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