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Two Sunnybrook scientists awarded Canada Research Chairs

November 17, 2022

Two Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI) scientists have been recognized with the country’s highest research honour, a Canada Research Chair (CRC). Dr. Burton Yang, a senior scientist in Biological Sciences and the Odette Cancer Research Program, and Dr. Maged Goubran, a scientist in Physical Sciences and the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program, were announced as chairholders on November 16, 2022.

“It’s a wonderful achievement for these leading scientists to be recognized with a Canada Research Chair,” says Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Sunnybrook. “Congratulations to Burton and Maged. I look forward to seeing the impact you’ll have on research and health care in the coming years.”

This round of CRC funding includes both Tier 1 and Tier 2 chairholders. Tier 1 CRCs are awarded to world leaders in their field for a seven-year term. They are worth $200,000 and renewable once. Tier 2 CRCs, worth $100,000 annually, are awarded to exceptional emerging researchers for a five-year term.

Dr. Burton Yang, who is also a professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP) at the University of Toronto, was awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cardiac Remodeling. His research focuses on the role circular RNAs play in regulating cardiac remodeling, which refers to changes in the size, shape, structure or function of the heart following cardiac injury. His research program aims to characterize the roles of circular RNAs in myocardial remodeling, fibrosis, and repair.

“I’m honoured to be recognized with a Canada Research Chair,” says Dr. Yang. “This support will enable our lab to build a stronger circRNA platform that will attract and retain high-calibre research talent.” Dr. Yang adds the funding will help advance translational research from bench to bedside. “The CRC support will help accelerate the basic science necessary to contribute to developing improved therapies for cardiovascular disease, our ultimate goal.”

Joining Dr. Yang as a newly appointed chairholder is Dr. Maged Goubran, who is also an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. He has been awarded a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Artificial intelligence and Computational Neuroscience. His research program focuses on developing novel artificial intelligence (AI) and computational tools to probe, predict, and understand circuit alterations, and model brain pathology in neurological disorders. Combining a basic and translational science approach, Dr. Goubran’s research aims to identify biomarkers and therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases, advance our understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms of these circuit disorders, and improve cognitive and functional outcomes through earlier and more personalized treatments and prevention strategies.

“I’m very grateful to the Canada Research Chairs program, Sunnybrook Research Institute, and the University of Toronto for this support,” says Dr. Goubran. “This funding will enable us to further develop novel AI and computational tools for mapping network dysfunction, tracking disease progression and predicting patient trajectories in neurodegenerative diseases.”

At SRI, Drs. Goubran and Yang join existing Tier 1 chairs Dr. Isabelle Aubert, Dr. JoAnne McLaurin, Dr. Donald Redelmeier, Dr. Greg Stanisz, Dr. Bojana Stefanovic, Dr. Graham Wright, and Tier 2 chairs Dr. Meaghan O’Reilly, Dr. Walter Swardfager, Dr. Chao Wang, Dr. Harindra Wijeysundera and Dr. Hannah Wunsch.