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96th Annual Banting Discovery Award Winners
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96th Annual Banting Discovery Award Winners

Every year, the Foundation presents six awards but this year is special. To mark the centenary year of the discovery of insulin, we have partnered with Mitacs to double the number of awards.

A very special thanks to our partners Mitacs, Jarislowsky Foundation and the Centre of Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) Ontario, and all our generous donors.

To our twelve 2021 Discovery Awardees, congratulations and best wishes.

Sagi Abelson, PhD, Principal Investigator, Computational Biology, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto for his project leveraging large, publicly available single-cell datasets to build a comprehensive single-cell classifier.  This classifier will then be used to detect impending cancer as well as to measure changes associated with chemotherapy to improve future treatment design.  This tool will be shared with the broader research community to advance cancer research. Recipient of a Jarislowsky Fellowship-Banting Discovery Award.

Matthieu P. Boisgontier, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Rehabilitation Sciences, for his work which aims to close the “intention-action” gap when it comes to exercise for geriatric patients.  Dr. Boisgontier will train geriatric patient to supress their attraction towards being sedentary and to respond positively to physical activity.  The results will inform public health policies and improve clinical interventions to counteract the growing international issue of physical inactivity.  Recipient of a Banting Discovery Award.

Angela C. Cheung, MD, Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, Clinical Hepatologist at the Ottawa Hospital, and Associate Scientist in the Clinical Epidemiology Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, for her work using artificial intelligence to fight liver cancer by training computers to recognize it using images from patients with or without liver cancer. Recipient of a Banting-Mitacs Discovery Award.

Owais Khan, PhD, Assistant Professor at Ryerson University’s Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering, for his efforts to develop a computational model to stimulate blood flow in heart patients’ coronary arteries with a view to assisting clinicians in deciding optimal treatment for patients. Dr. Khan is a 2016 Mitacs Globalink Award Winner. Recipient of a Banting-Mitacs Discovery Award.

Glen McGee, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo’s Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, for his project developing statistical tools to correct the bias that exists in examinations of autism patients due to the fact that research often relies on electronic health records. The use of these records can lead to spurious associations given that patients with autism often visit the doctor more often than others. These proposed methods have the potential to improve the way medical research is conducted whenever patients’ conditions lead them to have higher than average interaction with the medical system. Recipient of a Banting-CANSSI Ontario Discovery Award in Data Science.

J. Patrick Murphy, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Prince Edward Island, for his research into the effects of molecules that are converted from a common amino acid, serine, that is increased by cancer cells.  Dr. Murphy aims to look at the effect of serine on the growth of breast cancer cells and to measure what interaction they have with other molecules in cancer cells.  In the long run, the project seeks to create new strategies to block the growth advantages provided by serine production in cancer cells. Recipient of a Jarislowsky Fellowship-Banting Discovery Award.

Andrew A. Nicholson, PhD, Assistant Professor at McMaster University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, Scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute and the Homewood Research Institute Trauma Department and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Vienna’s Psychology Department, for his research helping individuals with PTSD self-regulate brain function connections associated with their symptoms using neurofeedback. This research has the potential to directly translate into a new treatment for PTSD. Dr. Nicholson is a former Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellow. Recipient of a Banting-Mitacs Discovery Award.

Heather Prime, PhD, C. Psych, Assistant Professor at York University’s Department of Psychology, for her study evaluating a new COVID-19 Family Recovery Program with the aim of reducing child mental health problems by strengthening relationships and reducing conflicts in families. Recipient of a Banting-Mitacs Discovery Award. Awards.

Holly Sparks, DVM, PhD, DACVS-LA, Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Surgeon at Moore Equine Hospital, for her work developing non-invasive diagnostic criteria for tissue pathology in tendinopathy, which could be relevant both in horse and human tendon disease. Recipient of a Banting-Mitacs Discovery Award..

Nicole Templeman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Victoria, for her project that will use a mouse model of genetically reduced insulin to determine the effect of lowering insulin on egg cell quality and reproductive success during aging.  The study could inform strategies to help prevent and manage female reproductive health concerns by limiting insulin excess. Recipient of a Jarislowsky Fellowship-Banting Discovery Award.

Kim Tsoi, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Orthopaedic Surgeon in the Sinai Health System and Research Clinician-Investigator at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, for her work developing a treatment for a rare, aggressive type of cancer called soft tissue sarcomas (STS) by examining which immune cells are present in lung metastases and contribute to disease and using nanotechnology to develop a therapy to target those cells. Ultimately, the study aims to improve our understanding of metastatic STS and introduce a new method for its treatment. Recipient of a Banting-Mitacs Discovery Award.

Alanna Weisman, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, Clinical Scientist in the Sinai Health System & University Health Network and Scientists at the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute and ICES, for her study using anonymized provincial healthcare data to determine whether factors such a sex, income, and socioeconomic factors are barriers to insulin pump use for people with type 1 diabetes and the impact that has on health outcomes for people living with the disease. Recipient of a Banting-CANSSI Ontario Discovery Award in Data Science.

Please Watch The Interview – illuminating conversations with our winners on their research. Click here

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