Lewis Kay - Recipient of a 2017 Canada Gairdner International Award

Lewis Kay - Recipient of a 2017 Canada Gairdner International Award

Dr. Lewis Kay has been recognized with a 2017 Canada Gairdner International Award “For the development of modern NMR spectroscopy for studies of biomolecular structure dynamics and function, including applications to molecular machines and rare protein conformations.” Dr. Kay, a professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Chemistry is the 1st Canadian to win this award since 2008.

Gairdner

Globe & Mail

 

Ryan Gaudet - 2017 Winner of the Barbara Vivash Award in Molecular Genetics

Ryan Gaudet - 2017 Winner of the Barbara Vivash Award in Molecular Genetics

Dr. Ryan Gaudet is the 2017 winner of the Barbara Vivash Award in Molecular Genetics for his thesis, TIFA-Mediated Innate Immune Recognition of the Bacterial Metabolite HBP and its Role in Host Defense. This award acknowledges the most outstanding Ph.D. thesis defended during the 2015/2016 academic year. Nominees for this award must have produced a major work of scholarship that has led to significant advance in understanding the molecular genetics mechanisms underlying an important biological process. This is in addition to having written an outstanding thesis and conducted an excellent oral defence. 

Dr. Julie Brill & Dr. William Navarre Win Undergraduate Teaching Awards

Dr. Julie Brill & Dr. William Navarre Win Undergraduate Teaching Awards

Dr. Julie Brill is the 2017 recipient of the Excellence in Undergraduate Laboratory Teaching in Life Sciences Award. The award recognizes Dr. Brill's sustained excellence in teaching, coordination and development of laboratory based instruction in life sciences laboratory courses.

Dr. William Navarre is the 2017 recipient of Excellence in Linking Undergraduate Teaching to Research in Life Sciences Award. The award recognizes Dr. Navarre's sustained excellence, mentorship and innovative methods that link undergraduate teaching to experiential research opportunities in Arts and Science offered by the Basic Sciences Departments in the Faculty of Medicine. 

3rd Annual Career Development Symposium

3rd Annual Career Development Symposium

Our third annual Career Development Symposium will take place June 9, 2017!

Join us for:

  • Round table career discussions with alumni
  • A panel on career trajectories with alumni
  • A Q & A with our alumni
  • Wine and cheese networking session

Current Molecular Genetics students, trainees, alumni, staff and faculty can register here.

Faculty Position Available

Faculty Position Available

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream
Department of Molecular Genetics
, University of Toronto

Medical Genomics

The Department of Molecular Genetics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto invites applications for a teaching-stream appointment in the area of Medical Genomics. The successful candidate will serve as the inaugural Director of our Professional Master’s in Medical Genomics, and will have a key role in genetics and genomics education in the Department. The appointment will be at the rank of Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, and will commence on July 1, 2017.

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent in Human Genetics, Genomic Medicine, Molecular Genetics, Genetics, or a closely related field by the time of appointment. An established record of excellence in research is required, as demonstrated by publications in leading journals, presentations at significant conferences, awards and accolades, and strong endorsement by referees of high international standing. The successful candidate must have expertise with genomics methodologies, human genetics, statistics, and communication of genetic information. Candidates must also have a deep understanding of the impact of genomics on medical practice. Postdoctoral experience would be an asset, as would experience in the private sector and experience with project management and building partnerships. The successful candidate must have experience with course and curriculum development, and must demonstrate teaching excellence at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as experience and demonstrated commitment to excellent pedagogical practices. This evidence can include performance as a course instructor or teaching assistant, experience leading successful workshops or seminars, student mentorship, or excellent conference presentations or posters, as well as the teaching dossier submitted as part of the application.

