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Augusto Zani

Scientist, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Program
External Email:
Alternate Contact Name:
Jacquie Whyte
Alternate Phone:
416-813-7654 ext. 202413
Alternate Email:

Hospital Positions

Staff Surgeon
Division of General and Thoracic Surgery



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’s research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and SickKids Foundation, and focuses on the use of extracellular vesicles (EVs) from amniotic fluid stem cells as a novel therapy to treat congenital diseases like congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH).


Dr. Zani has to main areas of research interest:

  1. 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.  
  2. 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

  • 1995–2001: MD Degree in Medicine and Surgery, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
  • 2001–2006: Specialty training in Paediatric Surgery, Policlinico Umberto I, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy 
  • 2004 May–2004 Oct: Senior House Officer, Paediatric Surgery, National Children’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 2006–2008: PhD, Paediatric Surgery, Institute of Child Health, University College London, U.K. 
  • 2008–2009: Specialist Registrar, Paediatric Surgery, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, U.K. 
  • 2009–2011: Senior Clinical Fellow, Paediatric Surgery, King’s College Hospital, London, U.K. 
  • 2011–2012: Specialist Registrar, Paediatric Surgery, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, Northern Ireland. 
  • 2012–2014: Specialist Registrar, Paediatric Surgery, Royal London Hospital, London, U.K. 
  • 2014–2015: Neonatal Surgical Fellow, Division of General and Thoracic Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada. 
  • 2016–Present: Staff Surgeon, Division of General and Thoracic Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada. 
  • 2016–Present: Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 
  • 2016–2019: Scientist-Track Investigator, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program, PGCRL, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada. 
  • 2017–Present: Associate Member, Institute Medical Sciences, University of Toronto. 
  • 2018–Present: Member, Translational Research Program, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto.
  • 2019–Present: Scientist, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program, PGCRL, SickKids, Toronto, Canada.


  • 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 


  • 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


  1. Khalaj K, Figueira RL, Antounians L, et al. Systematic review of extracellular vesicle-based treatments for lung injury: Are EVs a potential therapy for COVID-19? Extracell Vesicles. In press. doi: 10.1080/20013078.2020.1795365.
  2. Antounians L, Tzanetakis A, Pellerito O, et al. The Regenerative Potential of Amniotic Fluid Stem Cell Extracellular Vesicles: Lessons Learned by Comparing Different Isolation Techniques. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):1837.
  3. Biouss G, Antounians L, Li B, et al. Experimental necrotizing enterocolitis induces neuroinflammation in the neonatal brain. Neuroinflammation. 2019;16(1):97. 
  4. Montalva L, Antounians L, Zani A. Pulmonary hypertension secondary to congenital diaphragmatic hernia: factors and pathways involved in pulmonary vascular remodeling. Pediatr Res. 2019;85(6):754-768.
  5. Zani A, Cananzi M, Fascetti-Leon F, et al. Amniotic fluid stem cells improve survival and enhance repair of damaged intestine in necrotising enterocolitis via a COX-2 dependent mechanism. Gut. 2014;63(2):300-309.
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