Genetics & Genome Biology
Dr. Ronald Cohn has served as President and CEO of the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada since May 1, 2019. Cohn joined SickKids in September 2012 as the Chief of the Division of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics, Co-Director of the Centre for Genetic Medicine, and Senior Scientist at the SickKids Research Institute. He became the Inaugural Women’s Auxiliary Chair in Clinical and Metabolic Genetics in April of 2013, and joined the department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. In 2016 he was appointed to the position of Chief of Paediatrics at SickKids, and Chair of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto.
Cohn received his medical degree from the University of Essen, Germany. After his postdoctoral fellowship at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Kevin Campbell, he moved to Baltimore where he was the first combined resident in paediatrics and genetics at the Johns Hopkins University. He subsequently joined the faculty of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins where he became the director of the worlds' first multidisciplinary centre for Hypotonia, which has earned national and international recognition. Dr. Cohn was also the director of the medical genetics residency program at Johns Hopkins.
He has received numerous awards including the David M. Kamsler Award for outstanding compassionate and expert care of pediatric patients in 2004; First Annual Harvard-Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics Award in Medical in 2006; and the NIH Young Innovator Award in 2008.
Over the last few years, Dr. Cohn has developed an interest in applying a concept of Precision Child Health to the care of children. His own research focuses on implementing genome editing technologies for the treatment of neurogenetic disorders.
- Maintenance of muscle mass in inherited and acquired muscle disorders
- Molecular mechanisms of muscle regeneration and fibrosis
- Hypotonia with a particular focus on muscle and connective tissue disorders
- Translating next generation sequencing into daily clinical diagnostics and management
Research in Cohn’s laboratory focuses on the biology of muscle regeneration as it relates to various inherited and acquired myopathic states with a particular interest in muscular dystrophies. More recently, he used a novel approach to understand the mechanisms of maintaining muscle mass and regeneration, by studying hibernating ground squirrels. Hibernating mammals have evolved mechanisms to survive prolonged immobility without pathologic loss/atrophy of muscle mass. The molecular mechanisms underlying this fascinating phenomenon are largely unknown.
His laboratory is currently for the first time applying knowledge of normal mechanisms of muscle protection in the hibernating mammal to the disease process of disuse muscle atrophy in non-hibernating mammals. This will provide unique insights into the fundamental cellular and molecular pathways underlying skeletal muscle atrophy and the protection against it.
Cohn plans to continue his research activities and ensure that novel genetic technologies will be translated into clinical medicine with the goal of one day making individualized treatment a standard of care for all children.
- 2008: NIH Director’s Young Innovator Award
- 2006: Mentored Clinical Investigator Career Development Award in Muscle Disease Research
- 2006: First Annual Harvard-Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics Award in Medical Genetics
- 2006: The Helen B. Taussig Award, 29th Johns Hopkins Young Investigators’ Day
- 2006: Johns Hopkins University Clinician Scientist Award
- 2005: Young Investigator Award at the 7th International Symposium on the Marfa syndrome, Ghent, Belgium, September 2005
- 2005: Award for best postdoctoral research presentation at the 2nd annual retreat of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine
- 2004: David M. Kamsler Award for outstanding compassionate and expert care of pediatric patients