Sonia Hesam-Shariati


Sonia studied cellular and molecular biology as her bachelor degree and completed her master’s in medical microbiology at Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 2015. After graduation, she worked as a research assistant and was involved in clinical projects which resulted in a couple of publications.

Sonia joined Dr Jan Fullerton’s group in March 2018 for her PhD. Her project is on a cohort of young people at high familial risk of bipolar disorder. Sonia is interested in identifying genetic contributors to bipolar disorder as well as the role of stress as an important environmental factor in developing bipolar disorder.

Projects Sonia Hesam-Shariati is currently involved with


Genetic and epigenetic contributors to bipolar disorder in a high risk cohort

The offspring of individuals with bipolar disorder are at increased risk of mental illness, but our tools to predict which of these genetically at-risk young people will eventually develop disorder are very imprecise. Longitudinal studies that ascertain at-risk participants and monitor them prospectively are an effective approach for identifying early clinical and biological markers of future illness. In collaboration with the Black Dog Institute plus groups from four independent US-based sites, including: Johns Hopkins University; University of Michigan; Washington University in St. Louis; Indiana University; we are following a cohort of young kids and siblings of bipolar disorder patients with annual clinical, neurocognitive and lifestyle assessments; plus bi-annual brain imaging of the Australian participants. We are assessing the genetic load of multiple risk variants across the genome in these at-risk individuals to determine if we can use genetic information to help predict which individuals will ultimately transition to illness, and whether genetic load will influence early structural brain changes which are seen prior to onset of symptoms which lead to a clinical diagnosis.

We are also examining whether epigenetic changes – which occur on-top-of the DNA sequence in response to environmental influences – are involved in transition from health to illness. Early identification of those most likely to develop illness will provide a firm basis on which to develop preventive and early intervention strategies to reduce the impact of this devastating disorder.


Genetic and epigenetic contributors to bipolar disorder in a high risk cohort


ANNA HEATH Research Assistant

Kerrie Pierce

KERRIE PIERCE Senior Research Assistant

Mirelle D'Mello

MIRELLE D’MELLO Research Assistant


Detection of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in Iranian patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus by PCR and ELISA.

Hesam Shariati S, Alaei A, Keshavarz R, Mosavari N, Rabbani A, Niegowska M, Sechi LA, Feizabadi MM

Due to the presence of MAP DNA and antibodies against MAP peptides in a significant number of T1DM patients compared with healthy control subjects, we may consider MAP as a possible trigger of T1DM in Iran. This indicates that exposure to MAP occurred in the positive subjects. Identifying the sources of contamination and routes of MAP transmission to humans seems necessary to prevent and reduce the burden of MAP infection in Iran.

Detection of enterotoxigenic in patients with ulcerative colitis.

Zamani S, Hesam Shariati S, Zali MR, Asadzadeh Aghdaei H, Sarabi Asiabar A, Bokaie S, Nomanpour B, Sechi LA, Feizabadi MM

There was no significant association between presence and numbers of 16S rRNA gene of and UC. ETBF was detected more in UC specimens and biopsies of UC patients with diarrhea than in the control group. These data demonstrated that ETBF is associated with development of UC and as a causative agent for the development of diarrhea in these patients.

Quantitative analysis of in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis under continuous ultrasound treatment.

Feizabadi N, Sarrafzadeh J, Fathali M, Vasaghi-Gharamaleki B, Dadgoo M, Kazemian H, Kardan-Yamchi J, Shariati SH

Bacterial pathogens, in particular drug resistant strains, involved in chronic rhinosinusitis may result in treatment failure. Ultrasound waves are able to destroy bacterial population in sinus cavities and can recover patients. According to our phenotypic and molecular experiments, continuous ultrasound treatment effectively reduced the bacterial population in studied patients (p < 0.01). This was a hopeful basis for doing more studies with ultrasound therapy as a treatment option.