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Regenerative medicine

Drs. Michelle Anderson and Juan Carlos

Drs. Michele Anderson and Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, senior scientists in Biological Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI), are making fundamental discoveries in immunology. Their focus is on T cells, a type of white blood cell that fights infection and cancer. They are studying how T cells develop, and their function in regulating the immune system.

Much of Anderson’s work revolves around HEB, a gene her lab discovered is critical to the healthy development of T cells. She received a Fall 2016 Project Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research worth $860,625 over five years to explore transcriptional regulation of gamma delta T cell development and functional diversification.

Zúñiga-Pflücker’s lab upended knowledge of T cell development by showing it begins in the bone marrow—not the thymus, as had been thought. The finding was published in Nature Immunology. In May 2018, he received a one-year $250,000 Disease Team Grant from the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine for a project using stem cells to repair the immune system.

Dr. Marc Jeschke, a senior scientist in Biological Sciences, is leading a clinical trial evaluating a novel method of repairing skin for people with severe burns and complex wounds. This skin substitute is made from stem cells derived from a patient’s surgically removed burn tissue. His Disease Team Grant from the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine for this work, announced in 2019, is worth $450,000.