SickKids researchers among new and renewed Canada Research Chairs
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is home to three new or renewed Tier 1 and Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs (CRC) through the University of Toronto. SickKids’ chairholders are advancing innovative research on statistical trial design, molecular genetics and electron cryomicroscopy.
The CRC Program recognizes individuals who have achieved research excellence in engineering and natural sciences, health sciences and social sciences and humanities.
The Honourable Francois-Phillippe Champange, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced on January 12, 2022 an investment of over $151 million for 188 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs (CRC) at 43 institutions across Canada. View the full list of recipients on the CRC website.
SickKids currently has 35 filled CRCs, including 22 Tier 1 Chairs and 13 Tier 2 chairs.
SickKids researchers who are recipients of this prestigious honour include:
John Rubinstein, Canada Research Chair in Electron Cryomicroscopy (Tier 1 Renewal)
Senior Scientist, Molecular Medicine
Dr. Rubinstein’s research on electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM) has helped lead a revolution in structural biology. During his previous term as a CRC, he developed methods that led to high-profile discoveries about proton pumps that energize membranes (V-type ATPases), production of the cellular energy currency ATP (the ATP synthase), respiratory supercomplexes, nucleosome binding proteins and tuberculosis drug targets. His work exemplifies cryoEM’s ability to resolve biomolecular movement at high resolution and will enable development of a new generation of therapeutics by providing a structural understanding of dynamic macromolecular machines.
Ji-Young Youn, Canada Research Chair in Membrane-less Organelle Proteomics (Tier 2)
Scientist, Molecular Medicine
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects approximately two in 100,000 people. ALS is a progressive disease in which symptoms get worse over time and 80 per cent of patients die within two to five years of diagnosis. Underlying the origin of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS is dysregulated membraneless organelle dynamics. Membraneless organelles play critical roles in cellular homeostatis, and therefore proper regulation of their dynamics is important. To understand how organelle dynamics play crucial roles in stress and disease, Dr. Youn will spearhead proteomic investigation of membraneless organelles using innovative proximal interactome-based methods of her expertise. She will map their proteomes linked to their distinct biophysical states. Using these discoveries, Dr. Youn aims to identify small molecules that can revert abnormal transition of membraneless organelles, which could lead to potential development of a novel treatment for ALS. Dr. Youn also received funding through Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund, in partnership with the CRC program.
Anna Heath, Canada Research Chair in Statistical Trial Design (Tier 2)
Scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences
Value of Information (VoI) is a research and trial design method that ensures research supports decision-making and provides value-for-money from an investment. Currently, VoI is more complex, time consuming and costly than standard research design methods. Dr. Heath’s previous research developed new statistical methods to reduce the time required to use VoI methods. During her CRC term, she aims to further reduce the barriers to the practical use of VoI in trial design, particularly when the current amount of evidence to support decision-making is small and when researchers are developing new precision medicine treatments.