As an indication of their celebrated scholarship, our faculty members have been awarded Canada Research Chairs, NSERC Accelerator Awards, Ontario Early Researcher Awards, Dean’s Outstanding Teaching Awards in the Faculty of Arts & Science, as well as major honours, such as the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada and University of Toronto Distinguished Professorship.

They have benefited greatly from major grant funding from NSERC, CIHR, Genome Canada and the Simons Foundation resulting in publications in some of the most prestigious journals in the field.

The Mitchell lab has identified genetic sequences that regulate the early stages of stem cell differentiation; this insight can be harnessed for regenerative medicine treatments. The Harris and Fernandez-Gonzalez labs have determined how multiple nuclei in a single, large fruit fly cell create 2D patterns of cytoskeletal networks for generating small 3D compartments that each house a single nucleus as it divides. By studying mice that model Huntington’s Disease, the Woodin lab has relieved learning and memory deficits shown by these mice; these studies on ion channels revealed a specific inhibitor that was effective for treatment in mice.

Promotions and Appointments

Professor Dinesh Christendat has been promoted to Full Professor. His work focuses on molecular reconstruction of proteins to understand their evolution and functional diversification in metabolic pathways. Professor Christendat’s group utilizes protein engineering coupled with structural biology to investigate the evolution of shikimate pathway enzymes. In plants, the pathway produces a precursor for anthocyanins, flavonoids and isoflavonoids which are potential antioxidants with nutritional benefits to humans. The shikimate pathway is an attractive target for drug development because it is absent in humans, but is essential for the survival of microbial organisms including Plasmodium falciparum which causes malaria and Toxoplasma gondii, implicated in psychological disorders and toxoplasmosis.

Professor Chris Garside has been promoted to Associate Professor, Teaching Stream. He uses this position to create an interactive environment where students take risks and question accepted theories, leading to the development of critical thinking that inspires an enthusiasm for learning. Professor Garside is dedicated to investigating and incorporating the best ways to train TAs to facilitate the engagement of our undergraduate students in laboratories. You can discuss his research with him at UofT, provincially at oCUBE (Ontario Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators), or internationally at ABLE (Association of Biology Laboratory Education).

Professor Ashley Bruce has been promoted to Full Professor. She
uses a combination of cellular, molecular and embryological techniques to study how morphogenesis and embryonic tissue patterning are linked in the zebrafish. The zebrafish embryo is an ideal vertebrate system for analyzing morphogenesis and patterning due to its accessibility, its transparency, the ease of manipulation as well as well as the availability of mutant lines with defects in morphogenesis and patterning.

She is also Director of the Human Biology Program, the largest undergraduate life science program at U of T. HMB programs, which range from Global Health to Neuroscience, enable students to delve into the interdisciplinary field of human biology and specialize in their selected area of inquiry.