Posts tagged ‘University of Toronto’
Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation Reza Moridi came to the University of Toronto on January 20 with news that brightened up a cold day: the province is investing $190 million over the next six years to help attract and retain top researchers, develop innovative technologies, increase investment and create jobs.
The new funding will see $65 million going to the Ontario Research Fund’s Research Excellence program (ORF-RE) and $125 million to the Research Infrastructure (ORF-RI) program.
ORF-RE provides research institutions with funding to help support the operational costs of large-scale transformative research of strategic value to Ontario.
One of Canada’s pre-eminent researchers, Dr. Kathy Siminovitch, played a leading role in a study that identifies over 40 new genetic links to rheumatoid arthritis, published in Nature on December 25, 2103. The discovery opens the door to a personalized approach to treating the autoimmune disorder, allowing medications to target a person’s individual genetic make up.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a leading cause of disability world-wide, afflicting up to one in a hundred individuals, according to World Health Organization estimates. About half of adults with the autoimmune disease are unable to work full time within 10 years of diagnosis. The findings of this study by an international consortium of researchers, including Dr. Siminovitch, offer new potential targets for therapy. She is the Director of the Office of Personalized Genomics and Innovative Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital and a Senior Investigator at the hospital’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto, Canada.
A new method of maturing human heart cells that simulates the natural growth environment of heart cells while applying electrical pulses to mimic the heart rate of fetal humans has led researchers at the University of Toronto to an electrifying step forward for cardiac research.
The discovery, announced this week in the scientific journal Nature Methods, offers cardiac researchers a fast and reliable method of creating mature human cardiac patches in a range of sizes.
“You cannot obtain human cardiomyocytes (heart cells) from human patients,” explains Milica Radisic, Canada Research Chair in Functional Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering and Associate Professor at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and the Department of Chemical Engineering. Because human heart cells – integral for studying the efficacy of cardiac drugs, for instance – do not naturally proliferate in large numbers, to date researchers have been using heart cells derived from reprogrammed human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC’s), which tend to be too immature to use effectively in research or transplantation.
“The question is: if you want to test drugs or treat adult patients, do you want to use cells and look like and function like fetal cardiomyocytes?” asks Radisic, who was named a “Top Innovator Under 35” by MIT Technology Review and more recently was awarded the Order of Ontario and the Young Engineers of Canada 2012 Achievement Award. “Can we mature these cells to become more like adult cells?”
Want to learn more? Read: “Can Frankenstein and a Baby’s Heartbeat Unlock the Mysteries of Stem Cells?“
Internationally renowned Mount Sinai scientist Dr. Jeff Wrana received The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal this month from Prime Minister Stephen Harper in honour of his innovative research efforts and discovery in cancer. The commemorative medal was created last year by the Governor General of Canada to mark the 60th anniversary of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
“Jeff is recognized internationally as one of Canada’s leading and most exciting cancer researchers so it’s truly wonderful that he is receiving this honour for helping to reduce the burden of this disease,” says Dr. Jim Woodgett, Director of Research at Mount Sinai’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute.
A Senior Investigator at Mount Sinai’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and Professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Molecular Genetics, Dr. Wrana studies the molecular basis of metastatic cancer and seeks to understand the processes by which tumour cells spread. Having made significant discoveries related to colorectal and other cancers, he is currently focused on advancing research and care in breast cancer. Dr. Wrana holds a Canada Research Chair in Systems Biology and is the Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
It’s a discovery that could lead to new therapies for people with brain injuries or neurodegenerative diseases: a common diabetes drug can help turn brain stem cells into nerve cells.
The study, led by Dr. Freda Miller, Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto and Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is published in the July 5 advance online edition of Cell Stem Cell.
Canada’s most coveted stem cell prize is going to a University of Toronto researcher who has only been working with the life-giving cells for a short time.
The Stem Cell Network has given the 2012 Till & McCulloch Award to Aaron Schimmer, an associate professor in U of T’s departments of medicine and medical biophysics.
The annual award recognizes the most influential peer-reviewed article on stem cells by a researcher in Canada. Schimmer was honoured for his paper on drug screening techniques for leukemic stem cells, published in the November 2011 issue of the scientific journal Cancer Cell.
A post-doctoral researcher at the University of Toronto’s Institute for Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering has discovered a technique that will take stem cell production to a whole new level. David Fluri, a post-doc in Peter Zandstra‘s lab, published an article in Nature Methods describing a technique for growing stem cells in suspension. Until now, stem cells have been grow on adherent surfaces which has a limiting effect on the number of stem cells that can be produced. Fluri’s discovery will allow stem cells to be grown in a bioreactor, thereby enabling scientists to significantly upscale the amount of cells produced, allowing the process to become more compatible with commercial processes used in research and drug development.
For more information see Growing where no cell has grown before.
Shafa, Mehdi. (2012-4-8) Derivation of iPSCs in stirred suspension bioreactors. Nature Methods. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1973