Profiles of BBDC Members Primarily Involved In Diabetes Research

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Wherrett, Diane K. - MD, FRCPC

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Associate Professor, Department of Paediatrics, Division of Endocrinology; Program Director, Paediatric Endocrinology Training Program

Contact Information:
Toronto, ON

Phone: 416-813-8159
Fax: 416-813-6304

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

My research focuses on clinical studies of the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes and prevention of beta cell loss prior to the development of type 1 diabetes and at onset. I am the principal investigator for the Canadian Clinical Centre of Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet, a NIH sponsored international trial group. Our site is currently involved in multiple TrialNet studies:

  • Pathway to Prevention;  Natural History Study Of the Development Of Type 1 Diabetes
  • Oral Insulin For Prevention Of Diabetes In Relatives At Risk For Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
  • CTLA-4 Ig (Abatacept) for Prevention of Abnormal Glucose Tolerance and Diabetes in Relatives At-Risk for Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus
  • Long-Term Investigative Follow-Up Study in TrialNet (LIFT)

TrialNet has 11 clinical centres across Canada.

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Winer, Dan - MD, FRCPC

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

Other Appointment(s): Scientist, Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Toronto General Research Institute
Endocrine Pathologist, Department of Pathology, University Health Network

Contact Information:

200 Elizabeth Street
Department of Pathology, 11th floor, 11E-424A
Toronto, ON M5G 2C4

Phone: 416-340-3190
Fax: 416-340-5517

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Our primary research focus is to elucidate immune mediated pathways governing obesity related insulin resistance. Obesity and its major complications, including insulin resistance, are a major global cause of morbidity and mortality, and have reached epidemic proportions. Evidence is mounting that a significant contributing cause of insulin resistance is chronic inflammation in visceral adipose tissue (VAT). This inflammation was initially thought to be driven solely by macrophages of the innate immune system attracted to dying adipocytes in fat. Recently, in collaboration with the Hospital for Sick Children, and StanfordUniversity, we have demonstrated that the adaptive immune system, including T cells, B cells and the antibodies they produce, play a significant and active role in regulating this process. This work has introduced a new "autoimmune" component to obesity related insulin resistance, and has led to new ways in thinking about metabolic disease. We continue to investigate immune mediated mechanisms in obesity and diabetes with the aim of translating our findings to help the many people afflicted by these diseases.

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Wojtowicz, J. Martin - PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor, Department of Physiology

Contact Information:
MSB room 3214
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON   M5S1A8

Phone: 416-978-2899

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Research involves studies of pathological changes in the brain related to learning and memory. Specifically, diabetes can cause reduction in rate of neurogenesis in adult brain, which in turn, can lead to impaired learning and memory. Specific signals leading to impairment of neurogenesis and ways of preventing or compensating for impaired memory are under investigation.

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Wolever, Thomas M. S. - BA, MA, MSc, PhD, DM (Oxon)

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

Other Appointment(s): Active Staff Member, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, St. Michael's Hospital.
Member, Consulting Medical Staff, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto.
Scientist, Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital.
Graduate Coordinator, Department of Nutritional Sciences
President, Glycemic Index Laboratories, Inc., Toronto (

Contact Information:
FitzGerald Building, Room 434
150 College St.
Toronto, ON   M5S 3E2

Phone: 416-978-5556
Fax: 416-978-5882

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Carbohydrates in human nutrition, specifically the effects of glycemic index, sugars, starch, and dietary fiber in relation to diabetes, hyperlipidemia and colonic fermentation

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Woo, Minna - MD, FRCPC, PhD

University of Toronto Appointment(s): Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism; and Departments of IMS, Medical Biophysics and Immunology

Other Appointment(s): Head, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University Health Network/Mount Sinai Hospital
Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network

Contact Information:

Toronto Medical Discovery Tower
10th Floor, Room 10-353
101 College Street
Toronto, ON M5G 1L7

Phone: 416-340-4125

Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The major research focus in the Woo laboratory is to elucidate molecular mechanisms that determine pathogenesis of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Our research interests include elucidating mechanisms of islet apoptosis and survival in physiological and diabetic states. We are interested in many of the fundamental genes involved in cell survival and apoptosis such as caspases, tumour suppressors and oncogenes. Many of these fundamental genes have essential physiological roles in metabolic tissues such as liver, muscle, adipose tissue, and the pancreatic islets. Using genetically engineered mice, we examine the whole body physiology as well as take biological, biochemical and molecular approaches to define physiological roles in specific tissues, in addition to defining its potential pathogenic role in diabetes. These approaches to clarify tissue-specific molecular mechanisms have wide implications for treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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