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Canada Research Chairs renewed

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The federal government has renewed the Tier 1 Canada Research Chairs of two Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) scientists.

The research professorship, worth $1.4 million over seven years, is the most prestigious academic award given by the Government of Canada. It honours outstanding researchers who are recognized by their peers as world leaders in their fields.

Dr. Dan Dumont, a senior scientist in the biological sciences platform at SRI, is the Canada Research Chair in Angiogenic and Lymphangiogenic Signalling. Dumont, who is also a professor in medical biophysics at the University of Toronto, is studying the growth mechanisms of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. Specifically, he is trying to identify the factors that initiate and govern the growth of these vessels. His aim is to develop methods that can inhibit or promote these growth processes for therapies in cancer, diabetes and arthritis, among others. Dumont recently invented a peptide-based growth factor that is showing promise in restoring vascular health and accelerating the healing of chronic wounds, like those experienced by people with diabetes. This discovery is based on his research detailing the importance of the Tie-2 receptor in the formation of blood vessels.

Dr. Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker is the interim director of the biological sciences platform at SRI and the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Immunology. He discovered how to grow disease-fighting T cells in vitro, using embryonic stem cells. This method is now used by hundreds of labs around the world. A professor in immunology at U of T, Zúñiga-Pflücker uses state-of-the-art technology to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms governing the immune system. He is trying to understand how, in response to key molecular signals, stem cells develop into T cells, which are essential for immunity. Potential clinical applications of his research include enabling the development of stem-cell-based therapies for people whose immune systems have been damaged, for example, by the HIV virus or cancer treatment.

Eight other SRI researchers hold Canada Research Chairs.

An image of the two doctors who have won research chairs from the Government of Canada.