Our Research Members

Brian Cox
Cox, Brian
BSc, MSc, PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology

Contact Information
Medical Sciences Building, Room 3360
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: 416-978-324141
b.cox@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

I have strong research interests in the area of fetal maternal health and developmental origins of disease. I have several manuscripts on the development of the placenta and trophoblast cell lineages and on hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, such as preeclampsia. My interest in diabetes is in gestational diabetes, often found in conjunction with preeclampsia and the acute and chronic affect on the child, relating to the increased risk of developing type II diabetes. I apply a systems biology approach involving the generation and integration of proteomics, transcriptional and epigenetic data sets. I apply computational models to identify different molecular disease classes and mechanisms of gene regulation. I have several papers on the inter species comparisons of human and mouse tissues and disease models to understand the similarities and develop improved disease models for research. I am proposing to work with animal models of gestational diabetes and compare these results to human samples from bio banked placental material of patients with gestational diabetes. My goal is to develop better bio markers to determine the likelihood of developing diabetes after pregnancy.

Karen Cross
Cross, Karen
MD, PhD, FRCSC
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery

Other Appointments

Associate Scientist, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science
iBEST, Research Program
Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon, St. Michael’s Hospital
Adjunctive Professor, Yeates School of Graduate Studies, Ryerson University

Contact Information
St. Michael's Hospital
30 Bond Street, Room 4-072
Toronto, ON M5B 1W8
Phone: 416-864-6060 x3868
crosska@smh.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Developing optical technologies to assess tissue viability in the diabetic lower extremity. The aim is to develop novel devices in the prevention, diagnosis and management of Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFU’s). The research laboratory is a combination of physics, engineering and clinical translation with the aim to have a direct impact on the lives of patients.

Carolyn L. Cummins
Cummins, Carolyn L.
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy

Contact Information
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, Room 1101
144 College St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3M2
Phone: 416-946-3466
Fax: 416-978-8511
Carolyn.Cummins@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Several members of the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily have been implicated in protecting against diseases associated with the metabolic syndrome. For example, from data obtained using animal models, it appears the liver X receptors (LXRα and LXRB) are protective against atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia, and diabetes. The current focus of the Cummins lab is on the study of these nuclear hormone receptors and their roles in regulating glucose metabolism. Recently, we have shown that LXR is involved in the regulation of cholesterol conversion to glucocorticoids in the adrenal gland and are investigating the influence of this finding on glucose metabolism and the onset of type 2 diabetes. We are also exploring the link between LXR and the deposition of cholesterol in the glomeruli of the kidney in diabetic nephropathy.

Cybulsky, Myron
MD
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Faculty of Medicine

Other Appointments

Senior Scientist, Advanced Diagnostics Division, Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network
Staff Pathologist, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network

Contact Information
MaRS Centre, Toronto Medical Discoveries Tower 3-306
101 College Street
Toronto, ON M5G 1L7
Phone: 416-581-7483
Fax: 416-581-7484
myron.cybulsky@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The goal of Dr. Cybulsky’s research program is to elucidate novel cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating intimal macrophage burden at early stages of atherosclerosis. The vision is to use this information to develop new therapies to inhibit the progression of early atherosclerotic lesions to advanced plaques. Individuals with known risk factors for atherosclerosis would benefit from such therapies because complications arising from advanced plaques cause myocardial infarction and stroke, and therapies that inhibit disease progression would alleviate the morbidity and mortality associated with atherosclerosis. Our research program to reduce intimal macrophages in early atherosclerotic lesions and inhibit lesion progression focuses on several aspects of myeloid cell biology including macrophage exit from atherosclerotic lesions, inhibition of monocyte recruitment, macrophage proliferation and survival in early lesions and understanding how systemic risk factors influence macrophage gene expression triggered by pro-inflammatory stimuli. Previous research has focused on hypercholesterolemia, a key risk factor for atherosclerosis; however, future studies will also include hyperglycemia and advanced glycation endproducts, which are found in patients with diabetes. The burden of diabetes, particularly adult onset or type II diabetes, is increasing, as is its contribution to atherosclerosis-related conditions.

