December 2010

Volume 24 Issue 14

The Scientist December 2010 Cover



On Ontario

On Ontario If you’re not as excited as I am about life science in this region, you will be. By Alison McCook Confession: I’m in love…with a Province. The affair began during my undergraduate career at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Many McGill students came to the English language university from the nearest English-speaking Province: Ontario. They were all bright, interesting, and diverse–

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Challenges and Solutions to Clinical Issues in Cancer The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is a new center of excellence. It is moving Ontario to the forefront of discovery and innovation in cancer research. Funded by the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Institute received a grant of $350 million for its first five years of operation. Located in the MaRS Centre, in the Discov

On the Up

On the Up Ontario has always been known for its groundbreaking science—now get ready for its biotech. By Kirsten Weir Ontarians are proud of their scientific history. As all Canadian schoolchildren learn, Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin in Toronto in 1921. Forty years later, Ontario Cancer Center researchers James Till and Ernest McCulloch proved the existence of stem cells. The first commercial vaccine for childhood men

The Power of the Purse

The Power of the Purse In the same way that patrons supported explorers, artists, and scientists throughout the ages, we need to fund our medical scientists. Here in Ontario, it’s already making a difference. By Rob and Cheryl McEwen Today, we stand at the tipping point of a revolution–one of significant medical breakthroughs within our lifetime. We are now looking at new ways to think about how medicine is practiced. At the McEwen Cent

Toronto Region Research Alliance

Why do health care companies choose Toronto Region for their commercial operations? Chemist Edward B. Shuttleworth established Canada’s first major pharmaceutical operation in Toronto in 1879. From these early beginnings, the Toronto Region is now one of the largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology clusters in North America. Twenty-five of the top 50 global pharmaceutical companies have Canadian headquarters in the Toronto Region.

The New Face of Cancer

The New Face of Cancer An unusual institute is applying the newest concepts in life sciences—stem cell therapies, personalized medicine—to one of the oldest diseases. By Kelly Rae Chi The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) does not take a typical approach to the disease. Many cancer researchers toil away individually, only sharing their results after peer review. But for cancer researchers to receive some of the roughly $39 million the


This Time, It's Personal

This time, It's Personal The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research: Meeting the Cancer Challenge through Personalized Medicine By Tom Hudson Each year, 11 million people across the world are diagnosed with cancer, and 7 million people succumb to this dreadful disease. Despite years of intensive research, cancer remains a complex and formidable foe. The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) was launched at an inflection point in cancer geno

From Private to Public

From Private to Public As head of a unique pharma-academia consortium, Aled Edwards has helped scientists solve the 3D structures of hundreds of disease-related proteins and deposited them in an open access bank—at half the usual cost. By Victoria Stern As an undergraduate at McGill University in Montreal, Aled Edwards spent most of his time playing football and enjoying various intramural sports, like baseball and basketball—and in th


Life on MaRs

Life on MaRS Historically, Toronto has been a rich source of basic research that it has struggled to commercialize. That’s about to change. By Kirsten Weir The MaRS "heritage building" was once the Toronto General Hospital's College Wing © 2005 Ben Rahn/A-Frame Inc. During a break from the busy BIO conference in 2000, physician and entrepreneur Calvin Stiller decided to take a walk through Boston with John Evans, a physic

A Good Co-pilot

A Good Co-Pilot Sanofi Pasteur and Ontario—On the Road Together to Innovation and Discovery By J. Mark Lievonen Each day, when I drive from my home in Unionville, Ontario, to North Toronto, where I work at sanofi pasteur, I feel lucky to live in a region with so much to offer. Not only is Ontario a beautiful place, but it also offers incredible opportunities for those of us in the life-sciences business. The location has been a place for our

Canada Pharma

Drugs from D2

Drugs from D2 Philip Seeman's discovery of the D2 Dopamine receptor transformed psychiatry. He's hoping his new company does, as well. By Victoria Stern As medical students at McGill University in Montreal in the late 1950s, Philip Seeman and his wife Mary took classes at a local hospital to see what schizophrenia looked like. “That’s what changed my life,” says Seeman. The patients were extremely difficult to manage. “I was