The Department of Molecular Genetics (http://www.moleculargenetics.utoronto.ca/#our-research-focus) holds a leadership position in Canada and internationally as a premier venue for biomedical and genomics research and education. We are an engaged and collaborative community with over 100 faculty members that fosters exceptional innovation and discovery. Our faculty, fellows, and students are highly acclaimed for pioneering phenomenal advances in some of the most exciting areas of modern science with a profound impact on human health. The University of Toronto has one of the most concentrated biomedical research communities in the world, including 10 academic hospitals/research institutes that are all fully affiliated with the University. This community attracts greater than $800M in annual research investment.

The successful candidate will be expected to have a key role in genetics and genomics education in Molecular Genetics, and to serve as Director of our new MHSc in Medical Genomics. This new program will provide medical trainees, research scientists, and laboratory professionals with the theory and practical knowledge necessary to incorporate genomics data into medical practice. This new program will consist of a core set of lecture, discussion, and project-based courses across a two-year program duration. In addition to lecture-based learning, students will participate in a capstone practicum during the final academic term of the program with a focus on patient interaction and laboratory data generation. The candidate will have a leadership role in student recruitment and admissions, teaching courses and recruitment of other faculty to participate in teaching, development of online course modules, applying for educational grants, networking to establish research positions in the final term, and finding routes to employment for graduates.

Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Applicants should submit a single PDF that includes (in order): 1) a one-page summary that includes education/training history, citations of the applicant’s most important publications (up to five), and a 350-word abstract of their teaching philosophy; 2) a cover letter; 3) a curriculum vitae; 4) a teaching dossier comprised of a teaching philosophy statement, sample course materials, course evaluations, and other evidence of teaching excellence. Submission guidelines can be found at http://uoft.me/how-to-apply . Applicants should also arrange to have three letters of reference sent directly by the referee (on letterhead, signed and scanned) to Dr. Leah Cowen at mogen.chair@utoronto.ca . Inquiries should be sent to mogen.chair@utoronto.ca.

Deadline for applications (including reference letters): April 18th, 2017.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

As part of your application, you will be asked to complete a brief Diversity Survey. This survey is voluntary. Any information directly related to you is confidential and cannot be accessed by search committees or human resources staff. Results will be aggregated for institutional planning purposes. For more information, please see http://uoft.me/UP.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, priority will be given to Canadians and permanent residents.

For further details and to apply online, please visit: https://utoronto.taleo.net/careersection/10050/jobdetail.ftl?job=1700340  

 

Samuel Lambert is One of this Year's Winners of the Jennifer Dorrington Graduate Research Award

Samuel Lambert is One of this Year's Winners of the Jennifer Dorrington Graduate Research Award

"After graduating in biology from the University of Guelph, Lambert joined Professor Timothy Hughes’ group, which is among world-leading in studying how cells read the genome. Each cell in the human body contains the exact same genetic information, yet brain cells are very different from heart cells, which are again different from, say, cells that make up the liver. What makes one cell different from another is a set of genes that is switched on at any given time. In fact, all biological processes, from intricate patterning of butterfly wings to foetal development, are underpinned by the right genes being switched on in the right cells at the right time. When this process breaks down, it can lead to disease.

During his PhD, Lambert has been studying proteins called transcription factors (TFs), which bind DNA to turn genes on or off. TFs do this by triggering or halting, respectively, the transcription of genes' sequences into instructions for making proteins, the building blocks of life. TFs recognize specific landing sequences in the DNA, and Lambert’s project focused on finding the diversity of sites for TFs in different organisms. Contrary to previous thinking, Lambert found that similar TFs from closely related species often recognize different sites in DNA. He then showed that the same is true across the tree of life suggesting that TF binding differences may be part of the driving force behind evolution.

This is Lambert’s second Dorrington Research Award, having first received it while he was a Master’s student. “With the generous support from the Dorrington family, I continued my research in what I think is one of the most fascinating questions in biology. The hope is that if we can understand how cells normally perform these functions we’d have a better clue at how to fix it when it goes awry in disease,” says Lambert.

Expecting to graduate in less than five years from starting his PhD, Lambert is planning his next move. “For my postdoc, I would like to join a lab where I can combine what I’ve learned about gene transcription in my PhD with human genetics to better predict our risk for disease,” he says.

