 2014 followed by a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, both from Monash University. His research to date has focused on the development of new catalytic chemical reactions to enable the preparation of complex bioactive molecules in an efficient manner. In this regard his most recent work details the synthesis of THC.
Adam joined the Lambert Initiative in September 2019 where his work will involve the creation of small chemical libraries of novel cannabinoid compounds (ie. synthetic cannabinoids). This will include the preparation of CBD, CBG and CBC, amongst others, in the pursuit of new drugs for the treatment of epilepsy and related conditions.
Dr Elizabeth Cairns is a postdoctoral researcher from Nova Scotia, Canada and one of the world’s leading experts in the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of glaucoma. She completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Prince Edward Island, then in 2017 she completed her PhD in Pharmacology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University in Halifax under the supervision of Dr Melanie Kelly. From 2018-2019, Dr Cairns completed postdoctoral work involving screening novel compounds for two blinding eye diseases that affect infants under the supervision of Drs Christopher McMaster and Johane Robitaille. Dr Cairns is also passionate about scientific communication and has written extensively about the basics of the endocannabinoid system and associated research.
She joined the Lambert Initiative in May 2019 and is currently exploring projects that build on her prior experience in cannabinoids and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury.
After earning a Bachelor of Science from Monash University in 2011, Dr Danielle McCartney worked as a clinical research assistant at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes institute in their Hypertension & Kidney Disease Laboratory in Melbourne. In 2015, she returned to her studies, completing a master’s degree in Nutrition & Dietetics (Research) which she completed in 2016, followed by her PhD in 2019, both from Griffith University. During her master’s degree, she studied the impact of acute alcohol intoxication on cognitive function and simulated car driving performance; whereas her doctoral research focused on nutritional strategies to enhance post-exercise recovery and subsequent athletic performance. Danielle joined the Lambert Initiative in March 2019 where her main role is to coordinate clinical research into the effects of cannabidiol on simulated car driving performance.
Michael Udoh completed his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Uyo, Nigeria in 2011. After his pharmacist registration, he proceeded to complete a Masters degree in Drug Discovery and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Nottingham, UK; where he was involved in the design and development of CCR5 receptor analogues for the treatment of HIV infections. Michael recently completed his PhD in Molecular Pharmacology/Biomedical Sciences at Macquarie University. His research under the guidance of Prof Mark Connor focused on investigating the molecular pharmacology of less known phytocannabinoids -such as cannabichromene (CBC)- at selected G protein-coupled receptors and ion channels.
Michael joined the Lambert Initiative in February 2020 where his work will include the characterisation of phytocannabinoids and novel chemical entities at selected drug targets for the treatment of Dravet syndrome. Additionally, he plans to conduct studies to develop novel phytocannabinoid-based therapies for the treatment of chronic pain.
Dr Miguel Bedoya-Perez is a Postdoctoral Research Associate, specialising in behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology and complex data modelling and statistics.
Miguel obtained his undergraduate degree in Biology at La Universidad Simon Bolivar, Venezuala with an honours project on female capybaras mate choice. In 2009, he completed a PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney, focussing on how the foraging behaviour of swamp wallabies was influenced by plant chemical profiles and proceeded to accept a postdoctoral position at Charles Darwin University, looking at ways of managing the conflict between cattle producers and an overabundant wallaby species. Three years later, he met Academic Director at the Lambert Initiative, Professor Iain McGregor, to explore the innate fear response of rats and mice toward predator odours.
In 2021, Miguel was welcomed as part of the Lambert Initiative team as a statistical consultant and animal behaviouralist. Miguel's role focusses on applying his statistical and programming skills to develop high-throughput preclinical platforms for animal models of disease, and to perform sophisticated statistical analyses on the complex datasets produced by the rest of the team. The key projects he currently works on include analysis and reporting of SAS-B and AP (Special Access Scheme and Authorised Provider scheme) data for cannabis products approved for therapeutic use and effects of phytocannabinoids on sleep architecture in an animal model of anxiety-induced insomnia.
Additionally, he is developing a research plan to develop machine learning systems for data acquisition, processing, and analysis of data from animal models.
Zeeta graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Pharmacy. Post qualification, she attained the position of head pharmacist at two large community pharmacies. She served as the New South Wales Intern Training Program Coordinator at the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the peak professional body for pharmacists. She has also worked at Bayer as a Medical Information Associate and Sanofi as a Medical Affairs Associate.
Zeeta’s first foray into research was as a Clinical Pharmacist and a Research Assistant in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease studies at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.
Zeeta joined the Lambert Initiative in May 2020 as a clinical trial coordinator to assist with the HUSH Trial which explores the use of low dose CBD in treating insomnia patients presenting themselves to community pharmacies.
Dr. Zhizhen Wang completed her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Wollongong, where she conducted research that explored the neuroprotective and anti-aging roles of Cannabidiol (CBD) in animal models and in vitro cell models. Her study employed Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate the potential of CBD to promote longevity and improve neuronal health in aging and Alzheimer’s disease models.
She joined the Lambert Initiative in February 2023 and is now actively involved in preclinical therapy screening of cannabinoids using Caenorhabditis elegans, with a specific focus on identifying their potential anti-aging effects. Additionally, she is exploring novel targets for anti-aging interventions, aiming to develop innovative approaches to improve healthy aging outcomes.