2023 Discovery Award Winners

The Banting Research Foundation is pleased to announce the Discovery Award winners for 2023

Discovery Awardees since 1925

Advancing the Understanding of Macular Degeneration

Sergio Crespo-Garcia, PhD

Unraveling the Role of Folate Metabolism in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Brennan, Faith_photo copy

Faith Brennan, PhD

Unveiling the Mysteries of Neurological Recovery

photo MC Sincennes

Marie-Claude Sincennes, PhD

Exploring Muscle Stem Cells to Unravel Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy

Erwan Pernet_photo

Erwan Pernet, PhD

Unraveling the Mechanisms of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia in Premature Infants


Andrew Harris, PhD

Exploring the Role of Actin Cytoskeleton in Cellular Force Generation and Membrane Bud Development

Eva Kaufmann (1)

Eva Kaufmann, PhD

Unraveling the Impact of Mold Exposure on Immunity

Brice Photo

Brice Batomen Kuimi, PhD

Assessing Traffic Calming Measures for Enhanced Public Health and Safety

Scroll to read our awardee's research bio

Decoding Folate's Role in Macular Degeneration: Dr. Crespo-Garcia's Groundbreaking Research

Recipient of the William and Nona Heaslip-Banting Discovery Award

Sergio Crespo-Garcia, PhD (Université de Montréal)

Assistant Professor, School of Optometry, Université de Montréal

Sergio Crespo-Garcia, Assistant Professor at the University of Montréal, specializes in retinal degeneration research, investigating neuron-blood vessel-immune cell interactions. His impactful publications and contributions have advanced our understanding of retinal neurodegeneration. With a diverse academic background and postdoctoral experience, Sergio’s work extends to clinical trials for diabetic retinopathy. Beyond research, he pursues ceramics, insect collection, and indulges in fantasy novels.

Dr. Crespo-Garcia’s research aims to investigate the relationship between faulty binding and/or transport of folate in the retina and the accumulation of local homocysteine, leading to a cytotoxic environment that contributes to neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). His research is novel and important, with the potential to make significant contributions to the understanding and treatment of AMD.

From left to right: Sergio Crespo-Garcia, Aurélien Perdriel, Omran Alrhieh, Laurence Pelletier.

Unveiling Microglia's Role in Neurological Recovery: Faith Brennan's Innovative Research Sheds Light on Functional Outcomes

Recipient of the Toronto Elegant Lions Club-Banting Discovery Award

Faith Brennan, PhD (Queen's University)

Assistant Professor, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen's University

Dr. Faith Brennan is an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University. With over 10 years of experience in the immune and neuro systems, she has a strong publication record with publications in high impact journals.

Dr. Brennan’s research aims to study how functional recovery from neurological disorders varies depending on the region of insult, specifically in microglia following insults to either the brain or spinal cord. Her research plan utilizes innovative methods such as the use of animal models and tissue sections to study microglia using spatial transcriptomics methods. Dr. Brennan’s research is unique, and aims to answer key questions about why differences in resident immune cells might contribute to differences in functional outcomes following injury.

Investigating Muscle Stem Cells and Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy: Dr. Sincennes' Pathbreaking Research

Recipient of the Jarislowsky Fellowship-Banting Discovery Award

Marie-Claude Sincennes, PhD (Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Professor, Centre Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique

Dr. Marie-Claude Sincennes is a Professor at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie, with a strong background in muscle stem cell biology. With several publications in high-impact journals such as Nature, PNAS, and Cell Reports, Dr. Sincennes has established herself as a leading researcher in the field.

Her research focuses on neuromuscular disorders, particularly oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD), a rare disorder that is prevalent in Quebecois populations related to a founder mutation. Dr. Sincennes plans to investigate the role of loss-of-function mutations in PABPN1, the gene associated with OPMD, in muscle stem cell biology. She will use both established and new cellular and molecular techniques to investigate her hypothesis.

From right to left: Ariella Zelniker, Liam Massey, Evelyne Martineau, Marie-Claude Sincennes

Understanding Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia in Premature Infants: Dr. Pernet's Mechanistic Exploration

Recipient of the Banting Discovery Award

Erwan Pernet_photo

Erwan Pernet, PhD, (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières)

Assistant Professor, Département de biologie médicale, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Trois-Rivières

Erwan Pernet is an Assistant Professor at the Université du Québec à Trois Rivières, with a highly productive track record in premier journals such as Nature Communications, Science Translational Medicine, Cell Reports, and Nature. His research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in premature infants, specifically investigating the role of the IFN-I response in BPD pathogenesis.

