Dr. Aziz Ghahary

Dr. Aziz Ghahary

Principal Investigator

B.Sc. (University of Ahwaz), M.Sc. [Public Health] (University of Tehran), Ph.D. [Physiology] (University of Manitoba), Post-Doctoral Fellowship (University of Manitoba)
Director, BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn and Wound Healing Research Group
Professor, Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
Associate Member, Dermatology and Skin Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
Active Staff Member, Vancouver General Hospital

Research Interests

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Dr. Ghahary works on the biology of wound healing, including burns and other non-healing wounds. He is researching a biological skin substitute for burn patients and ways to treat scarring. He is also working to develop a liquid skin material for use on non-healing wounds. Such a material would provide a scaffold for the patient’s skin to close and begin to heal the wound. Currently his research is directed toward finding new strategies to deal with the non-healing pressure ulcers which are often seen in people with SCI.

Dr. Ghahary is a Professor in the Department of Surgery and Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of British Columbia. He also holds a joint appointment as an Associate Member of Dermatology and Skin Sciences at UBC. He is a Principal Investigator at ICORD, Director of the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn and Wound Healing Research Group, and a member of the active staff at Vancouver General Hospital. Dr. Ghahary attended the University of Ahwaz for his B.Sc. and the University of Tehran for his M.Sc. in public health. He completed both his Ph.D. and his Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Ghahary’s work will soon make it from bench to bedside: the results of his research will soon be used to treat patients directly. He has already developed a cream which decreases scarring for burn patients and those recovering from surgery. Another focus of his research is type I diabetes; he has shown that blood sugar levels can be controlled by transplanting insulin-producing cells into a diabetic patient’s kidney, eliminating the need for insulin injections. The molecule IDO, utilized in this treatment as an immunosuppressant to protect these transplanted cells, could also lead to the development of a non-rejectable skin substitute.

Members of the Ghahary Lab, Summer 2014

Members of the Ghahary Lab, Summer 2014

For Dr. Ghahary, “being part of the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre is a huge advantage; it has all the tools and equipment a group needs to pursue research, but most importantly it allows collaborations and excellent administration.” With so much connection among the labs, everyone has the opportunity to learn.

The goal of Dr. Ghahary’s work is to help patients survive a terrible injury. According to Dr. Ghahary, he spends more time coming up with solutions for type I diabetes or wound healing than thinking about his own children. “Science is all the time, not just nine to five!”

Recent Collaborations:

Dr. Ghahary works with Dr. Andrei Krassioukov on whether skin cells below the site of an SCI behave differently than skin cells from above the injury. In particular, they examine ischemia and the levels of growth factors in the body, and how these may contribute to non-healing wounds.

With Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff, Dr. Ghahary is examining the use of the IDO molecule to protect spinal cord transplant cells.

Major Findings:

Islet transplantation involves moving clusters of cells from the pancreas of a donor into another person. It is a treatment for type I diabetes because the transplanted cells begin to produce insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. However, in these transplants — and transplants of skin cells to treat wounds — the transplanted cells may be attacked by the recipient’s immune system. Dr. Ghahary has identified a molecule called IDO which suppresses a patient’s immune system during skin and islet transplantation. This molecule can be used for burn patients and in diabetic transplants to help protect the transplanted cells.

Dr. Ghahary has also been involved in identifying a small molecule called FS1/FS2 which has anti-scarring effects. The molecule has been patented and has a bright future in treating scar formation both in burn and SCI patients.

Techniques employed in the lab:

  • Cell culture
  • FACS analysis
  • Immunohistochemistry techniques
  • Nanofibres
  • Scaffolding
  • Skin grafting/transplantation
  • Quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)
  • Western Blot

Affiliation with organizations and societies:

  • BC Professional Fire Fighters Group
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • BC Spectra Energy
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
  • Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) & University of British Columbia (UBC) Hospital Foundation
  • Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI)


Some of Dr. Ghahary’s recent major awards and accomplishments include:

  • Research Ambassadors Knowledge Translational Award (CIHR/IMHA, 2014)
  • Richard J. Finely Senior Scholar Award (UBC Department of Surgery, 2011)
  • Best Oral Presentation (ABA/Canadian Interest group, 2011)
  • Travel Award (Canadian Biomaterials Society, 2006)
  • Best Poster (CIHR/IMHA’s Poster Competition in the Category of Experienced Investigators, 2003)
  • Scientific Award (Vancouver Hospital Research, 2002) [Declined]
  • J. Gordin Kaplan Award (University of Alberta, Department of Surgery, 2005)

