(July 13, 2010 – Toronto, ON) Dr. Helen McNeill, a Senior Investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, was awarded the Lloyd S.D. Fogler (QC) Award of Excellence for her pivotal research in cancer biology.
Specifically, Dr. McNeill’s research focuses on how cells organize into tissues, and why one cell stops growing while others surge out of control through the body. A better understanding of this process is critical in cancer research—a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. Dr. McNeill is internationally renowned for her studies in planar cell polarity, examining large-scale tissue organization such as the direction of hairs on our skin. Her work also includes studies of polycystic kidney disease.
“I am delighted and honored to receive this award,” said Dr. McNeill. “The work we are doing in planar cell polarity and growth control is made possible due to the support and excellent research environment provide by Mount Sinai Hospital and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute.”
Recently, Dr. McNeill’s research has included studies of a gene called Ft (known as “fat”), which instructs cells how they should interact with each other, and how large to grow. Dr. McNeill is investigating the specific role Ft plays with the hope of identifying new treatment targets for cancer and other diseases related to Ft malfunction. Mutations of the Ft gene could also become a biomarker to help identify women at risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Dr. McNeill was selected by a committee of Mount Sinai Hospital staff and Lunenfeld Board members for this award, which was established in 1997 in recognition of Mr. Lloyd Fogler’s outstanding tenure as Chairman of the Board from 1992-1997.
In addition, Dr. McNeil was promoted to full professor this year at the University of Toronto, and was lauded in her five-year Lunenfeld review for her fundamental contributions to biomedical research.
“Helen is incredibly deserving of the Fogler Award, as she epitomizes the devotion to excellence that was exhibited by Lloyd Fogler during his leadership of the Board of Directors,” said Dr. Jim Woodgett, the Lunenfeld’s Director of Research. “Her work is also a great example of how studying simpler organisms such as fruit flies can provide important new understanding of human diseases.”