The award was established by the Dorrington family in 2006 as a tribute to Dr. Jennifer Dorrington, who was a professor in the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research. Dorrington’s pioneering research greatly advanced our understanding of reproductive biology and ovarian cancer."

See full story here

Donnelly Teams Sweep National Funding Grants

Donnelly Teams Sweep National Funding Grants

By Jovana Drinjakovic

Dr. Sachdev Sidhu

Dr. Sachdev Sidhu

Five Donnelly Centre teams have won Genome Canada’s Disruptive Innovation in Genomics grants in support of research projects totalling more than $6 million. The competition was set to boost development of technologies that have a potential to transform and speed up the commercialization of biomedical discovery.

Dr. Igor Stagljar

Dr. Igor Stagljar

Professors Sachdev Sidhu and Igor Stagljar received advanced Phase Two grants — the sole two grants awarded in Ontario — to further advance their technologies for the study of disease-related proteins. Stagljar was also awarded an early stage grant, along with Professors Charlie Boone, Jason Moffat and Andrew Emili for proposals that tackle how genes and proteins work together in human cells.

The awarded projects will advance our understanding of genetic and protein networks. Genes code for proteins, which make up our cells and do most of the work in them. But no protein acts alone, and it is when these molecular interactions are disrupted that disease occurs. The trick is then to find the Achilles Heel of the disease and target it selectively in a way that does not harm healthy cells and tissues.

Dr. Jason Moffat

Dr. Jason Moffat

Professors Charles Boone and Jason Moffat Recent advances in genomic technologies have allowed scientists to hunt for genetic causes of diseases faster than ever before. With Genome Canada’s support, these Donnelly teams will develop new ways of finding precise molecular antidotes to target diseases, including cancer.

Dr. Charlie Boone

Dr. Charlie Boone

Boone and Moffat teams, in collaboration with Professor Brenda Andrews’ group, will use the genome editing CRISPR technology to hunt for genes in cancer cells that help tumours evade available treatments. Working together with Sidhu, they will create selective, protein-based compounds to block the molecules that give cancer its competitive edge in order to stall its growth. These compounds can then be further developed to be tested on patients, together with already available drugs, as combination therapies.

Professor Sachdev Sidhu With previous funding from Genome Canada, Sidhu and Moffat have already established a platform for generating protein-based drugs to target disease proteins found at the cell’s surface. In less than six years, they have created hundreds of anti-cancer compounds, and many of these have been licensed or partnered with the pharmaceutical industry through the University of Toronto’s Centre for Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics (CCAB), which was co-founded by Sidhu and Moffat in 2014. Several of these compounds are on track to reach the clinic as early as 2018. The current grant will allow Sidhu to expand the strategy to also include proteins that are found inside cells.

Professor Igor Stagljar Stagljar’s team will tackle membrane proteins, which are tucked inside a layer that surrounds each cell and its inner compartments, and which are often mutated in cancer and many other diseases. The researchers will expand their technology for detecting membrane protein interactions to include every type of human cell. This will then allow them to identify those interactions that only occur in a disease state and screen for compounds that selectively block them in search of new treatments - an approach that was already shown to work for the most common type of lung cancer.

The awarding of Phase Two grants was conditional on the researchers securing two thirds of total project costs from external sources. Both Sidhu and Stagljar have raised the funds through their start-up companies, Ubiquitech and Protein Network Sciences, respectively, with Stagljar also securing support from Genentech, a pharmaceutical giant based in San Francisco.

Dr. Andrew Emili

Dr. Andrew Emili

Professor Andrew Emili To gain a thorough view of each protein’s whereabouts in cells, Emili’s team will build a new sub-microscopic imaging technology for studying each and every one of the many millions of individual protein molecules in human cells and tissues in unprecedented detail. This will allow scientists to understand how biological systems work at the molecular level and will provide clinicians with a tool to diagnose diseases like cancer faster and more accurately.

