Back open for business!

We are excited for the new school year! Riley and Alex are getting themselves acquainted with our setups and helping to train the next great group of thesis students. Zeina will be coming to the lab soon and we are all excited for her arrival (Hope that student visa comes soon!!)

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

Tired of this Covid stuff? Us too…

The Hawke Lab has been badly affected by the current pandemic. Greatly limiting our ability to undertake analysis within the lab and recruit people for our studies that were halted when the pandemic began. While this is not unique to our lab, it nonetheless has a significant impact on our ability to train people within the lab and maintain our high level of productivity. On the bright side, we have a number of studies which required mostly time to complete and have made great strides in data analysis, writing and submission of these studies.

During these tough times, be kind to yourself and others. We could all use a little more of that right now.

Introducing the 2019-2020 Hawke Lab Recruits!

We are proud to introduce the 2019-2020 Hawke Lab recruiting class!

This September, we added four promising McMaster students to the Hawke Lab roster. We are excited about the character and talent of our new trainees, and look forward to their performance at the lab bench.

Get to know our recruits below…

William Junior Khalil – Biochemistry, Level 4


  • Favourite Movie or TV Show: Movie – Prisoner, TV Show- GoT Before Szn 8 :(, Chernobyl & When They See Us
  • Dogs or Cats: Dogs, specifically fluffy Samoyeds.
  • Would you rather use sandpaper as toilet paper or use hot sauce as eye drops?: Sandpaper as toilet paper, sometimes sacrifices have to be made.
  • Why did you choose the Hawke Lab?: My initial desire was to work within a metabolic field of research, the work Dr. Hawke’s lab was doing fit the bill precisely. After looking at the previous site I knew immediately that Dr. Hawke and the people he’d bring in were my type of people. There was no debate after the interview with the panel, it was the perfect spot for me with a lovely group of grad students to hopefully help me grow as an individual.

Maya El-Zahed – Kinesiology, Level 4


  • Favourite Movie or TV Show: Fresh Prince of Bel Air
  • Dogs or Cats: Cats
  • Would you rather use sandpaper as toilet paper or use hot sauce as eye drops?: Sandpaper as toilet paper
  • Why did you choose the Hawke Lab?: I heard about Dr. Hawke’s research in my undergraduate courses. As a kinesiology student, I am eager to apply the knowledge I have about exercise to satellite cell research in a clinical population.

Tirth Patel – Biochemistry, Level 4


  • Favourite Movie or TV Show: Game of Thrones
  • Dogs or Cats: Dogs of course!
  • Would you rather use sandpaper as toilet paper or use hot sauce as eye drops?: Sandpaper as toilet paper (I think I can probably make this less painful than the hot sauce)
  • Why did you choose the Hawke Lab?: I chose the Hawke Lab because it was the one place that combined my interests in stem cells, cellular metabolism and myopathy all together. Myopathy is a research topic I hold close to my heart as I’ve witnessed a loved one suffering from it.

Lauren Turner – Kinesiology, Level 3


  • Favourite Movie or TV Show: Survivor; I love the show so much I even tried to recreate it on a family trip when I was younger!  Unfortunately, I was voted off before the final round – I think my family was intimidated by my mental game and felt they had to get rid of the biggest threat early.
  • Dogs or Cats: Dogs all the way,  how could you not love man’s best friend?
  • Would you rather use sandpaper as toilet paper or use hot sauce as eye drops?: I would choose hot sauce.  With luck I could find the most mild hot sauce I know and use that – maybe it wouldn’t even hurt.  Would Ketchup count as a hot sauce?
  • Why did you choose the Hawke Lab?: I was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic in the summer of 2018 and diabetes research has had a direct impact on my life; major advancements of the last decade in insulin management systems have had a meaningful impact on my quality of life.  I chose the Hawke Lab as I firmly believe research into T1D will result in further improvements into managing this disease over the next 10 years.  In particular, as a very active person, the Hawke Lab’s focus on expanding knowledge into diabetes and muscle health is an area I am passionate about.  I believe research into T1D will continue to improve the health and quality of life of those living with the disease – I am honoured to participate in this lab.

