Our Research Members

Sarah Crome
Crome, Sarah
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Department of Immunology

Other Appointments

Scientist, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, University Health Network
Scientist, UHN Transplant, University Health Network

Contact Information
Toronto General Hospital Research Institute
Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower
101 College St.
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1L7
Phone: 416-634-8097
sarah.crome@utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Type-1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease characterized by loss of self-tolerance, T cell-mediated immune attack of pancreatic β-islets and β-cell dysfunction. Allogeneic β-islet transplantation can restore β-islet cell function but despite the use of immunosuppressive drugs, the risk of allo- and autoimmune-mediated b-cell loss remains high. A true ‘cure’ for T1D requires approaches that restore β-islet function and also prevent immune-mediated pathology without immunosuppressive drugs. Our lab focuses on harnessing lymphocyte populations that have immunoregulatory or tissue repair properties in cell-based therapies for transplantation and autoimmunity. Ongoing studies are focused on delineating cross-talk between immune cells and β-islet cells, and assessing whether adoptive transfer of populations of lymphocytes can enhance β-islet cell transplantation approaches by regulating aberrant immune responses or supporting β-islet cells directly.

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
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

Associate Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy

Contact Information
University of Toronto
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
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:

Research in the Cummins lab relates to the study of nuclear hormone receptors that are important in the control of glucose and lipid metabolism. Our lab is interested in all areas of nuclear receptor biology including the identification of new ligands; the study of signaling pathways upstream and downstream of receptor activation; the characterization of novel co-regulatory proteins; and the influence of nuclear receptor modulation on whole animal physiology. Our studies primarily investigate the importance of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), the liver X receptor  (LXRα and LXRβ) and the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPARα, PPARδ and PPARγ) signaling pathways in the context of diabetes and dyslipidemia.

Myron Cybulsky
Cybulsky, Myron
MD
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Temerty 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
Toronto Medical Discovery Tower
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

Senior Scientist, Genetics and Genome Biology
Anne and Max Tanenbaum Chair in Molecular Medicine
Associate Chief, Faculty Development and Diversity
Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute

Contact Information
Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning
686 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M5G 0A4
Phone: 416-813-8810
jayne.danska@sickkids.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

The focus of Dr. Danska’s research is defining mechanisms of immune mediated diseases and application of this knowledge to improve their diagnosis, prevention and treatment.  Her lab works on the genetic and environmental causes of autoimmune disease, particularly Type 1 diabetes (T1D) in animal models and prospective human cohort studies. Her group found that manipulation of the intestinal microbial community (microbiome) strongly influences levels of sex hormone levels, host metabolites and can protect mice with high inherited risk from T1D.  She has led international projects that identified diabetes risk genes and determined how these variants control immune pathogenesis.  Her current work is focused on identification of environmental factors responsible for the rise in rates of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and how these factors are modified by the intestinal microbiome. She has a long-standing interest in sex as a determinant of autoimmune disease risk and pathogenesis.

Satya Dash
Dash, Satya
MD, PhD, FRCP (Edin), FRCPC
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Other Appointments

Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology, Toronto General Hospital
Medical Director, Bariatric Programme, University Health Network

Contact Information
Toronto General Hospital
Eaton Building
200 Elizabeth St.
Toronto, ON M5G 2C4
Phone: 416-340-4800 x8094
Fax: 416-340-3314
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.

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

Assistant Professor (status), Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation

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
Toronto, ON M5B 1X1
Phone: 416-864-6047
Fax: 416-864-6012
Charles.deMestral@unityhealth.to
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
Mout Sinai Hospital
Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute
60 Murray St.
Toronto, ON M5T 3L9
Phone: 416-361-2661
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.

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

Professor, Department of Medicine
Vice-Chair, Research, Department of Medicine
Director, Heart & Stroke Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research

Other Appointments

Peter Munk Chair in Multinational Clinical Trials, University Health Network

Contact Information
University Health Network
Peter Munk Cardiac Centre
585 University Avenue
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.
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
University of Toronto
Department of Physiology
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
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
Immediate Past-Chair, Board of Directors, Banting Research Foundation
Deputy Physician-in-Chief, Research, Mount Sinai Hospital
Canada Research Chair in Integrative Cardiovascular Biology (2004- 2018)

Contact Information
Mount Sinai Hospital
600 University Avenue
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.

Michael Fralick
Fralick, Michael
MD, PhD, MSc, FRCPC
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Other Appointments

Clinician Scientist, Mount Sinai Hospital
Associate Scientist, Li Ka Shing Centre for Healthcare Analytics Research & Training, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute
Affiliated Faculty, Program On Regulation Therapeutics And Law, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Contact Information
Mount Sinai Hospital
600 University Ave.
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X5
Phone: 416-586-4800
mike.fralick@mail.utoronto.ca
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

Michael Fralick’s main research interest is in understanding the safety and effectiveness of sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors by applying pharmacoepidemiology methods and machine learning. He primarily uses data collected from routine care (e.g., ICES, insurance claims data) and his main areas of methodologic expertise are in propensity score matching and supervised machine learning (e.g., gradient boosted trees). 

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
Toronto Western Hospital
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.
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
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 a continuation of the above (1 and 2) plus two new directions (3 and 4).  1) SNAREs interactions with Kv and Ca2+ channels forming ‘excitosomes’ and how these excitosomes are involved in the insulin granule exocytotic machinery for predocked (first phase insulin secretion) and newcomer granules (second phase insulin secretion); and how these insights could reveal rescue strategies for T2D insulin secretory deficiency. 2) Islet alpha cell secretory mechanisms and crosstalk with beta- and delta-cells in health and their dysregulation in T1D.  For these 2 directions, we are using human T1D and T2D pancreas as well as normal human pancreas.  3) Using the transparent anterior chamber of the mouse eye, we are observing the behaviour of implanted human islets, a capability that we directing at assessing human T1D and T2D islet biology over a long duration, their responses to novel treatment strategies, and also islet regenerative medicine.  4) Role of the intestinal microbiome in its contribution to the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome, and identifying new treatment strategies. The Gaisano lab has in place a full spectrum of state-of-the-art technologies to assess these four funded directions. 

Adria Giacca
Giacca, Adria
U Of T Appointments

Professor, Department of Physiology and Department of Medicine

Contact Information
University of Toronto
Medical Sciences Building
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.

Jenna Gillen
Gillen, Jenna
PhD
U Of T Appointments

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education

Contact Information
University of Toronto
Goldring Center for High Performance Sport
100 Devonshire Pl.
Toronto, ON M5S 2C9
Phone: 416-978-3244
jenna.gillen@utoronto.ca
View website
Diabetes Related Research Activities:

I am interested in understanding how exercise and nutrition impact carbohydrate and fat metabolism in humans, and identifying lifestyles strategies to improve metabolic health. This ranges from conducting studies in young healthy adults to those at risk for, or afflicted with, metabolic disease. We are interested in practical questions relating to the importance of exercise dose (e.g., intensity vs. duration), mode (e.g., aerobic vs. resistance), and timing (e.g., before vs. after a meal) on indices of metabolic health such as insulin sensitivity and cardiorespiratory fitness. We are also interested in exploring sex-based differences in the adaptive response to exercise and nutritional interventions in an effort to provide sex-specific recommendations for improved health of Canadians.

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