Jul 5, 2022

Sara Vasconcelos Receives the John Kitson McIvor Chair in Diabetes Research

Research: Metabolism & nutrition, Research: Molecular & cell biology, Our people
Sara Nunes Vasconcelos
By UHN

Congratulations to Dr. Sara Nunes Vasconcelos for receiving the John Kitson McIvor Chair in Diabetes Research. The Chair was awarded on July 1, 2022.

First established in 2007, the Chair provides sustained support to a leading researcher focused on advancing diabetes care.

Dr. Vasconcelos is a Scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute and an Associate Professor in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto.

She has built a translational research program at the interface of biology, medicine, and engineering with the goal of uncovering the cellular and molecular mechanisms of diabetes, identifying novel therapeutic targets, and developing potential treatments for diabetes and diabetes-associated cardiac dysfunction. 

Her research involves the generation of vascularization strategies to optimize the transplantation of human pancreatic islet cells to treat type 1 diabetes; understanding how type 2 diabetes affects cell-based regenerative therapies for myocardial infarction; and exploring the underlying causes of cardiac dysfunction in diabetic cardiomyopathy. 

Her recent research accomplishments involve developing a way to co-deliver stem cells and small blood vessels or ‘microvessels’ to promote the integration and survival of transplanted therapeutic cells and tissues. This approach enables the transplanted cells to quickly normalize blood sugar levels over long periods of time after transplantation.

In addition to advancing a potential long-term treatment for diabetes, Dr. Vasconcelos’ has developed sophisticated tools that can be used to study disease states. For example, her lab has contributed to the advancement of ‘heart-on-a-chip’ technologies that are unlocking insights into diabetes and enabling drug screening that could not be done otherwise.

Dr. Vasconcelos has received several awards for her research accomplishments, including the prestigious Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Research Innovation and Science in Canada, the Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association, and most recently the Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Microcirculatory Society and the Young Innovators in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Award from the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering journal and the Biomedical Engineering Society. Dr. Vasconcelos is also Chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee for the International Society for Applied Cardiovascular Biology and serves as a councillor for the Microcirculatory Society.

See also

LMP scientists part of Canada’s Stem Cell Network's largest investment in regenerative medicine research