University of Toronto

1914John Gerald Fitzgerald of the Faculty of Medicine establishes the anti – toxin laboratories, which subsequently become the Connaught Laboratories
1921Working in a University laboratory, Frederick Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod and J.B. Collip are the first to obtain insulin in a form consistently effective for treating diabetes mellitus. In 1923, Banting and Macleod would receive the Nobel Prize.
1929Davidson Black, a medical graduate, discovers the skull of “Peking Man”, an important clue to the nature of humanity’s ancestors
1930Frederick Tisdall, Theodore Drake and Alan Brown of the Faculty of Medicine announce the creation of the infant cereal, “Pablum”
1933Under the direction of Charles Best, a university – based research team begins work on heparin, an anti – coagulant, which would open the fields of vascular surgery and renal dialysis
1936Medical graduate Norman Bethune, later a hero of the People’s Republic of China, organizes the world’s first mobile blood transfusion unit in Spain
1942Wilbur Franks, a medical graduate, develops the “anti-black-out” suit. Credited with saving thousands of Allied fighter pilots during WW II, his invention would be worn by every air force pilot in the world and eventually be developed into the space suit worn by astronauts
1945Raymond Parker of the university’s Connaught Medical Research Laboratories discovers a defined chemical nutrient medium in which cells can grow and replicate. His discovery helps Jonas Salk to develop the polio vaccine
1948W.G. Bigelow begins studies of hypothermia as a means of performing open-heart surgery. Later, he would be part of the team that designs the first electrical cardiac pacemaker.
1961James E. Till and Ernest A. McCulloch discover the hemopoietic stem cell. This is the basis for bone marrow transplantation, which is a highly successful clinical story today.
1962Dr. Harold E. John establishes Canada’s first Department of Medical Biophysics and develops cobalt therapy units which revolutionise radiation treatment of cancer around the world.
1963W.T. Mustard perfects his surgical method for correcting “blue baby” syndrome.
1978Dr. Cecil Yip identifies the insulin receptor.
1981Drs. Griffith Pearson and Joel Cooper perform the world’s first single lung transplant.
1984Geneticist Tak Mak helps identify the T-cell receptor gene, a major advance in our understanding of the body’s immune system.
1988Surgeons Alan Hudson and Susan MacKinnon perform the world’s first nerve transplant on a nine-year-old boy.
1988Dr. Victor Ling discovers the process which cancer cells use to resist anti-cancer drugs.
1989George Alexander Patterson performs the first double lung transplant.
1989Lap-Chee Tsui and Manuel Buchwald of the Department of Medical Genetics and Jack Riordan of the Department of Biochemistry & Clinical Biochemistry isolate the gene that causes cystic fibrosis.
1991A team led by Tony Pawson of medical genetics and microbiology and Mount Sinai Hospital’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute identifies how cell receptors transmit signals instructing the cell to change. This discovery will have many benefits, including the development of new cancer drugs.
1991Dr. Philip Seeman identifies two new dopamine receptor proteins, D4 and D5, clearing the way to finding more effective and safer medicines for treating psychosis, schizophrenia and possibly cocaine addiction.
1994Dr. Endel Tulving, one of three scientists awarded the annual Killam Memorial Prize, proves that different areas of the brain are activated when different types of memory are engaged.
1995A research team led by Peter St. George-Hyslop, Director of the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, discovers two genes responsible for early-onset Alzheimer’s.
1996Dr. Bibudhendra Sarkar developed an effective treatment of Menkes disease which is a genetic neurological disorder that kills children with the disorder before the age of three. The disease is caused by a defect in the transport of copper, which is required for the activity of many life-sustaining enzymes. The effectiveness of this treatment has been proven in two Canadian patients who are still living at age 20 and 10.
1996Brenda Gallie and co-workers develop a new therapy for retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye that leads to blindness. It represents the first major change in the management of this disease in 35 years.
1996Dr. Michael Moran and colleagues discovered that a protein called GRB2 found inside a cell functions as a kind of ON-OFF switch responsible for turning on or off the signalling for cell growth and division elicited by growth factors. This discovery lays the groundwork for the development of drugs targeting this protein to prevent cancer cellsfrom responding to growth factors to grow and divide.
1997Dr. Christopher Feindel developed a new technique for preserving hearts for transplantation by using the shed blood from a donor to provide nutrient blood flow to the heart prior to being transplanted into the recipient. The recycling of donor blood can increase the safe preservation of the heart from 4 to 8 hours in a pig transplant model.
1997Yoshio Masui wins the Albert Lasker prize for his innovative contributions in understanding cell division. Among them are the discovery of maturation promoting factor, a protein that controls cell division in fertilized eggs, and the discovery of cytostatic factor, another critical substance in cell division. Dr. Masui’s groundbreaking work has important implications for cancer research.
1998Dr. John Dick, Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, identifies a class of human hematopoietic cells with SCID-repopulating activity. The identification demonstrates complexity of the organization of the human stem-cell compartment and has important implications for clinical applications involving stem-cell transplantation.
1999The tumour-necrosis-factor-family molecule osteoprotegerin ligand (OPGL; also known as TRANCE, RANKL and ODF) has been identified as a key regulator of osteoclastogenesis, lymphocyte development and lymph-node organogenesis by Josef Penninger and Young-Yun Kong.
2000Dr. Peter St. George-Hyslop, director of the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases in U of T’s Faculty of Medicine and a neurologist at the University Health Network, announces that a new vaccine that may help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease is ready to be tested on human subjects.
2000Dr. John Davis of the Institute for Biomaterials and BioMedical Engineering develops new three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds for bone tissue engineering throughout which bone cells grow, differentiate, and produce mineralized matrix.
2002Dr. Stanley Zlotkin of paediatrics and nutritional sciences wins a CIDA Nutritional Information Project award worth $1.9 million for his groundbreaking work on Supplefer Sprinkles. A tasteless, inexpensive powder that can be added to any food, the iron supplement helps eliminate childhood anemia in developing countries.
2002Josef Penninger and Peter Backx make a decisive discovery finding that angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 is an essential regulator of heart function and disruption of this enzyme results in a severe defect of heart morphogenesis. Dr. Penninger’s and Dr. Backx’s groundbreaking work has important implications for cardiovascular diseases.
2003Dr. Tom Wolever of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism discovers that Acarbose improves the glycemic profile and insulin sensitivity in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes who are inadequately controlled on diet alone.