Media Releases

SickKids Chief of Research and University of Toronto Professor, Dr. Janet Rossant, named recipient of 2015 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award

March 25, 2015

TORONTO – The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the University of Toronto (U of T) are thrilled to congratulate Dr. Janet Rossant on being named the recipient of the 2015 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, in recognition of her extensive scientific contributions to developmental biology, her international leadership in stem cell biology and policy-making, and for her pivotal role in advancing research programs for children’s health. The announcement was made in Toronto on March 25, 2015.

“It is a huge honour to receive this award on behalf of SickKids, U of T and all the people throughout my career who have helped make my journey in science such fun,” says Rossant, Chief of Research and Senior Scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Program at SickKids, and University Professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at U of T.

The Canada Gairdner Wightman Award is given to a scientist who has demonstrated outstanding national leadership in medicine and medical science in Canada.

Rossant is an internationally recognized scientist whose 40-year career has been devoted to advancing the fundamental understanding of embryo development and stem cell origins. In addition to her role as Chief of Research at SickKids, Rossant has revolutionized the landscape surrounding stem cell research through an array of key leadership roles, including President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Deputy Scientific Director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network, and Director of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

As a leader in stem cell research, Rossant has contributed significantly to the scientific community’s understanding of stem cells, which have the potential to unlock new therapies for a wide variety of disorders from cancer to diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Rossant’s research into personalized stem cell medicine is primed to make significant improvements to global health care and quality of life. She is a respected voice in the stem cell debate and has established Canada as a global forerunner in stem cell and genetic research.

Rossant pioneered new techniques to manipulate the mouse genome, enabling the mouse to become the preeminent model for understanding the function of the human genome sequence. This has been a key resource to those studying the molecular basis of many human diseases and the effectiveness of various drugs for treatments.

“Under Dr. Rossant’s visionary leadership, SickKids’ national and international prominence as one of the world’s most celebrated child health research centres has continued to grow and flourish,” says Dr. Michael Apkon, SickKids President and CEO. “The entire SickKids community joins me in congratulating Dr. Rossant for this well-deserved recognition and prestigious award.”

Rossant’s vision for increased multidisciplinary collaboration as a critical tool to propel scientific discovery guided the design and governance of SickKids’ state-of-the-art research tower The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning. The Gilgan Centre creates an environment for scientists, clinicians, and research staff from diverse disciplines to work together in addressing critical child health issues.

A highly prolific Canadian scientist, Rossant has over 379 publications to her name including over 58,000 lifetime citations. In her long-standing career in Canada, she has trained 56 post-doctoral fellows and 27 graduate students.

“Professor Rossant is doing brilliant, exciting work on the cutting edge of global biomedical research – work that holds great promise for the advancement of our knowledge of human biology and disease,” says Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto. “I am delighted that her world-leading excellence has been recognized by the Gairdner Foundation. On behalf of the entire U of T community, I extend hearty congratulations.”

The 2015 Canada Gairdner Awards will be presented at a dinner in Toronto on Oct. 29, 2015. For more information please see the Gairdner Foundation’s news release.

About The Hospital for Sick Children

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally.  Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized family-centred care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health-care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children. A Better World. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @SickKidsNews

About the University of Toronto
The University of Toronto has assembled one of the strongest research and teaching faculties in North America, presenting top students at all levels with an intellectual environment unmatched in breadth and depth on any other Canadian campus. U of T faculty co-author more research articles than their colleagues at any university in the US or Canada other than Harvard. As a measure of impact, U of T consistently ranks alongside the top five U.S. universities whose discoveries are most often cited by other researchers around the world. The U of T faculty are also widely recognized for their teaching strengths and commitment to graduate supervision. Established in 1827, the University of Toronto today operates in downtown Toronto, Mississauga and Scarborough, as well as in nine renowned academic hospitals.


Media contacts:

Matet Nebres
The Hospital for Sick Children

Liam Mitchell
University of Toronto