Genome Canada is a not-for-profit organization, funded by the Government of Canada, that supports research in genomics and development of genomic technologies. Learn more about Genome Canada here.

 

Dr. Gingras & Dr. Taipale - Newest Canada Research Chairs

Dr. Gingras & Dr. Taipale - Newest Canada Research Chairs

Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras

Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras

Dr. Mikko Taipale

Dr. Mikko Taipale

Molecular Genetics faculty members Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras (Functional Proteomics) and Mikko Taipale (Functional Proteomics & Protein Homeostasis). are among the University of Toronto's 25 new Canada Research Chairs.

Dr. Keith Pardee

Dr. Keith Pardee

Molecular Genetics alumnus, Dr. Keith Pardee, now in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, is also a new Canada Research Chair in Synthetic Biology in Human Health.

 

 

Read More

Monica Justice - Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Monica Justice - Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has awarded the distinction of Fellow to Professor Monica Justice (Department of Molecular Genetics). Professor Justice is the head of, and a senior scientist in, the Genetics and Genome Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children.

Professor Justice was recognized for her contributions to the genetics field, particularly for development of mouse as a model for identifying disease genes and elucidating therapies for human diseases. More

Full list of recipients

MoGenNews Issue 8

MoGenNews Issue 8

Issue 8 of the MoGeNews is now available. Find out about Departmental activities, research, education, new initiatives and the successes of our faculty and trainees.

Molecular Genetics Retreat 2016

Molecular Genetics Retreat 2016

We gathered for our 2016 Molecular Genetics Retreat at Geneva Park YMCA, on September 21st-23rd.  The retreat was organized by Julie Lefebvre Jim Rini and Leah Cowen, with the assistance of Amanda Veri, Sabrina Stanley and their GSA team.  Our new Department Chair, Leah Cowen, organized an excellent scientific program of 15 faculty talks that captured the diversity and excellence of the research ongoing in MoGen.

 The retreat kicked off on Wednesday evening for first-year students and faculty members with a faculty-student mixer dinner and the always entertaining Power Hour.  Each faculty member was held to a strict 3-minute/1 slide presentation during which they could pitch their research to the students. Power Hour has become a retreat tradition and in this hilarious night we see how some PIs have perfected the art of timing and how some still have not. 

 On Thursday, the remaining attendees arrived for our largest turn-out yet: 42 PIs, 74 rotation students, 114 graduate students, 12 post-docs/staff, and 17 undergraduate MoGen specialists. The day began with opening remarks from Leah Cowen and 2 sessions of talks, including one by our newest MoGen faculty member, Jeehye Park. Our faculty-student sport showdown was diluted by rain, but a hardy group still went out for a friendly soccer game. The poster session followed in the late afternoon, with a record 110 presentations. The rooms were buzzing with MoGen members presenting their work or learning about their peers’ research. The quality of the poster session was impressive and illustrated the superb research being performed by our trainees. Poster judging turned out to be a tough task and 8 posters were selected for cash awards. Many thanks go out to all of the professors and senior graduate students who volunteered as judges.

And that was all before sundown. We followed with our Molecular Genetics portrait, and then dinner and the awards presentation. Dinner entertainment was once again provided by the GSA. Their clever take on the BBC’s “Would I Lie to You“, revealed some of our faculty’s bizarre or fabricated life experiences.  The celebrations went into the night at the fire pits and the Muskoka House and with music and dancing in the Barn.  With stamina we continued with another great set of talks on Friday morning.

Our 2016 retreat was another success! We thank the entire retreat organizing committee and the GSA for making the retreat one of the year's highlights. See you next year!

