Dr. John Roder, 1950-2018

Dr. John Roder, 1950-2018

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Dr. John Carlin Roder, FRSC, passed away on Saturday, January 6, 2018.
 
John held an appointment in Molecular Genetics from 1987, until his retirement. He was one of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute's first scientists, recruited by Lou Siminovitch in 1985 from Queens University, and he spent over 30 years at LTRI as a Senior Scientist.

John was an amazing scientist and truly caring person. In mid-career, he decided to switch his entire scientific focus from natural killer cells and immunology to the genetics of neuroscience, and went on to become a world leader in this field.
 
Our deepest condolences to John’s wife, Mary-Lou, and to John's family. Canada has lost a giant in neuroscience, they have lost a most wonderful man.

- Dr. Leah Cowen, Professor & Chair
 
See Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute announcement

See The Toronto Star obituary

Medical Genomics Information Session November 30, 2017

Medical Genomics Information Session November 30, 2017

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Thursday, 30 November 2017, 5-6pm
Red Room, Donnelly Centre
160 College Street
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8

Are you interested in a career in genomics? Would you like to strengthen your professional profile with solid knowledge and skills in modern genetics? In this info session we will present the new Master's program, answer your questions, and you can meet students and faculty from the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto.

We are looking for enthusiastic and engaged students who have either a clinical or a B.Sc. background, and who are interested in pursuing a career in medical genomics. This is a full time course-based Master’s program which takes place over 20 months. Students will become well-versed in different aspects of genomics, and will engage with renowned faculty and clinicians who are at the cutting edge of biomedical research, pharmacogenomics, and human genetics to recognize and address pressing questions in the field of medical genomics.

If you plan to attend the info event, please RSVP.

Dr. Janet Rossant honoured by UNESCO-L'Oreal

Dr. Janet Rossant honoured by UNESCO-L'Oreal

"By showcasing the achievements of top female scientists, the annual awards may encourage more women and girls to consider a career in science. Women remain underrepresented in the field, with fewer than three per cent of Nobel prizes given to women since the award’s inception."

See full article

Graduate Information Days Oct 23 & Oct 30

Graduate Information Days Oct 23 & Oct 30

What: Molecular Genetics M.Sc./Ph.D. Graduate Programs and Application Info Sessions

When: MON. Oct 23rd, 5-6:30 pm. , Mon. Oct 30th, 5-6:30 pm

The sessions are the same - you only need to attend one!

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!

Free pop and pizza!

RSVP required by Oct 20th

Next application deadline is Nov. 15th, 2017

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Molecular Genetics Retreat 2017

Molecular Genetics Retreat 2017

The 2017 Department of Molecular Genetics Annual Retreat and Power Hour, was held September 20-22rd at YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre on Lake Couchiching in Orillia.

The Retreat began with a Power Hour where faculty members presented their lab's research to our new rotation students in 3 minutes with one prepared slide. The remainder of the Retreat involve faculty talks and a poster session presented by faculty, students, post-docs and staff. Entertainment on Thursday evening was organized by our graduate students.

Congratulations to our Poster Prize Winners:

Duah, Kwamaa (Cowen lab), Chloe Rose (Ciruna lab), Liu, Shixuan (Kafri lab), Ashrut Narula (Rissland), Michael Pryszlak (B. Pearson lab), Daniel Witvliet (Zhen Lab) and Eesha Sharma, (Blencowe lab)

Congratulations to the Departmental Award Winners:

Harley O'Connor Mount (Ensminger Lab) - L.W. Macpherson Award

Kaitlin Laverty (Hughes/Morris Labs) - Roman Pakula Award

Dustin Ammendolia (Brummell Lab) - Norman Bethune Award

Elissa Currie (Gray-Owen Lab) - Eric Hani Fellowship

Photographs: Dr. Mikko Taipale

 

5 MoGen Students Win the 2017 Cecil Yip Doctoral Research Award

5 MoGen Students Win the 2017 Cecil Yip Doctoral Research Award

Author: Jovana Drinjakovic

Ten PhD candidates who come from diverse training backgrounds, and are enrolled in different U of T graduate programs, have been awarded the Cecil Yip Doctoral Research Award, the award committee has announced. The prestigious award is given annually to first year graduate students who do their doctoral research in the Donnelly Centre and whose proposed projects extend beyond traditional scientific field boundaries. This year’s successful candidates come from three U of T departments: Molecular Genetics (MoGen), Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry (ChemE) and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME).

“This year’s candidates exemplified the unique interdisciplinary environment and collaborative culture of the Donnelly Centre. The diverse backgrounds of the candidates, ranging from biology to engineering and philosophy, and, in some cases, extensive industrial experience, clearly demonstrates how the Donnelly Centre attracts those who are keen to work in areas outside of their comfort zone on some of the most challenging questions in biomedicine,” says Professor Christopher Yip, Associate Vice-President of International Partnerships and Chair of the Yip Doctoral Award Committee.

