IMSMAGAZINE IMS50 ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
THINK. LEARN. DISCOVER.
Celebrating 50 years of IMS
IN THIS ISSUE Letter from the Editors............................... 4
IMS50 Co-Chairs’ Message....................... 5
History of the IMS...................................... 6 Historical Timeline..................................... 8
JOURNALISTS & EDITORS
IMS50 Stories.......................................... 14 Spotlight Series....................................... 66 Scientific Day through the Years.................. 80 IMS Photo Gallery: Past & Present.......... 84 IMS50 International Conference on Graduate Education in Medical Science.................................. 92 50th Anniversary Gala............................. 94 Future of the IMS..................................... 97
IMS50 Events........................................... 10 Graduate Awards & Donations................ 12
Gaayathiri Jegatheeswaran ART DIRECTOR
Suharu Ogawa, Continuing Professional Development Faculty of Medicine
Coleen Tang Poy
Shirley Long PHOTOGRAPHERS
Krystal Jacques-Smith Mikaeel Valli
SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM
By Colleen Tang Poy, MScBMC Candidate
Copyright © 2018 by Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.
COVER ART By Alexander Young, MScBMC Candidate
IMSMAGAZINE IMS50 ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
THINK. LEARN. DISCOVER.
The IMS Magazine is a student-run initiative. Any opinions expressed by the author(s) are in no way affiliated with the Institute of Medical Science or the University of Toronto.
Celebrating 50 years of IMS
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS The Institute of Medical Science (IMS) turns 50 years old this year, which may not sound like much compared to the 191 years of the University of Toronto (U of T). In the family tree, U of T would be the grandfather and the IMS would be the overachieving teenager, constantly striving for more while also acting as a supportive sibling to the other institutes and departments in the Faculty of Medicine. The father of the IMS would be Dr. Jack Laidlaw, who saw a need for a graduate program with a clinical medicine focus and took it upon himself to fill that gap. He likely did not anticipate that the IMS would become such a large and dynamic graduate unit, sprouting additional professional graduate programs, and spanning a wide breadth of research areas from psychiatry to immunology to nephrology. This special 50th Anniversary edition of the IMS Magazine highlights some of the visionaries, faculty, staff, students, and alumni who have contributed to the growth and success of the IMS over the last five decades. Youâ€™ll learn about the founders who saw the need for a new approach to clinical-investigator training and the students and faculty (past
Priscilla Chan Priscilla is currently an MSc student engineering stem cells for traumatic spinal cord injury under the supervisor of Dr. Michael Fehlings at the Krembil Research Institute.
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Chantel Kowalchuk Chantel is currently a PhD student investigating the metabolic side-effects of drugs used to treat schizophrenia at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health under the supervision of Drs. Margaret Hahn and Gary Remington.
and present) conducting groundbreaking research. Youâ€™ll also meet some of the people who gave the IMS a place in the global scientific arena and those who continue to help the IMS thrive and develop. In bringing this special edition to life, we have been deeply impressed by the contributions of the IMS to the University and to the wider scientific community. We hope you also feel as proud and inspired as we do when you read this issue. Above all, we wish to celebrate everyone in the IMS, as each person has helped make the Institute what is it today. So thank you, whether you are an IMS student, staff, faculty, alumni, or simply a reader of this magazine! And thank you to the IMS50 Celebration Committee Co-Chairs, Drs. Mingyao Liu and Brenda Toner, for your leadership and commitment to celebrating and honouring the IMS. As the IMS enters adulthood, please join us as we reflect on the past 50 years and wait in anticipation for the continued discoveries and scientific knowledge that are sure to come from this unique graduate unit.
Sarah Topa Sarah is the International Program & Partnerships Officer at the IMS and is the Staff Lead for all IMS50 related events and initiatives. She joins the IMS Magazine as a guest editor for this special edition.
Natalie Venier Natalie founded the IMS Magazine in 2011, and was instrumental in creating the IMS Magazine committee and in publishing the first 10 issues. She was invited to contribute as a guest editor for this special edition of the IMS Magazine.
MESSAGE FROM IMS50 CELEBRATION COMMITTEE C0-CHAIRS We are thrilled to be celebrating the IMS 50th Anniversary milestone with all of you in the IMS community this year. The IMS has changed a lot since 1968. In the last five decades we have grown to become the largest graduate unit in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto (U of T). Today we have more than 500 students and 600 faculty members. The IMS has become the graduate unit of choice at U of T for MDs training as clinician-investigators and has played a vital role in promoting academic medicine at U of T and nationally across Canada. From the discovery of stem cells by James Till and IMS Co-Founder Ernest McCulloch in 1961, to the performance of the first successful single lung transplant in 1983 by Joel Cooper and Griffith Pearson, our faculty have been at the forefront of medical scientific discovery, innovation and translation. It is humbling and inspiring to reflect on the strides we have made to improve peopleâ€™s lives through medical science. Our alumni and faculty have also taken on leadership roles in health care, research and medical education at U of T, across the country and internationally. Trevor Young is the current Dean and Catharine Whiteside is the former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at U of T. Robert Bell was the Deputy Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Andy Smith is the President and CEO of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. This is just to name a few.
Mingyao Liu Director and IMS50 Celebration Committee Co-Chair, Institute of Medical Science Professor, Department of Surgery James & Mary Davie Chair in Lung Injury, Repair and Regeneration Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto Brenda Toner IMS50 Celebration Committee Co-Chair, Institute of Medical Science Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Our students continue to be outstanding leaders and to make lasting impacts on medical science, human health and the graduate student experience. This year Rachel Dragas, Sahil Gupta, Faraz Honarvar, Richie Jeremian, Craig Madho, Fadl Nabbouh, Sally Pan and Marija Zivcevska received Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards for outstanding contributions to improving the world around them and inspiring others to do to the same. As we look toward the future we are excited by the possibilities that come from living in a connected and digital world, and the global impact medical science can have on graduate education. Let us continue to work together to build stronger communities, strengthening each other through research, mentorship and innovation. Thank you for joining us this year as we celebrate our great history and successes, engage with the IMS community, and inspire the next generation of medical science graduates. Together we are creating new memories that will leave a lasting legacy in the IMS and beyond.
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Celebrating 50 Years: The History of the IMS By Yvonne Bach
As students, faculty, and alumni come together to celebrate the Institute of Medical Science’s (IMS) golden jubilee, it is an appropriate time to reflect on how the largest graduate unit in the Faculty of Medicine came to be. Similar to how our own research progresses, the story begins with vision and risks. The idea of creating a graduate unit that catered to clinical scientists arose in the 1960s, when medical research at the University of Toronto (U of T) was falling behind. Before the conception of the IMS, medical trainees at the university were not well accepted by basic science laboratories due to the unmet prerequisites that were required by the program. Furthermore, highly-qualified clinical scientists were unable to hold a graduate appointment which prevented trainees from receiving comprehensive training and multidisciplinary skills that were essential to conduct transformative clinical research. Fortunately, Dr. Jack Laidlaw, the Director of the Clinical Sciences Division in the Faculty of Medicine, aimed to find a solution to accommodate clinicians in this emerging field. Dr. Ernest McCulloch, a friend and colleague of Dr. Laidlaw, shared the same mindset and dissatisfaction with the current training. Together, they envisioned a multidisciplinary graduate unit that would offer medical graduates the flexibility, skills, and rigor that quality research entails.
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Drs. Laidlaw and McCulloch worked hard to accomplish their goal, and it was not in vain: the Institute of Medical Science was established in 1967 as its own graduate unit at the University of Toronto, and was approved by the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies in 1968. The early years of the IMS had their fair share of challenges – the department needed to catch momentum and grow by recruiting senior clinician scientists, students, and executive committee members. On top of their own clinical duties, research, and personal commitments, Drs. Laidlaw and McCulloch had the vital task of policy-making, obtaining funding, and overseeing academic guidelines for faculty and students. In McCulloch’s words, “[we] were doing everything from scratch.” Dr. Laidlaw served as the first Director of the IMS until 1975, when he was appointed Chair of the Department of Medicine
at McMaster University. The position was filled by Dr. McCulloch. In 1980, Dr. Daniel Roncari briefly took over as the IMS director until 1983 when Dr. Aubie Angel stepped in. It was during this time that the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) was created to introduce clinical research to undergraduate and medical students. This program has been well received since its inception and, as of today, approximately 100 students take part in SURP every year to develop research skills in a wide range of specialties. In 1989 Dr. Fred Lowy launched the Centre for Bioethics (now the Joint Centre for Bioethics) which offered the first Canadian graduate program in bioethics. It is now a separate graduate program offered by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). During Dr. Angel’s tenure, he also helped develop the Master of Nursing program offered by SGS.
“Due to the dedication and drive of the past IMS Directors, the department continued to evolve.”
“Vision, perseverance, and leadership are recurrent themes in the history of the IMS.” Due to the dedication and drive of the past IMS Directors, the department continued to evolve. In 1991 Dr. Melvin Silverman was appointed IMS Director and in 1994 the Master of Science in Biomedical Communications was established. Dr. Linda Wilson-Pauwels was influential in elevating the program from a Bachelor of Science to a Master of Science.
the forefront of clinical research, Dr. Rotstein reformatted MSC1010-1011Y, a core course requirement for all IMS students, to complement the evolution of technology, medicine, and knowledge translation. In fact, the annual Ori Rotstein Lecture in Translational Research was inducted to encourage lively discussions in the field of surgery and translational research.
Five years into his term, Dr. Silverman introduced the concept of adding departmental programs in the IMS, resulting in the launch of the clinician scientist streams: Medicine, Psychiatry, Paediatrics, Anesthesia, Ophthalmology, Radiation Oncology, and Obstetrics and Gynaecology. As the IMS continued to thrive, Dr. Silverman believed that the students and faculty had the potential to achieve the prestige and academic excellence that comes with being a top contender in the realm of clinical research. As such, Dr. Silverman and Dr. Bernard Langer, a renowned clinician scientist and respected general surgeon at the Toronto General Hospital, founded the University of Toronto Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Clinician Investigator Program (CIP) in 1995. This program has now been adopted by every medical school in Canada.
Near the end of Dr. Rotstein’s tenure in 2007, the graduate student oath was created. Dr. Rotstein, alongside IMS faculty and Graduate Coordinators, Dr. Karen Davis and Dr. Mary Seeman, as well as the program administrator, Josie Chapman, composed an oath that highlights integrity, professionalism, ethical conduct, and community to remind us all of the privilege and responsibility that comes with being a clinical scientist. This oath is recited every year at the orientation for entering students.
In 2000, Dr. Silverman passed the directorship to Dr. Ori Rotstein who led the IMS into the 21st century. During Dr. Rotstein’s 11-year appointment, (the longest term held by any Director), the IMS became the largest graduate unit in the Faculty of Medicine and the fifth largest unit at U of T. Nationally, it had become the largest clinician-scientist training centre and MD/ PhD program. As translational research and evidence-based medicine were changing
The following year, Dr. Pamela Catton and Nicole Harnett created the Masters of Health Science in Medical Radiation Science program. It was the first program in North America to offer graduate training to radiation technologists. This innovative addition to the graduate unit reaffirmed the IMS’ title as an international leader for education and discovery in medical research. In 2011, Dr. Allan Kaplan became IMS Director. In 2012 he and the IMS team developed a comprehensive 5 year strategic plan, rooted in the IMS’ vision to be a global leader in graduate education to improve human health through translational research. He also played a pivotal role in the development of the innovative MHSc in Translational Research Program which launched in 2015.
Dr. Mingyao Liu, the current IMS Director, was appointed in 2015. During the past three years, he has ensured that the accomplishments of the IMS’ forefathers were reinforced while also bringing his own vision for the IMS, detailed in the final article of this special edition titled “The Future is Now.” Dr. Liu also hosted the first IMS International Conference on Graduate Education in Medical Science in October 2018. This much-anticipated event brought together global leaders in the field to discuss the opportunities and challenges involved in advancing quality research through graduate training. Vision, perseverance, and leadership are recurrent themes in the history of the IMS. Our students, faculty, and alumni are not only vital to our hospitals and laboratories, they are some of the world’s most influential scientists, policy makers, consultants, and leaders. As the IMS continues to flourish, it is up to each and every one of us to maintain the high standards that our forbearers have set for us over these past 50 years. The IMS community is dynamic and constantly evolving, but one thing remains unchanged – our spirit. Here’s to another 50 years!
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IMS HISTORICAL TIMELINE The IMS is established within the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto (UofT). Dr. Laidlaw becomes its first Director.
1960s 1960s Dr. Jack Laidlaw identifies the need for a more flexible and multidisciplinary approach to training clinicians interested in research. He joins forces with Dr. Ernest McCulloch to create the Institute of Medical Science (IMS).
1969 The IMS has 55 faculty members and offers 17 courses. The first IMS graduate, Dr. Claude Morin, receives his Master’s degree.
1968 The IMS receives approval from the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies.
2004 The IMS Course Director and Course Lecturer Awards are established.
Dr. Karen Davis, Dr. Mary Seeman, Dr. Ori Rotstein and Josie Chapman create the graduate student oath, which is recited voluntarily at each year’s new student orientation. It is published in Science (2008).
The Whiteside Award is established to honour the contributions of Dr. Catharine Whiteside to the IMS.
2001 The Mel Silverman Mentorship award is created.
Dr. Pam Catton and Nicole Harnett develop the Masters of Health Science in Medical Radiation Science program.
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Dr. Ori Rotstein takes over as IMS Director. The IMS continues to expand dramatically, becoming the largest graduate unit in the Faculty of Medicine. Student enrollment surpasses 300.
Dr. Allan Kaplan becomes IMS Director. The Ori Rotstein Lecture in Translational Research is established to recognize Dr. Rotstein’s 25-year engagement with the IMS. The student-run IMS Magazine, founded by PhD student, Natalie Venier, releases its first issue.
A 5-year strategic plan is created, rooted in the IMS’ vision to be to a global leader in graduate education to improve human health through translational research. David Kideckel serves as president of the IMS Students’ Association and revitalizes the student group. Subsequent presidents continue to help students thrive by building a strong community.
Dr. Aubie Angel steps in as IMS Director. The IMS initiates a highly successful summer undergraduate research program (SURP). Dr. Bernard Langer and Dr. Steven Strasberg develop the Surgeon-Scientist Training Program.
Dr. Ernest McCulloch becomes IMS Director. Dr. McCulloch and his colleague, Dr. James Till, famously discovered stem cells in 1961. Dr. Daniel Roncari becomes Director of the IMS.
1989 Dr. Fred Lowy launches the Centre for Bioethics and serves as its first Director.
Dr. Mel Silverman becomes IMS Director. He expands curriculum and increases student enrollment and faculty appointments.
1998 The Bernard Langer Annual Lecture in Health Sciences is established as the keynote address at IMS Scientific Day.
1995 Drs. Mel Silverman and Bernard Langer found the Clinician Investigator Program (CIP) at UofT. The majority of the trainees in CIP are from the IMS. The following student awards are created â€“ Alan Wu Poster Prize, Laidlaw Manuscript Award, SiminovitchSalter Award and the Roncari Book Prize.
The Master of Science in Biomedical Communications program is established. Dr. Linda WilsonPauwels plays a key role in elevating the program from BSc to MScBMC. The annual IMS Scientific Day is launched.
Dr. Mingyao Liu becomes IMS Director. Together with the new leadership team, he refocuses on the new priority areas Uniqueness, Connectedness, Presence, Belonging and Engagement. The MHSc in Translational Research program is launched. The Student, Alumni, and Faculty Engagement (SAFE) Committee is established.
The student-run Raw Talk podcast is launched.
2018 The IMS turns 50 and now has over 500 students, 600 faculty members, takes part in 18 collaborative specializations and offers 90 courses across its doctoral stream and 2 professional masters programs. The Graduate Diploma in Health Research is launched. The IMS50 Stories initiative showcases the diversity and excellence of the IMS community - past and present. The IMS50 International Conference on Graduate Education in Medical Science is held to prepare the IMS for the future.
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IMS50 Scientific Day
2018 EVENT OVERVIEW
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IMS50 Holiday Party
Raw Talk Live It’s not you, it’s the Sci-tuation
IMS50 U of T Talks Opioids: From Wonder Drug to Epidemic – Now What?
IMS50 Summer Undergraduate Research Day
IMS50 International Conference Graduate Education in Medical Science: Challenges and Opportunities
50th Anniversary Gala Reception and Dinner
IMS50 Ori Rotstein Lecture in Translational Research
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Graduate Awards & Donations
The Institute of Medical Science (IMS) has assumed a leadership role in Canadian academic medicine, and the 50th anniversary has provided an opportunity to recognize and celebrate this milestone. The IMS launched a fundraising campaign to support students and international initiatives, as a way to commemorate the history of the IMS. The newly established scholarships will encourage and support the next generation of medical science graduate students, and foster their research both in Canada and internationally. The Fundraising Campaign to celebrate the 50th Anniversary was formally announced at the Gala in October 2018. Anyone wishing to make a donation or learn more about establishing a graduate scholarship to celebrate the Anniversary can contact Carmen Sebert, Senior Development Officer in the Faculty of Medicine at (416) 659-2061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Campaign will run until September 2019.
Dr. Allan Kaplan Graduate Award Donor: Dr. Allan Kaplan Criteria: To be awarded to a full time Canadian graduate student that is enrolled in the Clinician Scientist Program in the Department of Psychiatry on the basis of academic merit. Preference will be given to a student who is also enrolled in the Institute of Medical Science.
”I felt like I wanted to give back- the Department of Psychiatry, IMS and the Faculty of Medicine have been my home since I came to Canada in 1974 and have been very good to me. I have done all my professional training here. It was time to give back and I felt the best way to do so was to support young clinician scientists in the Psychiatry Clinician Scientist Program, which I helped to start, and who study at the IMS, where I received my graduate training and where I became Director in 2011.”
Criteria: To be awarded to a full-time registered international graduate student (MSc or PhD) enrolled in the Institute of Medical Science on the basis of academic merit. Preference will be given to PhD students.
“I made my donation because for many years the IMS lacked proper funding for graduate education and I thought it was of great importance to change the culture of financial support for our graduate students. I also know how difficult it is to be an international student in North America, as they have more difficulties and challenges to overcome than our domestic students. This was a way to especially encourage international students to apply to our program.”
Dr. Mingyao Liu Graduate Award Donor: Dr. Mingyao Liu
The Estelle Fisher Memorial Graduate Award Donor: Dr. Robert Maunder Criteria: To be awarded to a full-time registered graduate student (MSc or PhD) enrolled in the Institute of Medical Science on the basis of academic merit. Preference is given to students whose work addresses interactions between biological and psychological or social aspects of health.
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“I made my donation because I appreciate the importance of supporting the next generation of medical investigators, especially in research at the interface of physical and psychological health problems. Estelle Fisher was greatly loved by all of her family and it was wonderful to have an opportunity to give to a good cause in her memory.”
Dr. LG Rao/Industrial Partners Graduate Student Award Donor: Dr. Leticia Rao Criteria: To be awarded to a full-time registered graduate student (MSc or PhD) enrolled in the Institute of Medical Science. Preference is given to students carrying out basic or clinical research in human health. Preference is also given to students with identified financial need.
“I donated towards a scholarship because I feel that students who receive an award will feel accomplished, which will in turn motivate them to believe in themselves and strive to succeed in their pursuit of higher learning.”
Criteria: To be awarded to a full-time registered graduate student (MSc or PhD) enrolled in the Institute of Medical Science on the basis of academic merit. Preference will be given to students whose work focuses on research in contemplative science, including mindfulness.
“I felt inspired to give as I think contemplative science is an important area that requires more support and rigorous research. It is also special for me to honour my late father who had a lot of wisdom and compassion.”
Joseph Wong Memorial Award Donor: Dr. Agnes Wong
Photo: Joseph Wong
IMS Strategic Fund Donations These investments to the IMS Strategic Fund will go towards international initiatives. Donor: Dr. Lingguang Wang Member of the Bethune Medical Development Association of Canada “I am contributing to the IMS Strategic Fund as a donor in honour of my mother. Her wish was for me to be a doctor and I have followed her dreams by studying medicine and now in my work as a pharmacist. She has always wanted me to help others, especially my patients.”
Donor: Mr. Guoren Xu “I am contributing to the IMS Strategic Fund as a donor in memory of my father Kunkun Xu. When I was 12 years old, my father passed away in a car accident. To this day, I think that if there were better medical care and services, he could have survived. I am making a donation in the hopes that better medical technologies and medical care will continue to be developed around the world.” Photo L-R: Mingyao Liu, Linzy Xu (Mr. Xu’s daughter) and Guoren Xu. IMS MAGAZINE FALL 2018 IMS50 | 13
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IMS50 STORIES The IMS50 Stories initiative celebrates those who have had a remarkable impact on the IMS or been significantly influenced by the IMS throughout the last fifty years. It features firstperson accounts from students, alumni, faculty, staff and representatives of IMS programs and initiatives. Each of these individuals was nominated by members of the past and present IMS community and the finalists were chosen by a special selection committee.
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IMS Director, 1983 - 1990 Professor Emeritus President of the Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health Research Senior Fellow at Massey College
Years Active in the IMS: 1968 - 1990
DR. AUBIE ANGEL It is a pleasure to be part of the golden anniversary celebrations of the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), having been part of the early years of its inception. As a clinician-scientist, I studied adipose tissue cholesterol metabolism and saw patients with endocrine/metabolism disorders. In the early 1970s, a number of clinician scientists were enticed to the University of Toronto and its newly completed Medical Sciences Building that housed a unique research unit called the “Clinical Sciences Division” directed by Dr. Jack Laidlaw. This multidisciplinary facility accommodated young scientists working at the leading edge of their disciplines who were sponsored by major clinical departments. I witnessed the implementation of visionary planning that led to a creative environment for the training of graduate students with interests in human health, disease mechanisms, and advanced treatments. The concept was novel in that it focused on adding leading-edge science to medicine coupled with the highest standard of graduate education. This is precisely what interested
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me in my leadership role at the IMS. My experience here set the stage for my next career step as Professor and Head of Internal Medicine at the University of Manitoba. The IMS offered significant educational flexibility and new pathways for the academic development of research trainees with interests in medical research. As faculty numbers increased and graduate student numbers grew, we established semi-independent academic sections, including the Surgical Scientist Program, the Bioethics Program, the Respiratory Program and the Cardiovascular Program. The IMS Summer Undergraduate Research Program was also developed. The early success of the Institute of Medical Science can be attributed in part to its coupled relationship and interlinked purpose with the Clinical Sciences Division, as both were led by the visionary Dr. Jack Laidlaw. As well, the IMS administration was physically based in the Clinical Science Division. In my day as Director, this link continued and was strongly supported by the clinical departmental Chairs, particularly Dr. Charles Hollenberg and Dr. Bernard Langer.