Michael Akcan – Medical Sciences, MSc Candidate


  • Favourite Movie or TV Show: Kill Bill and the Office
  • Dogs or Cats: DOGGO
  • Would you rather use sandpaper as toilet paper or use hot sauce as eye drops?: I would rather use hot sauce as eye drops because i do not frequently use eye drops as often as toilet paper
  • Why did you choose the Hawke Lab?: I chose the Hawke Lab because the lab members are awesome to research and learn with and muscle health is super important for your overall well-being.

Grab a ‘Pint of Science’ with the Hawke Lab


If you like your drinks served cold with a side of science, come join us on Tuesday, May 21 (7-9 PM) at Redchurch Cafe for Hamilton’s Pint of Science festival!

Pint of Science is a global festival where scientists take their research from lab bench to bar stool and discuss their latest scientific discoveries in a way that’s fun and accessible for all audiences. No prior knowledge required.

In the event’s ‘Our Body’ section, Dr. Irena Rebalka will discuss how Statin medications affect muscle health (Cholesterol-lowering drugs… good for your heart, bad for your muscles?). Dr. Thomas Hawke will then discuss how skeletal muscle is impacted by diabetes (“Don’t sugar-coat it Doc. Is Diabetes damaging my muscles?”).

The event is FREE to attend. Online registration is available, but if you don’t have a ticket, don’t worry.

So come out, relax, learn about the interesting work that’s going on in our lab (and have a pint with us too)!

Senior Thesis Project = Complete ✔

Congratulations to the Hawke Lab’s fourth-year undergraduate thesis students who showcased their senior research projects this past week!

Grace Martin, Cathy Ren and Enoch Tin (Honour’s Bachelor of Health Science program, pictured above) presented their final projects at the Bachelor of Health Science program’s Poster Day (April 1st, 2019).


And after her successful oral presentation the week prior, Rimsha Chattha (Biomedical Discovery & Commercialization program, pictured left) travelled to the University of Western Ontario where she presented her senior research poster at the Western Student Research Conference (March 29, 2019).

We truly thank these students for their hard work and dedication over the past year (see comic below, all in good fun!), and wish them success wherever life and more importantly, science, takes them next!




Hawke Lab takes on the Florida Gators!


Earlier this month, the Hawke Lab flew down to Gainesville, FL to attend the University of Florida Myology Institute’s Advances in Skeletal Muscle Biology in Health and Disease Conference (March 6-8).

The dynamic group of local and international presenters provided newfound perspectives on the incredible plasticity of skeletal muscle, with respect to novel signalling pathways, disease models and treatment modalities.

The Hawke Lab would like to congratulate current PhD students, Athan Dial and Cynthia Monaco, on their quick yet intellectual and well-versed ‘data blitz’ presentations.

As well as our friend and collaborator Dr. Christopher Perry at York University, for his insightful talk on “Targeting mitochondrial bioenergetics to treat muscle weakness in Duchenne muscular dystrophy”.

Thank-you to the efforts of the presenters and organizers alike, for putting on this year’s conference. It was the perfect mix of people, science, and good weather!

Check out our slideshow for a look at what the Hawke Lab got up to in Florida!


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OEP 2019: A Big Success!


The Hawke Lab attended the Ontario Exercise Physiology Conference held January 25-27 in Barrie, Ontario.

It was wonderful to see the innovative range of work produced by the students & exercise physiology trainees of Ontario!

Congratulations to the following Hawke Lab members for their well-deserved award nominations.

  • OEP Award: Athan Dial
  • CSEP Award: Molly Gingrich, Cynthia Monaco & Allyson Schweitzer
  • AJP-Cell Award: Grace Martin

Thank-you to the University of Ottawa for hosting this year’s event.

We look forward to seeing everyone at OEP 2020!

New website but same great research :)

Welcome to the new and improved Hawke Lab for Muscle Health Research website!  We need and acronym or something.  That tag line is just a mouthful! HLMHR? no…MHR? no… Will definitely have to sleep on it!

We are excited to provide more detailed information about our studies, about the scientists who are undertaking the studies and, importantly, translating our lab findings into something meaningful for the people who need and want it.  We welcome your feedback about the website and its usefulness.

Click on the menu and associated links to explore the things we do!