June 30, 2010 (Toronto, ON)
This year, Canada Day also marks the 25th anniversary of the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital—one of the world’s leading centres in biomedical research. Since 1985, Lunenfeld experts have helped put Canadian science on the global map of discovery and innovation, including the development of:
- a new method—the first in Canada and worldwide—to create stem cells that may lead to cures for devastating diseases including spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease;
- a homegrown technology that analyzes breast cancer tumors to determine a patient’s best treatment options, and;
- the only blood test in Canada to differentiate women who will deliver babies prematurely from those who won’t.
As well, the Lunenfeld gives Canucks bragging rights to:
- the only Canadian scientist to win the Kyoto Prize (Dr. Tony Pawson, internationally recognized for his pioneering research in cell signaling);
- the highest percentage of scientific papers published in top-tier research journals including Cell, Nature, Science, and more (on a per researcher basis);
- the first Canadian to be selected for Scientific American’s Top 10 Honor Roll (Dr. Andras Nagy), and;
- internationally renowned sarcoma research that contributes to the largest sarcoma program in Canada.
New discoveries and more ‘Canadian firsts’ are on the horizon, and Lunenfeld scientists are currently leading exciting research in the areas of:
Regenerative medicine: Dr. Rita Kandel and her team are using cartilage and stem cells to develop ‘bioreplacements’ for people with injured joints and/or degenerative joint diseases, to avoid the complications and frequent replacements associated with traditional synthetic joint replacements.
Improved sleep and better health for night-shift workers: Dr. Robert Casper has developed special glasses designed to improve the health of shift workers, by blocking the harmful light wavelengths interfering with the body’s natural circadian rhythms. New results from a pilot project show that wearing the glasses results in improved alertness, moods, work performance, and quality of sleep.
Diabetes: Dr. Ian Rogers is investigating the use of blood stem cells that can become cells and tissues of the pancreas, muscle and nervous system. His lab designed a method to grow cells that could treat type 1 diabetes and regulate insulin levels in patients, in effect replacing daily insulin injections.
Mental illnesses and brain diseases: Dr. Kenichi Okamoto is developing North America’s only microscope that will allow scientists to simultaneously view and manipulate specific proteins—in real time and in live brain cells. The new microscope is a significant step forward in helping researchers better understand the mechanisms underlying memory and mental illnesses, as well as brain diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.
Many of our scientists are finding ways to create the ‘best’ medicines suited to an individual’s unique genetic make-up. For example, Dr. Katherine Siminovitch is conducting research in rheumatoid arthritis and liver disease, to better understand genetic pathways underlying these conditions, leading to the development of individualized therapies.
Similarly, Dr. Bharati Bapat is investigating new genetic markers to improve the diagnosis and early detection of prostate cancer, which will help physicians optimize treatment on a case-by-case basis.