Then Dean of Medicine Fred Lowysimilarly supported the concept and vision of the IMS and the recruitment of clinician scientists. I should emphasize that the credibility of the IMS program was enhanced significantly by the endorsement and guidance of eminent basic scientists including Jim Till and Bun McCulloch – both of stem cell fame; and Lou Siminovitch, a visionary leader, and builder. All were members of the IMS Executive. Finally, I would like to mention my mentors and enablers, all of Toronto, from whom I learned so much and who provided me with insight, guidance, and encouragement at that time. They included: the late John Leyerle and Tom Robinson – both Deans of the School of Graduate Studies; Jack Laidlaw, founding Director of IMS and the Clinical Science Division; Charles Hollenberg, Eaton Professor and Chair of Medicine; and Fred Lowy, Dean Emeritus.
DR. BRIAN BALLIOS Senior Research Associate and Resident Physician, Department of Opthalmology and Vision Sciences, University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: 2009 - 2013
My years in the IMS provided some of the most fruitful academic experiences of my early career. My background in engineering and my training as part of the combined MD/PhD Program drove a desire to combine the principles of engineering and medicine with a focus on the development of innovative solutions in human health. With the breadth of IMS faculty across multiple disciplines, I was fortunate to launch a collaboration between Dr. Molly Shoichet and Dr. Derek van der Kooy as my PhD co-supervisors. This was a fusion of two different fields â€“ tissue engineering and stem cell biology. We focused on a new bioengineered approach to the transplantation of stem cells and their progeny for the treatment of retinal degenerative disease. During these important years, we developed the first injectable biomaterial-based delivery vehicle to transplant stem cell progeny into the adult retina. This technology continues to be developed by our laboratories, and others around the world, as a promising adjuvant for cell therapy in the retina. Our work also elucidated some of the basic mechanisms at play in photoreceptor cell fate specification from adult stem cells and in developing retina and has allowed us to generate high-purity cultures of both rod and cone photoreceptors. Importantly, our cross-disciplinary collab-
oration has sparked several new projects in both labs and led to large collaborative projects locally, nationally and internationally. Over the last 10 years, our network has grown; we now have a vibrant city-wide team of researchers working on stem cell applications for retinal cell replacement therapy. My productive experiences in academic vision sciences also sparked my clinical interest and led me to pursue postgraduate Residency training in Ophthalmology. The IMS provided an invaluable network of collaborators who provide invaluable support while I pursue new avenues of research. It also provided the flexibility to expand my knowledge-base beyond engineering/materials science. My graduate training laid the foundation for the development of independent scientific thought and hypothesis generation. More than specific techniques learned in the laboratory, I developed an approach to the scientific inquiry which forms the basis of my independent research efforts. My experiences in the IMS shaped my early career trajectory, both academic and clinical, and sparked my pursuit of innovation in Ophthalmology.
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DR. ANNE BASSETT Professor, Department of Psychiatry Dalglish Chair in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, University of Toronto and UHN Director, Clinical Genetics Research Program, CAMH Director, Dalglish 22q Clinic for adults with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, Toronto General Hospital Senior Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute and Campbell Family Research Institute Associate Staff, Division of Cardiology, University Health Network Associate Member, Canadian College of Medical Geneticists
Years Active in the IMS: 1994 - Present
My own research focuses on the genetics of complex developmental disorders, especially schizophrenia and serious congenital cardiac disease, as well as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and other disorders associated with major structural changes in the human genome. My work shows how translating relevant genetic findings into the clinic can help patients and their families. Of many colleagues at IMS who have encouraged me through various stages of my career are Mary Seeman, Brenda Toner and, even before she became Dean in 2005, Cathy Whiteside. I supervise graduate students and other students and trainees at all levels affiliated with IMS and in 2017 I received the IMS Mel Silverman Mentorship award. Amongst many highlights over the years are my most recent three PhD students. Greg Costain, an MD/PhD student was awarded a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, and 2012 CIHR Institute of Genetics Lap-Chee Tsui Publication Award. He defended his thesis containing 8 published papers after just 3.5 years in 2013. Nancy Butcher defended her thesis containing 6 published papers, supported by a CIHR
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Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship and Brain Canada Training Award. Chelsea Lowther, now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard on a CIHR Fellowship, defended her thesis in November 2017 with 8 published papers, transferring in 2014 from a Masters program at IMS supported by Open Fellowship awards, to a CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship for her PhD. Between these three IMS students, we have published over 60 papers, a testament to the productivity boost of successful IMS students. Greg, Nancy and Chelsea have also all participated actively in IMS and University activities, including the IMS Magazine, have mentored other students and are well on their way to launching their own scientific careers.
DR. SANDRA BLACK Professor of Medicine (Neurology), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Director, Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute Site Director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery Executive Director of the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance
Years Active in the IMS: 1991 - Present
Since I joined the IMS in 1991, I have served as a primary supervisor for 8 MSc and 12 PhD students and as co-supervisor for 4 PhD and 6 MSc students. I have also trained 41 post-doctoral fellows and numerous undergraduate and medical students over the years, helping to launch more than 100 academic careers. As an internationally recognized cognitive and stroke neurologist, I pioneered a paradigm shift toward recognizing that interactions of Small Vessel Disease and Protein Misfolding disorders (most notably Alzheimer’s Disease) are important mechanisms driving brain aging and neurodegeneration. With dual credibility, I have helped to put Cognition, Behavior and Small Vessel Disease on the agenda of Stroke Care and Recovery, and Vascular Contributions to Dementia on the agenda of Dementia Research and Care. As an active clinical trialist, I have participated in 70 intervention trials in stroke and dementia over the last three decades. Recently, I have been a coPI exploring a disruptive technology, low field Focused Ultrasound, which can deliver large molecules and other biological agents across the blood-brain barrier in a
controlled fashion. The eventual goal is to more effectively target key target pathologies that lead to dementia. One of my most treasured recognitions is the inaugural IMS Mel Silverman Mentorship award in 2001 for “outstanding service as a mentor and role model to graduate students”. Over the last quarter century, I have had the privilege of supervising many brilliant IMS students from whom I have learned so much! I delight in seeing them develop, mature and take leadership roles as clinician-scientists, investigators, and teachers; for example, Richard Swartz, David Gladstone, Pearl Behl, Mario Masellis and Mark Boulos hold faculty positions at U of T, David Callen at McMaster, Jennifer Mandzia at Western University and Brian Buck at U of Alberta. Richard Swartz and Mario Masellis now co-lead the Ontario Brain Institute’s Ontario Neurodegeneration Research Initiative. A source of great joy to me is being taught by my students as they discover their passions and pursue their research goals. It is a pleasure to watch them blossom in their individual careers continuing the tradition
of mentorship and training of next-generation investigators. The IMS has provided us with an opportunity for interdisciplinary research, which was essential when we embarked on a journey to combine brain imaging, clinical care, neuropsychology, and genetics to better understand heterogeneous phenotypes and comorbidities in stroke and dementia. Our ultimate goal is personalized precision therapeutics, accelerated by the development of in vivo biomarkers that signal high risk in the presymptomatic stage of dementia and makes it potentially preventable. Vigorous research training to acquire necessary skills through strategically chosen coursework with the opportunity to focus on thesis research has been key to the success of the IMS over the last half-century. I heartily congratulate the IMS for its 50 years of excellence in training generations of clinician scientists and investigators who will continue to drive the discovery agenda forward across all the pillars of research, conquering diseases on many fronts and enabling longer lives with better quality for future generations in the next five decades.
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BIOMEDICAL COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM Nicholas Woolridge Associate Professor Director, MSc in Biomedical Communications Program
Years Active in the IMS: 1994 - Present
Science and the structure and function of living things have always fascinated me. At the same time, I had a deep interest in visual images and creativity. Initially, I studied Fine Arts at Mount Allison University but felt something was missing. After a fortuitous intervention by a relative, I learned of the Art as Applied to Medicine BSc at the University of Toronto. In this little-known program, artists learned to visually translate science and medicine. My path was set.
directorship in 2008. Over the years our students have worked with scores of IMS researchers on innovative visualization projects, creating award-winning animations, simulations, interactive experiences, and apps. An example: NSERC funded a visualization research project that integrated cell biology, animation, and simulation. It involved me, my IMS mentor Charles Lumsden, and former MScBMC student Jason Sharpe; this resulted in the 2008 publication of the book In Silico.
I beefed up my science pre-requisites and applied. By the time I graduated, the program was renamed Biomedical Communications. During my program, I developed a third fascination— the new imaging possibilities afforded by technology, and I was hired as a lecturer to develop the program’s offerings in digital media. Soon after, I enrolled as a graduate student in IMS.
Since 1994, BMC has changed home departments, locations, leadership, faculty composition, and campus. Through it all, IMS has been an essential and steadfast core of educational, scientific, and governance advice and expertise, and a champion of our program and its goals. BMC’s program, students, and faculty have thrived thanks to the imagination and vision of the IMS.
The unique interdisciplinary nature of the IMS allowed me to develop my research skills, take on a clinical simulation project, and draw on committee members from Medicine and Surgery. The IMS’s pioneering approach to interdisciplinary graduate education provided a powerful combo: flexibility, broad faculty expertise, and rigor. It was the perfect place for my research to thrive. In 1994, my tireless predecessor Linda Wilson-Pauwels established the Master of Science in Biomedical Communications within the IMS, and the existing BSc was phased out. I assumed
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The future is full of exciting possibilities as we explore new approaches to storytelling, virtual reality, augmented reality and other new simulation, interaction, and visualization technologies. We look forward to another 50 years of discovery and innovation in partnership with the IMS.
DR. BRITTANY B. CAMPBELL Post-Doctoral Fellow, The Hospital for Sick Children
Years Active in the IMS: 2013 - 2017
My story with the Institute of Medical Science started in 2013, fresh out of my Bachelorâ€™s in Biology, invigorated by a passion for cancer research. I had spent several summers prior in various summer research programs before enrolling into graduate school. My supervisor, Dr. Uri Tabori, presented me with the option of studying a rare syndrome in children that predisposed them to various cancers early in life. The potential to help this rare population and also extend these findings to the larger cancer community convinced me to jump right in. Graduate school is a metaphor for life in that it is an iterative process of planning, failing, learning, re-planning, failing and trying again. Through more cycles of this than I care to admit, we had our first break-through paper in Nature Genetics in 2015, followed by a protocol-changing paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2016 and finally my first-author publication in Cell in 2017. These publications put me on the world stage for cancer genomics, a field which I have grown to love more every day.
I picked up several vital, transferable career skills throughout my time at the IMS. I learned to code and manipulate large datasets. I learned how to give polished scientific presentations in front of hundreds of people, including influential leaders in my field. I learned to manage projects and collaborate internationally with physicians and scientists all over the world. Perhaps most importantly, I learned to self-motivate in the face of unimaginable doubt and ambiguity. I learned to trust myself. My PhD at the IMS was a period of aggressive learning and intense personal growth. It was undoubtedly an enormous risk and an even larger reward. I encourage students to trust the process, envision a greater goal, and seek motivated mentors in their graduate studies. The supportive environment and funding opportunities offered to me by the IMS, under the direction of Dr. Mingyao Liu, were instrumental to my success and therefore was, in hindsight, the best place to choose.
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JOSIE CHAPMAN Former Business Officer, Institute of Medical Science
Years Active in the IMS: 1995 - 2009
“ I was the IMS Business Officer from 1995 to 2009, providing administrative support to the Director, Associate Director, Graduate Coordinators and Committees and overseeing the budget and day-today operations. Mel Silverman hired me, and my first major assignment was to write a 5-year Ontario Council of Graduate Studies review. I survived weeks in an elevator shaft storage room, collecting and analyzing masses of detailed data on hundreds of current and former students, faculty, courses, budgets and more. It was a huge assignment requiring a thorough knowledge of the IMS that I did not yet have. Thanks to Mel, I survived because he mentored me! He didn’t just teach – he advised, consulted, gently led and occasionally pushed the project to completion. Later I had the great fortune
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Without a doubt, the best part of life in the IMS was the people.
to work with Ori Rotstein, another thinker, inspirer, mentor and all-round great person, who also gave me tremendous opportunities to grow personally and professionally. During my time, the IMS was in a period of massive growth and change, which gave me an opportunity to learn and do everything — websites, strategic planning, database design, creation of the UofT Royal College Clinician Investigator Program, program and course development (especially Collaborative Programs), and committee membership at all levels. Thanks to the IMS team, I received the David Keeling award for administrative excellence in 2008 and was even listed as coauthor on two publications! Without a doubt, the best part of life in the IMS was the people. My coworkers, espe-
cially Hazel Pollard, made tasks like award applications and Scientific Day enjoyable and manageable. I loved talking to young, enthusiastic students about their research and ideas, and helping them cope with the crests and troughs of graduate life. It was an honour to work with exceptional people, like Mel, Ori, Mary Seeman, Karen Davis, Mingyao Liu, Cheryl Rosen, Catharine Whiteside, Greg Downey, Gary Rodin, Lou Siminovitch and so many more – people with tremendous talent, compassion, energy and admirable principles. Not every administrator at the University has had such an environment, opportunity and support!
DR. KAREN DAVIS I am a neuroscientist striving to understand brain mechanisms underlying pain through electrophysiology, brain imaging, and psychophysics. I accepted my first IMS graduate student in 1996 and since have had the pleasure to supervise 20+ students in their successful journeys through the IMS program. My first service role in the IMS was on the student admissions committee in 2000. This led to serving as a Graduate Coordinator (2002–2009), Associate Director (2009 –2012), and on numerous committees; experiences that are amongst the highlights of my career. The IMS gave me much more than I could ever have imagined and I have many wonderful memories. As a Graduate Coordinator and Associate Director, I mentored
The IMS gave me much more than I could ever have imagined and I have many wonderful memories.
IMS Graduate Coordinator, 2002 - 2009 IMS Associate Director, 2009 - 2012 Professor, Department of Surgery and Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto Head, Division of Brain, Imaging and Behaviour-Systems Neuroscience Krembil Research Institute Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network
Years Active in the IMS: 1995 - Present
a broad spectrum of students and gained insight through their life stories, struggles, and accomplishments. I was also afforded the opportunity to shape graduate programs after identifying the needs, knowledge and skill gaps of our students in the changing landscape of medical science. I am proud of the popular module I developed to provide clinical insights for basic science students. I am also especially proud of the research ethics programing for students and faculty, and the IMS Graduate Student Oath that I created with Mary Seeman that was published in Science (2008). I received the IMS Mel Silverman Mentorship Award (2014) in recognition of my mentorship of my students. These successes and my scientific accomplishments, combined with my IMS teaching and administrative activities contributed to me
being inducted in the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (2009), and becoming a Mayday Pain and Society Fellow (2013). My IMS experience helped me to appreciate that the most effective way to advance your ideas and make a difference, is to be involved at the decision-making table, especially in a leadership role. I would like to thank the countless IMS faculty, students, and staff for their contributions to the success of the IMS and to my own personal development. I am a product of the guidance, mentoring, support, inspiration, and opportunities afforded to me, especially from Catharine Whiteside, Ori Rotstein, Mingyao Liu, Mary Seeman, and Howard Mount, Josie Chapman, Hazel Pollard, and Kamila Lear. We accomplished a great deal and had a lot of fun along the way!
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Associate Dean, University of Colorado IMS Associate Director, 2001-2006 Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, National Jewish Health Professor of Medicine and Immunology and Microbiology, University of Colorado
Years Active in the IMS: 1991 - 2011
DR. GREGORY DOWNEY Without a doubt, one of the highlights of my career has been my association with the IMS and the opportunity that the IMS gave me to interact with and contribute to the careers of many graduate students at the University of Toronto. What a joy! I moved to Toronto from a very large, busy, and somewhat chaotic laboratory at the University of Colorado. I was assigned laboratory and office space in the Medical Sciences Building on the main campus. I remember vividly opening the door to my new but completely empty laboratory and thinking to myself ‘it is too quiet in here to think or work – I need to be able to interact with other scientists and students’. I therefore set out to find colleagues and collaborators. I had the good fortune of meeting several individuals who would shape my career. Among them was Mel Silverman, then Director of the IMS. I also met Sergio Grinstein, a brilliant young PhD scientist, who welcomed me into his busy and well-equipped laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children. Additionally, Art Slutsky, Hugh O’Brodovich, Charlie Bryan, and Eliot Phillipson all provided me with much needed advice and support. It was Mel and Sergio who encouraged me to participate on the graduate
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committees of several students and in 1991 I applied to become a member of the IMS. Thank goodness, they accepted me! Over the next several years I participated as a member of the graduate committee of several outstanding young students including John Brummell and Roy Zent, both of whom went on to their own highly successful scientific careers. In 1994, I was elected as a full faculty member in the IMS and was finally able to supervise PhD students on my own. A series of bright and energetic young graduate students including Lea Fialkow, Tom Waddell, Joshua Kruger, Hedy Ginzberg, Eric Vachon and Theo Moraes completed their PhD studies in my laboratory. Each of these individuals contributed their boundless energy, innovation, and hard work to the laboratory. We also got to share in the each other’s lives and experienced joy, laughter, comradery as well as sadness and of course a beer or two at the local pubs after a long day in the lab. I also served on the graduate committees of Jane Batt, Chung-Wai Chow and Warren Lee who have all gone on to their own successful scientific careers in Toronto. As I reflect on this time, it was one of the most exciting times of my career. From 2001 through 2006, I served as the Associate Director of the IMS under the leadership of Dr. Ori Rotstein and this gave me the opportunity to learn about the administrative aspects of the IMS and SGS. This was one of my first administrative experiences and has served me well over the years. To conclude, the IMS provided me with a scientific home and trained me in scientific rigor and how to provide a supportive learning environment for graduate students. The IMS shaped my early career and provided me with the tools for success in academia.
aging Canadian population, and state of our health care system. Most recently, the 2018 UofT Talks event examined the ongoing opioid crisis. Assistant Professor, Translational Research Program Institute of Medical Science, Faculty of Medicine Dalla Lana Public School Health, University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: 2011 - Present
DR. RICH FOTY I came to the IMS in 2011. I had already completed my MSc in Epidemiology and had been working at SickKids hospital for 5 years. I enjoyed work and my team but I needed more of a challenge. Under the supervision of Dr. Teresa To, I came to the IMS to start my Ph.D. Teresa was a wonderful supervisor who not only guided me through the research requirements of the program but also realized that I didn’t just want the degree. For me, this was a journey and I needed a chance to explore and make mistakes. The ingenuity and creativity of science are in collaboration; the more disparate the players, the more interesting the team and the ideas. I wasn’t going to limit my days to reviewing literature and crunching numbers. I needed to talk and learn from the people around me. I joined the IMS Students’ Association (IMSSA) in my first year and led it as president in my second. Our team of 25 students banded together to host the TEDMED conference at IMS in 2013. Like much of ev-
erything else I’ve done as a grad student, the planning and organization was very last minute and chaotic but we managed to pull together an insightful event that was very well received. My time with the IMSSA taught me the value of working in teams and that the responsibility of a leader is less about authority than it is about creating a safe environment where people feel appreciated and share responsibility for each other and those they serve. It was during this time that I also had the privilege of working with Dr. Allan Kaplan, the Director of the IMS at that time. On the heels of the TEDMED event, Allan afforded me several opportunities. The first was to work closely with Dr. Brenda Toner as the student lead on the new Belonging committee, presently called the Student, Alumni, Faculty Engagement Committee. This committee serves to foster an engaged IMS community and create a complete learning environment that places importance on the academic, professional, social, emotional, and mental wellbeing of students. The committee also organizes an annual symposium to bring together members of the IMS, UofT, and greater Toronto community to discuss current topics in health, including physician-assisted suicide, the
Dr. Kaplan also sent me to participate in a 1-week certificate program in Translational Medicine (TM) which turned out to be one of the most valuable experiences of my doctoral studies. My introduction to TM had an immediate and lasting impact on my approach to scientific research. Communicating and collaborating with patients, caregivers and physicians to first identify unmet patient needs and then applying scientific knowledge to meet those needs felt like a more fulfilling approach to my scientific contributions. With the help of my doctoral supervisor, I was able to integrate this new perspective into my Ph.D. thesis. My TM experience also introduced me to Dr. Joseph Ferenbok who was developing a Master’s level program in Translational Research within the IMS. Joseph has been one of my strongest supporters. He recognized my passion for education and translation early on and invited me to get involved in the Translational Research Program (TRP). When I successfully defended my Ph.D. in July of 2017, he played a significant role in securing my appointment as an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and my faculty position within the TRP. I love my job. I thrill at the chance to challenge students to think differently and inspire them to improve health care, champion change, and follow their own passions. I would have never been in this position without my IMS mentors, as well as Kamila Lear, Hazel Pollard and the rest of the IMS staff who helped me so much along the way. My time at IMS was truly a journey, and one I hope I have the privilege to lead future students on for many years.
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DR. BRIAN HODGES I completed my Psychiatry Residency Training at the University of Toronto and my own graduate studies through the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. At the time I began my graduate studies there were very few researchers in health professions education. However, in the last decade of the 20th century, universities began to pay much more attention to empirical research on educational activities. The birth of the Wilson Centre for Research in Education at the University Health Network and the University of Toronto created a home for this form of scholarship. I was fortunate to become Director in 2002. Once established in this intense research environment it became important for me to connect with our best graduate units across the University of Toronto and I became appointed to the Institute for Medical Science. Since that time I have participated in graduate student supervision for numerous students at the Masters and Doctoral level. As well, the Institute for Medical Science became interested in expanding expertise in qualitative research methods which were more common at that time in the Faculty of Education. It was a great pleasure to help the IMS develop these early courses. My own research was enriched greatly by interacting with diverse graduate programs at the University of Toronto and the IMS, in particular, helped me find important synergies between the foundational and clinical sciences and the social sciences in which I was trained. A rich research environment allowed my work to flourish. Collaboration with scholars from many disciplines led to research grants and awards. Perhaps my proudest moment was receiving the Karolinska prize for Medical Education Research in 2016. My greatest pleasure today is to meet young scholars who I know will form the next generation of leadership and research in health professions education.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto Executive Vice President Education at University Health Network and The Michener Institute for Education at UHN Richard and Elizabeth Currie Chair in Health Professions Education Research, Wilson Centre for Research in Education
Years Active in the IMS: 2003 - Present
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DR. ALLAN KAPLAN IMS Director, 2011 - 2014 Vice Dean, Graduate and Academic Affairs Professor of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine Senior Clinician/Scientist, Center for Addiction and Mental Health Full Member, Graduate Faculty, School of Graduate Studies, Institute of Medical Science
Years Active in the IMS: 1992 - Present
The experiences I have had at IMS have been seminal for my career as a clinician scientist, teacher, researcher and academic leader. First, I received my own graduate training at IMS, where I focused on nutritional sciences and neuroendocrinology, and where I received my graduate degree in 1988. This training was essential to my development as a clinician scientist and to my specific area of research, which is the neurobiology of eating disorders and the development of innovative treatments for anorexia nervosa. IMS has afforded me the opportunity to supervise incredibly bright, enthusiastic graduate students. These students have contributed significantly to own research and allowed me to develop and fine-tune my supervisory/teaching skills. Additionally, in my role as Director of IMS from 2011-2014, I was able to grow and mature my academic leadership skills. With my IMS colleagues, we developed a clear mission statement and a 5 year strategic plan for IMS, which I believe has served the Institute well over the past 5 years. During my time as Director, we were also able to develop and submit for governance approval the first Professional Masterâ€™s Program in Translational Research in the country.
