Breathing passion into respiratory research

Thursday, June 13, 2013

With a backpack full of outstanding academic achievements, Dr. Miranda Kirby, PhD, ventured off to Vancouver to begin her postdoctoral work. Once she arrives she will embark on two years of studies at Vancouver General Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Harvey Coxson, blending her passion for medicine, health and math.

It will be comfortable territory for Dr. Kirby, who for the past several years has been completing her PhD in Medical Biophysics in Dr. Grace Parraga’s lab at Robarts Research Institute. It was here that she was able to use technical skills to study lung diseases, specifically looking at Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD, using hyperpolerized Helium-3 Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Dr. Kirby came to Western University with a goal of completing her undergraduate double major degree in Applied Math and Biology. Hailing from nearby Aylmer, she travelled the short distance to London as the first one in her family ever to pursue a university degree. She hasn’t looked back since. 

Upon her completion of her BSc degree, Miranda initially began pursuing her MSc degree, but decided to reclassify to a PhD following one year. She found Dr. Parraga’s lab and was welcomed by a supportive and collaborative team and a positive environment.

Throughout her academic career, she has posted some truly impressive numbers including 30 awards, scholarships and distinctions, 23 peer-reviewed conference abstracts, 19 peer-reviewed oral presentations, 52 peer-reviewed poster presentations and four invited presentations. Add to that five publications in-press, 14 published, one under review, three in preparation, two published conference papers and you have to wonder what’s next for this talented academic. 

Dr. Kirby is excited to begin her work in Vancouver where she will be looking at subjects of asthma and how optical coherence tomography (OCT) can be used to look at the impact of treatment, how effective the treatment was and how the patient is improving. Not surprisingly, she is already thinking about her future direction; which right now is focused on securing a faculty position and study lung diseases including cystic fibrosis, asthma and bronchial pulmonary dysplasia in children.

Dr. Kirby will not be able to join her fellow students at the June 13 convocation for the Graduate Studies Program. She has however, had the opportunity to celebrate her tremendous success with her family. Many were able to attend her thesis defence – which was a day she recalls as the proudest moment of her university career.


The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry congratulates Dr. Kirby and all the graduates from the Graduate Studies programs. 

Western provides the best student experience among Canada's leading research-intensive universities.