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Olena Zhulyn

Title: Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology
Designations: PhD
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 305945
Alternate Contact Name: Janice Cheng
Alternate Phone: 416-813-4994 ext. 304994
Alternate Email:
U of T Positions: Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics


Born in Ukraine and raised in Toronto, Dr. Olena Zhulyn completed her PhD in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto in 2014. Her graduate work focused on the genetic dissection of Sonic hedgehog signaling and its role in determining the number and pattern of fingers in the embryonic limb. Following her graduate studies, Dr. Zhulyn moved to sunny California to pursue her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Barna at Stanford University. There, she explored the role of translational regulation in mouse embryonic development and established Stanford's first axolotl colony with the goal of understanding how regulated protein synthesis contributes to the extreme regenerative ability of this species. Using the axolotl as a model, Dr. Zhulyn demonstrated that rapid activation of translation, driven by salamander-specific evolution of mTOR kinase, is a critical driver of tissue regeneration in this salamander species. Beyond her scientific interests, Dr. Zhulyn is passionate about training the next generation of biomedical innovators and helping them to contribute to Canada’s evolving biotechnology landscape.


Dr. Zhulyn returned to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) Research Institute as a Scientist in early 2023. Her laboratory will use the axolotl and the mouse, as well as in vitro model systems, to explore the role of translation in tissue regeneration, rejuvenation and repair using a combination of genetic, molecular and imaging techniques to understand the fundamental biology of these processes and to explore new avenues for therapeutic intervention.

While we would love for you to join our lab for training, we are at capacity and are not accepting additional undergraduate students for the summer 2024 program. 

Education and experience

  • 2023–Present: Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 2023–Present: Scientist, SickKids Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 2021: Basic Life Science Research Scientist, Stanford, CA, USA
  • 2014–2021: Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
  • 2008–2014: PhD, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 2003–2008: Hon. BSc, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada


  • 2019: NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), Stanford University, Stanford, USA
  • 2016: Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fellowship, Stanford University, Stanford, USA
  • 2016: Simons Fellow of the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation, Stanford University, Stanford, USA


  1. Zhulyn O, Rosenblatt H, Shokat L, Dai S, Kuzuoglu-Öztürk D, Zhang Z, Ruggero D, Shokat KM, Barna M. Evolutionarily divergent mTOR remodels the translatome to drive rapid wound closure and regeneration. bioRxiv 2021.10.28.465024
  2. Fujii K, Zhulyn O, Woo Byeon G, Kerr C, Barna M. (2021). Controlling tissue patterning by translational regulation of signaling transcripts through the core translation factor EIF3C. Developmental Cell, 56:2928-2937.e9.
  3. Fujii K*, Shi Z*, Zhulyn O*, Denans N, Barna M. Pervasive translational regulation of the cell signaling circuitry underlies mammalian development. Nature Communications, 8:14443.
  4. Zhulyn O, Nieuwenhuis E, Liu YC, Angers S, Hui CC. (2015). Ptch2 shares overlapping functions with Ptch1 in Smo regulation and limb development. Developmental Biology, 397:191-202.
  5. Zhulyn O, Li D, Deimling S, Vakili NA, Mo R, Puviindran V, Chen MH, Chuang PT, Hopyan S, Hui CC. (2014). A switch from low to high Shh activity regulates establishment of limb progenitors and signaling centers. Developmental Cell, 29:241-249.

* These authors contributed equally to the work.

See a full list of Olena Zhulyn's publications

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