This program was officially approved in 2014, and is now flourishing, and preparing to take in its third class of students in September 2018. Finally, the experience I gained as Director of IMS prepared me exceptionally well to assume the role of Vice Dean, Graduate and Academic Affairs in July, 2014. Most importantly, IMS has facilitated the development of professional relationships that have endured and enriched my professional life. Some of the awards I have received include the J M Cleghorn Award for Excellence and Leadership in Clinical Research (Canadian Psychiatric Association 2009) and the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Medical Education (2004). In addition, I served as President of the two largest eating disorder organizations in the world, the Academy for Eating Disorders (2001-2002) and the International Eating Disorder Research Society (2005-2006). I was elected a Founding Fellow of the Academy for Eating Disorders (2001) was also elected a Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists (2016).
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Professor, Department of Psychiatry Head, Psychiatric Neurogenetics Head, Molecular Science Head, Tanenbaum Centre for Pharmacogenetics Director, Molecular Brain Science Research Department, Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute CAMH
Years Active in the IMS: 1994 - Present
DR. JAMES KENNEDY The IMS supported my beginning as an Assistant Professor and allowed me to attract highly skilled graduate students in the early part of my career, which empowered my ability to develop in the exciting new area of human molecular genetics and psychiatric disorders. As the years progressed, I applied genetics to both child psychiatry and neuroimaging. My Ph.D. student, Dr. Paul Arnold, has a fantastic project in genetic studies of magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the living human brains of young people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He found a remarkable correlation between genetic variation and the changes in GABA/glutamate in the brains of the kids who responded to SSRI treatment. This was one of the first gene+ neuroimaging biomarkers for treatment response, certainly in children. Paul defended his Ph.D. in the IMS in 2007 and was later attracted away from the University of Toronto to become Vice Chair of Research in psychiatry at the University of Calgary.
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Another prominent IMS Ph.D. student, Aristotle Voineskos, for whom I was a primary supervisor, greatly expanded the breadth of the burgeoning area of discovering correlations between genetic variation and disease manifestations seen via neuroimaging. Dr. Voineskos is now an Associate Professor and leads the Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Research Laboratory at CAMH. More recently, Jennie Pouget completed her IMS Ph.D. in the complicated area of genome-wide human variation datasets combined with neuroimmune and inflammatory mechanisms to uncover remarkable new insights into the relationship between immune system genes and schizophrenia. She has now completed her medical school training and has been accepted into the psychiatry residency training at the University of Toronto. IMS has supported the successful award applications of many of my students to agencies such as CIHR, Brain Canada, Weston Foundation, and Vanier.
DR. SHAF KESHAVJEE After obtaining my medical degree at the University of Toronto, I obtained my Master of Science degree at the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) in 1989 as a trainee in the Surgical Scientist program. I completed my training in general surgery, cardiac surgery and thoracic surgery followed by a further fellowship training in airway surgery and lung transplantation. I returned to the faculty at University Health Network and the University of Toronto as a thoracic surgeon and director of the thoracic surgery research laboratory. My experience at the IMS was an amazing exposure to the concept of scientific investigation and translation of new discovery to change practice in surgery. My supervisors in the IMS, Drs. Joel Cooper, G. Alexander Patterson and Arthur Slutsky, were wonderful role models and mentors who set my career on this path. My research project for my Masters thesis was the development of a lung preservation solution that went on to become
My experience at the IMS was an amazing exposure to the concept of scientific investigation and translation of new discovery to change practice in surgery.
Surgeon-in-Chief, University Health Network James Wallace McCutcheon Chair in Surgery Director Toronto Lung Transplant Program Director Latner Thoracic Research Laboratories Professor Division of Thoracic Surgery & Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering Vice Chair for Innovation, Department of Surgery University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: Student: 1987 - 1989 Faculty: 1996 - Present
the standard of care for lung preservation world-wide. I was able to build on this foundation to continue the research in lung injury, lung preservation and ultimately expanding to develop the concept of ex vivo repair and regeneration of lungs for transplantation. We steadily built a team of researchers and attracted further funding to culminate in the establishment of the Latner Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratories that is now a multi-million dollar research enterprise that has over a hundred people working in pulmonary research. This has been a highly productive research group that continues to break new ground with high impact research work and innovation in lung transplantation. Over the years, we have supervised numerous MSc and PhD students as well as postgraduate students through the IMS program which has provided the important academic structure and foundation to continue this legacy.
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approach to research than was possible in traditional basic science departments. As a result, the Institute of Medical Science was established as a graduate unit of the School of Graduate Studies in 1967. This bold initiative was met with skepticism but despite this grew and thrived. Dr. Laidlaw served as Director from 1967 to 1975. In the early years, he worked hard to communicate the vision of the IMS to senior clinicians and Chairs with the goal of expanding the faculty and student base. As Dr. McCulloch recalled, “those were interesting, strenuous days, because we were devising policies and procedures, doing everything from scratch.”
DR. JACK LAIDLAW Co-Founder, Institute of Medical Science IMS Director, 1967-1975 Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: 1967 - 1975
By Michelle Rosen and Anna Badner Dr. Jack Laidlaw was a practicing Endocrinologist and Emeritus Professor in the Department of Medicine. He earned a Master’s (Toronto, 1947) and PhD (London, 1950) in Biochemistry and conducted endocrine research at Harvard University. As a leader in the field he helped to create the Clinical Investigation Unit at Toronto General Hospital in 1956 and became the founder of its Division of Endocrinology. This pioneering work made him a force in the Faculty of Medicine. He went on to be appointed to the Order of Canada in 2003. Coinciding with the start of World War II, Dr. Laidlaw, at age 16, began his medical training at the University of Toronto (UofT) in September 1939. Not only was this an important time in history, but also a revolutionary period of change in the field of medicine. At the forefront of the antibiotic 30 | IMS MAGAZINE
era, doctors were only beginning to gain widespread access to penicillin, driving greater emphasis on research and innovation in patient care. This heightened exposure to scientific promise was the foundation for Dr. Laidlaw’s extraordinary career and vision for clinical investigation. However, he also recognized the obstructive detachment between basic biological research and clinical application. As an innovator, Dr. Laidlaw took his dissatisfaction with the training of clinician-investigators in the mid-1960s and partnered with Dr. Ernest McCulloch, a researcher in the Division of Biological Research at the Ontario Cancer Institute (now Princess Margaret Cancer Center). Both felt there was a need for a new graduate program that would adequately train clinician-investigators with a more flexible and interdisciplinary
In 2014, Dr. Laidlaw was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, part of the Dean’s Alumni Awards at U of T. In the video profile prepared by the Faculty of Medicine, he describes the founding of the IMS as his “most important academic achievement.” He further clarifies that this could not have been done without the team around him. In his own words: “I love working in teams. I love working with people of disparate backgrounds who are interested in the same battle and they pull together from different points of view. And trying to get them to pull together is a great task.” The battle for a diverse and collaborative graduate unit that trains clinician-investigators was certainly won. The IMS now boasts over 600 faculty and 500 students from diverse backgrounds and spans the entire hospital network. This is in no small part due to Dr. Laidlaw. In 2015 Dr. Laidlaw passed away at the age of 94. He was a bright and lasting presence in the IMS, often attending the annual IMS Scientific Day and presenting the Jack Laidlaw Manuscript Prize named in his honour. He is remembered as a sweet and kind man whose commitment and vision led to the creation of an institute that continues to make room for scientific innovation and clinical investigation in the 21st century.
The IMS was exactly what we needed to provide the infrastructure and standards that we were looking for.
Before the IMS was started in 1968, research training in the Department of Surgery was haphazard with few trainees working in quality laboratories and many others, myself included, wasting their time in unsatisfactory research environments.
DR. BERNARD LANGER Professor Emeritus Former Chair of the Department of Surgery, University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: 1984 - 1992
In 1983 as a new chair of the Department of Surgery, I identified a separate stream in our residency programme to train clinician-scientists. I asked Drs. Steven Strasberg, Charles Tator and Bryce Taylor to outline a program that could integrate at least 2 years of quality research training within our clinical surgical programs. The IMS was exactly what we needed to provide the infrastructure and standards that we were looking for. A bonus was the requirement that supervisors be members of the SGS, which became an incentive for our surgical faculty as well. Funding of trainees was guaranteed by the department and no funding was made available to research trainees outside that program. Dr. Aubie Angel helped in establishing our new Surgeon Scientist Program (SSP) and Dr. Mel Silverman provided outstanding support during our first decade of growth. Our intention was to select the most promising students and provide them with security of funding for the duration of their training. The expectation was that these trainees would become our “farm system” for future faculty recruits. In addition, our hope was that this program would attract surgical trainees from other medical schools to come for combined surgical and research training. This program has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. We took our first three trainees in 1984 and by 1996 had over 40 enrolled in the SSP. To our surprise, 80% of our trainees obtained their degrees, one third of them being PhDs. Our faculty recruits from this program have become the core leadership of our department and most of our best clinician investigators. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, after extensive debate and lobbying from the medical scientific community established the Clinician-Investigator Program in 1995. This program, based on the SSP model, provided a national standard for research training for physicians. It is hard for me to imagine how any of this could have happened without the IMS having been in place. The IMS at the University of Toronto has played an essential role in elevating and maintaining the quality of clinician investigator training in Canada and beyond.
Photo by Mikaeel Valli
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â€œ KAMILA LEAR
I feel very fortunate to have had the pleasure of working closely with excellent leaders.
Business Officer, Institute of Medical Science
Years Active in the IMS: 2009 - Present
I joined the IMS as Business Officer in 2009. I think my main challenge at the time was having to get up to speed quickly on a wide variety of administrative areas that were specific to the IMS. There was no doubt I had a steep learning curve, but I was able to draw on my previous experience in admissions and awards, recruitment, student services, and business administration, which in 2008 earned me an Excellence in Service Award for my commitment to graduate student services.
as assisting with the establishment of a formal strategic plan in 2012 that gave the IMS the integrity to make informed decisions. I played a critical role in the initiation and development of the IMS Magazine, working closely with Natalie Venier, PhD graduate and founding editor of the IMS Magazine.
The largest project that I was assigned shortly after joining the IMS was to write a 5-year self-study report. With very little knowledge of the IMS at the time, I persevered. As I look back, it was probably one of the most significant projects that proved to be both instructive and insightful. It gave me a thorough understanding of the essential structure of the IMS.
Although I carry a heavy workload, managing the financial and the day-to-day operations of the IMS, I enjoy my multifaceted position, mainly, because I have the opportunity to work with a great team of dedicated and experienced individuals. I feel very fortunate to have had the pleasure of working closely with excellent leaders, such as former Directors Ori Rotstein and Allan Kaplan, and currently with our Director, Mingyao Liu. They have each brought their own unique vision that contributed significantly to the growth of the IMS.
There has been a lot of change in the IMS, since I first joined nine years ago. I have been involved in many key aspects of the IMS to bring about positive change, including a move to newly renovated office space in 2011. I served in many support roles, such
I envision a bright future for the IMS as the department launches new initiatives under the direction of Mingyao Liu. It has been a great journey thus far and I am particularly excited to see what the future holds for the IMS in the upcoming years.
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Photo: Mingyao Liu and Lesley Ward
DR. MINGYAO LIU Director, Institute of Medical Science Professor of Surgery, Medicine and Physiology James and Mary Davie Chair in Lung Injury, Repair and Regeneration Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto Head of Respiratory and Critical Care Research Senior Scientist, Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network
Years Active in the IMS: 1997 - Present
Throughout my academic career, the five-year period (20002005) I spent as an IMS Graduate Coordinator was by far the most rewarding. I was able to directly serve our graduate students and together with my colleagues, we helped our students overcome challenges, achieve their goals and become scholars in medical science. My most memorable story is of IMS alumna Lesley Ward (pictured). Lesley is Deaf, however, she was determined to study medical science, specializing in bacterial infection. She communicated efficiently through an American Sign Language interpreter, which was provided for her classes and meetings. She was supported fully by her lab members, supervisor and program advisory committee, of which I was a member. She did excellent research and presented her work at the American Microbiology Association Annual General Meeting. She completed her Masters of Science in the IMS and currently works in an Immunology lab at UofT. At the IMS we have developed a culture of “putting students first” through student-centered training, research and activities. Today we have an exceptional student body – IMSSA (IMS Students Association), the student-run IMS Magazine, student-initiated UofT Talks and the Raw Talk Podcast. Working with students makes me feel young! Our Graduate Coordinators, staff and faculty in the research stream and professional masters programs interact with and support our students on a daily basis. I am proud to be a part of this great team. IMS MAGAZINE FALL 2018 IMS50 | 33
DR. FREDERICK LOWY My association with the Institute of Medical Science was indirect during my years as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (19801987) and much closer with the creation of the Centre for Bioethics in 1989.
Founder and Former Director, Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto Former Chair and Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto President Emeritus, Concordia University
Years Active in the IMS: 1989 - 1997
As Dean, I had no administrative responsibility for the IMS; as this was, and is, an academic child of the School of Graduate Studies. However, as many of the IMS’ students and their supervisors were based in the clinical, public health and basic science departments of the Faculty of Medicine, I had a strong interest in its activities. As a faculty member of the IMS, I was always supportive of its efforts and admired its strong leadership; in those years IMS was headed by Drs. Bun McCulloch, Dan Roncari, Aubie Angel and Mel Silverman.
emerged with the huge potential in new technologies and advances in genetics. This convinced me that the University had better take notice! When my term as Dean came to an end, I arranged to go to the Kennedy Institute for Ethics at Georgetown University in Washington, DC as a visiting fellow to study the operation of its Clinical Ethics Center and to study with its director, Dr. Edmond D. Pellegrino.
It was in 1988 and 1989 that IMS played a pivotal role when together with colleagues from several U of T Faculties, we created the Centre for Bioethics. Clinical consultative ethics was being practiced in several teaching hospitals and there was interest in a possible academic center in SGS in the mid-1980s. Indeed, a Feasibility Committee, chaired by Dr. Jim Till was established but this had not led to action. While I had always been interested in the philosophical, moral basis of the practice of medicine and, like most in the field recognized its inherent and inescapable ethical dilemmas, it was really the voluntary activity of some of our medical students that made me realize that a formal, academic center was needed. A group of 4th-year medical students, eager to fill a void in their training, organized a series of lunch hour seminars on bioethical issues, including those that
When I returned to Toronto, with the strong support of Drs. Angel, Silverman and Whiteside and administrative help from Dr. Carole Nash – all at the IMS – I invited some U of T faculty members with interest and background in applied ethics to join me in developing a center dedicated to research and scholarship, teaching and clinical consultation. They included, at first, Drs. John Senn (medicine), Jim Till (biophysics), Bernard Dickens (law), Wayne Sumner, Barry Brown and Bill Harvey (philosophy). Two younger colleagues, Peter Singer, a former U of T student and now an internist who had worked in clinical bioethics in Chicago, and Eric Meslin, a philosopher who won his PhD at Georgetown and whom I met while I was there, joined us. The IMS provided space on its floor in the Medical Science Building as well as administrative support. Lectures and seminars were organized and clini-
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cal consultation in the teaching hospitals was offered drawing interest and students from several faculties. We soon outgrew our MSB quarters and obtained new space in the adjoining C. David Naylor Building (then called the Tanz Building). Again new space was soon needed and I was able to get permission for the Centre to occupy the large, empty former church at 88 College Street, corner of Elizabeth Street. There the formal opening of the Centre took place in 1990. At the opening, the Honorable Brian Dickson, Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, spoke before a large audience that included President George Connell and former President John Evans who chaired the Centre’s advisory committee. At this point, we had students and also had obtained official University status with permission to offer MSc and PhD programs – but we got by on only a shoestring budget and unpaid academics who donated time. Eventually, grants came; most notably a $2million grant from the Ontario Government. I was privileged to see the Centre begin slowly to develop until the end of my directorship in 1995, and more rapidly when my successor Dr. Peter Singer established formal ties with the major teaching hospitals and it became the Joint Centre for Bioethics, the largest in Canada.
IMS MAGAZINE In 2010, I attended my first IMS Scientific Day where I was struck by the breadth of world-class research that was taking place within the IMS. Going home that evening, I couldnâ€™t quite believe that it had taken me over a year of graduate school to learn about the incredible work within the department, and I instantly recognized a need to increase awareness about the work of my fellow IMS colleagues. In the weeks after IMS Scientific Day, I set out to create a publication that would showcase and synthesize novel research findings of the IMS. My hope was that this publication would promote interaction and collaboration amongst students and faculty members within the IMS and, further, educate the public about the cutting-edge research being conducted throughout the IMS. I first brought my vision of an IMS publication to Dr. Howard Mount, who recommended taking advantage of the unique diversity of IMS programs by involving Biomedical Communication Program students in design and layout. After the meeting with Dr. Mount, I formed a committee of writers who I consider integral to the development of the publication, including Avi Vandersluis, Nina Bahl, and Amanda Ali. With the assistance of the IMS Magazine committee, I developed a prototype for the first issue of the IMS Magazine and laid everything out on the desk of then-IMS Director Dr. Ori Rotstein, and held my breath. Fortunately, he was impressed by the quality of the publication and granted approval for printing of the inaugural issue in the Winter of 2011. Under the continued support of the IMS Executive (former IMS Directors, Dr. Ori Rotstein and Dr. Allan Kaplan), the IMS Magazine Committee and I went on to create 10 successful editions of the IMS magazine. In 2014, I passed the role of Editor-in-Chief of the IMS Magazine on to Adam Santoro, a former PhD student. Adam continued to evolve the IMS Magazine while I focused on completing my PhD at the IMS.
Natalie Venier IMS Magazine Founder PhD Alumna Medical Science Liaison, Merck Canada
Years Active in the IMS: 2009 - 2015
Since that time, many more editions of the IMS Magazine have been published under the leadership of Annette Ye, Susy Lam, Kasey Hemington, Rebecca Ruddy, Petri Takkala, Sarah Peters, Lindsay Caldarone, and Anna Badner, who have done a remarkable job. I am absolutely thrilled to see the continued success of the IMS Magazine. I believe that both the IMS program and the broader scientific community have greatly benefited from learning about the type of research being conducted at the IMS over the past several years. In addition to my work on the IMS Magazine, in 2015 I obtained my PhD for my work in prostate cancer research. I was also honoured with several awards during this time, including the Roncari Book Price, for my work with the IMS Magazine. Throughout the completion of my PhD, I worked closely with my supervisors, Dr. Vasundara Venkateswaran and Dr. Laurence Klotz. I am very grateful for the mentorship, education, and support that Dr. Venkateswaran and Dr. Klotz provided to me along the way. With their guidance, I was able to publish numerous research articles, which will contribute to the broader body of research on prostate cancer. Today, I work as a Medical Science Liaison at Merck Canada, where I continue to apply my passion for science communication and my knowledge of oncology in order to help improve the lives of cancer patients.
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Co-Founder, Institute of Medical Science IMS Director, 1975 - 1980 Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto
DR. ERNEST McCULLOCH By Melissa Galati When we think of Canadian contributions to medical research, we’re quick to recall the discovery of insulin for the treatment of diabetes by Drs. Frederick Banting and Charles Best. It seems a shame, however, that so few Canadians recognize that stem cells were discovered in their own backyard. In fact, Canada has a storied history of contributions to stem cell research. This history begins in 1961 with a discovery by two University of Toronto (U of T) scientists, Dr. Ernest Armstrong “Bun” McCulloch—co-founder of the Institute of Medical Science (IMS)—and his colleague Dr. James Edgar Till. After graduating medical school from U of T in 1948, Dr. McCulloch delved into clinical research—in particular, studies of the immune system. He specialized in haematology, slowly taking on a greater role in teaching and research. Dr. McCulloch eventually received his appointment to the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI—now the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre) in 1957. At the OCI, Dr. McCulloch set out to cure leukemia. He received funding to study the effects of radiation on mammalian cells, a project that was of interest to the public in light of the Cold War. The task would require the knowledge of a fellow OCI scientist. Dr. Till, a Canadian physicist who had
Years Active in the IMS: 1968 - 2009
studied radiation biology during his PhD at Yale University, had enjoyed McCulloch’s presentations at some of the more informal meetings they attended and offered his expertise as McCulloch set out to conduct these seminal experiments. Although the existence of stem cells was already suspected, McCulloch and Till were the first to find and quantify them. Specifically, they discovered hematopoietic stem cells—which manifested as tiny nodules on the spleens of irradiated mice injected with healthy bone marrow. These nodules were full of proliferating cells that were able to generate red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets—the three main components of blood! We now know that McCulloch and Till had observed the two defining features of stem cells: they could give rise to all the different blood cells in the body, as well as “self-renew”. During his career, many of McCulloch’s graduate students were also physicians. Because these students were thought to have formal training in biological sciences, they were prevented from taking biology related courses in graduate school—a rule that frustrated McCulloch. At the same time, Dr. John (Jack) Coleman Laidlaw, an endocrinologist at Toronto General Hospital became similarly dissatisfied with the research
training received by MD graduates, which often lacked proper evaluation. A more structured training regime was needed, but one that was not quite as rigid as those basic science departments already existing in U of T’s School of Graduate Studies. The IMS was conceptualized in response to this need, achieving official approval in September of 1968. McCulloch, who was the first IMS Graduate Secretary—now termed Graduate Coordinator—and its second director (succeeding Laidlaw), was essential to the department’s formative years. His career embodied the central tenets of the IMS: His partnership with Till—the marrying of biological and physical sciences—was a multidisciplinary team conducting groundbreaking translational research before the term was even coined. McCulloch passed away on January 20, 2011, 50 years after his initial discoveries were first published. He is one of Canada’s most decorated scientists, named Officer of the Order of Canada, and inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. For his contributions to research, his scientific integrity, and for his fostering of the next generation of Canadian scientists, the IMS is proud to call Dr. McCulloch one of our founding fathers.
