Chair, Department of Paediatrics, Temerty Faculty of Medicine
University of Toronto
Chair, Neuroblastoma Biology Subcommittee
Children's Oncology Group
Chair, Cancer Progression and Therapeutics Panel
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
ENACT (Enabling Clinical Translation)
Dr. Meredith Irwin (MD) is the Chief of Paediatrics at The Hospital for Sick Children and Professor and Chair of the Department of Paediatrics at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She is the first woman to hold these two roles, which she assumed in April 2020. Irwin received her MD from Harvard Medical School and completed her Paediatrics and Oncology training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She joined the Division of Haematology/Oncology at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) as a Staff Physician and Clinician-Scientist in 2002. From 2008-2020 she was the Associate Chair of Paediatrics (Research) and held the position of Solid Tumour Section Head from 2011-2020. Irwin’s research focuses on the genes and pathways that regulate cell death and metastasis in neuroblastoma, and the identification of biomarkers to optimize risk classification and precision medicine approaches for neuroblastoma. She has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Irwin is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Neuroblastoma Executive Committee, Chair of the Biology Subcommittee, and is involved in the development of current and future North American clinical trials for patients with neuroblastoma. As Chief of Paediatrics she is committed to integrating precision child health approaches to research and clinical care and training the next generation of academic pediatricians.
Irwin's laboratory research focuses on understanding the molecular determinants of neuroblastoma to identify novel therapies that target signaling pathways using a variety of cellular and animal models. Their translational research program is linked with the SickKids Kids Cancer Sequencing (KiCS) Program and national precision oncology for young people (PROFYLE) programs, with a focus on modeling novel germline and somatic variants. Irwin’s research has been funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI), National Cancer Institute (NCI) and many neuroblastoma-focused foundations.
In addition to laboratory-based research she is involved in international efforts to develop risk classification systems and clinical trials for newly diagnosed and relapsed neuroblastoma. Locally, Irwin established the Neuroblastoma Program that is co-led by Dr. Daniel Morgenstern and includes a multidisciplinary team with expertise in the care of neuroblastoma patients. The program cares for local patients as well as provides expert consultations and access to local and international clinical trials and MIBG therapy.
As well as translational neuroblastoma research, Irwin is involved in the development of clinician-scientist training and education programs including the first residency research stream in Paediatrics in Canada. She also co-leads the SickKids ENACT committee which provides guidance for and access to innovative research testing and return of results.
- Role of p53 family genes in cancer and chemotherapy sensitivity
- Novel pathways and targeted therapies for neuroblastoma
- Molecular and genetic determinants of metastasis in neuroblastoma
- Genetic predisposition to Neuroblastoma
- Prognostic factors and Risk Stratification for Neuroblastoma
- Precision medicine
Education and experience
- 2014–Present: Professor, University of Toronto, Department of Paediatrics.
Cross Appointments: Departments of Medical Biophysics, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, and Institute of Medical Science
- 2020: Chair, Department of Paediatrics
- 2002–Present: Attending Physician - Division of Haematology/Oncology, Solid Tumor Section, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario
- 2008–Present: Director, Neuroblastoma Program
- 2008–2020: Associate Chair of Paediatrics (Research), Department of Paediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON
- 2020–Present: Physician-in-Chief, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON
Research Institute Appointments
- 2011–Present: Senior Scientist, Cell Biology Program, Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute
Irwin is currently a Senior Scientist in Cell Biology, Professor of Paediatrics (cross-appointed to the Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP), Medical Biophysics (MBP)) and the Associate Chair for Paediatrics (Research). She also holds many leadership roles in international committees including the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), International Neuroblastoma Risk Group (INRG), and Advances in Neuroblastoma Research (ANR).