Jayne Danska
Danska, Jayne
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Immunology; Department of Medical Biophysics

Other Appointments

Program in Genetics and Genome Biology, Hospital for Sick Children

Contact Information
MaRS, East Tower, Room 14-313
101 College Street
Toronto, ON M5G 1L7
Phone: 416-813-8810
Fax: 416-813-8823
jayne.danska@sickkids.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The objective of our research program is to define the genetic and environmental factors driving autoimmune mediated targeting of islet cells and to use this information to design and test therapeutics that prevent, block progression of or reverse type 1 diabetes. We have taken a multidisciplinary approach to genetic, genomic and immunological analysis of T1D risk in a well-validated mouse models, focusing on dissection of the complex genetics to provide insight into human T1D pathogenesis. We have extended these studies of the role of sex and of intestinal commensal bacteria on modifying genetic risk, and application of discoveries in rodent models to large, prospective cohort study of environmental determinants of T1D in genetically at risk children.

Satya Dash
Dash, Satya
MD, PhD, FRCPC, MRCP(UK)
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism

Other Appointments

Staff Physician, University Health Network/Mount Sinai Hospital

Contact Information
Toronto General Hospital
200 Elizabeth St., Eaton Building, 12EN
Toronto, ON M5G 2C4
Phone: 416-340-4800 x8094
satya.dash@uhn.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

I am interested in obesity and insulin resistance. More specifically I aim to assess the role of the central nervous system in mediating various metabolic processes in humans in responses to drugs and peptides. Another avenue of research I will explore is investigating the etiology of obesity, its metabolic complications and response to treatment. I aim to utilize a combination of integrative in vivo physiology, genetic and pharmacological approaches to answer these research questions with the ultimate aim of potentially developing novel therapies for metabolic disorders.

Margaret De Melo
De Melo, Margaret
BSc, RD, CDE
Other Appointments

Practice Leader-Clinical Nutrition, Allied Health, University Health Network

Contact Information
Toronto Western Hospital
399 Bathurst Street, 1WW443
Toronto, ON M5T 2S8
Phone: 416-603-5800 x5973
Fax: 416-603-5210
margaret.demelo@uhn.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

I am interested in research that focuses on diabetes self-care management (DSM).

As part of interprofessional research teams, I have studied the effectiveness of DSM education programs, utilization and attrition such programs, food insecurity in Canadians with diabetes, and gender differences, psychosocial and clinical factors that help us better understand and serve those affected by diabetes.

Charles de Mestral
de Mestral, Charles
MD, PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery

Other Appointments

Vascular Surgeon, St. Michael’s Hospital
Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital
Adjunct Scientist, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences

Contact Information
St. Michael's Hospital
30 Bond Street, Bond 7-073
Toronto, ON M5B 1X1
Phone: 416-864-6047
Fax: 416-864-6012
deMestralCh@smh.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

I pursue population-based health services research focusing on patients with diabetes who undergo lower limb amputation. I am interested in better characterizing the epidemiology, outcomes, health-resource use and costs of lower limb amputation in diabetic patients as well as limb preservation therapies. The purpose of this work is to inform population-level interventions to reduce diabetes-related foot complications.

Daniel J. Drucker
Drucker, Daniel J.
MD, FRCPC
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism

Other Appointments

Senior Scientist, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital

Contact Information
Mount Sinai Hospital TCP 5-1004
600 University Ave.
Toronto, ON M5G 1X5
Phone: 416-361-2661
Fax: 416-361-2669
drucker@lunenfeld.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Research in the Drucker lab is focused on understanding the biology of gut hormones, with a major focus on GIP and the glucagon-like peptides. The lab studies how glucagon, GIP, GLP-1, and GLP-2 regulate energy homeostasis, metabolic control, and cardiovascular function via effects on the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, cardiovascular system and central nervous system. Specific projects elucidate novel mechanisms of glucagon, GIP, GLP-1 and GLP-2 action through studies of their respective receptors in peripheral tissues. Research staff utilize a combination of techniques that involve studies of signal transduction, generation of transgenic or knockout mice, and studies of rodent models of peptide hormone action with a focus on diabetes, obesity, endocrine systems, and intestinal disease.

Ahmed El-Sohemy
El-Sohemy, Ahmed
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics; Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

Contact Information
Fitzgerald Building, Room 350
150 College Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3E2
Phone: 416-946-5776
Fax: 416-978-5882
a.el.sohemy@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The overall goal of my research program in nutrigenomics is to elucidate the genetic basis for variability in dietary response on cardiometabolic disease. We are also interested in identifying the genetic determinants of and dietary preferences and eating behaviours as they relate to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Our research program employs metabolomics, proteomics and genomics to study the effects of diet on human health. This approach will help us to understand how genetic and dietary factors interact to regulate various metabolic and biochemical pathways involved in the development of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. We are currently investigating the role of genetic polymorphisms affecting innate immunity and inflammation on components of the metabolic syndrome. Other research projects focus on identifying the genes influencing sugar and carbohydrate consumption in lean and obese individuals.