References: Bernstein A. If Canada’s game is hockey, its science is stem cells. The Globe and Mail [serial online]. 2012 Mar 7 [cited 2018 Jan 3]. Available from: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/if-canadas-game-is-hockey-its-science-is-stem-cells/article551653/
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DR. FREDA MILLER I have been part of IMS as a Professor and graduate mentor since I arrived in Toronto from McGill University in 2002, and it has been a highly rewarding experience for the entirety of that time. While I have done a number of things within the aegis of the IMS, the most memorable for me has been the graduate training – I have now graduated 9 PhD or MD/PhD students and am currently supervising another 4 IMS students. In this regard, one of the particular joys of my scientific life has been the opportunity to interact with and guide these graduate students. I view them as my “second family”, with all that entails. Yes, sometimes it means that I worry and fret about them, but that is more than balanced out by their infectious enthusiasm, creative new ideas and my pride in their progress as scientists. The opportunity to interact with my graduate students keeps me excited about our work, and it keeps me, in a sense, eternally young intellectually. It is in large part due to these interactions and the inspired work of my graduate students that I have been awarded a number of international awards, including an HHMI Senior International Scientist Award, and elected memberships in the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for Advancement of Science. I am extremely proud of all of my trainees and would like to thank all of them, and their host department, IMS, for the chance to make a scientific contribution while at the same time enjoying my work just as much now as I did when I was a graduate student.
I am extremely proud of all my trainees and would like to thank all of them.
Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Research Scholar Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neurobiology Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Cell and Molecular Developmental Neurobiologist at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute Founder of Aegera Therapeutics Inc.
Years Active in the IMS: 2002 - Present
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DR. CINDI MORSHEAD IMS Graduate Coordinator, 2012-2016 Professor and Chair, Division of Anatomy Department of Surgery Rehabilitation Sciences Institute Institute of Biomaterial and Biomedical Engineering The Donnelly Centre University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: 2002 - Present
â€œ It is an honour and privilege to be profiled as one of the IMS50 Stories, especially in light of the many exceptional contributors that have made the IMS what it is today. I did my PhD at the University of Toronto and had a spectacular mentor as a graduate student. My supervisor, Derek van der Kooy, was passionate about science, extraordinarily bright, totally open to new ideas and not afraid challenge the status quo. My graduate program was everything that a student could want. It was hard work, long hours and didnâ€™t progress in a straight line. Life got in the way on a number of occasions, but I got to be part of great science, was fully supported by my mentor and colleagues, and felt I could take charge of my future. At the time, I thought all graduate students had similar stories. It was only later that I realized this was not true. As I continued through my training as a Postdoctoral Fellow and then became a professor and scientist, I realized that I really wanted to play a role in guiding and mentoring graduate students to help them make the most of their programs. Indeed, what I consider to be one of the best parts of my job, is working with the graduate community. Throughout my career I have had
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What I consider to be one of the best parts of my job, is working with the graduate community.
the privilege of working with outstanding students, in my own lab and in the labs of colleagues. I work hard to guide students to ensure they have a memorable, productive and inspiring graduate program experience. A big part of what has enabled me to do this is the IMS, which has given me the opportunity to supervise passionate, bright, and determined trainees who comprise the student body of the IMS. It was a goal of mine to become more directly involved with the IMS. In 2012, I was given the opportunity to join the wonderful team of innovative, engaging, individuals at the IMS who support and advocate for graduate students. I had the pleasure of serving as graduate coordinator, recruitment chair, admissions committee member and chair of IMS Scientific Day. Through these activities I worked with creative teams that build opportunities for student engagement and most importantly, strive to keep the unique needs of individual students at the forefront. I had the pleasure of working with countless trainees to help them overcome hurdles, achieve their goals and realize their potential. It was a truly rewarding experience.
DR. HOWARD MOUNT Director of Education and Graduate Coordinator, Institute of Medical Science Associate Professor, Departments of Psychiatry, Medicine (Division of Neurology) and Physiology Principal Investigator, Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Years Active in the IMS: 1999 - Present
Like many in IMS, my own involvement began with Ms. Josie Chapman’s gentle encouragement to turn out for poster judging and chairing of exams before it evolved to include supervision of graduate students and participation in progress advisory committees. IMS provided a welcome sense of community for a basic neuroscientist in a clinically oriented department. The enthusiasm of trainees embarking on a problem of original research, meeting and overcoming challenges, developing new skills and expertise can be invigorating and highly rewarding to experience as a mentor. For this reason, IMS has the power to draw one into ever deepening engagement. In response to my advocacy on behalf of a talented, but ultimately unsuccessful IMS applicant, I was convinced to serve on the Admissions Committee, by Drs. Karen Davis and Mary Seeman. Eventually, I began my own term as Graduate Coordinator and MSC1010Y / MSC1011Y Course Director in 2007. In 2009, Dr. Ori Rotstein encouraged Dr. Tom Waddell – then Chair of the IMS Curriculum Committee – and me to expand this course and deliver it in a modular format that would expose students to topics of translational interest across the spectrum of biomedical and health science research.
In 2011, I took on an additional role as Director of Education and with a license from Dr. Allan Kaplan began the process of designing a stand-alone professional masters degree in Translational Research. Dr. Peter Pennefather guided our IMS efforts into deeper integration with the Knowledge Media Design Institute, from which Dr. Joseph Ferenbok was recruited to breathe life into the nascent MHSc in Translational Research Program. Its successful launch, under Joseph’s direction, coincided with a turnover of the IMS helm to Dr. Mingyao Liu. Today, the IMS is keen to find new ways for students to broaden experience through exchange opportunities within the laboratories of international collaborators. As Director of Education, I am delighted to report that IMS will institute workshops and modules to assist students with graduate professional skills planning and development. In January 2019, we will be launching the Graduate Diploma in Health Research, a two-year intensive research program in IMS for undergraduate medical students, under the direction of Dr. Neil Sweezey. We will also explore governance changes to our programs that may allow us to better meet the training needs of clinical fellows.
Over my 12 years in an IMS leadership role, I have benefitted enormously from the vision and support of three IMS Directors and of the Graduate Coordinators, Drs. Karen Davis, Mary Seeman, Carol Westall, Brenda Toner and Cindi Morshead. Today, IMS operations are overseen by a team of Graduate Coordinators that includes myself and colleagues, Drs. Vasundara Venkateswaran, Lucy Osborne, and Richard Horner. But none of our efforts would have amounted to much without the dedication of our faculty lecturers and course directors, the institutional knowledge and dedication of Hazel Pollard, or the creative talents of the IMS curricular administrators; in particular, Dianne Fukunaga, Michelle Rosen, Moni Kim and Maeve Doyle, who have personally shaped the student experience in our programs, ensuring that a community of faculty, staff and students remains a community worthy of deep engagement. I look forward to continuing involvement in the development of programs and counselling of students and remain deeply grateful for the Faculty of Medicine recognizing these contributions with the 2017 Sustained Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentorship Award.
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MEDICAL RADIATION SCIENCES Nicole Harnett, Director, Master of Health Science in Medical Radiation Sciences Program (MHScMRS)
Years Active in the IMS: 2007 - Present
The little program that could. It was the start of a new millennium – a time for big ideas and big plans. A small but mighty team of 2 took action on their idea that, with the blistering pace of innovation and change in the field of radiation medicine, radiation therapists could play a major role in shaping its future. With a program design in hand, Dr. Pam Catton and I began our search for a home for our new little program at the University of Toronto. To a great extent, our pitch fell on deaf ears….until we met Dr. Ori Rotstein. In his years as Director of IMS, the IMS had seen significant growth in vision and in size. Under his leadership, the Institute was expanding its purview including the perpetuation of a “professional” program model with the addition of the Master of Health Science in Bioethics and thus appeared to be the perfect home for our little program. And so, the wheels were put into motion to launch the Master of Health Science in
Medical Radiation Sciences (MHScMRS) – the first graduate program for radiation therapists in North America. From the start, it was evident that this small, boutique program would challenge the IMS leadership to think outside of the box and to embrace the unusual. As the program worked to find its target audience, it underwent several reincarnations. Most notably, in 2013, the program was converted to a “blended delivery” format providing almost 90% of the program content online. This change allowed students in the program to remain at home and keep their clinical jobs while studying, which is a quality that is now garnering international attention. Since its inception in 2009, the MHScMRS program has graduated 9 future radiation therapy leaders, with 3 additional students set to graduate in 2018.
The twists and turns of launching and shepherding this kind of burgeoning program required thoughtful guidance from within the Institute – guidance that has been unwaveringly provided by Dr. Howard Mount in his role as Chair of the Curriculum Committee. His willingness to listen to new ideas and openly support what he believes in has been a key driver of the program’s evolution and responsiveness. With his continued support and with Dr. Mingyao Liu in the Director’s Chair, it appears our little program will continue to be in good hands.
*Since this story was written, a decision has been taken by UTDRO and IMS to propose closure of the MHScMRS Program. Over the last several years, it became evident that the vision and innovative nature of the program were a bit ahead of its time. Given the current health care landscape, and the slow uptake of the new model of care supported by the graduates of the MHScMRS program, it was decided to close the program in its current format and take the necessary time to review the needs of the profession, the team and the entire cancer system. Photo: Nicole Harnett with the first MHScMRS graduates.
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FADL NABBOUH Former IMSSA President UofT Talks Lead Events Lead – Student, Alumni, Faculty Engagement Committee Mentorship Co-founder and Lead
Years Active in the IMS: 2015 - Present
While completing my BSc in Neuroscience at UofT, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. All I knew was that I was interested in medicine and research, particularly in neurodegenerative diseases. In a chance encounter with a professor, I was introduced to the IMS. Before I knew it, I had applied, and joined, Dr. Anurag Tandon’s group at Toronto Western Hospital.
used our size to increase the participation of our students and faculty in events such as the holiday party and UofT Talks. Lastly, my presidency was key in bridging the gaps between other student initiatives to foster more collaboration amongst the entire student body and the IMS.
When I first started in the IMS I had a difficult time keeping up with those around me – this new world was fascinating and overwhelming. I opted to join IMSSA in the hopes of making new friends and building a support system of students going through the same transition. I learned quickly that our greatest resource in this department is its size and its diversity of perspectives.
Having reflected on my first year and knowing the resources the IMS could offer, I co-created the IMS peer-to-peer mentorship program with TRP student Craig Madho, with the guidance of Dr. Richard Horner and Dr. Howard Mount. This initiative would pair senior students with incoming first years. The goal of this program was to smooth the transition into graduate school and create a support system for students as it pertains to the program requirements.
In 2016 I was elected the President of IMSSA. I prioritized creating a sense of community to foster collaboration within our association and between the student body and our community. IMSSA doubled in size that year with over 100 active members. I wanted to use this untapped resource to leave the IMS and the community in a better state than when we first got there. I supported new initiatives, such as IMSSA’s annual homelessness event and film screening, that have continued to this day. I also
During my time in the IMS, I’ve developed a multitude of technical and personal skills. I value the close mentorship of Dr. Tandon and the growth the IMS has provided. In the same manner, I am grateful for the support the study body has provided me and I hope that our community continues to grow to support future students. The IMS helped leverage my skills as a leader and a collaborator. It gave me the confidence to pursue my passion and has truly made me a better person.
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Why the IMS? The IMS allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a neuroscientist. Before entering medical school, I had completed only two years of undergraduate studies. After finishing residency training in anesthesia, I wanted to undertake preclinical studies to understand how general anesthetic drugs change brain function. My limited background in basic science precluded my admission to other graduate programs. The IMS was my gateway to a career as a clinician-scientist and the exciting world of neuroscience. What are we studying? The discovery of general anesthesia was one of the greatest advances in the history of modern medicine. However, the molecular mechanisms of anesthesia have eluded scientists for centuries. This lack of understanding has thwarted our ability to develop new anesthetic drugs and treat postanesthesia-related disorders such as delirium. To address these and other major knowledge gaps and to improve patient care, my goal has been to understand how general anesthetic drugs change brain function.
DR. BEVERLEY ORSER Professor and Chair, Department of Anesthesia Professor of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto Co-director of Research, Department of Anesthesia, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
Years Active in the IMS: MSc-PhD Student: 1988 - 1995 Faculty: 1995 - Present
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Over the years, my research team has discovered new drug targets, identified the unique properties of receptors, developed new compounds, and obtained patents for therapies that are now being commercialized. More recently, we established the Perioperative Brain Health Centre, the first such centre in the world. The goal of this multidisciplinary endeavour is to discover new treatments for postoperative cognitive deficits by bridging between preclinical and clinical studies. We aim to establish Canada as a global leader in perioperative brain health and to improve the lives of patients and their families. Who were my mentors and students? The supervisors of my MSc and PhD graduate studies at the IMS, Dr. Hugh Oâ€™Brodovich and Dr. John MacDonald, were passionate about translational biomedical research. They asked fundamental questions and set high standards. In turn, one of my greatest professional joys since joining the IMS faculty has been supervising graduate students and fellows. Many of my former trainees now run their own research programs. For example, Loren Martin PhD (IMS, 2009) is a Canada Research Chair in Translational Pain Research at the University of Toronto. Is the future bright for the IMS? Absolutely! The IMS plays a vital role in helping clinician scientists to fulfill their duty to solve unresolved medical problems using the best available science. Our patients and their families deserve nothing less.
DR. ELIOT PHILLIPSON Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor of Medicine Emeritus Chair, Department of Medicine at University of Toronto (1993 - 2004) President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation (2004 - 2010) Officer of the Order of Canada Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
Years Active in the IMS: 1976 - 2004
Like all its faculty members, my involvement with the IMS included the supervision of graduate students, membership on graduate committees, and participation in formal seminar programs. However, my most unique interaction with the IMS related to the Department of Medicine Clinician-Scientist Training Program (CSTP). The CSTP was established 25 years ago (1993), one of the earliest and most important initiatives undertaken during my tenure as Department Chair. For at least the two preceding decades, the clinician-scientist in North America had been considered an “endangered species.” Although several underlying factors accounted for a marked decline in the number of MD-investigators, one of the most important was that of inadequate research training, leaving many clinician-scientists ill-prepared to sustain an independent research program in the increasingly complex, sophisticated, and competitive world of science. As the largest Department in the Faculty of Medicine, we felt a particular responsibility to ensure the sustainability of a flourishing Departmental research program. This responsibility required the ongoing recruitment of well-trained clinician-scientists to our faculty. The decision was therefore made to establish a formal Departmental research training program. In considering possible models for such a program, we were strongly influenced by the highly successful Surgical-Scientist Program of the Department of Surgery, and by the expertise of the IMS leadership of the time, notably Mel Silverman and Cathy Whiteside.
The structure of the CSTP evolved over its first few years. By 1997 its key elements included a dedicated Program Director (initially Kathy Siminovitch, who was followed by Cathy Whiteside, Greg Downey, and Robert Chen) and Committee, a formal trainee selection process, enrollment of trainees in a graduate program, an advisory committee for each trainee, and guaranteed base funding of trainees for a minimum of three years. In order to accommodate the particular needs of postgraduate medical trainees, the program also allowed flexibility in the timing of research training, and most importantly, provided a topup of the base salary to the level of the appropriate Ministry of Health resident salary. By 2000, there were 27 trainees in active research training in the CSTP, 23 of whom were in PhD programs. Of the 27 trainees, 23 held a Fellowship training award from a peer-review agency (15 from the Medical Research Council – the forerunner to CIHR – alone). And by the same year, five graduates of the Program had already taken up faculty appointments in the Department of Medicine as clinician-scientists, a number that would increase considerably over the subsequent years. The IMS played a key role in the success of the CSTP by serving as the graduate home of most of the trainees in the program and by providing them with academic support, mentoring, and administrative guidance. The relationship between IMS and the Department of Medicine was exemplary and represented interdepartmental cooperation at its finest. The Department of Medicine CSTP serves as a legacy of IMS and its leadership.
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DR. RACHEL RABIN The IMS is a unique graduate program that embraces a philosophy where learning is best achieved through experience. The program stresses the importance of empirical, independent research and encourages students to think critically and strategically about Science, with the goal of improving human health. I completed both my Masters of Science and Ph.D. at the Institute of Medical Science under the supervision Dr. Tony George where my research focused on the clinical and cognitive correlates of chronic cannabis use in patients with schizophrenia and non-psychiatric controls. I was also fortunate to receive funding for this work from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) both at the Masters, and Doctoral level.
Fellowship at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Related Conditions (NARC) lab
Years Active in the IMS: MSc: 2009 - 2011 PhD: 2012 - 2016
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The importance of a committed supervisor in IMS cannot be stressed enough. Dr. Georgeâ€™s unique and dedicated mentorship was crucial to my academic success. He encouraged me to take scientific risks, think outside the box, and tackle research questions with vigor, enthusiasm, and creativity. Together, we boldly implemented a novel longitudinal 28-day cannabis abstinence design that, despite skepticism from others, ultimately proved successful. This paradigm has since been adopted to investigate other phenomena (e.g., cortical inhibition, mismatch negativity, anxiety) in Dr. Georgeâ€™s lab. My six years at the IMS were instrumental in shaping and fine-tuning my research interests and ultimately led me to secure a postdoctoral position at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, with Dr. Rita Goldstein. My decision to pursue this fellowship was largely based on the opportunity to work with world-renowned experts in the field, be involved in a collaborative training environment, and have access to extensive resources. The opportunity to live in Manhattan was also a big draw for me. My current lab, the Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Related Conditions (NARC) builds on my previous research by using a multimodal imaging approach (MRI, EEG/ERP, PET) to better understand behavior, neurocognition and emotional regulation in substance using individuals. I hope to continue on this academic trajectory in the hopes that this research will lead to enhanced treatment approaches and clinical care for patients suffering from addiction.
RAW TALK PODCAST Richie Jeremian & Jabir Mohamed PhD Candidate & MSc Alumnus
Years Active in the IMS: 2016 - Present
Raw Talk Podcast is the co-creation of Richie Jeremian (fifth-year PhD candidate) and Jabir Mohamed (MSc, 2018). Our origins date back to 2015, when we were first introduced, and began brainstorming a way to capture the stories and insights of the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) community. What started as a video project featuring faculty members, quickly developed into a podcast, when we realized just how much influence and wisdom could be shared using the long-form audio medium. Since launching our first season in Fall 2016, Raw Talk Podcast has showcased faculty members reflecting a variety of research topics and disciplines including, but not limited to, regenerative medicine, infectious diseases, neuroscience and psychiatry, and biomedical communication. Featured guests have provided insights that are universal to all budding researchers—early academic development, the importance of collaboration and failure, and the future of biomedical science, to name a few—and highlighted the importance of their research to the public. The program’s first 41 episodes, which range from 30-60 minutes in length, have amassed nearly 10,000 downloads from listeners across 63 countries.
Throughout the first season, our team worked diligently to expand its outreach by engaging listeners and the broader academic community through social media. The campaign was managed by Ekaterina An(MSc, 2018) and Melissa Galati (thirdyear PhD candidate), who in addition to segment hosting, drew on their knowledge of online platforms to garner more interest about the podcast. Further, Alexandra Mogadam (MSc, 2017) and Eryn Tong (second-year MSc candidate) played an equally significant role in writing and producing segments such as Ask a Student, Patient Perspective, and Flashback Friday, that provided both continuity and unique perspectives to the main discussion of each episode. By our second season, our team had grown to include 18 graduate students and alumni from the IMS. Engaging with our audience continues to be a critical aspect of Raw Talk Podcast, and thanks to the positive media coverage we secured through press releases and news articles, its visibility and credibility among listeners has heightened. For instance, in a roundup of University of Toronto podcasts, Raw Talk Podcast emerged as the longest running and highest rated show on cam-
pus. More recently, the team received the SGS Innovation in Graduate Professional Development Fund to host and organize a live podcasting event—a university first—to draw more awareness on public science literacy and new methods of science communication in our graduate community. This event, entitled Raw Talk Live (It’s Not You, It’s The Scituation: Better Science, Better Engagement), was held on May 30, 2018, attracted 120 guests, and set the foundation for future engagement. Looking ahead, we would like to broaden the scope of Raw Talk Podcast to include the entire spectrum of programs and research at the Faculty of Medicine, and to better reflect the diverse faces and voices behind discovery and innovation at U of T. As part of this effort, we have recently begun the recruitment process for our third season. We hope to start a discussion about how we can apply our established training, skills and branding to reach a broader audience, and ultimately, make the program a staple of our academic community. Photo: L-R: Richie Jeremian & Jabir Mohamed
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The IMS has been an important academic home for me and for the talented and creative graduate students with whom I have worked over the course of my career. The singular focus of this Institute on meaningful and rigorous scholarship has been a guidepost for my research and a launching pad for the academic and research careers of so many graduate students. It has also provided continuity for me in my research that has moved from examining the psychological impact of end-stage renal disease to that of type 1 diabetes in children, adolescents and adults, to metastatic and advanced cancer and hematological malignancies and the quality of dying and death in this population, to the establishment of a clinical trials program in supportive oncology, testing the impact of novel psychotherapeutic and palliative interventions for patients and caregivers.
DR. GARY RODIN Professor, Department of Psychiatry Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre & Toronto General Research Institute (TGHRI) Head, Department of Supportive Care, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Director, Global Institute of Psychosocial, Palliative and End-of-Life Care (GIPPEC)
Years Active in the IMS: 1986 - Present
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I have been fortunate to have supervised a remarkable group of individuals in their graduate studies. Anne Rydall and Patricia Colton in their Master’s program and Jennifer Jones in her doctoral studies conducted groundbreaking research on the evolution and prevalence, course and complications of eating disorders in adolescents and children with type I diabetes mellitus. In their Master’s programs, Kenneth Fung examined emotional awareness and psychopathology in Chinese Canadians and Janet De Groot examined the link of this variable to bulimia nervosa in young women with this disorder. Cheryl Fernandes in her Master’s studies identified the predictors of parenting stress in young adults with hematological malignancies. Sarah Hales in her Doctoral program conducted the largest study to date of the quality of dying and death in patients with metastatic cancer and Isuri Weerakkody and Samantha Fernandes continued this line of research in their master’s’ programs, conducting the first studies of the quality of dying and death in residential hospice and chronic care settings. In their Master’s programs, Ekaterina An developed an advanced theory by testing a model of terror management in patients with advanced cancer and Eryn Tong created and tested the implementation of a psychoeducational intervention for patients with pancreatic cancer. Michael Anderson is now undertaking Doctoral studies identifying factors that affect access to end-oflife care for the First Nations, Inuit and Metis community. The cumulative breadth, depth and impact of this research is impressive and owes much to the structure that the IMS has created for research trainees and their supervisors. It has been my privilege to supervise such talented and accomplished graduate students and I have been filled with pride and satisfaction as they have pursued their research careers and assumed leadership positions in their fields. I have learned enormously from them and from the innovative approaches that they developed in their research. I felt touched to receive the IMS Mel Silverman Mentorship Award and I know how much my research and professional satisfaction have been enriched by my close association with the IMS over the years. I look forward to my ongoing engagement with the IMS as it renews its vision and builds on its close association with clinical departments and diverse research streams.
The IMS has shaped the approach I bring to graduate supervision.
