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Banting Postdoctoral Fellow developing world’s first non-invasive kidney assessment technology

By: Andy Lee
June 24, 2020
Banting Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Eno Hysi

Banting Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Eno Hysi discusses his cutting-edge team research, his Ryerson graduate experience and advice for fellow students.

Biomedical Physics PhD graduate Dr. Eno Hysi has received a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, external link (PDF) for an innovative technology to assess the quality of kidney transplants in a non-invasive, more accurate and faster way. The first ever awarded to a Ryerson graduate student, only 24 Banting PDFs are granted annually from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for exceptional research and leadership.

The new technique was developed by Dr. Hysi, Ryerson physics professor Dr. Michael Kolios and Dr. Darren Yuen, a nephrologist at St. Michael’s Hospital through the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Technology (iBEST), external link, an interdisciplinary partnership between Ryerson and St. Michael’s Hospital. This approach uses photoacoustic imaging to produce a detailed visual map of kidney scarring – a vast improvement over the current method of needle biopsy, which is painful, risky and prone to error. 

With kidney transplants in such high demand, the team’s research has the potential to save tremendous health-care costs – $100,000 annually per dialysis patient – and more importantly, patients’ lives. 

“It has given me great pleasure to witness Eno’s academic path these past few years. His research work at Ryerson has been of the highest calibre, and his receipt of this top-tier fellowship is a deserved acknowledgement of his rising status in the health research sphere. My congratulations to Eno,” said Dr. Steven N. Liss, vice-president, research and innovation at Ryerson.

As a graduate student, Dr. Hysi actively participated in more than 25 committees and seven academic search committees, and played an integral role in founding and organizing GRADShowcase, the most successful graduate student-led event at Ryerson. His outstanding leadership and contributions to graduate student engagement and experience were recognized with a 2018 Jennifer Mactavish Graduate Student Leadership Award.

What inspires your research? 

Ever since I studied physics as an undergraduate, I was drawn towards using its principles and tools to solve pressing problems in medicine. Biomedical physics is the ideal discipline for accomplishing just that. As I research various clinical problems, the application of physics concepts, theories and methods towards finding an impactful solution is what I find most fascinating. The end goal is always to provide physicians with tools previously unavailable to them to address clinical issues they face and help improve their patients’ lives.

"The most beautiful feeling in the world is when I’ve stumbled upon something new in my research."

Dr. Eno Hysi, Banting Postdoctoral Fellow

How has your relationship been with your supervisor Dr. Michael Kolios?

It has been truly the most rewarding experience of my graduate career. Mike Kolios is the epitome of the ideal scientist, mentor and supervisor and I consider myself very lucky to have trained under him. I do not think it is possible to work with Mike and not be left full of inspiration and energy to do better science. He has taught me a great deal about not only physics, research and academia, but also life and how to use my own success for good. 

I feel fortunate to have encountered such a supportive mentor this early in my career and receive boundless support for all my scientific endeavours. I am very privileged to have many mentors in academia, but Mike Kolios stands in a league of his own. I hope to one day emulate his style and inspire others the way he has inspired me. 

How is your Ryerson graduate education preparing you for your career?

I can say with absolute certainty that Ryerson Graduate Studies has been life-altering. My graduate experience has been superb on all fronts: research, academic curricula and extracurricular activities. I think it is our small size that creates a real feeling of community, filled with individuals that sincerely care about student success. 

Ryerson is home to fascinating researchers who do amazing things across many disciplines. I learned a great deal from watching them passionately talk about their work. I had the good fortune of seeing decisions made at the highest levels with the enrichment of graduate student experience as the guiding principle. It's precisely those decisions that made my graduate education extremely rewarding, giving me more than sufficient skills and experience to succeed. Every step of my academic journey is evidence of the support that one will always find at YSGS. 

What is your advice for graduate students?

Find whatever passion keeps you up at night and do it for as long as you can. For me, the most beautiful feeling in the world is when I’ve stumbled upon something new in my research. Just for that brief instant, knowing that I was the only person to know that specific truth, was genuinely euphoric. I think what inspired me to work even harder was the desire to prolong those moments. I hope that you each find your own version of that. 

While my PhD was my longest degree, looking back I wish it had been even longer, for it allowed me to grow by orders of magnitude. Enjoy every moment of it.