Michael E. Farkouh
Farkouh, Michael E.
MD, FRCPC, FACC, FAHA
U Of T Appointments

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
Director, Cardiology Research, Division of Cardiology

Other Appointments

Director, Clinical Trials, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University Health Network
Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital

Contact Information
Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, University Health Network
585 University Avenue, Room 4N474
Toronto, ON M5G 2N2
Phone: 416-340-3141
Fax: 416-340-3398
Michael.farkouh@uhn.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Diabetes Mellitus and Cardiovascular Disease: The main focus is the evaluation of diabetic patients with coronary artery disease, acute coronary syndromes and heart failure. We have examined the role of advanced multi-modal imaging in developing novel compounds to treat atherosclerosis in diabetic patients. I have conducted large-scale clinical trials such as the FREEDOM Trial which evaluated the optimal strategy required for the management of coronary artery disease. Our goal for the future is to develop a collaborative coordinating center to address the important clinical questions revolving around diabetes and heart disease.

Denice S. Feig
Feig, Denice S.
MD, MSc, FRCPC
U Of T Appointments

Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Health Policy, Management and Evaluation; Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism

Contact Information
Mount Sinai Hospital
60 Murray St., Room 5027
Toronto, ON M5T 3L9
Phone: 416-586-8590
Fax: 416-361-2657
Denice.Feig@sinaihealthsystem.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Main research interest is in the area of diabetes in pregnancy.
We are currently conducting a multi-centre randomized controlled trial of metformin use in women with type 2 diabetes in pregnancy (MiTy trial).
I am also involved in studies looking at the placental transfer of diabetes drugs in pregnancy, the transfer of diabetes drugs into breast milk, and administrative databases looking at women with diabetes in pregnancy in Ontario.

Zhong-Ping Feng
Feng, Zhong-Ping
MD, PhD
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Physiology; Director, Collaborative Program In Neuroscience, School of Graduate Studies

Contact Information
Department of Physiology, 3306 MSB
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: 416-946-0671
Fax: 416-978-4373
zp.feng@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The Feng lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying synapse development and synaptic transmission using various in vitro and in vivo animal models. The major lines of research in the Feng Lab include 1) identifying the roles of ion channels in neurons and pancreatic cells under physiological and pathophysiological conditions, 2) determining the regulatory mechanisms of the ion channels, and 3) understanding neuronal control of hormone secretion in control and diabetic rodent models. The technical expertise in the Feng lab includes patch-clamp recordings, dynamic ratiometric imaging, confocal imaging, molecular biology and biochemistry.

Jason Fish
Fish, Jason
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Associate Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology

Other Appointments

Senior Scientist, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute

Contact Information
MaRS Discovery Tower East
101 College Street, Room 3-308
Toronto, ON M5G 1L7
Phone: 416-581-7496
jason.fish@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Our lab studies the role of microRNAs in controlling vascular inflammation. We have a particular interest in determining the role of circulating microRNAs in disease pathogenesis, and exploring their use as biomarkers. We are studying mouse models of diabetic cardiomyopathy to define disease mechanisms that involve microRNAs and we are identifying circulating microRNA biomarkers in human patient cohorts with diabetes, diabetic cardiomyopathy and/or end-stage renal disease.

John S. Floras
Floras, John S.
MD, DPhil, FRCPC, FACC, FAHA, FESC, FCAHS
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine

Other Appointments

Research Director, University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital Division of Cardiology
Chair, Board of Trustees, Banting Research Foundation
Deputy Physician-in-Chief, Research, Mount Sinai Hospital
Canada Research Chair in Integrative Cardiovascular Biology

Contact Information
Mount Sinai Hospital
600 University Avenue, Suite 1614
Toronto, ON M5G 1X5
Phone: 416-586-8704
Fax: 416-586-8702
john.floras@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The general theme of the Floras Clinical Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory has been the elucidation of mechanisms responsible for initiation and progression of cardiovascular and related diseases in humans, through interdisciplinary patient oriented research.

Neural and intrinsic cardiovascular regulation is studied using: microneurographic recordings of sympathetic nerve discharge directed at resistance vessels, tracer kinetic methods to estimate total body norepinephrine spillover, spectral analysis of heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity for heart rate, plethysmographic methods for assessing blood flow, and ultrasonic methods for quantifying endothelium dependent and independent vasodilatation.

These methods have been applied to research questions concerning normal health and aging, and to conditions such as heart failure, sleep apnea, hypertension, renal failure, pulmonary hypertension, diabetes (in collaboration with Drs. Zinman, Millar and Meneilly), menopause and cirrhosis.