DR. NORMAN ROSENBLUM
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes Professor of Paediatrics, Physiology, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology Tier I Canada Research Chair in Developmental Nephrology Immediate Past Associate Dean, Physician Scientist Training at University of Toronto Paediatric Nephrologist and Senior Scientist, The Hospital for Sick Children
Years Active in the IMS: 1995 - Present
My IMS story began in 1995, at which time I was an early career investigator establishing a laboratory program focused on kidney development and malformation. My appointment to the IMS was the entry point for graduate student supervision. IMS was the perfect graduate unit for trainees focused on science with an interface to medicine. Over the ensuing 23 years, the IMS has shaped the approach I bring to graduate supervision and has provided a conceptual platform that has shaped my approach to science. Inspired by discussions with fellow clinician scientists, I initiated the development of, and subsequently led, the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program from 2001 until 2012. In 2008, I was appointed the Director of both the University of Toronto MD/ PhD Program and the RCPSC Clinical Investigator Program and became the inaugural Associate Dean, Physician Scientist Program in 2009. During my term, I worked closely with the IMS to integrate clinical medicine and science within curricula. IMS is the host of the newly created Graduate Diploma in Health Research within the MD Program. In the MD/ PhD Program, students can now engage in graduate and medical studies simultaneously, integrate medicine and science within case-based teaching and participate in enhanced formal and informal men-
toring. In the Clinician Investigator Program, a newly developed e-based curriculum focuses on professional skills for the clinician-scientist and an annual symposium features cutting-edge science, clinician scientist role models, and workshops focused on skill-building. As a member of the IMS Executive Committee, I participated in the development of the Masters of Health Science in Translational Research program and have served on the advisory committee for this exciting initiative. Since my appointment to the IMS, I have been awarded the 2004 Aventis Pasteur Research Award, the 2006 Inaugural American Pediatric Society Norman J. Siegel New Member Outstanding Science Award, the 2009 Paediatric Chairs of Canada Paediatric Academic Leadership-Clinical Investigator Award, the 2010 Maureen Andrew Mentor Award by the Society for Pediatric Research, and the 2011 Kidney Foundation of Canada Medal for Research Excellence. As a clinician scientist and educator, I have been greatly influenced and supported by the IMS as it celebrates the importance of medical science and the development of new generations of medical scientists.
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My affiliation with the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) began back in 1980 when I undertook my MSc, studying the formation of gallstones, under the supervision of Steve Strasberg. This was my first real exposure to research, and it sparked my interest and life-long commitment to being a clinician-investigator. After I finished my surgical training at the University of Toronto (UofT), I went on to complete a Research Fellowship in infection and inflammation at the University of Minnesota. In 1985, I came back to UofT, started my own lab, and eagerly got to work building my own research portfolio. I quickly learned the importance of collaboration. Every Friday afternoon, I would collect cells at my lab in the Toronto Western Hospital and bring them over to SickKids where I was studying intercellular pH with Sergio Grinstein. I still remember the strange looks I would get on the shuttle bus while transporting my package of cells. The first time I applied for a faculty appointment in the IMS I wasn’t actually accepted! I was really disappointed. Then chair of Surgery, Dr. Bernie Langer, buoyed my spirits and encouraged me to reapply once I had more experience. Luckily, I took his advice and was appointed to IMS faculty in 1986 and my career in the IMS took root. Since then I have supervised a total of 24 bright and enthusiastic graduate students, and this year I was honoured to receive the J.J. Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award for sustained excellence as a doctoral supervisor from the School of Graduate Studies.
DR. ORI ROTSTEIN IMS Director, 2000 - 2011 Director, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science. Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto Surgeon-in-Chief, Department of Surgery, St. Michael’s Hospital
Years Active in the IMS: 1986 - Present
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In 1992 I became IMS Associate Director. This was an incredible time of learning and growth. I worked closely with Mel Silverman and Cathy Whiteside, who were really revamping the IMS program and promoting graduate training for clinicians interested in academic careers. I was appointed IMS Director in 2000 and focused my efforts on expanding the program –bringing in more faculty from departments across the Faculty of Medicine, recruiting more trainees, including those who were not MDs and increasing the size of the IMS administration to accommodate our increased numbers. We also refocused the IMS program to include more emphasis on translational research. One of my proudest achievements during my tenure as Director was how much student engagement increased. I held a monthly “Breakfast with the Director” which gave me the opportunity to get to know our students better and to have them share their stories and connect with each other. It also created an opportunity for lots of cross-pollination among researchers in other disciplines and at other research sites. The IMS Students’ Association (IMSSA) expanded dramatically as well and really fostered a sense of community among students, which they continue to do to this day. In addition, the involvement of students from the IMSSA on all our committees really gave a “students’ lens” on our activities. I love having the opportunity to come back to the IMS each year to host the annual “Ori Rotstein Lecture in Translational Research”. It’s been rewarding to see how the IMS has continued to expand and grow in recent years and to solidify its reputation as a strong and distinguished graduate training program.
KATHERINE SCHWENGER After completing my Masters of Applied Nutrition and receiving my dietetic credentials, I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue next. I considered everything from an MBA to working at the UN. While exploring these options with Dr. Janet Madill, an IMS alumni, she encouraged me to consider a PhD as a way to bridge the gaps between dietetics and research. Taking her advice, I undertook my PhD at the IMS under the supervision of Dr. Johane Allard. PhD Candidate Former IMSSA President Head of Student Wellness on SAFE Committee Founder of UofT Talks, Lead of CAMH’s One Brave Night at University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: 2013 - Present
IMS has enabled me to leverage my organizational, leadership, and prioritization skills to impact the IMS and transition effectively into the working world.
My PhD began like many others: prioritizing my research, unaware of what was happening within the student body. In order to address this disparity, I decided to join the IMS Student Association, eventually being elected Co-President. During this time, I was able to develop my leadership skills, enhance my ability to communicate, and build lasting friendships. As Co-President, I helped build opportunities for engagement and learning for IMS students. One example is CAMH’s One Brave Night (OBN) campaign. As a student body, we engaged in a unique event and supported a topic that is often stigmatized in our society and that affects graduate students immensely. We managed to raise funds and awareness to conquer this stigma and provide students with a chance to connect with the local community. With the success of OBN, I began to look beyond the student body and ask: how can we engage the entire IMS community? Under the guidance and support of Dr. Brenda Toner, we explored paths to bridge gaps in communications between Students, Alumni, and Faculty through the newly developed Student, Alumni, Faculty Engagement (SAFE) committee. This led to the creation of another annual event: UofT Talks. This event brings together individuals from all faculties and the GTA to discuss emerging topics that impacts Canadians. I have been fortunate to work with a diverse group of students and mentors and the IMS. The result of this work has resulted in receiving multiple awards for research, student governance, and volunteerism as well as publish papers across an array of disciplines. Overall, IMS has enabled me to leverage my organizational, leadership, and prioritization skills to impact the IMS and transition effectively into the working world.
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I learned far more and in greater depth from the students I talked to as a Graduate Coordinator...than I learned from my textbooks in Medical School. I first qualified as a member of IMS in 1985, which makes for an unbelievable 33 years of affiliation. Between 2002 and 2011, I was a Graduate Coordinator, so those were the years during which I was most involved, but Iâ€™ve supervised students throughout and they have been pivotal in my life. My own fairly narrow academic interest was schizophrenia and women, but my students led me far afield into developing a scale for engulfment in schizophrenia, studying the effects of emotional expressiveness in schizophrenia, and discovering the effects of puberty on schizophrenia, and the role of hope in psychotic illness. I learned about the impact of antipsychotic drugs on the hormone, prolactin, and how it can be measured by PET imaging; I learned about childhood schizophrenia, about addictions, about HIV and aging, domestic violence, the embryology of the heart, the intricacies of ethics committees, the mental health problems of immigrants, the stresses borne by siblings of children with cancer, the family problems of adolescents with diabetes, and the ethics of screening for mental illness in children.
DR. MARY SEEMAN IMS Graduate Coordinator, 2002-2011 Professor Emerita, Department of Psychiatry University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: 1985 - Present
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I learned far more and in greater depth from the students I talked to as a Graduate Coordinator, when they explained their theories and experiments to me, than I learned from my textbooks in Medical School. And not all my teachers were students. I learned invaluable lessons from Josie Chapman, Lou Siminovitch, Mel Silverman, Mingyao Liu, Howard Mount, Ori Rotstein, Hazel Pollard, and so very many others. Because of my association with IMS, I have been heaped with research awards from the Canadian and US Psychiatric Associations, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, Golden and Diamond Queen Elizabeth Jubilee awards, an honorary Doctor of Science award from UofT, and I was selected as an Officer of the Order of Canada for my contribution to the mental health of Canadian women. None of this would have been possible without the IMS.
My IMS story begins in 1971 when I moved from McGill to U of T, set up my research laboratory, and received a graduate appointment in the IMS, the “brain child” of Jack Laidlaw, its Founding Director. Jack’s vision, supported and advised by Bun McCulloch and Lou Siminovitch, was to establish an Institute focused on graduate studies in medical science to serve as an academic engine for clinical departments in the Faculty of Medicine. Their uncompromising standards of excellence provided a template, which has guided IMS leadership for 50 years. Their legacy can be measured by achievements of IMS graduates over two generations, many of whom have taken on leadership positions in clinical departments and administrative roles in the Faculty of Medicine, including Deanships! By any measure, the IMS has played a pivotal role in helping U of T become recognized nationally and internationally as a preeminent powerhouse in academic medicine. In 1984, I became Founding Director of the U of T MD/PhD program and Director of the MRC Group in Membrane Biology. I was appointed Director of IMS in 1991 and served in that role until 1999. Energized by two outstanding graduate co-ordinators, Drs. Catherine Whiteside and Reinhart Reithmeir, the IMS experienced remarkable growth in student and faculty numbers. Under the IMS umbrella, we welcomed graduate programs in Nursing, Rehabilitation Sciences, Bioethics, and initiated a Master Program in Biomedical Communications. Working with Professors Whiteside and Reinhart was one of the most rewarding collaborations of my career and each of these talented individuals went on to their own spectacular careers – respectively Dean of Medicine and Chair of Biochemistry. A highlight during this period was establishing the Royal College Clinical Investigator Program (RCCIP) with Dr. Bernard Langer. This program provided RC Certification for postgraduate clinical trainees who completed MSc and PhD degrees. It was modeled after the Department of Surgery IMS Surgical Scientist Program (SSP), pioneered by Dr. Langer. Other clinical departments quickly responded to creation of the CIP, providing funded graduate training pathways for their residents interested in academic careers, which continue to the present day. In 1998, I received the Northrope Frye Award for the MDPHD Program and the W.T. Aitkins Teaching Award from the U of T Faculty of Medicine. Most rewarding, however, was that by the time I stepped down as IMS Director in 1999, both the CIP, supported by the Royal College and the MD/PhD program, supported initially by the MRC then CIHR, each pioneered at U of T, and incubated within IMS, had become national programs with representation at all major Canadian Medical Schools. My IMS story has been an interesting journey with many wonderful shared memories.
DR. MEL SILVERMAN IMS Director, 1991-2000 Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto Senior Staff Nephrology, Toronto General Hospital
Years Active in the IMS: 1971 - Present
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DR. LOUIS SIMINOVITCH
Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto Director Emeritus of Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute Director, University Medical Discoveries, Inc Director, Ontario Genomics Institute
Years Active in the IMS: 1967 - 2011
By S. Amanda Ali Louis Siminovitch, fondly known as “Lou”, led a highly successful biomedical career which established him as pioneer in the field of human genetics. Born in Montreal in 1920, he earned his BSc, PhD, and DSc, and conducted ground-breaking research on the genetic basis of disease. Dr. Siminovitch directly shaped the medical research landscape in Canada by contributing to the establishment of the Ontario Cancer Institute (1956-1969), the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute (1970-1985), the Samuel Lunenfeld Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto (1983-1994), and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto (1967-2011). His work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the prestigious Gairdner Foundation International Award. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1980, then promoted within the Order to Companion in 1989. He was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 1997 for the achievements made over his fifty-year career.
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Regarding his contributions to the IMS, Dr. Siminovitch reflects, “I have a long and wonderful history with the IMS–beginning from my efforts almost fifty years ago to help Jack Laidlaw develop the Institute and then continuing over many years as a member of the IMS Executive [Committee], where I had the pleasure of advising on successive reconfigurations of the Institute’s graduate degree programs and the evolving repertoire of professional masters and research field exposures offered to students by the IMS. I was particularly delighted by the creation of the Siminovitch-Salter award in 1995 for outstanding scholarly contributions which highlights my long association with a superb clinician-scientist and friend, Dr. Robert Salter, and honors our mutual respect for research excellence. This annual award, given to a graduating doctoral student, is one of the important vehicles whereby the IMS recognizes and encourages young investigators who have made outstanding research contributions. Working with the IMS founders, leaders and student community is a highlight of my association with the University of Toronto.”
Photo by Krystal Jacques-Smith
Kamila Lear, Business Officer Kaki Narh-Blackwood, Student, Faculty Affairs & Awards Officer Hazel Pollard, Admissions Officer Sarah Topa, International Program & Partnerships Officer
Years Active in the IMS: 1998 - Present
By Sarah Topa As a staff team we have a lot of experience under our belts. Hazel has been here the longest at twenty years, and Kamila isn’t far behind with nearly a decade of service. I have learned a lot from my colleagues since joining the team – not only about the day-to-day running of the IMS, but also about how to best serve students, problem solve, take initiative and work together. We all appreciate that the IMS staff team really cares about students and the strong sense of camaraderie and cooperation among us. In 2015 I was honoured to receive the Faculty of Medicine’s “New Employee Staff IMPACT Award”. It was particularly meaningful that the nomination and recognition came from my colleagues. We all love the diversity of the IMS. Hazel’s favourite part of her job is having “the opportunity to meet someone new every day, especially during the admission period”. Kaki explains that “The IMS is a place where there is a constant stream of fascinating people and projects. The proximity to interesting and novel
research is very exciting.” It’s true – we get to hear about groundbreaking research and incredible accomplishments in medical science first hand. It’s also safe to say that another great part of our jobs is getting to work directly with students – helping, advising and encouraging them on a daily basis. Elena, our former Departmental Assistant, was the first point of contact for the IMS. She really enjoyed assisting our students and faculty and was a welcoming presence in the office and was always ready to lend a hand. As Kamila points out, “I believe that building stronger connections with IMS students will help us understand where we need to focus our efforts to support their graduate experience.” With over 500 students and 600 faculty in the IMS our days may be busy, but they are certainly also rewarding. Photo: L-R: Sarah Topa, Hazel Pollard, Kaki Narh-Blackwood and Kamila Lear.
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My story at IMS does not end in the lab.
SHANNA STANLEY-HASNAIN Clinical Research Coordinator, Peter Munk Cardiac Center Biobank Research Assistant, Toronto General Research Institute
My story at the IMS began in 2014, as a Master’s student in Dr. Phyllis Billia’s molecular cardiology lab. It was a great match – I was beginning my career as a graduate student, and Dr. Billia was commencing her journey as a new faculty member at the IMS, with me being her first student. We learned from each other, grew as a team, and Dr. Billia became the first person I could truly call a mentor. During my time in her lab, I was honored to be awarded with an OGS and QEII-GSST scholarship and present at two exciting international conferences, along with a multitude of local ones. Ultimately, my Master’s research culminated in a first author paper published in Cell Cycle, a second author paper in PLoS, and two first author review articles in Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine, putting our lab on the map in the field of cardiac regeneration and cardiomyocyte cell cycle regulation. The quality of research and unconventional lens through which cardiac regulation is examined by this lab have made me very proud to be a member of the team. That being said, my story at IMS does not end in the lab. An equally important portion is the story of my involvement in the student life at IMS. It began on orientation day, when someone said a few words that changed the entire outlook of my degree. Dr. Rich Foty (past IMSSA President, TRP instructor) came over to me and said “Come check out our next IMSSA meeting. We are your community here at the IMS!”. The next thing I knew, I was propelled into joining the Institute of Medical Science Student’s Association (IMSSA) and the Student, Alumni, Faculty Engagement (SAFE) committee. Through SAFE, under the mentorship of Dr. Brenda Toner (Chair of SAFE), I took my first stab at organizing a department wide event, called Beyond the
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Years Active in the IMS: 2014 - Present
Debate, which brought together health care workers, IMS faculty members, and policy makers to discuss the pressing issue of physician assisted suicide. Soon after, I was elected as the Vice President of IMSSA, where I worked closely with co-presidents Katherine Schwenger and Meagan O’Neil on countless projects; UofT Talks and CAMH One Brave Night, to name only a couple, bringing together hundreds of students to engage in diverse activities throughout the year. By the bittersweet time of my defense, I felt as though I had truly built a family at the IMS that I did not want to let go of. As such, two years later I still remain involved with the IMS, as Alumni Representative on SAFE, and on the IMS50 executive planning committee. This continued involvement has allowed me to work alongside visionaries such as Drs. Mingyao Liu, Mel Silverman, Ori Rotsein, Brenda Toner and Howard Mount, to plan the celebration of IMS’ 50th Anniversary, and reflect on the achievements made by those who have led the IMS to the forefront of medical education today. My in depth exposure to clinical and basic research and the opportunity to grow as a leader throughout my degree at the IMS launched me to the next level in my career, working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre Biobank. I am incredibly grateful for all the knowledge and experience I gained at the IMS, and look forward to further collaboration with the incredible individuals in this department as it continues to evolve as a home for stellar medical scientists.
IMS STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
Craig Madho & Swapna Mylabathula MHSc TRP Student & MD/PhD Student IMSSA Co-Presidents
Years Active in the IMS: 2017 - 2018 Co-Presidents
The story of the Institute of Medical Science Students’ Association (IMSSA) is one of humble beginnings. Dr. David Kideckel, IMSSA president from 2011-2012, helped unify the student group to better engage trainees that worked all across Toronto. Under his leadership, IMSSA was revitalized, and students from across the different research sites were brought together. Following this success, Dr. Richard (Rich) Foty was elected as president of IMSSA from 2012-2013. Rich scaled and expanded IMSSA – most notably, working with the Student Alumni Faculty Engagement (SAFE) committee to develop the first IMS-led TedMed event, setting the stage for future big events. Over the course of the next two years, IMSSA continued to grow – presidents, Rageen Rajendram (20132014) and Richie Jeremian (2014-2015) both promoted the diversity of IMSSA and created several unique initiatives. 2015-2016 marked a milestone in IMSSA leadership when we elected our first Co-Presidents. During their tenure, Katherine Schwenger and Meagan O’Neill built strong relationships between IMSSA and the wider university community. Partnering with SAFE, they launched two annual IMS events: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s One Brave Night and UofT Talks. Fadl Nabbouh took over the helm in 2016-2017 and brought his own unique vision to IMSSA by building a strong sense of community among students. Under his leadership, IMSSA doubled in size to over 100 members and recognition of the importance of student wellness was made through the creation of a formal Wellness position on the IMSSA executive. IMSSA was built by students for students. As current co-presidents, we have taken this mandate and the legacy of past presidents to empower students and provide the tools for them to thrive. To date, we have led an array of initiatives aimed at building a community within and outside of the IMS, such as AWAKE Olympics and IMSSA Candygrams. It is our goal to continue to empower students to reach beyond the lab and build a strong community filled with lasting and meaningful relationships. Photo: L-R: Craig Madho & Swapna Mylabathula
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DR. CHARLES TATOR The IMS looms large in my career as a clinician scientist. This category of researcher was just starting to be accepted as a legitimate scientific category when I joined the IMS in 1970, but I was even more unusual as a surgeon scientist. Jack Laidlaw was the IMS Director when I applied, and he was an outstanding clinician scientist. The PhD I obtained as part of neurosurgical training helped my credibility as a potential member. I think I was the first surgeon in Canada to obtain a PhD as part of surgical training. Robert Salter, the orthopaedic surgeon, may have preceded me as the first surgeon on the IMS Faculty.
Professor of Neurosurgery, University of Toronto Division of Neurosurgery, Toronto Western Hospital Founder, ThinkFirst Canada Board Member, Parachute Canada Director, Canadian Concussion Centre
Years Active in the IMS: 1970 - Present
My next great IMS memory is the invitation in 1973 to sit on the IMS Executive. Can you imagine the thrill of being at the IMS table with Jack Laidlaw, Ernest McCulloch, Lou Siminovitch and Jim Till from 1973-80? They were Canada’s greatest clinically grounded researchers, and then there was me just starting out. It was an incredible learning opportunity, like getting another PhD about how to do research. Another thrill gradually arrived, when I realized that my opinion started to matter to them. My time there coincided with Bernie Langer’s incredible contribution to surgical research when he created the Surgeon Scientist program, with me, Steve Strasberg, Rudy Falk involved at the start, and of course we utilized IMS’s formula which had already led to amazing success at training highly skilled, clinically oriented scientists. The 31 IMS graduate students I have supervised and still supervise have been an incredibly important, enjoyable and profoundly productive aspect of my career. Indeed, IMS membership is a major factor in the honors received by me and the IMS students I have supervised. Mine include Officer of the Order of Canada, induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Chairmanship of Neurosurgery at our University and Head of Neurosurgery at several of the University’s Hospitals. There is also the Reeve-Irvine Prize from the University of California and USA Hockey’s Safety Award. So, Happy Birthday IMS from a happy and appreciative member for the past 48 years!
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DR. BRENDA TONER IMS50 Celebration Committee Co-Chair Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto Chair of Student, Alumni, Faculty Engagement (SAFE) Committee, Institute of Medical Science
Years Active in the IMS: 1992 - Present
My journey with the IMS began in 1992 as a result of my inspirational mentor Dr. Paul Garfinkel, an IMS Faculty member, who encouraged me to apply for membership as well. During the early years, I served mainly as an examiner for numerous Masters and Ph.D. students’ final defenses. I also interacted regularly with IMS students and worked closely with other IMS faculty members, including Drs. Anne Bassett, Mary Jane Esplen, Nick Diamant, Allan Kaplan, Bob Maunder, Harvey Moldofsky and Lori Ross. At this time, I was developing my career in women’s mental health, with a special focus on eating disorders, depression/anxiety, chronic pain, breast cancer, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome. In particular, I was interested in exploring social determinants of health that cut across diagnosis, including body image, a continuum of violence, gender roles socialization, and sexism. Throughout my academic career, I held a number of meaningful leadership positions, including Head of Women’s Mental Health and the Director of the Fellowship Program in the Department of Psychiatry at UofT. In 2011 I became more actively involved with the IMS when I became a Graduate Coordinator. I served many roles, includ-
ing Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, Chair of the Awards Committee and was a member of the Admissions Committee. I was also the faculty lead for the “Belonging” initiative, which came out of the IMS Strategic Plan (2012-2017) and then became Chair of the Student, Alumni, Faculty Engagement (SAFE) Committee in 2014. The SAFE Committee serves to connect all members of the IMS to foster an engaged community and to create a more complete learning environment that places importance on the academic, professional, social, emotional, and mental well-being of our students. I have been lucky to work with an incredible team of students on this Committee who showed remarkable leadership and innovation. These individuals include Rich Foty, Craig Madho, Matthew Mistry, Swapna Mylabathula, Fadl Nabbouh, Rageen Ragendram, Brittany Rosenbloom, Katherine Schwenger and Shanna Stanley-Hasnain. As a Committee, we had so much fun together, while working on a number of amazing and popular events and initiatives, such as TedMED, Symphony of Science, UofT Talks, the peer mentorship program, health and wellness initiative and mindful meditation. I continue to be in-
spired by their enthusiasm, dedication and brilliance, and am certain they will go on to do great and meaningful work that will make the world a better place. Much of the IMS’ success is owed to the dedicated, talented and hardworking staff members, who manage the day-to-day running of the largest graduate unit in the Faculty of Medicine. This is no small feat. I have been lucky to work closely with Kaki Narh-Blackwood on faculty appointments, Sarah Topa on the IMS50 celebrations and initiatives, and with Kamila Lear on a wide range of administrative and leadership matters. As Co-chair of the IMS50 Celebration Committee, I would like to wish the IMS a Happy 50th Birthday and congratulate this great Institute on all of its accomplishments. I would also like to acknowledge the generosity of the IMS faculty for their support and participation in so many of our events, initiatives and students’ research. I am looking forward to what the future holds for the IMS and all those affiliated with us, past and present!
