Four of the Fifteen University of Toronto faculty members named Canada Research Chairs are members of the Department of Molecular Genetics. In addition, 13 Canada Research Chairs were renewed, including 3 from Molecular Genetics.
"A professor of molecular genetics, Dr. Andrews is the director of the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research and an alumna who completed her PhD in medical biophysics at U of T. Dr. Andrews’s current research interests include analysis of genetic interaction networks in budding yeast and mammalian cells. She sits on many editorial and advisory boards and is the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Genes|Genomes|Genetics, an open access journal of the Genetics Society of America. Andrews is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology." See full story here.
Dr. Aaron Reinke, our top candidate in the MoGen search "Molecular Microbiology & Infectious Disease", will join the Department as an Assistant Professor in September 2017, on the 16th floor of the MaRS West Tower. His research program is focused on a unique model system of microsporidial parasites that infect worms, specifically studying co-evolution of Caenorhabditis nematode hosts and Nematocida pathogens. His research encompasses interdisciplinary approaches with biochemistry, genetics, systems biology, and technology development. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis, and his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Amy Keating’s laboratory studying bZIP-mediated protein-protein interaction networks using biophysical approaches. During his postdoctoral work with Emily Troemel at the University of California, San Diego, he has developed technology to identify microsporidian effector proteins with tissue and subcellular specificity in C. elegans, and has leveraged genomic analyses to dissect mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions.
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.
Seminar and Award Ceremony: June 26th, 2017 @ 2PM in MSB 4171
Dr. Thomas Hurd, our top candidate in the MoGen search "Genetic Models of Development & Disease", will join the Department as an Assistant Professor in January 2018, on the 15th floor of the MaRS West Tower. He studies mitochondrial biology in Drosophila and mammalian cells. His research program will focus on determining how mitochondrial DNA is inherited through the female germline, and how mitochondria influence stem cell fate and differentiation in vivo, with a long-term interest in applying this knowledge to develop better protocols for reprogramming and differentiating human stem cells in vitro. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Toronto, his PhD at the University of Cambridge in Mike Murphy’s laboratory at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, and his postdoctoral work with Ruth Lehmann at NYU School of Medicine.
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.
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.
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.
Deadline to register extended to May 24.
Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream
Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . Inquiries should be sent to email@example.com.
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
"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
Congratulations to Dr. Julie Claycomb, 2016-2017 recipient of the Early Career Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentorship Award. The award recognizes Dr. Claycomb's outstanding contribution to the training of her graduate students through teaching, supervision and mentorship.
By Jovana Drinjakovic
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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