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Dr. Sascha Drewlo appointed to Waks Family Chair in Maternal Fetal Medicine Research

February 14, 2023

Sunnybrook is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Sascha Drewlo to the Waks Family Chair in Maternal Fetal Medicine Research, jointly shared by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

The Chair, previously held by Dr. Jon Barrett, provides funding for fetal medicine research and is supported by a generous donation led by Toronto philanthropists Fred and Linda Waks and matched by family and friends.

“I’m honoured to be recognized with the Waks Family Chair in Maternal Fetal Medicine Research and extremely grateful to the Waks Family and all the generous donors that made this possible,” says Dr. Sascha Drewlo, senior scientist in Biological Sciences and the DAN Women and Babies Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute. “This support will enable our team to advance our vision to build a globally recognized comprehensive program for the early detection and management of high-risk pregnancies.”

A leader in his field, Dr. Drewlo has pioneered and patented several techniques related to the isolation and purification of placenta-derived trophoblast cells within the cervix in early pregnancy. These cells provide nutrients to the developing embryo and help it attach to the wall of the uterus. The risk-free collection of these cells (via a simple pap smear) has the potential to make a wide range of genetic diagnoses safely and earlier than ever before – as early as five weeks of gestation compared to the current standard of 12 weeks, which could have profound implications for prenatal diagnosis.

Dr. Drewlo returned to Toronto in July 2022 following doctoral training at the Deutsche Sporthochschule Cologne and University Hospital Medical School in Germany. He had previously completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Toronto’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute and spent nine years in the United States at Michigan State University and Wayne State University in Detroit.

“I’m excited to be back in Canada at Sunnybrook embedded in one of the best clinical and basic science environments in the world,” says Dr. Drewlo. “Together with my team of next-generation scientists and collaborators, we look forward to advancing our work to ultimately support more healthy pregnancies for women around the world.”

The Waks Family Chair in Maternal Fetal Medicine Research is made possible thanks to generous support from donors including Fred and Linda Waks.