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TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH PROGRAM Impact matters. Generations of researchers have dedicated their lives to understanding health and the human condition. It is however, our collective responsibility to ensure this knowledge is not only published, but applied to improve lives. In 2011 the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), in collaboration with the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, set forth to develop a 2-year professional masterâ€™s program to nurture innovative leaders who can manage the complexities of our changing health care system. After much consultation with stakeholders, external experts, and co-development with Graduate & Life Sciences Education, a proposal was put forward to the Provost, then the government for review and authorization. In November 2014, the Masters of Health Science in Translational Research program (TRP) was approved by the Quality Assurance Council of Ontario in the Ministry of Universities, Colleges and Training. The first cohort of 17 students began in September 2015.
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Joseph Ferenbok, Director Richard Foty, Assistant Professor Moni Kim, Program Administrator Adriana Ieraci, Lead Explorer Gabriela Chan, Course Director MSC4010 Lucy Osborne, IMS Graduate Coordinator
Years Active in the IMS: 2015 - Present
Our collective drive within the TRP is to challenge students to think differently, so they will be inspired to champion change in their own communities. Through active and experiential learning, students expand their perspectives and learn to focus on unmet medical needs; recognize opportunities; communicate clearly and persuasively; lead and collaborate effectively; learn from failure; question assumptions, and; navigate uncertainty. We are currently in the third year of our program and nearly 60 students have joined our ever-growing network. Our unique learning environment brings together students of diverse professions and disciplines ranging from basic scientists to clinicians, public health workers to policy makers, teachers, lawyers, computer scientists, engineers, patients, advocates and caregivers. They represent the range of players involved our health care system. Together, we share one space to listen and learn from each other, while working towards our common goal to improve the health of people, communities, and populations.
DR. PRECILLA VEIGAS PhD Alumna
Years Active in the IMS: 2012 - 2017
By Vasundara Venkateswaran Precilla Veigas’ smile is still fresh in my memory. How could I forget such an amazing student, a true symbol of the ideals that embodied the importance of education, perseverance, and a lifelong passion for learning? She made significant contributions to the University of Toronto during her graduate training, making headlines at the institution for receiving her PhD degree at U of T’s Massey College in advance of the official convocation. I first met Precilla when she came to my office to discuss her interest in joining the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) as a graduate student. Following her acceptance to the Doctoral program, she visited me periodically to discuss her work, demonstrating a high level of enthusiasm in making progress with her research. During one such meeting in 2015, she broke the dreadful news of her cancer diagnosis and was informed by her physicians that she had a very limited period of time left to live. Amidst her tears and the fear of the inevitable, she was more concerned about not being able to accomplish her dreams of obtaining her degree and leaving behind her passion for research. I started meeting with her more frequently thereafter and had the opportunity to provide my support when she was at her cancer clinic visits at my primary work site at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre. I used to sit by her bed as she continued to describe how she was progressing in her thesis writing.
Precilla was a remarkable individual who never wanted to give up. She was determined to achieve her dream and wanted to be a role model for her daughter. She strived for perfection, an ideal that she had from an early age, and used to state that “whatever you do, you have to do at least close to perfection, if not 100 per cent perfection.” Precilla initially began working as a research intern with Dr. Laurie Morrison, a faculty member at the IMS. She transitioned to managing large, multi-centre studies with hospitals and emergency medical services across Ontario. With her high value for education and a keen interest in pursuing research, she enrolled in a PhD program with the IMS under the supervision of Dr. Sandro Rizoli, Professor of Surgery and Critical Care medicine. Her research thesis focused on a type of blood test that assesses bleeding and clotting disorders and the potential use of this diagnostic tool in the emergency room and/or hospital to help physicians make better decisions about blood transfusions. Supervised by Dr. Rizoli, she explored the value of ROTEM (Rotational thrombo-elastometry), for early transfusion management in trauma patients who have significant bleeding.
so that she could receive her degree. With the presence of the media, teary-eyed friends, family, colleagues, and mentors, Precilla proudly received her PhD, in an event that will be remembered for years to come. The graduation ceremony “… is a recognition of Precilla’s outstanding achievements in research,” said Luc De Nil, Vice-Dean, Students, School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto. Having the courage and determination to complete a daunting endeavor of obtaining a PhD is amazing in and of itself, but achieving this despite significant challenges with her health was astounding. Precilla continued her battle with cancer amidst her thesis writing, before she succumbed to the disease in 2017, leaving behind her husband, 15-year-old daughter, and extended family and friends. There was significant impact of Precilla’s demise upon administrators, faculty and students. She had the will power and determination to push herself in order to achieve her dream. She’s not just a role model for her daughter but for other graduate students as well. I consider myself fortunate to have served as Precilla’s Graduate Coordinator and mentor in her educational journey at the IMS.
The IMS and the University of Toronto were well aware of Precilla’s medical condition and supported her by facilitating a dedicated graduation ceremony just for Precilla
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DR. VASUNDARA VENKATESWARAN Director, Summer Undergraduate Research Program Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto Scientist, Division of Urology Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Graduate Coordinator and Chair, Graduate Admissions Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: 2007 - Present
I would like to start this reflection at the beginning of my career pursuits. I have devoted over two decades pursuing my passion for research in prostate cancer, as a Scientist in the Division of Urology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at University of Toronto. I hold a patent for a novel use of a well-known medication for prostate cancer treatment and serve as Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of a pharmaceutical company. In 2017, I was honoured with the “International Women’s Achiever Award” in recognition of my research accomplishments and student engagement. My long-standing enthusiasm for mentoring students and budding researchers in my laboratory drove my involvement with the Institute of Medical Science. The past fifteen years had me seemingly immersed in various key roles, as Graduate Coordinator, Chair of Graduate Admissions and Director of the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). I vividly recollect the commencement of my term as Director of SURP
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in 2010- it seems like ‘yesterday’. Dr. Ori Rotstein gave me this initial opportunity and there was no turning back, all through a truly rewarding experience. As the program completes its 42nd year, it now stands to be the largest summer research program at the University of Toronto, providing undergraduate and medical students the opportunity to acquire research knowledge and skills, many of whom have moved on to become graduate students at IMS. It has been inspirational to witness the eagerness and motivation demonstrated by the students in showcasing their research endeavors. The faculty in the program have been excellent mentors and are brilliant in their respective fields. The program has evolved over the years to accommodate our international partners. This would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and I am looking forward to upholding the standard, eminence and success of this program in the years to come. Though it has given me a great deal of satisfaction and happiness in actively guiding
students to achieve their research potentials, there have been associated challenges. One inspirational student, Precilla Veigas, made a significant impact in my life. I remember mentoring her at IMS, when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer close to the completion of her doctorate degree. Her perseverance and determination is to be commended as she battled this disease. With the support of Drs. Mingyao Liu, Howard Mount and the Faculty of Medicine, we had a special graduation ceremony where she received her degree before she succumbed to the illness. As I reflect on the past and present of my involvement in this institution, it is evident that IMS is not merely a graduate school, but a unique and diverse family with a future full of endless possibilities. It is an honour to be part of the IMS as we celebrate its 50th Anniversary. I would like to conclude with the quote by Steve Jobs “If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”
DR. ARISTOTLE VOINESKOS Director Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition & Head Kimel Family Imaging-Genetics Lab, CAMH Canada Research Chair & Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: PhD: 2006 - 2010 Faculty: 2011 - Present
I was lucky enough to complete my PhD at the end of my residency program through the IMS. I was even luckier to have had extraordinary mentors who touched my trajectory directly and indirectly. Many of them are IMS faculty. Mary Seeman was a graduate coordinator when I started my PhD, and approved a flexibility of topic and training location that many others may have deemed too risky. I should also credit Trevor Young, our current Dean, who at the time also gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. Somehow I was able to combine topics of genetics, brain imaging, aging, and schizophrenia into a coherent set of findings that has now become a topic of interest for our field. Jim Kennedy, Benoit Mulsant, and Bruce Pollock, all IMS Faculty locally, as well as Martha Shenton abroad, played crucial roles in those categories, and gave me the freedom to synthesize disciplines and ideas. In the end, I was fortunate enough to win the IMS Siminovitch-Salter Award presented annually to a graduating doctoral student who has made outstanding scholarly contributions. Thanks in large part to my training at the IMS, philanthropic support, and that of Catherine Zahn, the CAMH CEO, I initiated the first research-program at U of T and CAMH in brain imaging and genetics through the Koerner New Scientist Award and Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Lab, which I still run, and our theme is clinical neuroscience across the lifespan. Each day I try to pay this support forward, a) because it’s the right thing to do, and b) because it’s fun ! Amazing IMS students who have graduated, such as Daniel Felsky, Tris Lett, Saba Shahab, Laura Stefanik, and Tina Behdinan, and currently in my lab, such as Grace Jacobs, and Neda Rashidi, or who came following the IMS as post-docs (e.g. Anne Wheeler) have been a tremendous pleasure to support, have contributed to our discoveries in the lab,
have won their own awards, elevated their own career trajectories, and have been involved in the life of the IMS. There is nothing better than watching your students go on to do great things not just during their time in the lab, but also in their next career step, i.e after, they leave the lab. Thanks to our growth, discoveries, and successes, we have landed major grants each year from CIHR and the NIMH and built an international reputation. At a personal level I have been lucky enough to win a number of awards, such as the Polanyi Prize, a Canada Research Chair, the Rising Star Award from the Schizophrenia International Research Society, and most recently as one of Canada’s Top 40 Leaders Under 40.
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My father was a cardiac surgeon, so I knew early what I wanted to do. I went to Boston to train in General Surgery and prepare for an academic career. My research years were funded by an institutional NIH grant to develop academic surgeons. In our laboratory were Steve Strasbergand Jameel Ali both of whom I would later join in Toronto. My research focused on the assessment of cardiac function in the intensive care unit and resulted in a New England Journal of Medicine publication. After completing my training in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery in Toronto in 1978, I established a peer reviewed research program to develop improved methods of protecting the heart from injury during heart surgery. The program required the collaboration of dedicated clinicians and scientists in biochemistry, imaging and physiology. I was fortunate to develop a partnership with Don Mickle in clinical biochemistry. One of his students, Ren-Ke Li, subsequently became my partner in research, and has become a Professor of Cardiac Surgery and the mentor for all of our surgical scientists. His interest in regenerative medicine has dramatically expanded our research interests and our current clinical trials.
DR. RICHARD WEISEL Professor of Cardiac Surgery, University of Toronto Senior Scientist, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute Faculty Member, IMS
Years Active in the IMS: 1981 - Present
I was able to recruit residents who were interested in a career in academic cardiac surgery to participate in these studies. What was missing, however, was a dedicated training plan for each resident. We decided that enrollment in the IMS would best fill this need. The rigor required to obtain an advanced degree was essential for the clinicians to receive adequate scientific training. The studentsâ€™ Program Advisory Committees consisted of clinicians and scientists who established realistic goals for their program. The residents also took courses and became experts in important disciplines including statistics. With the support of Bernie Langer, Steve Strasberg established the Surgeon Scientist Training Program to provide continued funding for the residents to focus on research. The program has expanded and now includes trainees from all Divisions of the Department of Surgery. Professor Langer and I joined the research committee of the Royal College and used these principles to establish the Clinician Investigator Program that has been so successful. The IMS was an essential component of the development of a generation of Cardiac Surgical Scientists. We greatly appreciate the support provided by the IMS for the development of the academic careers of these cardiac surgeons. We could not have achieved our current stature without that assistance.
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My greatest pleasure over the years has been watching the growth and development of the careers of IMS graduates.
My journey started in the IMS as a PhD graduate student supervised by Dr. Mel Silverman. Following a grueling residency in internal medicine and nephrology, entering full time research training in the IMS opened a whole new career path for me as a clinician-scientist. In fact, this experience shaped the rest of my professional life at the University of Toronto.
DR. CATHARINE WHITESIDE Executive Director, CIHR SPOR Network in Diabetes and its Related Complications Emerita Professor Former Dean of Medicine University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: PhD: 1980 - 1984 Faculty: 1993 - 2016
After establishing my own research lab, I was invited to become the Graduate Coordinator in the IMS, a position I held from 1993 to 1999. During this time the IMS rapidly expanded both student enrolment and faculty appointments and I had the pleasure of getting to know many of the future leaders in academic medicine across Canada. My knowledge of the breadth and depth of health and biomedical science conducted in the IMS grew exponentially as I met yearly with the students and chaired most of the internal PhD thesis defenses. Subsequently, this understanding of graduate studies and the value of inter-disciplinary research acquired as the IMS Graduate Coordinator was extremely valuable during my tenure as Associate Dean Graduate and Interfaculty Affairs in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. As Dean of Medicine from 2005 to 2014, I was responsible for recruiting the Directors of IMS during this period and, in all honesty, held this position to be one of the most important in our Faculty. The IMS has created an environment of innovation in teaching and learning achieved by no other graduate unit in Canada, particularly for health professionals. My greatest pleasure over the years has been watching the growth and development of the careers of IMS graduates many of whom I still interact with today. We have all benefited immensely from our IMS experience â€“ thanks to all!
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DR. LINDA WILSON-PAUWELS Professor Emerita, University of Toronto Director 1986-1993, Bachelor of Science in Art as Applied to Medicine (AAM) Professor and Chair, Division of Biomedical Communications, Department of Surgery Professor and Director 1994-2008, Master of Science in Biomedical Communications (MScBMC)
Years Active in the IMS: 1994 - 2014
My passion for visualization began at the Ontario College of Art and Design. My career focus shifted after completing a BScAAM where art collides with science to reveal the power of visual communication in education and discovery. Later, a Doctorate in Higher Education rounded out my interdisciplinary background. In 1986, I became the third Director of the BScAAM program. One of my personal accomplishments was first author and illustrator of Cranial Nerves, (coauthors Patricia Stewart and Betty Akesson). This visual textbook has been published in 5 languages. In 2008, the international Association of Medical Illustrators presented me with the Brödel Award for Excellence in Education. My long-term goal for my profession was to elevate the only program in Canada to graduate status. This journey began in 1990, when Bernard Langer invited AAM to become Surgery’s new Division of Biomedical Communications (BMC). This strategic administrative change opened the door for us to apply for graduate status in the IMS. In 1994, with support from John Wedge (the new Chair of Surgery) and Mel Silverman (IMS Director), the undergraduate program was elevated to an MScBMC in the IMS.
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To validate our contribution to education in science and medicine, I encouraged faculty and students to pursue doctoral studies in our discipline. Our graduates are now entering the IMS Doctoral program as well as doctoral programs in North America and Europe. I am very proud of BMC’s ongoing journey and the achievements of my colleagues and our graduate students. The MScBMC program continues to flourish in the IMS under the guidance of Mingyao Liu. Directed by Nick Woolridge, it is one of the top accredited graduate programs in the world. We would not have achieved this international reputation without the continued support of the IMS. In retirement I continue to travel to study medical art. Some inspirational works include: Leonardo Da Vinci’s medical drawings at Windsor Castle; medical tomb paintings in the Valley of the Kings; wax anatomical models in La Specola; and Jan Wandelaar’s art for Bernard Siegfried Albinus in Leiden. Medical art has inspired man throughout the ages.
DEAN TREVOR YOUNG When I am occasionally asked what the “big break” was in my career, my answer is the Institute of Medical Science. My time as a student studying in the IMS had an indelible impact on me. It allowed me to explore new ideas and pursue my research interest in the molecular basis of bipolar disorder and its treatment. I was surrounded by engaged and energetic fellow students and supported by outstanding faculty members who both inspired me, and challenged me. In addition to my supervisor Jerry Warsh, I was fortunate to be able to recruit onto my thesis review committee outstanding scientists like Phil Seeman, a world leader in the study of dopamine, biochemist Reinhart Reithmeier, an international expert on anion transport membrane proteins and former Department Chair, and the late John MacDonald, an eminent neuroscientist and former Department Chair of Physiology. It speaks to the breadth and talent at U of T that these top scholars were available to me. But, it also says something about the reputation of the program that they would commit the time to supporting an IMS student. This provided me with the foundations of my research program, which I’ve had the opportunity to pursue, over the years, in Toronto at U of T and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health,
Dean, Faculty of Medicine Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions Professor, Department of Psychiatry University of Toronto
Years Active in the IMS: Student: 1986 - 1988; 1989 - 1995 Faculty: 2001 - 2006; 2010 - Present
and in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia. All of this was built upon my early work in the IMS. Now, as a clinician-researcher, I’ve sought to deliver an experience for my trainees similar to the one I enjoyed in the IMS; supportive but prodding in order to ensure individuals reach their full potential. In undertaking academic leadership positions, I’ve found myself reflecting on some of the examples and lessons I’ve gained through the IMS. For example, as Chair of Psychiatry, I saw how our department was strengthened through our commitment to the IMS. And now, as Dean, I think about the examples of leadership that abound there, like former directors Ori Rotstein and Allan Kaplan, as well as current director Mingyao Liu. Their creativity and adaptability have served the IMS well; a great example is the creation of the Translational Research Program, an innovative program that bridges the divide that can occur between those who conduct research and those who will use it. I am thankful for all that the IMS has provided to me, and I am glad to support the IMS as it prepares the next generation of clinician-scientists.
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IMS SPOTLIGHT These Spotlight Series articles look at some of our IMS50 Stories individuals in greater depth, taking a closer look at their research or involvement with the Institute of Medical Science. Youâ€™ll also find out more about our Biomedical Communications Program and our Summer Undergraduate Research Program.
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He helped to implement a creative environment for the training of graduate students with interests in human health, disease mechanisms and advanced treatments.
Dr. Aubie Angel: The growth of IMS during his tenure as Director By Rehnuma Islam and Chantel Kowalchuk Dr. Aubie Angel’s desire to understand the biology behind the practice of medicine began during his medical school training. His mentors engrained the importance of medical research as part of clinical practice and ignited his career as a clinician-scientist to eventually study adipose tissue cholesterol metabolism and while also helping patients with endocrine/metabolism disorders. Dr. Aubie Angel’s background in research and medicine would come to shape the development of the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) when he became the Director of IMS. Dr. Angel was Director of IMS from 1983 to 1990 and simultaneously held the position of the Director of Clinical Science Division. He helped to implement a creative environment for the training of graduate students with interests in human health, disease mechanisms, and advanced treatments. “People in medical science who did not have a medical background, but were still interested in health research had an opportunity to develop research skills”, comments Dr. Angel on the uniqueness of the IMS. During his time as Director, the IMS was highly novel in that it focused on adding leading-edge research to medicine based on high standards of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), which Dr. Angel says is “precisely what interested me in my leadership role at the IMS”. The Institute grew rapidly under Dr. Angel’s direction, due to support from clinical departments, particularly Drs. Charles Hollenberg and Bernard Langer, as well as other influential scientists, namely Drs. James Till, Louis Siminovitch, and Ernest McCulloch. He credits his experience in IMS, as well as the mentorship of such influential scientists, as a pivotal step towards his next position as Professor and Head of Internal Medicine at the University of Manitoba.
Under Dr. Angel’s leadership, the IMS offered, and continues to offer, significant educational flexibility and new pathways for the academic development of research trainees interested in medical research. As the number of students and faculty increased, he helped establish semi-independent academic programs, including the Surgical Scientist Program, the Bioethics Program, the Respiratory Program and the Cardiovascular Program. He also believed that the IMS should house the development of research groups until they can flourish as their own independent program. “The IMS has a critical mass of science and leadership that is ripe for independent development,” comments Dr. Angel. This is illustrated through Dr. Angel’s partnership with Dr. Dorothy Pringle, Dean of Nursing, through which they developed a nursing graduate program, which eventually became its own program within SGS. He also continues to see potential in the future development of an independent Endocrine and Diabetes Institute that could be fostered by IMS scientists, such as Dr. Daniel J. Drucker and Dr. Bernie Zinman. As a clinician-scientist, Dr. Aubie Angel recognizes the challenges that funding cuts pose to scientific discovery, and appreciates the importance of supporting basic research. As such, he has helped to create the Friends of CIHR, a program that aims to promote health research and funding while communicating the benefits to society. There is no doubt that Dr. Angel was a fundamental part of the IMS and continues to be an influential scientist, highlighted by his appointment to the Order of Canada in 2015.
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Dr. Bassett’s influence within IMS spans over a decade, with a reputation that proceeds her.
Dr. Anne Bassett: Personalizing Medicine By Ana Stosic In the era of personalized medicine and next-generation genetic sequencing, it is becoming clearer that underlying genetic abnormalities often present with complex clinical variability. One such diagnosis is 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS). 22q11.2D is a common and often underdiagnosed condition, with an estimated prevalence of 1 in every 3,000-6,000 live births.1 22q11.2DS is driven by a microdeletion of chromosome 22 that can affect nearly every organ and system of the body. Clinically patients often present with diverse diagnoses. In early infancy and childhood, 22q11.2DS manifestations usually include a combination of congenital heart defects, chronic infection, birth defects, and developmental delays. As patients enter adolescence and adulthood, they are at a higher risk of developing later-onset neuropsychiatric conditions, with 1 in 4 developing schizophrenia. With such variable diagnoses, treatments, and prognoses, patients require longitudinal, individualized, and coordinated care plans to encompass an ever-changing clinical picture. It was through a generous donation by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation that a clinic, catering specifically to the needs of this population, could come to fruition. The Dalglish Family 22q clinic for adults with 22q11.2DS officially opened its doors in 2013 at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, and has continued to meet the unique needs of this diverse population. The Dalglish Family 22q Clinic is the first clinic of its kind solely devoted to patients with 22q11.2DS and their families, providing holistic, multidisciplinary, and collaborative care. The patient-centered care places emphasis on promoting optimal quality of life and functioning for patients while also producing leading-edge research in the field. The clinic boasts an extensive network of collaborators, particularly with cardiologists from the Toronto Congenital Cardiac Centre for Adults (TCCCA).
