Science at the Summit: $5 million Premier’s Summit Awards go to leaders in stem cell and cancer research

Toronto, May 19, 2010 – She has transformed the understanding of human biology and stem cell origins. His research has given scientists and clinicians new ways of thinking about the diagnosis and treatment of a range of cancers. Both are at the top of their fields and committed to translating the best research into clinical outcomes.

Two Ontario researchers – Dr. Janet Rossant and Dr. Jeffrey Wrana – were named the 2010 recipients of the Premier’s Summit Award for Medical Research at a celebration event, capping the two-day Discovery conference held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The Premier’s Summit Award for Medical Research, established in 2005, is one of Canada’s richest prizes in medical research. Each recipient will receive $5 million over five years, derived from a $2.5 million contribution from the Award program, and matched by $2.5 million from the sponsoring institution. MaRS administers the Summit Awards on behalf of the Province of Ontario.

Dr. Janet Rossant, Senior Scientist and Chief of Research at The Hospital for Sick Children, is a giant on the world stage in stem cell research. Her work – as a researcher, a scientific leader and an educator – has helped propel Ontario to the forefront of the competitive international stage for stem cell research. Dr. Rossant’s research interests centre on understanding the genetic control of normal and abnormal development in the early mouse embryo using both cellular and genetic manipulation techniques. Her interests in the early embryo have led to the discovery of a novel type of placenta stem cell, the trophoblast stem cell.

Dr. Rossant has also played a leadership role in setting Canada’s public policy on stem cell research. As Deputy Scientific Director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network, she has spearheaded the formation of the Ontario Stem Cell Initiative to encourage collaboration among six Ontario stem cell centres.

“It is indeed an honour to be recognized by the Province of Ontario for my accomplishments in the field of stem cell research,” said Dr. Rossant. “This award not only highlights the achievements of our work but also acknowledges its significance by providing us with the support to advance our efforts for future discovery.”

Dr. Rossant is also a University Professor in the Departments of Molecular and Medical Genetics, Obstetrics/Gynaecology and Paediatrics at the University of Toronto.  She is a Fellow of both the Royal Societies of London and Canada. In 2007, Dr. Rossant was awarded the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology and the Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology. In 2008, Dr. Rossant was elected as a Foreign Associate to the National Academy of Science.

Dr. Jeffrey Wrana’s internationally acclaimed research on the interactions of human proteins, and the complex network of pathways that lead to disease, has given scientists and clinicians new ways of thinking about the diagnoses and treatment of cancer. His most recent groundbreaking work has revealed how breast cancer alters these protein networks, providing new opportunities for prognosis and treatment. Last year, Dr. Wrana developed an innovative tool that analyzes breast cancer tumours to determine a patient’s best treatment options, and he has also made significant discoveries related to colorectal and other cancers.

“I am thrilled to receive this award, and I feel exceptionally honoured to be counted amongst a group of outstanding scientists,” said Dr. Wrana. “I would like to thank the Ontario government for their strong support of research, as well as my colleagues at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, for creating an inspirational place to conduct science.”

Dr. Wrana is a Senior Investigator and the Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital.  He created a leading-edge robotics facility where researchers at the Lunenfeld and across Ontario can analyze the functions of thousands of genes at a time and rapidly identify the processes important in human diseases, including cancer.

Dr. Wrana is an International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Systems Biology, and was elected a Fellow by the Royal Society of Canada.

“Both Dr. Rossant and Dr. Wrana are pushing the frontiers of personalized medicine,” said Dr. John Evans, MaRS Chair Emeritus. “The Summit Award will not only help move this important research forward, but also demonstrates Ontario’s commitment to ensuring top-ranked scientists have access to the talent and resources they need to succeed.”

Dr. Evans also chairs the international award committee for the Premier’s Summit with:

  • Sir John Bell, Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine and Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford; President of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK)
  • David R. Colman, Director, Montreal Neurological Institute; Penfield Chair in Neuroscience, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience, McGill University
  • Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor, Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia; Recipient of the CIHR Michael Smith Prize in Health Research
  • Suzanne Fortier, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • Henry Friesen, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba; Former President of the Medical Research Council of Canada and Chair of the Interim Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research
  • Sir Keith Peters, Emeritus Regius Professor of Physic and head of the University’s School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge; Former President of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK)
  • Phillip A. Sharp, Institute Professor, Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, 1993

For information on the Premier’s Summit Awards, including past winners and coverage, visit:

About Mount Sinai Hospital
Mount Sinai Hospital is an internationally recognized, 472-bed acute care academic health sciences centre affiliated with the University of Toronto. It is known for excellence in the provision of compassionate patient care, innovative education, and leading-edge research. Mount Sinai’s Centres of Excellence include Women’s and Infants’ Health; Surgery and Oncology; Acute and Chronic Medicine; Laboratory Medicine and Infection Control, and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. For more information about Mount Sinai Hospital, please visit us online at

About SickKids

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 of Healthier Children. A Better World.(TM) For more information, please visit

About MaRS
MaRS Disco
very Dis
trict ( is a large scale, mission driven innovation centre located in Toronto and networked across Ontario, focused on building Canada’s next generation of technology companies. MaRS works closely with entrepreneurs to grow and scale their ventures into global market leaders in life sciences and health care, information, communications and digital media technologies, cleantech, advanced materials and engineering, as well as innovative social purpose business. MaRS administers the Premier’s Summit Awards in medical research on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

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Karin Fleming
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Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute
Mount Sinai Hospital
416.586.4800 x2046

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Linda Quattrin
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MaRS Discovery District