Poster winners

Xuefei Yuan and Dr. Leah Cowen

Xuefei Yuan and Dr. Leah Cowen

Ben Grys & Dr. Leah Cowen

Ben Grys & Dr. Leah Cowen

Co-1st place

Xuefei Yuan (Ian Scott &  M. Wilson labs)

From mammals to fish and back again: discovering new regulators of early cardiac development

Ben Grys (Brenda Andrews & Charlie Boone labs)

Global Analysis of Molecular Fluctuations Associated with Cell Cycle Progression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Honourable Mentions

Minggao Liang (Michael Wilson lab)

 Rewiring of enhancer-gene interactions drives PLAU overexpression in the pathogenesis of Quebec Platelet Disorder

Azad Alizada (Michael Wilson lab)

Epigenetic Regulation and Evolution of Endothelial Cell Inflammation

Alyssa Molinaro (Bret Pearson lab)

A “nu” perspective on planarian stem cells

Fiona Bergin (Kenichi Okamoto lab)

Optogenetic control of Phosphodiesterase activity in living neurons

Tyler Luyben (Kenichi Okamoto lab)

Rapid cAMP signaling regulates postsynaptic modification underlying the synaptic plasticity of memory

Ernest Radovani (Greenblatt and T. Hughes labs)

Gene regulation by the human C2H2 zinc finger proteins

Graduate Information Days

Graduate Information Days

What: Molecular Genetics M.Sc./Ph.D. Graduate Programs & QBMG/CBMG PhD tracks Application Information Sessions

When: Tues. Nov. 8th, 5-6:30 pm. , Wed. Nov. 9th, 5-6:30 pm., Thurs. Nov. 10th 5-6:30 (QBMG/CBMG tracks only)

Where: MoGen Interacthome, Medical Sciences Building #4284, 1 King's College Circle

Come Talk with professors about how to apply and learn about a career in science!

Fee pop and pizza!

RSVP required by Nov. 4th

Next application deadline is Nov. 15th, 2016

Genetic Counselling Career Information Day

Genetic Counselling Career Information Day

Want to hear more about the genetic counselling profession and get a chance to meet our genetic counsellors? The Genetic Counselling graduate program is holding a Career Information Day on Friday, November 25th. For more information and registration details, please contact: Vanessa.Luk@sickkids.ca. Spaces are limited.

Registration Form

Dr. Mikko Taipale -  One of Eighteen Inaugural CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

Dr. Mikko Taipale - One of Eighteen Inaugural CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

Dr. Mikko Taipale

Dr. Mikko Taipale

Dr. Mikko Taipale is among 18 exceptional early-career investigators appointed to the new CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars Program. The program funds and supports researchers within five years of their first academic appointment, helping them build research networks and develop essential skills needed to become leaders in global research. 

More about CIFAR

More about Dr Taipale's work

 

Professor Brenda Andrews Awarded Companion of the Order of Canada

Professor Brenda Andrews Awarded Companion of the Order of Canada

By Jovana Drinjakovic

Professor Brenda Andrews, Director of the Donnelly Centre, has been awarded the Order of Canada. Andrews was named a Companion of the Order – the highest civilian honour in the country - for her “globally significant research in systems biology and for developing and nurturing prominent scientific communities in molecular genetics,” the Governor General’s office said in its citation.

Professor Brenda Andrews with Governor General David Johnston (Photo by Vincent Carbonneau)

Professor Brenda Andrews with Governor General David Johnston (Photo by Vincent Carbonneau)

“It feels incredible to be awarded this honour, given all the other people who have been honoured by the Companion of the Order of Canada. I am humbled,” Andrews said earlier this year.

Governor General David Johnston also gave the honours to U of T President Meric Gertler and several faculty members, whose appointments were announced on December 30 last year.

“Brenda Andrews has moved Canada to the forefront of large-scale genetic studies. Her research has illuminated how diseases are influenced by interactions among entire networks of genes. The innovative techniques she has developed for analyzing these interactions have been adopted by scientists around the world and are helping researchers respond to complex hereditary diseases,” the Governor General’s office said on its website.

"I am thrilled to congratulate Professor Andrews on this wonderful and deserved honour. Brenda is well known at home and internationally for her high-impact research, as well as her leadership, which is reflected in the mounting successes of the Donnelly Centre," said Dean Trevor Young.