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Photograph: Anne Basset receiving the IMS Mel Silverman Mentorship award. L-R: Mingyao Liu, Anne Bassett and Mel Silverman.
The clinic is directed by Dr. Anne Bassett, Professor of Psychiatry and Full Member of the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) at the University of Toronto and former Canada Research Chair in Schizophrenia Genetics and Genomic Disorders. Dr. Bassett has been awarded prestigious accolades such as the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Distinguished Scientist Award for Schizophrenia Research, the Angelo DiGeorge Medal of Honour, and the Institute of Medical Sciences Mel Silverman Mentorship Award to name a few. Dr. Bassett’s influence within IMS spans over a decade, with a reputation that proceeds her. With world-renowned publications and international collaborations, the Dalglish Family 22q clinical team is an international leader in 22q11.2DS research. At present, they are at the cusp of completing a whole genome sequencing project with their international partners. When asked about where research would be in 50 years, Dr. Bassett remarks, “I would answer that the same way I would have answered it nearly 30 years ago. I think we are understanding more about pathogenesis and mechanisms. Rare conditions, like 22q, are already helping us understand mechanisms. In addition, we are also fine-tuning diagnostics, particularly in cases with tetralogy of Fallot. The 50-year landscape holds a major goal in further improvement to personalize medicine to really make a difference for management.” With conditions such as 22q11.2DS, it is undisputable that the collective and innovative work, such as the kind done by the Dalglish Family Clinic, is the future of personalized and collaborative health care. References: 1. McDonald-McGinn DM, Sullivan KE, Marino B, Philip N, Swillen A, Vorstman JA, Zackai EH, Emanuel BS, Vermeesch JR, Morrow BE, Scambler PJ. 22q11. 2 deletion syndrome. Nature Reviews Disease Primers. 2015 Nov 19;1:15071.
Dr. Linda Wilson-Pauwels: MScBMC paints the future of biomedical illustration bright By Natalie Osborne In the 1400s, Leonardo Da Vinci was able to convey the intricate, scientific study of human anatomy with the expert hand of an artist, creating medical images that fascinate us to this day. Now, graduates of the IMS’ Biomedical Communications (MScBMC) program are combining their unique training in both science and art with modern technology to design the visuals that make science and medicine accessible to students and society. The MScBMC is the only accredited graduate program of its kind in Canada, and one of only four worldwide. Most of its 36 students have degrees in science, frequently at the masters and doctoral level, and all of the students have exceptional artistic talent. Each year, 18 students graduate with an MScBMC, and this fall, Andrea Gauthier will be the first PhD to graduate in IMS in this discipline. She was co-supervised by Drs. Jodie Jenkinson (BMC) and Cindi Morshead. “Our students are truly interdisciplinary and are becoming more and more diverse in what they do.” says Dr. Wilson-Pauwels. “They go on to complete doctoral degrees internationally, work at prominent companies specializing in scientific visual communication such as INVIVO,1 AXS Studio2 and Bridgeable,3 as well as work in science and medical communication for the government.” Dr. Wilson-Pauwels’ own career as a biomedical communicator began by drawing cadavers in the human anatomy labs at the University of Guelph, in a course led by Dr. William Boyd called “Anatomy for the Artist”. A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), Dr. Wilson-Pauwels was thrilled at the chance to finally combine her passion for art and science. Dr. Boyd then introduced her to the University of Toronto’s Art as Applied to Medicine (AAM) bachelor program, which she completed before getting her doctorate in higher education. Dr. Wilson-Pauwels became director of the AAM in 1986, and in 1990, Dr. Bernard Langer invited AAM to become the Department of Surgery’s new Division of Biomedical Communications. Now part of the Faculty of Medicine, this allowed BMC to become a graduate program. The transition was made possible due to Dr. Wilson-Pauwels’ direction, along with support from Surgery Chair Dr. John Wedge and IMS Director Dr. Melvin Silverman.
Can you imagine trying to teach medicine without illustrations and diagrams? For example, a consistent challenge among anatomy students is learning the cranial nerves—a confusing bundle of 12 nerve pairs with multiple sensory and motor divisions. In a first-of-its kind textbook dedicated entirely to cranial nerves, Dr. Wilson-Pauwels colour-coded sensory and motor tracts and designed the book to be written in the direction of the impulse as it travels along the nerve. The textbook, created with collaborators Drs. Pat Steward and Betty Atkinson, is now in its 3rd edition and has been translated into five languages.4 However, biomedical art is no longer purely drawings in textbooks. As medicine has progressed, it has shrunk (think proteomics and genetics). Thus, there is impetus to communicate biomedical art through new forms of media and evolve from traditional textbooks. To visualize these complex concepts, MScBMC students create multi-functional animations, interactive websites, and cartoons to illustrate scientific ideas from biology to archeology. These tools can then be used to illustrate scientific and medical concepts to individuals from all age groups, disciplines and educational levels. Going forward, BMC is putting a new focus on a doctoral degree. “If you don’t understand the topic then you can’t communicate it visually, and so it’s essential that we move the program to a doctoral level to keep it moving forward at the higher level that medicine is at today,” explains Dr. Wilson-Pauwels. “IMS has always provided the program with the creativity and connections it needs, as well as incredible support from IMS Director Dr. Mingyao Liu and BMC’s Program Director Dr. Nick Woolridge, and I look forward to this next step in MScBMC’s future.” References: 1. INVIVO Communications: Digital Healthcare Agency https://invivo.com/ 2. AXS Studio https://axs3d.com/ 3. Bridgeable, Toronto http://bridgeable.com/
Photo captions: Top right – Linda Wilson- Pauwels. Overview of the Trigeminal Nerve. From Cranial Nerves 3rd edition, 2010. Wilson-Pauwels, Stewart, Akesson, Spacey, PMPH-USA Top left - Linda Wilson- Pauwels. Common Carotid. From Cranial Nerves 3rd edition, 2010. Wilson-Pauwels, Stewart, Akesson, Spacey, PMPH-USA
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Dr. Karen Davis: Doing Science vs. Being a Scientist By Beatrice Ballarin The Davis lab is a well-known pain research group within the Krembil Research Institute led by brilliant neuroscientist Dr. Karen Davis. Through the use of neuroimaging techniques, her lab strives to understand brain mechanisms underlying the sensation of pain, both in acute and in chronic conditions. Outside the lab, Dr. Davis has been actively communicating science to the public, aiming to share her knowledge and her new discoveries outside the bench. An example of her work is represented by the popular TED-Ed video (viewed 1.6 million times!) entitled “How does your brain respond to pain?”, which aims to uncover the differences among individuals in response to pain in lay terms. Since her first appointment with the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) in 1996, Dr. Davis has guided more than 20 graduate students on their successful journeys through the IMS program, including our own Dr. Jonathan Downar, a psychiatrist at UHN and member of the IMS, and more recently Dr. Kasey Hamilton, former Editor-in-Chief of the IMS Magazine. Among her memories as a supervisor, she recalls an early episode of her career as a young investigator. At the launch of a unique pain centre for research—now known as the University of Toronto (U of T) Centre for the Study of Pain—Dr. Davis met an old friend who would end up becoming her second PhD student, Dr. Judith Hunter. At the time, Hunter was already a member of the U of T teaching stream in the Department of Physical Therapy and mother of three. One evening while discussing the logistics of the pain centre, Hunter mentioned her long desire to pursue doctoral studies. “It was easy to fix,” recalls Dr. Davis. “I offered to be her supervisor!” Dr. Davis admired Dr. Hunter’s courage for leaving her “good stable job” to follow her dreams: “It’s never too late to do advanced academic training and change your career.” 70 | IMS MAGAZINE
As a mentor Dr. Davis learned from her own PhD supervisor, Dr. Jonathan Dostrovsky, to give students the freedom to develop their own ideas. Not every idea works out, but it is part of Dr. Davis’ philosophy of life. Her advice: “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Don’t give up so easily. If you think this is a good idea and you can support it with evidence basedscience, go for it”. In her vision, each graduate student’s mind has a pair of wings. A mentor should encourage the student to develop their own thinking—to take flight. Nurturing the student to think independently is the supervisor’s responsibility. A good indication that a student is ready to graduate is when the roles are reversed, and her student challenges the way she thinks. With this approach, it should come as no surprise that Dr. Davis has won many awards in recognition of her mentorship and scientific accomplishments including the IMS Mel Silverman Mentorship Award (2014), the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (2009), and Mayday Pain and Society Fellow (2013). Thinking back to her initial involvement with the IMS in the early 2000s, first as part of the Admissions Committee, then as a Graduate Coordinator, and more recently as Associate Director, Dr. Davis was involved in selecting students to become part of IMS. Having excellent undergraduate marks is definitely an important criterion to be admitted into the graduate program, but that’s not enough. According to Dr. Davis there is big difference between “doing it” and “being it.” There are plenty of smart students who can earn a degree in a short period time, but to be a scientist and an academic, it takes something more, and time is definitely a key factor. Dr. Davis believes it requires time to immerse in the fields and be surrounded with all kinds of new ideas. This is the message Dr. Davis continues to advocate in the IMS, towards the creation of the next generation of scientists.
Dr. James Kennedy: Rethinking the student-supervisor relationship: how well do you know your students? By Samia Tasmin Dr. James L. Kennedy is the Head of the Molecular Brain Science Department and the Tanenbaum Centre for Pharmacogenetics at the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). He has been active in the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) for over 25 years. Over the years, many people have inspired Dr. Kennedy, and in his early development, Drs. Greg Brown and Mary Seeman were prominent in promoting his activities and connections in the IMS. He is still in contact with both of his mentors for advice and wise counsel. Dr. Kennedy, in turn, continues to inspire newer scientists, with his supervision spanning more than “130 student-years.” Dr. Kennedy is an advocate for female students’ career development in neuroscience, molecular genetics, and computational genomics, and he has led more female students than males to their graduate degree. Many of these students have transitioned into successful research careers, and Dr. Kennedy enthusiastically recalled some of their most exciting discoveries. The most recent discovery was with current PhD student Lindsay Melhuish, who is assessing the sleep patterns of patients with depression from a genetic point of view. Getting too much or too little sleep is a major problem in patients with depression, and is poorly understood. As part of her PhD, Melhuish looked at a set of genes involved in sleep and circadian rhythms and was able to identify genome-wide significant variants associated with the changes in sleep patterns during depression, which could lead to novel treatments. Another finding, by former PhD student Nabilah Chowdhury, was on the genetic prediction of life-threatening side effects of antipsychotic medications in patients with schizophrenia. Dr. Chowdhury hypothesized that antipsychotic action could be mediated by the genes involved in appetite through their action on the dopamine receptors targeted by the drugs. The melanocortin 4 gene, involved in hypothalamic satiety
circuits, had a genome-wide association with antipsychotic-induced weight gain. The New England Journal of Medicine was skeptical of the result due to the small sample size, even though replications were in place and the overall p-value was 10-12. Eventually, the manuscript was published in JAMA Psychiatry, and the findings were submitted for a patent, licensed, and are in clinical trials. Dr. Kennedy has also experienced the breadth of talent in the IMS in slightly unconventional ways: “I believe that the only professor-andstudent combo that has performed on stage in the IMS talent program, was myself and PhD candidate Dan Felsky (now at Harvard). I played guitar and sang songs related to graduate student life, with Dan on keyboard and backup vocals. An excellent example of cross-training for scientific presentations.” In tune with the translational research done at his lab, and looking ahead to the next 50 years, Dr. Kennedy hopes for successful translation of his research into the healthcare system, to provide genetic testing of mental health patients for personalized medication choice. Currently, the testing is close to getting recognition in Ontario. As for the IMS, Dr. Kennedy opines that face-to-face communication that humans have evolved with, is diminished by electronic devices, but will remain extremely important for conveying the training for life as a research scientist in modern society. Nevertheless, he expects training to be more “computationallybased, with more AI in operation”, provided, of course, that “we survive global aggressive human behaviour—and runaway AI!”
Photo caption: Dr. Kennedy and his students from their June 2016 convocation ceremony. L-R: Daniel Felsky, Sarah Gagliano, Jennie Pouget, Gwyneth Zai, James Kennedy, Maitri Patel, Maxine Kish IMS MAGAZINE FALL 2018 IMS50 | 71
This program has since become one of the largest and most academically productive in the world.
Training surgeon scientists with precision: an interview with Dr. Bernie Langer Photo by Mikaeel Valli
By Jason Lau Dr. Bernard “Bernie” Langer has been a committed advocate for the advancement of surgical sub-specialization and surgical research over the last 50 years. Dr. Langer acquired his MD at the University of Toronto in 1956 and completed his residency training at Toronto General Hospital. Although he was uninspired by a compulsory, mostly unsupervised year of laboratory research, his interest in scientific inquiry remained strong. After his residency, he spent a year at the MD Anderson Hospital in Texas learning about the new field of cancer chemotherapy before travelling to the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston to study under Dr. Francis Moore. There, he was involved with the team gearing up to do liver transplants and it was this experience that inspired his interest in all things hepatic, biliary and pancreatic. He also saw how it was possible to carry out meaningful research in the laboratory and apply it in practice. “At the Brigham there was not a huge gap between the laboratory and the clinic— research was the life-blood of that department,” explains Dr. Langer. Upon his return to Toronto, Dr. Langer began his practice in General Surgery and obtained research funds for a project in liver transplantation in dogs. The technical skills he acquired allowed him to begin his education in liver surgery, starting with shunt surgery for portal
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hypertension. He taught himself other bile duct, pancreatic, and liver procedures, becoming an accomplished hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgeon in the process. As additional surgeons were recruited and this specialized practice grew, Dr. Langer developed a training program in hepatic, pancreatic and biliary (HPB) surgery. This service became a tertiary care centre with an academic focus on clinical excellence, teaching, and research. Their first liver transplant was performed in 1985, and this program has since become one of the largest and most academically productive in the world. In 1982 Dr. Langer became Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. The opportunities for good research training had improved since his own previous experience, but he recognized the need for a standardized rigorous research training program for surgical residents. Under the umbrella of the IMS, he launched the Surgeon Scientist Training Program (SSTP) in 1984 and based on the success of that program he was instrumental in establishing the Royal College Clinician Investigator Program in 1994. In recognition of these contributions, Dr Langer was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002.
Dr. Howard Mount: Helping students navigate their pathway to degree completion attracting funding from the AT Children’s Project, the Medical Research Council of Canada, the CIHR New Investigator Award program, as well as the American March of Dimes Basil O’Connor Starter Research Scholar Award and the Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award. Over the years, Dr. Mount has continued his research approach of using behavioural, cellular, and neurochemical techniques to uncover and map early changes in brain chemistry during prodromal phases of impairment in murine models of AT, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, placental malaria, and Williams Syndrome. By Akshayan Vimalanathan Dr. Howard Mount has been a faculty member of the IMS since 1999. If you are an IMS graduate student, you have probably interacted with him. He may have conducted your graduate school interview, welcomed you during your first MSC1010-1011Y class, or advised you in his role as a graduate coordinator. In addition to being a graduate coordinator, Dr. Mount is a scientist at the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, and the IMS Director of Education. Dr. Mount began his training at the University of Toronto (U of T) as an environmental scientist. He worked for the National Research Council Environmental Secretariat during his BSc and MSc. Through that experience and field work with Montreal Engineering Company, he developed abiding interest in behavioural toxicology as an approach to assess the impact of human activity and chemicals on living organisms. His enthusiasm for behavioural toxicology led him to take advantage of an exchange program between U of T and the Rudolf Magnus Institute for Pharmacology, University of Utrecht, Netherlands. Here, under Dr. Jan van Ree and Professor David de Wied, he studied the role of neuropeptides in sustaining long-term behavioural sensitization and hyperdopaminergia, in response to amphetamines. When he returned to Canada, Dr. Mount continued his focus on dopaminergic systems, through a PhD with Dr. Rémi Quirion and Dr. Patricia Bolsa at McGill University. Dr. Mount’s doctoral dissertation explored the pharmacology of excitatory amino acid receptors and their role in the regulation of dopamine release from cells of the ventral midbrain. Dr. Mount completed postdoctoral training under the supervision of Dr. Ira Black at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey. During his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Mount uncovered discrete and interacting roles of multiple trophic factors and transmitters in promoting the survival of Purkinje cells of the cerebellum; cells that are selectively depleted in the neurodegenerative disorder ataxia-telangiectasia (AT). These discoveries launched his independent research career,
Dr. Mount has a long-standing interest in the graduate student experience. After serving on the IMS Admissions Committee for several years, he was appointed Graduate Coordinator in 2007. Today, as Senior Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Mount oversees student services and helps students navigate their pathway to graduate degree completion. In addition, Dr. Mount offers regular thesis-preparation workshops and represents IMS on matters referred to the School of Graduate Studies. Reflecting on the graduate coordinator role, Dr. Mount explains, “We gravitate towards this because we like talking to students. It’s very much about sharing insights and helping people work out what they want to do.” In 2011, Dr. Mount took on additional responsibility in IMS as Director of Education and Chair of the IMS Curriculum Committee, which is charged with developing, sustaining, and improving curricular offerings for students. Under his direction and the support of Drs. Pamela Catton, Peter Pennefather, and Lucy Osborne, the Curriculum Committee was reconfigured with the creation of multiple open subcommittees to facilitate student and faculty engagement in the decision-making process. This has resulted in open forums that welcome students and faculty interested in developing new curricular elements, opining about existing courses and polices, and thinking creatively about new initiatives. Under Dr. Mount’s leadership, the Curriculum Committee has shaped the development of numerous IMS courses, such as the core IMS course MSC1010-1011Y. They have also formed larger initiatives, including the IMS Translational Research Program, Canada’s first in-kind professional master’s program. This year, IMS is introducing a 2-year Diploma in Health Science Research for medical students. For his tireless efforts and deep involvement in IMS operations and the student experience, the Faculty of Medicine awarded Dr. Mount the 2016-17 Sustained Excellence in Graduate Teaching & Mentorship Award. Noting his strong commitment to IMS students’ success, Dr. Mount was described as an “outstanding mentor and a highly effective academic administrator”.
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The future of anesthetic medicine will likely be found at the first-of-its kind Perioperative Brain Health Centre at Sunnybrook.
Dr. Beverley Orser: Waking up to the possibilities of safer, more effective anesthetics
By Natalie Osborne In 1846, the first successful use of anesthesia during surgery changed the face of medicine. However, since its discovery, scientists have continued to puzzle over the molecular mechanisms involved. Dr. Beverley Orser, Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesia, has spent 30 years uncovering how anesthetics depress brain function. She is also investigating why some patients experience side effects such as delirium or cognitive dysfunction that can persist for days or months after surgery. After completing her residency in anesthesia, Dr. Orser began her preclinical work as a student in the Institute of Medical Science (IMS). She now holds additional appointments as a Professor of Physiology in the Faculty of Medicine and is Co-director of Research in the Department of Anesthesia at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. One of her lab’s most exciting discoveries identified a distinct population of receptors in the brain activated by anesthetic drugs. The anesthetic agent wasn’t acting at the site researchers expected, but rather through extra-synaptic GABA receptors. GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, therefore increasing activity at these receptors results in profound suppression of neural activity and subsequent loss of consciousness desired during surgery. However, long after the drug has
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left the system, the expression of these receptors on the cell surface is increased, making the brain more sensitive to intrinsic GABA. This susceptibility to inhibition could explain the delirium as well as longer term effects on cognition and memory that some patients experience days after surgery. Dr. Orser is now investigating how to limit this receptor overexpression. One solution may be with the anti-delirium drug, dexmedetomidine. Despite being used as a sedative in the intensive care unit, it remains unclear how the drug works. Understanding its mechanism could expand dexmedetomidine’s use to prevent or treat post-operative delirium, as well as guide the design of new, safer drugs targeting postanesthesiarelated disorders. The future of anesthetic medicine will likely be found at the first-of-itskind Perioperative Brain Health Centre at Sunnybrook. Co-founded by Drs. Orser, Stephen Choi, and Sinziana Avramescu, the Centre’s vision is to develop surgical and anesthetic approaches that preserve and restore brain health. The Perioperative Brain Health Centre provides the perfect pipeline for turning research into life changing clinical practice.
An Era Revisited: Dr. Ori Rotstein’s Impact on the Institute of Medical Science By Cricia Rinchon Upon entering the Institute of Medical Science’s (IMS) doctoral stream, all first-year students are enrolled in the core departmental course: Seminar Series in Translational Research (MSC1010-1011Y). In addition to weekly seminars, there are modules on contemporary topics such as Entrepreneurship, Applied Intellectual Property, and the Economics of Healthcare that help enlighten students on the context in which their research may lay in society. Furthermore, students are required to attend the annual Ori Rotstein Lecture in Translational Research, which was founded to highlight advancements and innovation in medicine and translational research whilst inviting internationally renowned keynote speakers. The annual lecture’s eponymous surgeon, Dr. Ori Rotstein, was IMS from Director from 2001-2011. His achievements as Director included steering the Institute towards a translational research focus, introducing elective course modules, and increasing the IMS’ national and international visibility. Dr. Rotstein, to many fresh and naïve students’ surprise, is not only still very much alive metaphorically through the traditions he pioneered within the IMS, but also quite literally. Dr. Rotstein is the Director at the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science and the Surgeon-in-Chief at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He is a Professor and the Associate Chair for the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. As a practicing trauma and general surgeon, he has an interest in understanding how traumatic injury leads to alterations in the immune response of patients. When Dr. Rotstein first joined the IMS as Director, he felt a level of disjointedness within the department which he suspected to be due to the geographical dispersion across the University research sites. Under his leadership, the department grew to become the largest graduate unit in the Faculty of Medicine and the fifth largest at the University of Toronto; most importantly however, he grew the sense of community students felt by involving them in executive committees and curriculum development. To achieve this, he closely aligned with the IMS Students’ Association (IMSSA) and its objectives, and encouraged and supported a number of student initiatives. A great example of one of his endeavours is the Breakfast with the Director, in which he regularly met with groups of IMS students in a casual setting to discuss issues of science, offer advice and opinions when necessary, and overall, establish a personal connection with the student body. This endeavour set a tone within the Institute that the voices of students’ matter, and is a tradition that is still standing today.
Dr. Rotstein has had a profound impact on the IMS over the last three decades, as a faculty member, Director and supervisor. According to former students, Dr. Rotstein has been a source of inspiration throughout their training and in their present careers: “Ori’s supervision of our graduate studies took each of us from a state of undifferentiated uncertainty about our interest in academic surgery to a state of passionate and life-long engagement in scientific investigation with labs and graduate students of our own.” 1 References 1.Topa, S. (2018). Congratulations to Dr. Ori Rotstein for receiving the JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award. [online] Institute of Medical Science University of Toronto. Available at: https://ims.utoronto.ca/news/congratulationsto-dr-ori-rotstein-for-receiving-the-jj-berry-smith-doctoral-supervision-award/ [Accessed 1 Aug. 2018].
