Abdullah Al-Ani


Dr. Abdullah Al-Ani was born in Mosul, Iraq before immigrating to Canada with his family at age 17. He completed his high school education in Windsor Ontario before moving to BC for his undergraduate degree. He completed his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Microbiology from the University of Victoria. His passion for mathematics, physics and molecular biology inspired him to seek a multidisciplinary PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Calgary in Dr. Ungrin’s Laboratory.

Abdullah’s PhD research focused on blending molecular biology, stem cells and tissue engineering principles to design and produce retinal transplants for patients with retinal degenerative diseases. His PhD work yielded several publications and prestigious awards including ones from the Canadian Institute of Health Research and Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Abdullah subsequently joined the Leaders in Medicine MD-PhD program and graduated with both degrees in 2022, before joining Calgary’s ophthalmology residency program in the same year.

Throughout his academic career, Abdullah developed passion for innovation, which led him to collaborate with his colleagues co-found Innovation4health; a student-led initiative that catalyzes the formation of interdisciplinary teams by matching engineers and scientists with clinicians. These multidisciplinary teams produced outstanding solutions for clinical problems in various areas of medicine. The program catalyzed the production of >100 functional prototypes and attracted >$330,000 in funding.  In addition to becoming a skillful ophthalmologist, Abdullah’s long-term career goal is to bridge the gap between science, engineering and clinical ophthalmology to catalyze ophthalmic innovation and serve his patients.

Abdullah is still exploring his clinical interests within the field of ophthalmology. He is involved in several local clinical research projects under the mentorship and supervision of Drs. Fiona Costello, Amin Kherani and Patrick Gooi.


When he is not in the clinical, laboratory or on the soccer field, Abdullah can be found hiking, skiing, or exploring Calgary’s evolving culinary scene.

2022 – Present OPHTHALMOLOGY RESIDENCY Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2019 – 2022 MEDICAL DOCTORATE (MD) Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2014 – 2019 DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (PHD) IN BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, Faculty of Engineering, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2008 – 2013 BACHELORS (BSC) IN BIOCHEMISTRY AND MICROBIOLOGY Faculty of Science, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
2019 – 22 Canadian Institute of Health Research MD-PhD Award (3x)
Awarded to MD-PhD candidates with exceptional academic, leadership and research performance.
2021 Dr. Lydia Sikora Memorial Award (First place)
Awarded to medical students demonstrating academic, research and leadership excellence.
2021 Fighting Blindness Canada’ s Eye On The Cure Competition –
Inspirational Award (Co-lead)
Awarded nationally to vision scientists with innovative research ideas that are well communicated.
2016, 18 & 21 Best Presentation Award – Ophthalmology Research Day (3x)
Awarded to the student with the best presentation at the annual UofC Ophthalmology Research Day.
2020 John M. S. Lecky Family Award in Medicine
Awarded to medical students with high academic performance at the Cumming School of Medicine.
2014 – 20 Till & Mc Culloch Annual Conference Travel Awards (6x)
Awarded by the Canadian Stem Cell Network to students conducting cutting-edge stem cell research.
2015, 17 & 18 Biomedical Engineering Research Scholarship (6x)
Awarded to Biomedical Engineering graduate students displaying academic and research excellence.
2018 Graduate Representative Council Initiative Award
Awarded to graduate students who have led an impactful initiative at the University of Calgary.
2016 & 17 Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute Award (2x)
Awarded to PhD students demonstrating research, academic and leadership excellence.
2016 & 17 Queen Elizabeth I I Graduate (PhD) Award (2x)
Awarded to PhD students demonstrating academic, research and leadership excellence.
2014 & 17 Biomedical Engineering & Graduate Studies Travel Awards (3x) $2,000
2014 Government of Alberta Graduate Student Scholarship $3,000
2014 Biomedical Engineering Outstanding Academic Performance Award
Awarded to graduate students achieving outstanding academic performance in year 1 (GPA 4.0).
2008 University of Victoria Entrance Scholarship
Awarded to students with outstanding academic performance in grade 12.
2008 President’s Renewable Entrance Scholarship – University of Windsor
Awarded for demonstrating strong academic potential and graduating grade 12 with >95% average. DECLINED
2021 UofC Department of Surgery COVID- 19 Research Grant Support the development of a cataract surgical simulator and a point-of-view surgical recording system. (With Drs. P. Gooi and P. Huang) $5,400
2021 Calgary Eye Foundation Research Grant (Co-applicant) (2x) Support the purchase of a 3D printer and a supercomputer. These grants are awarded to outstanding research initiatives. (With Drs. Chung, Costello and Benard-Seguin) $5,000
2020 Neuro Nexus Challenge 1 ST Place Prize (Team Grant) Worked in a multidisciplinary team to develop a deep learning algorithm to diagnose optic neuritis. $10,000
2017 – 20 Innovation 4 Health Co- founder – Fundraising Collaborated with the other co-founders to fundraise cash prizes and in-kind services to run this program. Fundraised >$80,000 in cash and >$250,000 in-kind services. $80,000
2014 – 17 Stem Cell Talks Co- director – Fundraising Collaborated with co-director to fundraise >$30,000 from various research institutes and industry. Utilized to cover guest speakers’ flights, student transportation and food. $30,000
2014 & 15 Biomedical Engineering Equipment Grant Competition (2x) Grants to purchase necessary equipment for various research projects. $9,000

Research Projects

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Recent Publications