• Sari Hannila headshot
  • Associate professor

    Max Rady College of Medicine
    Human anatomy and cell science
    Room 128 – Basic Medical Sciences Building
    745 Bannatyne Avenue
    University of Manitoba
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 0J9

    Phone: 204-789-3483
    Fax: 204-789-3920

Research themes

Research affiliations

Research summary

Dr. Sari Hannila’s research program focuses on a protein called secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) and its effects in the brain. Her postdoctoral research was the first to show that SLPI can promote axonal regeneration after CNS injury by regulating the expression of Smad2, and her laboratory is currently investigating whether SLPI can also regulate the expression of genes that are mutated in neurodegenerative diseases such as familial Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. Her group is also conducting morphological studies using SLPI knockout mice to determine if SLPI plays a role in neural development.


Dr. Hannila is originally from Sudbury, Ontario. She received her bachelor of science degree in life sciences from Queen’s University in 1999 followed by a PhD in anatomy and cell biology at Queen’s under the supervision of Dr. Michael Kawaja.

Prior to joining UM in 2010, Dr. Hannila worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Marie T. Filbin at Hunter College in New York City.

She is currently an associate professor of human anatomy and cell science at UM and an associate member of the Spinal Cord Research Centre. She also serves as director of outreach for the Manitoba Neuroscience Network and was nominated for CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 in 2017 in recognition of her outreach activities.

Her work has been published in journals such as the Neuroscientist, Experimental Neurology, the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Neuroscience.

Her research is currently funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and she has also held funding from the Canadian Paraplegic Association and the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation (Austria).


Postdoctoral fellow, Hunter College, City University of New York (2010)

PhD (anatomy and cell biology), Queen’s University (2004)

Bachelor of science (honours, life sciences), Queen’s University (1999)


Manitoba Medical Students Association Award, Best Small Group Teaching (2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 academic years)

Manitoba Medical Students’ Association (MMSA) Award (Mentorship) as selected by the Med I (2021-2022 academic year)

University of Manitoba Merit Award for Service in the Life Sciences, Natural Sciences and Engineering category (2017)

Canadian Association for Neuroscience Advocacy and Outreach Award for Best Canadian SFN Chapter – awarded to the Manitoba Neuroscience Network (2017)

Manitoba Medical Students Association Award, Inspiration (2012-2013 academic year)

Contact us

Human Anatomy and Cell Science
130 Basic Medical Science Building
745 Bannatyne Avenue

University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9 Canada