128 BMSB, 745 Bannatyne Ave.
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9

Sari Hannila, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Human Anatomy and Cell Science

University of Manitoba

Dr. S. Hannila Lab
127 BMSB
My laboratory studies axonal development and regeneration in the central nervous system, with a particular interest in developing treatments for spinal cord injury. When the spinal cord is injured, damaged axons do not regenerate and this leads to permanent motor and sensory deficits. One of the major factors contributing to regenerative failure is CNS myelin, which contains several proteins that inhibit axonal growth. I have discovered that a protein called secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) can reverse the inhibitory effects of myelin and enhance axonal growth both in vitro and in vivo. We now plan to build on these findings by testing SLPI in more complex, clinically relevant models of spinal cord injury and assessing its effects on axonal regeneration, reactive astrogliosis, and functional recovery.

We also use techniques such as chromatin immunoprecipitation, PCR, and Western blotting to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying regenerative failure. It has recently been shown that the TGF-beta signaling protein Smad2 is required for myelin inhibition, which suggests that this pathway may play an important role in inhibiting axonal growth. We will be investigating myelin-mediated activation of the TGF-beta receptor and we hope that this will lead to the identification of new targets for therapeutic intervention in spinal cord injury.

Areas of Expertise
Axonal regeneration, CNS myelin, MAG, SLPI, Smad2, TGF-beta signaling, reactive astrogliosis.
Search PubMed for publications by Hannila S
See Also
Dept. of Human Anatomy and Cell Science profile for Dr. Hannila
Human Anatomy and Cell Science


  1. 2004-2010

    Postdoctoral Fellowship

    Hunter College (NY, Dr. Marie T. Filbin)
  2. 2004

    Ph.D. (Anatomy and Cell Biology)

    Queen’s University
  3. 1999

    BSc (Honours, Life Sciences)

    Queen’s University

Academic Experience

  1. 2017-present
    Associate Professor
    University of Manitoba
  2. 2010-2016
    Assistant Professor
    University of Manitoba