Paul E. Fraser
Fraser, Paul E.
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics
Senior Scientist, Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Contact Information
Krembil Discovery Tower
60 Leonard Street
Toronto, ON M5T 2S8
Phone: 416-507-6848
Fax: 416-507-6435
paul.fraser@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Increasing evidence now points to the deposition and cytotoxicity of islet amyloid polypeptide aggregates as major contributors to loss of beta cell mass and ultimately the progression to type 2 diabetes. Amyloid aggregation may also contribute to graft failure following islet transplantation in type 1 diabetes patients. Therefore, our research involves devising new ways to inhibit islet amyloid aggregation and protect beta cells, thereby slowing or preventing onset of type 2 diabetes and improving islet graft survival.

Lei Fu
Fu, Lei
PhD, DABCC, FACB, FCACB
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology

Other Appointments

Clinical Biochemist, Department of Clinical Pathology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Contact Information
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Ave., Room B204
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5
Phone: 416-480-6100 x89571
Fax: 416-480-6035
lei.fu@sunnybrook.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

To study the molecular relationship between vitamin D endocrine system and diabetes.

Herbert Y. Gaisano
Gaisano, Herbert Y.
MD, FRCPC, FACP
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Departments of Medicine and Physiology

Contact Information
Medical Sciences Building, Rooms 7358 and 7368
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: 416-978-1526
Fax: 416-978-8765
herbert.gaisano@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Research in the Gaisano lab is focused on molecular mechanisms regulating exocytosis, employing islet cells as models. We were one of the firsts to demonstrate that SNARE proteins originally found to mediate neurotransmitter release are conserved in non-neuronal cells, including the pancreatic islet to regulate secretion. We contributed to the original work showing SNARE protein regulation of insulin granule exocytosis, and subsequently contributed much of the work showing how SNARE proteins physically and functionally interact with beta-cell ion channels (Kv, KATP, Ca2+) to regulate the intricate sequence of ion fluxes, membrane potential and exocytotic fusion events leading to secretion. Current efforts are directed at: 1) SNARE proteins regulation of newcomer granule exocytosis and compound insulin granule fusion, and employing such molecules by viral gene transfer to rescue type 2 diabetes; 2) excitosome formation of SNAREs with Kv and Ca2+ channels during insulin granule docking and priming; and 3) islet alpha cell secretory mechanisms and crosstalk with beta- and delta-cells in health and their dysregulation in diabetes. This lab has in place a full spectrum of state-of-the-art single islet cell analyses for rodent and human islets, including patch clamp electrophysiology and capacitance measurements on dispersed cells and intact islets within pancreas slices, imaging of single granule exocytosis by TIRFM, single islet cell (beta, alpha and delta cells) imaging within whole islet by confocal and multi-photon microscopy, and high-resolution FRET analysis of molecular interactions.

This lab also has full capabilities to perform assays for in vivo glucose homeostasis, including glucose clamps and surgical pancreatic duct perfusion of viruses for in vivo rescue of diabetic rodent models; islet cell biology assays, including islet isolation, islet perifusion secretory assays, assessment of intact islets within pancreatic slices in diabetic models, E.M.; biochemistry (immunoprecipitation), molecular biology and viral gene transfer (adeno/AAV/lentivirus).

Adria Giacca
Giacca, Adria
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Physiology and Department of Medicine

Contact Information
Medical Sciences Building, Room 3336
1 King's College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A8
Phone: 416-978-0167
Fax: 416-978-4373
adria.giacca@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The primary theme of A.G.’s research is the investigation of the effects of excess circulating energy substrates, in particular free fatty acids, on insulin action, secretion and kinetics, and the implication of these effects for the pathogenesis of diabetes. Secondary themes of research are the studies of the effects of nutrient and insulin excess in animal models of atherosclerosis and cancer .

Richard E. Gilbert
Gilbert, Richard E.
MD, PhD, FRCPC
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Medicine

Other Appointments

Head, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism, St. Michael’s Hospital
Canada Research Chair in Diabetes Complications

Contact Information
St. Michael's Hospital
61 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON M5C 2T2
Phone: 416-867-3747
richard.gilbert@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Research in the Gilbert lab focuses on the pathogenesis of diabetes complications as a way to evolve new therapies to prevent their development and attenuate their progression. Current projects involve translational research in diabetic nephropathy, retinopathy and heart failure, exploring novel pharmacological treatments and the use of adult stem cells to regenerate diseased tissue.

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