Jun 29, 2021

LMP researchers awarded Canada Research Chairs

Research: Cancer, Research: Cardiovascular, Research: Metabolism & nutrition, Research: Molecular & cell biology
Stephen Girardin, Kelsie Thu and Michael Laflamme

Three of the 27 researchers at U of T awarded new or renewed Canada Research Chairs this month are based in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP) in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine with Tier One awards for the first time. The prestigious federal appointment aims to recruit and retain top researchers and scholars in the country.

Congratulations to all!

Stephen Girardin

Dr Stephen Girardin

Dr. Stephen Girardin was awarded a Tier One research chair. His lab studies intestinal inflammation and host responses to bacterial infection. They are particularly interested in understanding how host-microbe interactions at the intestinal interface can control inflammation and how a dysregulation in this delicate balance can lead to chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC).

On receiving the Canada Research Chair (CRC) he said, "I feel honoured that I was selected for this CRC Tier 1 award. Being raised in France by an architect and a musician, the path to CRC in Toronto in the field of life science was not the most direct, but it has been a really exciting and fun journey to this point! Being part of the CRC professors makes me realize how much Canada has been welcoming and supportive for me, and it is my goal to honour this title and to give back the best I can. This means training and mentoring the new generation of talented students who join my lab, teaching and participating in the activities of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology and the Temerty Faculty of Medicine".

Kelsie Thu

Dr. Kelsie Thu

Dr. Kelsie Thu received a Tier Two award for her research focused on finding new therapeutic strategies for lung cancer. This includes discovering and characterizing novel therapeutic targets, as well as identifying new approaches to make current lung cancer therapies work better.

She said, "This CRC award will provide support for my lab to investigate mechanisms of lung cancer response to targeted therapies and immunotherapy which we hope will inform new approaches for overcoming drug resistance and for improving the efficacy of these commonly used lung cancer treatments. It is truly an honour to receive this CRC award. I feel proud that the research we are doing and the research we proposed were viewed as impactful and that it could benefit Canadians. Our application was a huge team effort involving multiple scientists at St. Michael’s and abroad, and I am very grateful for all of their mentorship, support, and contributions to the research proposal. I think our success in obtaining this chair position is a testament to the high quality of research and scientists at our institute who I will collaborate with during the time I hold this award".

Michael Laflamme

Dr. Michael Laflamme

Dr. Michael Laflamme's lab is focused on developing a novel regenerative therapy for heart disease based on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). In particular, he is interested in using cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) derived from hPSCs to “remuscularize” hearts that have been injured by myocardial infarction (aka a “heart attack”). Read more in A 20 year path to translation: repairing broken hearts.

On receiving his Tier One CRC, he said, "I am very grateful for this CRC as well to my creative and hard-working scientific team (past and present) and my many generous collaborators, without which this award would not have been possible. Our CRC-supported research program is aimed at overcoming remaining barriers to a clinical trial, including efforts to improve the safety, efficacy, and delivery of cell therapy. We are also interested in better understanding the mechanism(s) by which the transplanted cells improve the contractile function of recipient's hearts. This CRC will allow us to accelerate and push this work to a new level while continuing to attract talented, energetic trainees to the laboratory".