Current Lab Members

Masters Students Ph.D. Students Research Associate Senior Research Associate
Mohammadreza Pakyari Mohsen Khosravi Dr. Yunyuan Li Dr. Ruhangiz Kilani
Ryan Hartwell
Ali Farrokhi
Layla Nabai
Sanam Salimi
Marva Abdulaziz
Yun Zhang

Trainee Awards

Year Name Award
2015 Ali Farrokhi WSBC Studentship Award (WorkSafeBC)
Ryan Hartwell Top Ph.D. student (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute)
Mohammadreza Pakyari Top Student (UBC Graduate Studies)
Sanman Pakyari WSBC Studentship Award (WorkSafeBC)
2014 Ali Farrokhi
  • WSBC Trainee Award (WorkSafeBC)
  • International Tuition Award
  • Graduate Award (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
Dr. Mohsen Kohsravi
  • Constance Livingstone-Friedman and Sydney Friedman Foundation Scholarship in Health Science (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
  • Transplantation Training Program Award (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
  • Masters Affiliated Award (UBC)
Mali Poormasjedi
  • Travel Award (UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies)
  • Vanier Award (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
  • Rising Star Award (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute)
Mohammadreza Pakyari
  • First class standing student award (UBC Experimental Medicine Program)
  • Transplant Training Program Award (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
Sanam Salimi
  • International Tuition Award (UBC)
  • Graduate Award (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
  • WSBC Trainee Award (WorkSafeBC)
2013 Ali Farrokhi CIHR Skin Research Training Scholarship
Azadeh Hosseini-Tabatabaei Graduate Award (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
Reza Jalili Trainee Award (Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research)
Mali Poormasjedi
  • International Tuition Award (UBC)
  • Graduate Award (UBC Factuly of Medicine)
Yun Zhang Graduate Award (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
2012 Terry-Ann Curran 3 Minute Thesis Heat-Winner (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute)
Sanam Salimi Elizei
  • International Tuition Award, 2012-2013 (UBC)
  • Graduate Award (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
Ali Farrokhi
  • International Tuition Award, 2012-2013 (UBC)
  • Graduate Award (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
Azadeh Hosseini-Tabatabaei
  • International Partial Tuition Scholarship (UBC)
  • Graduate Award (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
  • Four Year Fellowship Award (UBC)
Mali Poormasjedi
  • Four Year Fellowship Award (UBC)
  • Vanier Award (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
  • Skin Research Training Scholarship (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
  • Best Overall Presentation (Experimental Medicine Research Day)
Yun Zhang International Partial Tuition Scholarship, 2012-2013 (UBC)

Current Opportunities in the lab:

Yes. Dr. Ghahary is presently accepting Ph.D. students. Please contact Dr. Ghahary with inquiries.

Recent publications

  • Li, Y, Jalili, RB, Ghahary, A. 2016. Accelerating skin wound healing by M-CSF through generating SSEA-1 and -3 stem cells in the injured sites.. Sci Rep. doi: 10.1038/srep28979.
  • Carr, MJ, Li, Y, Rezakhanlou, AM, Ghahary, A. 2016. Keratinocyte-Releasable Factors Stimulate the Expression of Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor in Human Dermal Fibroblasts.. J. Cell. Biochem. doi: 10.1002/jcb.25638.
  • Hartwell, R, Chan, B, Elliott, K, Alnojeidi, H, Ghahary, A. 2016. Polyvinyl alcohol-graft-polyethylene glycol hydrogels improve utility and biofunctionality of injectable collagen biomaterials.. Biomed Mater. doi: 10.1088/1748-6041/11/3/035013.
  • Pakyari, M et al.. 2016. A new method for skin grafting in murine model.. Wound Repair Regen. doi: 10.1111/wrr.12445.
  • Poormasjedi-Meibod, MS, Pakyari, M, Jackson, JK, Salimi Elizei, S, Ghahary, A. 2016. Development of a nanofibrous wound dressing with an antifibrogenic properties in vitro and in vivo model.. J Biomed Mater Res A. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.35770.
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