Profiles of BBDC Members Primarily Involved In Diabetes Research

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Sun, Hong-Shuo - MD, MSc, PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Associate Professor, PhD Supervisor
Department of Surgery, Division of Anatomy; Institute of Medical Science; Department of Physiology; Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology; Heart and Stroke Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence; Collaborative Program in Neuroscience (CPIN); Cardiovascular Sciences Collaborative Program (CSCP); Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Contact Information:
Medical Sciences Building
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON   M5S 1A8

Phone: 416-946-5506

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Research interest is in studying the role of ion channels (K(ATP) and TRPM2, etc.) in diabetes and stroke in diabetes, neuroprotection, and drug development, using in-vivo animal models of human diseases in combination with genomic analyses, advanced imaging, electrophysiology, and functional and behavioral assessments.

Publication related to diabetes research: Cerebrovascular safety of sulfonylureas: the role of K(ATP) channels in neuroprotection and the risk of stroke in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 2016, 65(9): 2795-2809

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Sung, Hoon-Ki - MD, PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology

Other Appointment(s): Scientist, Physiology & Experimental Medicine, Hospital For Sick Children

Contact Information:
Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, Room 10.9710
686 Bay Street
Toronto, ON   M5G 0A4

Phone: 416-813-7654

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

My lab is studying Obesity, Metabolism and Diabetes at The Hospital for Sick Children. Our research focus includes:
1) patho-physiology of adipose tissue expansion and its causal role in metabolic defect and diabetes
2) identification of adipocyte precursor cells and its metabolic function by using mouse model

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van der Kooy, Derek - PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics

Contact Information:

Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research
University of Toronto
160 College Street
Room 1102
Toronto, Ontario CANADA M5S 3E1

Phone: 416-978-1960
Fax: 416-978-2666

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The search for putative precursor cells within the pancreas has been a focus of extensive research. Adult mouse Pancreas-derived Multipotent Precursor (PMP) cells, possessing the intriguing capacity to generate cross-germ layer progeny in the pancreatic and neural lineages, have been identified. Here, genetic lineage-labelling was used to exclude the neural crest as the developmental source of PMPs. Notably, we demonstrate that the PMP cell expresses insulin in vivo, providing reconciliation with reports that new adult b cells are formed exclusively by self-replication. Further, PMP cells were shown to exist within adult human islet tissue, each capable of extensive proliferation, self-renewal, and generation of multiple differentiated pancreatic and neural cell types. Finally, the newly generated human b cell progeny were found to display regulated insulin secretion. These findings demonstrate that the adult mammalian pancreas contains a population of insulin+ multipotent stem cells, capable of contributing to the neural and pancreatic lineages.

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Vranic, Mladen - O.C., O.Ont, MD, DSc, FRSC, FRCP(C), FCAHS

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor Emeritus, Departments of Physiology and Medicine

Other Appointment(s):

  • Adjunct Professor, Karolinska Institute and University of Zagreb
  • Laureate, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
  • Corresponding Member, Croatian Academic of Arts and Sciences
  • Honorary President International Academy of Sportology (Japan)
  • Canadian Diabetes Association Inaugural Life-Time Achievement Award for leadership in diabetes research and contribution to the Canadian diabetes community
  • Albert Renold Award of the American Diabetes Association for a distinguished career in the training of diabetes research scientists and facilitation of research (the only Canadian to receive this award)
  • Banting Medal and Lectureship recipient from the American Diabetes Association
  • Honourary degrees from the Universities of Toronto, Zagreb, Saskatchewan, McMaster and Karolinska Institute.

Contact Information:

University of Toronto, Medical Sciences Building
1 King's College Circle, Room 3363
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8

Phone: 416-978-4126
Fax: 416-978-4940

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Dr. Vranic's discoveries concerning the relationship between exercise, stress and diabetes have had an important impact on individuals suffering from this disease. His ground-breaking studies have opened many doors for diabetics, including participation in Olympic Games. His development of tracer methods revolutionized the field of glucose turnover in physiology and diabetes, paving the way for clinical investigation leading to the translation of basic science to practice. He led the first international symposium on exercise and diabetes, which had a large impact, facilitating the evidence of epidemiologists that exercise can prevent diabetes. His discovery of extrapancreatic glucagon changed existing dogma that pancreatic hormone is synthesized in only one gland, and provided evidence about the importance of glucagon in diabetes. He demonstrated mechanisms whereby the muscle and the liver are protected against hyperglycemia and therefore, against diabetic complications. He pioneered the concept that some stresses are beneficial for diabetes and is currently developing methods to prevent hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes. He has a patent regarding the prevention of hypoglycemia in insulin-treated diabetic patients. This topic is presently researched between four different institutions. He has trained a large number of graduate and post-doctoral students, and has widely collaborated with younger scientists, some of whom are presently world-leaders in diabetes research. Three of his students were Presidents of the Canadian, American, and Japanese Diabetes Associations.

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Vuksan, Vladimir - PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor, Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Medicine, Faculty of Medicine

Other Appointment(s): Research Scientist II, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital
Associate Director, Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital
Manager, Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital

Contact Information:
193 Yonge Street, 7th Floor
Toronto, ON   M5B 1M4

Phone: (416) 864-5525

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Viscous Dietary Fiber Blend

This blend maximizes viscosity as a driver of physiological effectiveness in the management of diabetes and reduction of blood lipids. Dr. Vuksan holds Canadian & USA patents for this discovery. His research on fiber blend has attracted the attention of the food industry, and the product is now commercially available worldwide.

Salvia Hispanica L.

The consumption of this ancient Aztec seeds high omega-3/fiber rich, improved conventional and novel risk factors for cardiovascular disease in those with diabetes.  Dr. Vuksan’s studies were the first to demonstrate health benefits of these seeds in humans, gaining the attention internationally of the research community and popular press.  Economic analysis on exports by main producers of Salvia Hispanica, Mexico, Argentina and Australia, show a major surge in export of the seeds coinciding with his publications in 2007/2010.  His research has thus ignited significant economic benefits to countries producing the seeds and the local farmers have led to increased human consumption worldwide.    


Ginseng was hardly known for its metabolic benefits in humans until Dr. Vuksan’s studies in early 2000. His group was the first to demonstrate potential hypoglycaemic efficacy and safety of ginseng. His investigations of the potential of medicinal herbs and ginseng in particular have received international recognitions.

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