Benjamin Kingston, Jessica Ngai and Wayne Ngo Research at the intersection of biology and engineering has the potential to develop new methods for delivering drugs precisely when and where they are needed in order to target cancer for example, or spur on tissue regeneration to heal damage or injury. Mr. Benjamin Kingston (IBBME), Ms. Jessica Ngai (ChemE) and Mr. Wayne Ngo (IBBME) in the Chan lab are studying how tiny nanoparticles can be better engineered to deliver cancer drugs directly into tumours to avoid the all-out toxic assault on the body that typically comes with chemotherapy.

Alaura Androschuk To boost repair of nerves damaged by, say, high blood glucose that can cause diabetic patients to lose all feeling in arms and legs, Ms. Alaura Androschuk (IBBME, Sefton) is investigating if a biomaterial, previously discovered by the lab to promote healing of the muscle, can also drive nerve repair.

Clarence Hue Lok Yeung and Daniel Merritt

Clarence Hue Lok Yeung and Daniel Merritt

Investigating cellular processes in easy-to-study organisms such as yeast and worms can reveal basic principles of biology that apply to all animals but would be very hard to study in humans. To understand how cells change with age, Mr. Clarence Hue Lok Yeung (Mogen, Andrews and Boone) is investigating complex genetic networks that drive the aging process in yeast cells. And Mr. Daniel Merritt (Mogen, van der Kooy lab) is taking advantage of nematode worms as a model system for understanding the molecular basis of how animals detect smell.

Alexander Sasse and Kaitlin Laverty

Alexander Sasse and Kaitlin Laverty

One of the greatest outstanding questions in biology is how cells interpret the genetic information encoded in the DNA and its RNA copies that contain the blueprint for making proteins, the building blocks of life. The so-called RNA binding proteins (RBPs) play an important role by ensuring that an RNA message is correctly prepared before being translated into a protein, but it remains unclear how the RBPs recognize the countless RNA molecules and act on them appropriately. Mr. Alexander Sasse (Mogen, Morris) and Ms. Kaitlin Laverty (Mogen, Hughes and Morris) are tackling this problem by developing advanced computational models for predicting which RBPs bind which RNA molecules.

Dmitri Segal and Greg Martyn

Dmitri Segal and Greg Martyn

Proteins make up our cells and do most of the work in them by interacting with each other to carry out cellular processes. When proteins go awry—cease to interact with their normal partners and/or acquire new alliances—that’s when diseases occur. Two of this years’ Yip award winners are studying rules behind protein interaction to gain a deeper insight into basic cell biology and mechanisms of disease: Mr. Dmitri Segal (Mogen, Taipale) is uncovering binding partners for the 14-3-3- family of “scaffolding” proteins that interact with hundreds of diverse proteins to facilitate molecular events in the cell, whereas Mr. Greg Martyn (Mogen, Sidhu) is focusing on the family of SH2 proteins that are involved in a number of diseases, including cancer. Martyn will engineer SH2 superbinders, or protein fragments that bind so strongly to the SH2 proteins that they can be used to manipulate their function and as such used in research and drug development.

The award was established as a tribute to Professor Cecil Yip, who was the former Vice-Dean, Research in the Faculty of Medicine and a key player in both the ideology and eventual realization of the Donnelly Centre as an interdisciplinary institute at the forefront of biomedical research.

Cover photo: Samantha Yammine

Dr. Janet Rossant - Cambridge University Honorary Doctor of Science

Dr. Janet Rossant - Cambridge University Honorary Doctor of Science

University Professor Janet Rossant received a 2017 honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cambridge University, for her contributions to stem cell biology and other research. Dr. Rossant is a Professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics, and Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at U of T. She is also a Senior Scientist at SickKids as well as President and Scientific Director of the Canada Gairdner Awards.

McLaughlin Centre, University of Toronto Scholarship Recipients Announced

McLaughlin Centre, University of Toronto Scholarship Recipients Announced

The Genetic Counselling program is pleased to announce the inaugural McLaughlin Centre, University of Toronto recipients. The McLaughlin Centre has provided funds to support two merit-based scholarships for the MSc Genetic Counselling Program. One incoming first year student will be awarded an entrance based scholarship to be granted based on overall merit including demonstrated academic excellence prior to entering the program. In addition, one second year student will be awarded an in-course scholarship based on overall academic excellence in their first year of study in the M.Sc. Genetic Counselling Program. This year each successful student will receive a $10,000 CAD scholarship.

Congratulations to incoming student Kalene van Engelen and second year student Emily Thain!

Kalene van Engelen

Kalene van Engelen

Emily Thain

Emily Thain

 

 

Dr. Brenda Andrews - University Professor

Dr. Brenda Andrews - University Professor

Dr. Brenda Andrews is among four faculty members to be named University Professor, the highest rank that can be awarded by the university.

"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.

Molecular Genetics Welcomes Dr. Aaron Reinke

Molecular Genetics Welcomes Dr. Aaron Reinke

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.

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. 

Seminar and Award Ceremony: June 26th, 2017 @ 2PM in MSB 4171

MoGeNews Issue 9

MoGeNews Issue 9

Issue 9 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 Welcomes Dr. Thomas Hurd

Molecular Genetics Welcomes Dr. Thomas Hurd

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.