From Toxins to Therapies

From Toxins to Therapies Is nitric oxide the next tool for pain management? By Monica Heger Rui Wang, vice president of research at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. For years, nitric oxide, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon monoxide got a bad rap. Scientists considered them to be toxins, little more— that is, until Robert Furchgott, Louis Ignarro and Ferid Murad discovered that NO was both endogenous and a signaling molecul


Bio-Prodigy Shana Kelley is launching her second company with a device that could change the way medicine is practiced and she's not even 40. By Kirsten Weir Imagine a handheld device that could test patients for disease in minutes, letting doctors know—without a biopsy or lengthy waiting period—which patients were infected with a dangerous strain of bacteria or aggressive form of cancer. For Shana Kelley, that’s the plan. Kell

Cloudy, Chance of Cough

Cloudy, Chance of Cough With a new mapping tool, Ontario is the only place where people can track disease epidemics in real time—telling them when to skip daycare, perhaps, or take other steps to stay disease free. By Daniel Grushkin If a weather map can prevent you from getting rained on in a storm, can a map of infectious diseases in your neighborhood prevent you from getting sick in an epidemic? Scientists in Kingston, Ontario, think so. Thanks to

A Living Legacy

A Living Legacy At the birthplace of stem cell research, the next generation of scientists continues to advance the field. By Megan Scudellari In Toronto’s downtown Discovery District, world-class stem cell researchers populate the buildings like athletes at the Olympics. On University Avenue, Andras Nagy, a renowned innovator in induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, works at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, housed within the towering Mount Sin

Nice View from Up Here

Nice View from Up Here Generous funding, a collaborative spirit, and excellent colleagues make Ontario a great place to do my research. By Jane Rossant As a working scientist in Ontario, studying developmental and stem-cell biology, I feel privileged to be part of a vibrant community of forward-looking researchers, who daily demonstrate that by working together we can deliver more than the sum of our individual efforts. There has been considerable



Pluri–Pioneer With a simple insight and unselfish collaboration, Andras Nagy pushed stem cell research in directions it had never been before. By Megan Scudellari © 2010 Icon Photography Inc./ Andras Nagy bent over his coffee-stained menu and began to scribble. Pentao Liu, a cancer geneticist from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom, watched from across the lunch table. It was January

The Big Ome

The Big Ome Can an international group of scientists map the entire regulatory network of a cell? By Megan Scudellari In May 2004, a steady stream of more than 75 researchers from France, Italy, Singapore, and other nations around the world arrived in Ottawa, Canada, a hub of industry and government activity nestled in the confluence of three rivers. Each scientist was hand picked by Michael Rudnicki, a renowned stem-cell researcher at the Ottawa H

Signaling Star

Signaling Star As one of the 25 most highly cited scientists for a decade, Tony Pawson has proposed ideas in cell signaling that are now shaping treatment strategies for some of the world’s most important diseases. By Kelly Rae Chi © 2010 Icon Photography Inc./ In the early 1980s, Tony Pawson made a discovery that would eventually shape scientists’ views of the proteins involved in cell signaling an

Mind Your Elders

Mind Your Elders Over the next 2 decades, Canadian scientists will collect and analyze samples from 50,000 people as they age, to figure out how to make the process easier for everyone else. By Megan Scudellari Canada, like every other developed nation, is going gray. Next year, the first baby boomers across Canada will celebrate their 65th birthdays. Seniors are Canada’s fastest-growing age group, and as the years go by, the country’

Ethnicity, At its Heart

Ethnicity, At Its Heart Sonia Anand helped pioneer the largest study of heart risks worldwide—and couldn't believe what she found. By Daniel Grushkin Sonia Anand was perplexed. In 1997, the epidemiologist and MD at McMaster University found that when South Asians move to Canada, their risk of heart attack mysteriously spikes. Though heart disease is the number-one killer worldwide, the rate is 4 percent in rural India. When South Asians live

The Brain Trust

The Brain Trust To say that it is an exciting time to be a neuroscientist in Ontario would be an understatement of immense proportion. By Michael Salter A revolution in biological sciences has swept through our province like a wildfire, transforming the scientific landscape and bringing forth a dynamic and vibrant community of neuroscience innovators. For the past 20 years or so since I first established my laboratory

Ontario Canada

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