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Dr. Melvin Silverman: Ehancing the student experience
Photo by Krystal Jacques-Smith
By Abanti Tagore Dr. Melvin Silverman has played an integral role in the growth and expansion of the Institute of Medical Science (IMS). He is currently Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of Toronto (U of T) and a Senior Staff Nephrologist at Toronto General Hospital. He was a former Director of the IMS for nine years (1991-2000), a period of broad expansion of the IMS students and faculty with a particular focus on enhancing training of Clinician Scientists. He was the Founding Director of the U of T MD/PhD Program, overseeing it for 24 years, and together with Dr. Bernard Langer, he founded the Royal College Clinical Investigator Program, serving as its director for 14 years. He has devoted his academic career to pursuing basic research in membrane biology, especially membrane transport phenomena in the kidneys. His journey began in 1971 when he set up his research laboratory at U of T. Since then, Dr. Silverman and his team carried out groundbreaking research in understanding active membrane transport processes. For 15 years he was Director of the Medical Research Council Group in Membrane Biology, recruiting an interdisciplinary group of researchers investigating the molecular mechanisms of various biological transport systems. His first breakthrough finding was helping to define the dual transport mechanisms (luminal and contra luminal) of sugar reabsorption across the renal proximal tubule. He also did important work in characterizing renal transport of drugs such as digoxin, and chemotherapeutic agents. His research resulted in over 125 peer-reviewed publications, chapters and reviews, and supervision of 8 PhD and 6 MSc IMS graduate students. Today, Dr. Silverman has retired from running a research lab and his time is split between his clinical duties at the hospital and teaching commitments as a Professor of Medicine, mainly teaching first year students and residents rotating through nephrology. However, he is continually operating behind the scenes to enhance the IMS experience. 76 | IMS MAGAZINE
With the long awaited IMS 50th Celebration underway, Dr. Silverman is helping Professor Mingyao Liu, IMS’s current Director, to organize an international conference on graduate education in medical science. “It’s a celebration of the IMS but also a rebooting of the IMS,” explains Dr. Silverman. “IMS50 is a chance for the administration to address the challenges and opportunities in medical education, what future directions the IMS wants to take, and what the IMS can learn from international faculties that have similar kinds of models.” Both Dr. Silverman and Dr. Mingyao Liu hope that the discussions at the conference will help the IMS to develop and strategically implement programs and courses that will equip students with skills that allow them to be independent, interdisciplinary individuals that can carry on a lifetime career in a very competitive environment. “Industry and indeed modern university departments are no longer interested in card-carrying one-dimensional degrees, and employers want to see individuals that are interdisciplinary,” says Dr. Silverman. “In order to be successful in a lifetime career in research and teaching we have to be able to evolve and have a background that enables us to borrow and exploit methods and approaches from multiple disciplines into our own research.” A vision that he and Dr. Mingyao Liu share is that over the next 50 years, the IMS will become an interdisciplinary hub. “Personally, I’d like to see an experiment where under the IMS umbrella, we develop graduate programs in collaboration with various disease-based programs in clinical departments and Hospital Research Institutes,” explains Dr. Silverman. Dr. Mel Silverman’s IMS journey has certainly been exceptional and will no doubt continue to be as he contributes to the exciting progress and future of the Institute.
Summer Undergraduate Research Program: An Update
Photo by Mikaeel Valli
By Parita Shah, Brenda Varriano and Frank Pang The IMS Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is the largest summer research program at the University of Toronto (U of T). The program provides an opportunity to undergraduate and medical students to learn about biomedical sciences through hands-on research experience with world-renowned scientists appointed at IMS. The program has evolved significantly over the course of its history for nearly three and a half decades. SURP was first established in 1983 under the leadership of Dr. Aubie Angel, who also served as the Director of IMS until 1990. Dr. Angel initially designed SURP to emphasize the importance of medical science research to students at an earlier stage of their studies. He believed that it was through both clinical exposure and scientific investigation that students could strive to become the best in their fields. Initially with eight or fewer participants, it has now grown to accommodate nearly 100 students. SURP provides students with a unique opportunity to work with distinguished IMS faculty members on a variety of research projects in either a laboratory or clinical setting. To this day, SURP remains one of the largest and most successful undergraduate research programs at U of T. Since 2010, Dr. Vasundara Venkateswaran has served as the Director of the program. She is also a Scientist in the Division of Urology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at U of T. She also has other key leadership roles at IMS as a Graduate Coordinator and the Chair of Graduate Admissions. Dr. Venkateswaran has continued to demonstrate her passion and dedication in mentoring budding scholars through SURP, which has progressed substantially over the past several years. Since its beginning, SURP has always taken place from June to August. While the basic structure of SURP has remained unchanged, many other aspects of the program have evolved over the years, including the development of international collaboration. The first international summer students from National Chiao Tung University of Taiwan have participated in SURP since early 2000. Today, the program has expanded its international relationships to include partnerships with Shandong University School of Medicine (China), Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine (China), Royal College of Surgeons (Ireland), University College Cork (Ireland), University of St Andrews (United Kingdom), and
many American universities. In 2017, approximately 1 in 10 participants were international students. The IMS continues to assist international students with accommodations to help them through their stay in Toronto. The 2018 SURP kicked off on June 1st with an orientation session to welcome and introduce 90 students to the program. Students engaged in research projects at various teaching hospitals and attended weekly IMS seminars. Each week students had an opportunity to learn about animal research, ethics, genomics, and mental health from prominent researchers. This provided students an opportunity not only to interact with faculty members, but also to learn about other exciting research areas outside their field of work. This year, SURP concluded with its annual Research Day on August 15, 2018. IMS invited Dr. Thomas Waddell, a clinician-scientist at Toronto General Hospital with research interests in regenerative medicine and lung transplantation, as a keynote speaker. Dr. Waddell shared the many challenges that plague the field of organ transplantation, highlighting the needs to help patients tolerate donor organs. On a more personal note, Dr. Waddell advised prospective IMS students to keep their minds open. While having an end goal is important, he emphasized that students should also the enjoy process. A part of the process involves mentorship, which is a great experience for all stages of life. As part of this day, students were also given an opportunity to showcase their own research findings through oral or poster presentations, with IMS faculty members and doctoral students as judges. From each presentation group, first place was awarded to: Zachary Blatman, Ian Burns, Orly Bogler, Serina Cheung, Christian Fenn, Daniel Huang, Rebecca Lau, Prem Nichani,Yubo Wang, and Yi Fan Yang. Honourable mentions were awarded to: Shamara Nadarajah, Kenya Costa-Dookhan, Tifanny Got, Hao Yue Helena Lan, Ben Li, Yeshith Rai, Raza Syed, and Matteo Di Scipio. Additionally, each student received a certificate for participation on their successful completion of the program. As in previous years, SURP 2018 was a huge success! Dr. Venkateswaran heartily hopes that the SURP studentsâ€™ learning experiences will help facilitate their future career goals.
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Dr. Charles Tator: Renowned clinician-scientist and long-standing member of the IMS family
By Jonathon Chio The concept of synergy is stated by Aristotle, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Similarly, goals are accomplished more effectively and efficiently when people work together as a team. While this may be true, credit must be given to the individual members. In 2018, the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) celebrates its 50th Anniversary and reviews its history in preparation for the future. Success of IMS is due to its fantastic faculty, whose accomplishments construct the credibility and excellence of our graduate program. A great contributor is Dr. Charles Tator; a renowned and respected clinician-scientist who studies the acute management of traumatic spinal cord injury and brain injury (ischemia, demyelination, and concussion). As a main contributor to the IMS surgeon-scientist program, he has been part of IMS family since 1970. A glimpse into Dr. Tator’s curriculum vitae indicates that he is an established leader in multiple fronts. As one of the first surgeons in Canada to obtain a PhD as part of surgical training, he is an Officer of the Order of Canada, inductee in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and was Head of Neurosurgery at several University of Toronto hospitals. When Dr. Tator started at the IMS 48 years ago, Dr. Jack Laidlaw (Director of IMS) strived to develop graduate students and investigators conducting clinical and basic (wet lab) research. As the IMS evolved, this effort has grown and created an interdisciplinary community fostering scientific excellence. Dr. Tator credits his success to this environment, as “one can’t conduct good research without excellent collaborations and going to people with greater expertise than you.” The fervor of IMS for translational research invites future excitement and challenges. Dr. Tator applauds the IMS for broadening its scope of medical research. Achieving excellence in these topics requires adding new disciplines for faculty and students. Our graduate unit takes pride in embracing new fields without much difficulty. This flexibility must be maintained for IMS to enjoy continued success. However, the path to 78 | IMS MAGAZINE
such accolades is laden with challenges. As new fields are incorporated, it is important to be experts in all of these topics. Achieving this goal requires complex and expensive collaborations, which is difficult due to the lack of funding available in Canada relative to other developed countries. In the 2018 budget, the Canadian federal government allocated $4 billion (over 5 years) towards investigator-led basic research.1 In contrast, the United States Congress approved $37 billion and $7.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, respectively.2 To traverse these fundraising difficulties, Dr. Tator has encouraged an increased role for grateful patients, hospital foundations and corporate donors. With excellent funding, trainees will be well-equipped to guide the future of scientific research. From Dr. Tator’s perspective, there has been a change in the ultimate careers of students who complete doctoral and post-doctoral training. Currently, a greater proportion of graduates leaves academia and enters into industry. In the face of this shift, Dr. Tator compliments IMS for continuing to improve the training for future students. This has been accomplished by tracking the careers of its graduates after completing their training. Through evaluating their progress and incorporating their feedback, the type of training at IMS can be improved accordingly. A program sensitive to the constantly-changing needs of its trainees will continue to help IMS recruit high quality students desiring to conduct research focused on clinical translation. Simultaneously, this will attract investigators to the IMS due to our network of 500 highly trained, clinically-oriented scientists and trainees possessing novel ideas. Students and investigators can act synergistically to increase their community outreach and impact, and together, carry on the IMS motto of “learn, discover and apply.”
References 1. Owens B. Canadian science wins billions in new budget. Nature [Internet]. 2018 February [cited 2018 July 24]; 555, 153. Available from: https://www.nature.com/ articles/d41586-018-02529-6. 2. Science [Internet] Trump, Congress approve largest U.S. research spending increase in a decade [cited 2018 July 24]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: http:// www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/03/updated-us-spending-deal-contains-largestresearch-spending-increase-decade. Photograph by Rick McGinnis, 2000
“ Dr. Brenda Toner: Creating a SAFE space for students
We need to give people space and confidence to be aware of how amazing they are.
By Carina Freitas Dr. Brenda Toner is a distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of Psychiatry and IMS. An IMS faculty member since 1992, she served as a Graduate Coordinator from 2011 to 2017 and led the Faculty Appointment Committee from 2015 to 2017. She is currently the chair of the Student, Alumni and Faculty Engagement (SAFE) Committee and co-chair of the IMS 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee. Dr. Toner is no stranger to leadership positions; she has led many collaborative initiatives among fields such as psychology, psychiatry, gastroenterology, family practice, education, public health, and policy. She was the Director of the Fellowship Program in the Department of Psychiatry from 2003 to 2012 and was the Head of the Women’s Mental Health Program from 1997 to the fall of 2011. Her research focuses on functional gastrointestinal disorders, eating disorders, chronic fatigue, depression, and anxiety. More recently, Dr. Toner has been actively involved in teaching, practicing, and facilitating mindfulness-based approaches. Over the last four years, she has had the opportunity to offer drop-in Mindful Moments, as well as lead workshops, and speak about mindfulness at the University of Toronto (U of T). Dr. Toner also recently taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Psychology and OISE. Dr. Toner’s journey in research is a true testament to multidisciplinary approaches and collaborative work. After completing her undergraduate studies in Psychology at Queen’s University, Dr. Toner spent one year at Simon Fraser University as a Master’s student before accepting a research assistant position in Dr. Harvey Moldofsky’s lab at the Clarke Institute (today the Center for Addiction and Mental Health). During this period, she worked on studies exploring the neuroscience of sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. She then transferred to the PhD program in the Department of Psychology at U of T, studying the
psychophysiology of test anxiety. Expanding her research to the area of functional gastrointestinal disorders and cognitive behavioural models and interventions for eating disorders in women, she took a postdoctoral fellowship in the Eating Disorders Program at Toronto General Hospital, supervised by Dr. Paul Garfinkel. It was Dr. Garfinkel’s mentorship that encouraged Dr. Toner to begin her journey with the IMS. During her early years, she remembers serving as an examiner for numerous Master’s and PhD students’ final defenses. Transitioning into her role as a Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Toner had the opportunity to interact with more IMS students and faculty in a meaningful way. Having watched the IMS grow over the years, Dr. Toner states that she continues to be inspired by IMS students. “Of my scholarly and professional accomplishments, the one that is more meaningful for me is having the honour of working with and mentoring such talented students,” she says. In her current role as the Chair of the Student, Alumni and Faculty Engagement (SAFE) Committee, Dr. Toner is dedicated to creating a safe and creative environment for IMS students, staff, faculty and alumni. “We need to give people space and confidence to be aware of how amazing they are,” she emphasizes. Dr. Toner has partnered with many IMS initiatives, as the faculty lead on TEDMED Talks, Symphony of Science, and U of T Talks. As the co-chair of the IMS 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee, Brenda welcomes you to celebrate our past accomplishments, engage in our vibrant IMS community, and inspire the next generation of graduates in medical science. She concludes, “kindness, compassion and open curiosity is a way to improve the understanding and quality of wellbeing, meaningful research, and innovation.” IMS MAGAZINE FALL 2018 IMS50 | 79
IMS SCIENTIFIC DAY THROUGH THE YEARS Effective communication is necessary to be successful in all fields of work and walks of life. This is particularly true for science and scientists. If they remain grounded in the lab, both will likely achieve very little. Given the greater influence of multidisciplinary research, efficient and creative interactions with experts both inside and outside your field can lead to fruitful collaborations and further scientific excellence. In the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), the IMS Scientific Day is an annual academic highlight. In an open environment that is conducive to collaboration, world-renown researchers in different scientific fields deliver keynote lecture and talks. Furthermore, students showcase their scientific excellence and interact with faculty members and other students to obtain feedback and discuss new ideas. Jonathon Chio
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IMS PHOTO GALLERY PAST & PRESENT
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IMS50 International Conference: Graduate Education in Medical Science A Student’s Perspective
By Yvonne Bach In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), Dr. Mingyao Liu, current IMS Director, and Dr. Melvin Silverman, former IMS Director, hosted an international conference on Graduate Education in Medical Science: Challenges and Opportunities. On October 3, 2018, notable leaders from eminent universities across North America congregated at the Intercontinental Yorkville to discuss the current landscape and common issues being faced in biomedical research and graduate education. The objectives of the conference were three-fold – to define medical science as a graduate training discipline, to strengthen the medical science community and to help prepare the IMS for future challenges in medical science. The conference began with a series of presentations focused on graduate training models in biomedical sciences and current trends in IMS alumni career paths. These presentations included the IMS’ 50-year synergic relationship with clinical departments, graduate training in clinical departments and hospitals at the
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University of Toronto (U of T), graduate training in medical science at Harvard Medical School and the School of Graduate Studies’ 10,000s PhDs project and its implications for graduate training at the IMS. The latter half of the morning was divided into three breakout sessions: 1) Student support and engagement, 2) Development of interdisciplinary research programs and 3) Integrating formal course work and practical research experience in graduate training. I attended Session 2: Development of interdisciplinary research programs. Some of the recurrent themes throughout the discussion were the decline of medical trainees in pursuing basic science research and the barriers that hinder interdisciplinary collaboration. Members from biomedical graduate programs at Harvard University, McGill University, and U of T gave brief presentations on their graduate models and programs that nurture interdisciplinary collaborations within and between departments. A lively discussion suggested that most of today’s issues and challenges can be attributed
Photographs: Page 92 L-R: Norman Rosenblum, Gillian Hawker, Beverley Orser, Howard Bergman and James Rutka Page 93 Mingyao Liu and Shirley Tilghman
to post-graduate employment insecurity, duration of training (e.g., MD/PhD students spend an average of 10 years in training), personal debt, and lack of research funding. From the perspective of a graduate student, I was appreciative of the IMS and Drs. Liu and Silverman for developing and hosting such a timely conference. The conference was a great step towards improving the graduate experience. It also underscored the IMS’ role as a world-leading institution in biomedical and clinical research. Personal and professional development is crucial in attracting trainees and prospective students to a graduate training program. Additionally, collaborative work between clinical researchers and basic scientists should be fostered and instilled early on in graduate training. Although students are self-driven and highly motivated, we rely on our supervisors and policy makers at our institutions to create such opportunities that will substantially improve the way we conduct translational research in medicine.
The afternoon included an excellent panel discussion on Clinical Investigator Training – the Future Leaders with panelists Drs. Howard Bergman, Gillian Hawker, Beverley Orser, Norman Rosenblum and James Rutka. This was followed by an inspiring keynote address on Graduate Medical Education in the 21st Century by Dr. Shirley Tilghman, President Emerita and Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Dr. Tilghman’s presentation included important reminders and insights, such as that diverse teams produce better science and that risk averse science is almost never good science. The first international conference hosted by the IMS was successful in creating a dialogue between faculty educators from some of the top institutions in Canada and the United States. Key problems were identified, objectives were set, and innovative solutions were shared. Now, the real work begins.
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IMS 50th Anniversary Gala Reception & Dinner
On October 3, 2018 the IMS hosted a special Gala Reception & Dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto as a way to celebrate our great history and successes, engage with the IMS community, and inspire the next generation of medical science graduates. The Gala was an opportunity for us all to come together to create new memories that will leave a lasting legacy in the IMS. Guests included IMS faculty members, alumni, students, staff, and other high-profile members of the medical science community in Toronto, Canada and internationally. We would like to thank everyone who attended the event, especially the clinical departments in the Faculty of Medicine and the University-affiliated hospital sites and research centres who hosted a table. It was a fabulous and memorable evening full of celebration, fun and reflection.
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THE FUTURE IS NOW
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By Mingyao Liu, IMS Director
his has been a wonderful year of reflection and celebration. We have held a series of successful and memorable IMS 50th Anniversary related events and initiatives, culminating in our International Conference on Graduate Education in Medical Science and Gala Reception and Dinner in October. The conference provided a unique opportunity for us to combine perspectives on graduate education in medical science with eminent universities across Canada and the United States. It was a day full of learning and rich discussions aimed at how we can best prepare our students to be the future leaders of basic and clinical scientists. This year the IMS also completed a comprehensive Self-Study Report for External Review covering the years 2010-2018. I would like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Richard Horner, Graduate Coordinator, for his leadership and work in preparing this report. The data and metrics in this report have reminded us just how proud we are of our great Institute, and especially of all the fantastic accomplishments of our students and faculty, and the hard work and dedication of the IMS staff. In 2012, under the leadership of then Director Dr. Allan Kaplan, the IMS developed its first 5-year strategic plan, with an emphasis on pursuing translational research and interdisciplinary education that advance human health. This led to the creation of five new initiatives â€“ Uniqueness, Connectedness, Presence, Belonging and Engagement. We can proudly say that we have successfully accomplished the goals laid out in this strategic plan. Through what we have learned from the International Conference, the Self-Study Report and the feedback we will receive from the external reviewers, we will be well equipped to prepare a clear set of future directions to guide the IMS. The heart of our vision is to continue our work in becoming a global leader in graduate education to improve human health through translational research. I envision three key priority areas going forward: 1) Student Support, Professional Development, and Alumni Engagement, 2) Program and Course Development, and 3) International Development.
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THE FUTURE IS NOW Program and Course Development
Student Support, Professional Development, and Alumni Engagement
Students are the core of our graduate training. First and foremost, the IMS serves to support students throughout their studies and to help them reach their career goals. Our student population has changed from primarily clinicians to students entering graduate school directly from their undergraduate degree. By catering to the unique needs of our trainees, we can help them to become future leaders in a range of biomedical related fields. Our administrative staff provide frontline student services and consultation. We will empower them to take on greater roles within the IMS, and to work alongside our faculty and Graduate Coordinators to offer strong support to our students and further grow our programs. The School of Graduate Studiesâ€™ recent 10,000 PhDs project showed that the majority of our graduates are not going on to work in academia. In response to the changing professional landscape, we have recruited Dr. Reinhart Reithmeier as Director of Professional Development and Alumni Engagement. Dr. Reithmeier launched a new series of career panels and networking events this fall for students featuring alumni and professionals working in various sectors. He will also lead new Graduate Professional Development modules, developed in consultation with current students, which will launch in 2019. We are incredibly proud of our student body, who demonstrate remarkable commitment and innovation. Our student-run groups and initiatives include the IMS Studentsâ€™ Association, IMS Magazine, the Raw Talk Podcast and the Peer-to-Peer Mentorship program. We will continue to support these initiatives, so that they, in turn, can continue to support their fellow students and provide important opportunities and meaningful communities for them.
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More than ever, is such an exciting time to be a scientist; we are living in an era of enriched resources, greater access to patients and clinical samples, and opportunities for translational research that can lead to industrialization and commercialization on a global scale. We hope to inspire the next generation of graduate students and clinician investigator trainees by promoting further collaborations across the clinical and basic science departments in the Faculty of Medicine, and with other health science faculties and University-affiliated hospitals. We are exploring the possibility of developing research streams within the IMS in collaboration with current research centres in the Faculty of Medicine. These streams would provide students with greater research and learning opportunities and an important community and network of scientists working in the same field. We envision students within each steam leading academic activities such as running seminars, organizing small conferences and facilitating interaction with graduate students in other research streams, departments, and universities. The research streams would also have the benefit of engaging more faculty members in graduate education and enabling research centres to further their own research through graduate training. The IMS will also adapt to the changing landscape and rapid developments in biomedical sciences by developing new graduate courses in areas such as artificial intelligence, genomics, bioinformatics, computational medicine, big data and nanotechnologies.
In line with the University of Torontoâ€™s mission to be an â€œinternationally significant research university, with undergraduate, graduate and professional programs of excellent quality,â€? we have created a new portfolio of international activities. We have recently appointed Dr. Zhong-Ping Feng as Director of International Development, and Sarah Topa has assumed the new role of International Program & Partnerships Officer. Our international efforts will include increased and targeted recruitment of international students for our Summer Undergraduate Research Program and visiting graduate students and doctoral stream students. We are looking to establish an International Medical Science program for post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty, as well as travel awards to encourage students to gain international experience through scientific collaboration with other universities and by participating in conferences abroad. I believe the best way to honour the past is to prepare for the future. I am excited by all the possibilities before us, and more encouraged than ever about what the next 50 years will hold. I am confident that the IMS will continue to flourish and make significant contributions to graduate training in medical science, and to the medical science community locally, nationally and globally.
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The IMS50 Anniversary issue of the IMS Magazine for 2018, highlighting the past, present and future of the Institute of Medical Science.
Published on Dec 15, 2018
The IMS50 Anniversary issue of the IMS Magazine for 2018, highlighting the past, present and future of the Institute of Medical Science.