I’m Director of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research at Sinai Health System and a Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto. I received my Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1984 from the University of Dundee, Scotland with Philip Cohen and then pursued postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute with Tony Hunter where I worked from 1984 to 1987 on the biochemical and molecular genetic characterization of protein kinases. I then moved to London, England to set up a research group at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the Middlesex Hospital where I isolated and characterized the genes for several key cellular regulators including Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3, Protein Kinase B/Akt and the Stress-Activated Protein Kinases (JNKs). In 1992 I moved to the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto where my lab focused on the signal transduction mechanisms underscoring malignant growth, degenerative diseases and diabetes. I also identified pathways regulating several transcription factors and generated the first mouse models for evaluation of GSK-3 functions and showed it was a physiological target of lithium. In 2005, I was appointed as the fourth director of the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital where I’ve continued his work on GSK-3 and have discovered mechanisms to maintain the pluripotentiality of stem cells as well as studying the molecular etiology of breast cancer.
I’m a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and have been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Scholar as well as an MRC Scientist and CIHR Senior Investigator. More recently, I’ve played a role in Canadian science funding including remediation of CIHR and a community builder for support for the Naylor report on fundamental science.
Of my 280 publications to date, over one third relate to GSK-3 and date back to the last chapter of my PhD thesis, highlighting long time-lines associated with pursuit of fundamental biological science. Over that time, I’ve trained over 40 students and fellows who have gone on to even more interesting things.