Just last week, Andrews’ team, in collaboration with Professors Charles Boone, of the Donnelly Centre and Chad Myers, of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, unveiled a landmark study, in a leading scientific journal Science, that begins to explain how thousands of genes coordinate with one another to orchestrate cellular life. The findings will help shed light on the causes of complex genetic diseases.

Andrews, who is also a professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and holds the Charles H. Best Chair of Medical Research at U of T. Andrews’ more recent awards also include:

  • JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto, 2013 (inaugural award)
  • The Emil Christian Hansen Award for Microbiology, The Carlsberg Foundation, Copenhagen (with Charles Boone), 2013
  • Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology, 2012
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2011
  • Ira Herskowitz Award, Genetics Society of America, 2010

After completing her PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry with Dr. Paul Sadowski at U of T, Andrews obtained her postdoctoral training in genetics with Dr. Ira Herskowitz at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Andrews returned to U of T as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics to start her own research group and was elected Chair of Department in 1999.

Around this time, Andrews began to collaborate with Professor Charles Boone to lay the backbones of the emerging field of genetic networks that aims to understand how genes work co-operatively, rather than as single players, to determine cells’ health and behaviour.

Faculty Position Available

Faculty Position Available

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream
Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto
Molecular Genetics Online & Undergraduate Education

The Department of Molecular Genetics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto invites applications for a teaching-stream appointment in the area of Molecular Genetics online and undergraduate education. The appointment will be at the rank of Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, and will commence on December 1, 2016.

The successful candidate must have a PhD in Molecular Genetics, Genetics, Microbiology, or a closely related field by the date of appointment. Postdoctoral experience is desirable. Candidates must have experience in the design and delivery of online educational content, including video production, podcast production, syllabus design, and assessment design. Candidates must have experience with course development and managing teaching assistants, as well as a demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching, as evidenced by strong endorsements from referees, teaching accomplishments, teaching evaluations, course syllabi, and evidence of outstanding communication skills.

The candidate will be expected to have a key role in Molecular Genetics teaching and online education. A central responsibility will be to coordinate online courses. This will involve training and managing teaching assistants, coordinating timely responses to student queries, and developing online materials, including videos and animations. The candidate will also provide guidance for the development of additional online courses in the Department. It is expected that the candidate would have experience with video recording and editing software, and would engage with seminars and classes that promote best practices in teaching, online education, and management of student affairs.

The candidate will also be expected to have a key role in administration of the undergraduate program in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, with support from an administrative staff member and in partnership with the Undergraduate Coordinator. The candidate would have responsibilities that include tracking enrollment in our program and courses, assessing course equivalencies, evaluating applicants for the Specialist and Major programs, attending curriculum meetings, curating information on course and program requirements, responding to student queries, tracking student program completion, managing student co-curricular records, engaging with the Molecular Genetics Student Union, engaging with extra-departmental student groups, and facilitating student placements for our summer program and second year Specialists program. The candidate will also assist with resolution of issues concerning academic integrity, and will have extensive interaction with the Departmental Executive Committee.

Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Applicants should submit a single PDF that includes (in order): 1) a cover letter; 2) a curriculum vitae; and 3) a teaching dossier comprised of a teaching philosophy statement, sample course materials, course evaluations, and other evidence of teaching excellence. Submission guidelines can be found at here. Applicants should also arrange for three confidential letters of recommendation, on letterhead and signed, to be sent directly by the referee to Dr. Leah Cowen.  Inquiries should be addressed to mogen.chair@utoronto.ca.

Deadline for applications (including reference letters): October 13, 2016.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

As part of your application, you will be asked to complete a brief Diversity Survey. This survey is voluntary. Any information directly related to you is confidential and cannot be accessed by search committees or human resources staff. Results will be aggregated for institutional planning purposes. For more information, please see http://uoft.me/UP.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority