(Toronto – June 7, 2010)
Dr. Daniel Durocher, Lunenfeld Senior Investigator and the Thomas Kierans Research Chair in Mechanisms of Cancer Development, has been named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40
, an award presented annually to young leaders of today and tomorrow. The award is in recognition of Dr. Durocher’s tremendous research accomplishments, and his impact on Canada’s biomedical community.
The Top 40 Under 40 winners, including Dr. Durocher, were announced today in a special supplement in The Globe and Mail.
“This is a wonderful personal honour, but the award is also in recognition of the work done in my laboratory by the students, fellows and staff who have contributed immensely to my research program,” said Dr. Durocher. “They deserve to be congratulated at least as much as I do.”
An internationally renowned cancer researcher from Varennes, Québec, Dr. Durocher has made a series of high-impact discoveries through his investigations into how normal cells become cancerous, and how healthy cells detect and repair damage to their DNA. Recent findings from his lab add to a growing and important body of work in understanding DNA damage and natural repair systems, and have given scientists a deeper understanding of the genetic mechanisms underlying cancer and other human illnesses.
“Since joining the Lunenfeld in 2001, Dr. Durocher has contributed immensely to the Institute’s success and impact on a global scale, and he represents Mount Sinai Hospital’s commitment to leading-edge research that improves the care and health of Ontarians,” said Joseph Mapa, President and CEO of Mount Sinai Hospital.
In 2007 Dr. Durocher and his team discovered that a gene known as RNF8 helps guide BRCA1, a protein that repairs DNA damage and, when mutated, is known to cause breast cancer. By guiding BRCA1 to the sites of damaged DNA, RNF8 helps ensure that the necessary repairs can be made. The finding, published in the top journal Science, will significantly advance breast cancer research and, in turn, potential treatments.
In February 2009, Dr. Durocher discovered that a gene known as RNF168 is mutated in RIDDLE syndrome, a rare and genetic immunodeficiency disorder characterized by developmental abnormalities and hypersensitivity to treatments such as radiation therapy. The findings were published in the prestigious journal Cell, and have given insight into the genetic changes that lead to immune disorders, as well as enabled more effective diagnoses of this disease. More recently, Dr. Durocher found an enzyme that counteracts the RNF8 and RNF168 proteins, which gives researchers new targets for the treatment of RIDDLE syndrome and other diseases.
“It's fantastic that Dan is being recognized as one of Canada's top young researchers,” said Dr. Jim Woodgett, the Lunenfeld’s Director of Research. “He's already accomplished more in cancer research than most scientists would hope to achieve in a lifetime—and he's on a roll!”
An acknowledged expert in his field, Dr. Durocher’s achievements have been recognized through many awards including the 2009 Lloyd S.D. Fogler QC Award of Excellence, an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, and the 2006 Canadian Institutes of Health Research Maud Menten New Principal Investigator Prize. Dr. Durocher holds a Canada Research Chair in Proteomics, Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics, and he is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Durocher is also helping to empower the next generation of scientists by mentoring traineesat the Lunenfeld, where several members of his team have recently received significant competitive awards and accolades.