Our Research Members

Derek van der Kooy
van der Kooy, Derek
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics

Contact Information
Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research
160 College Street, Room 1102
Toronto, ON M5S 3E1
Phone: 416-978-1960
Fax: 416-978-2666
View website
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.

Subodh Verma
Verma, Subodh
U Of T Appointments

Professor of Surgery
Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Other Appointments

Staff Cardciac Surgeon, St. Michael’s Hospital
Chair, CardioLink Clinical Trials Platform, St. Michael’s Hospital
Member, Ryerson University-St Michael’s Hospital, Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Science Technology (iBEST)

Contact Information
St. Michael's Hospital
30 Bond Street
Toronto, ON M5B 1W8
Phone: 416-864-5997
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

My research program focuses on cardiometabolic disease and diabetes-related co-morbidities. As the Chair of the CardioLink Clinical Trials platform, I am conducting a number of clinical trials in diabetes and its complications. The first of these trials, EMPA-Heart, seeks to uncover the mechanism underlying the cardioprotective effects of the SGLT2 inhibitor, empagliflozin, that was reported in the EMPA-REG Outcome study. This trial is in the late stages of recruitment and will report primary outcomes in 2018. The NEWTON CABG trial will assess whether blockade of the PCSK9 receptor in individuals will diabetes can reduce the risk of future cardiac events after bypass surgery. In the ENABLE-Chiropody trial, persons with diabetes undergoing hemodialysis will undergo a chiropody-based intensive, structured, and evidence-based care program with the aim of lowering the incidence and progression of diabetic foot ulcers and amputations. This initiative is fully supported by a partnership with Diabetes Action Canada which is part of the CIHR-SPOR network. In addition, I oversee a dynamic research lab in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital which has a special interest in the role of SGLT2 inhibitors as a potential modulator of endothelial function and atherosclerotic vascular disease. Finally, I am a national lead/steering committee member on three SGLT2 inhibitor trials that are evaluating the impact of this class of drugs on heart failure.

Mladen Vranic
Vranic, Mladen
U Of T Appointments

Professor Emeritus, Departments of Physiology and Medicine

Other Appointments
  • 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
Medical Sciences Building, Room 3363
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: 416-978-4126
Fax: 416-978-4940
View website
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.

Vladimir Vuksan
Vuksan, Vladimir
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Departments of Nutritional Sciences and Medicine, Faculty of Medicine

Other Appointments

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.