Pernet’s studies involve employing a model of hyperoxia in genetically engineered mice and utilizing histological examination, intracellular flow cytometry, and biochemical techniques to evaluate lung structure, immune response, and cytokines following exposure to hyperoxia. His work aims to reveal the mechanisms of bronchial dysfunction in premature babies and is expected to have a high impact on future funding opportunities, potentially attracting additional funds, especially from CIHR.

Pernet obtained a Ph.D. from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France and completed a postdoc at McGill University in Canada. As an Assistant Professor, he has continued to make significant contributions to the field, with a focus on the pathogenesis of BPD.

From left to right: Erwan Pernet, Pascale Lebeau (MSc Student), Emma Lambert and Alexandre Absi (Undergraduate students).

Exploring Platelet Formation: Dr. Harris' Biomechanics Investigation for Deeper Insights

Recipient of the Banting Discovery Award

Andrew Harris, PhD (Carleton University)

Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Carleton University

Dr. Andrew Harris is a rising star in the field of biomechanics and platelet formation. With 20 papers authored or co-authored in high-impact journals such as Nature and Cell, he has already made a significant impact in the field.

Dr. Harris’ research aims to investigate how changes to the organization of the actin cytoskeleton impact cellular force generation and the formation of membrane buds and proplatelets in order to build a better understanding of the biomechanics of platelet formation.

Dr. Harris has already established a strong track record in training highly qualified personnel, with a PhD, MASc, and three undergraduate students currently working under his supervision. He has also developed a mentorship plan with senior faculty members to ensure the success of his research program. He is a promising young researcher with a unique blend of expertise in physics, engineering, and cell biology. His research has the potential to contribute to new approaches for generating platelets outside of the body and understanding platelet disorders more broadly.

From right to left: Lyndsey Lafreniere, Gia Kang, Sarah Desroches, Daniel Delgado, Andrew Harris

Unraveling the Impact of Mold Exposure on Immunity: Dr. Kaufmann's Research Journey

Recipient of the Mitacs-Banting Discovery Award

Eva Kaufmann (1)

Eva Kaufmann, PhD (Queen's University)

Assistant Professor, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen's University

Dr. Eva Kaufmann is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University. With exceptional expertise in immunology and a particular focus on trained immunity, she is a highly productive researcher. Her research aims to understand how exposure to pathogenic molds and their allergens can induce long-lasting reprogramming of hematopoietic stem cells, which increases host susceptibility to infection.

Dr. Kaufmann’s work involves setting up a model of mold exposure in mice to functionally examine innate immunity in cells from exposed mice. She plans to mechanistically understand changes in immunity by examining transcriptional changes using single-cell RNA sequencing. Her work has been well-received by the research community for its potential impact in characterizing how mold allergens can impact the immune system and providing a molecular understanding of how this can happen.

With a strong track record and outstanding productivity in her field, Dr. Kaufmann is well-positioned to carry out her research. She has a significant amount of preliminary data to support her work and is collaborating with other researchers to ensure the success of her project. Her research has the potential to contribute significantly to our understanding of immune response to mold exposure, which could lead to the development of new treatments to reduce the impact of mold-related illnesses.

From left to right: Gabriella Stefan, Eva Kaufmann, Mckenna Perlin, Conrad Pietrzak.

Enhancing Public Health and Safety: Dr. Batomen Kuimi's Investigation of Traffic Calming Measures

Recipient of the University of Toronto 100th Anniversary Discovery of Insulin Banting Award

Brice Photo

Brice Batomen Kuimi, PhD (University of Toronto)

Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Dr. Brice Batomen Kuimi is an Assistant Professor of epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. He has a strong publication record with 30 publications, 13 of which he is the first author, including several manuscripts directly related to his work.

Dr. Batomen Kuimi’s project aims to understand the effectiveness of different traffic calming measures on traffic collisions and injuries, particularly in Toronto over a 15-year time period. The project will use rigorous time series methods, incorporate spatial-temporal trends, and explore seasonality. The work is innovative and will contribute to an unmet need in the field, helping to document and assess the impacts of Vision-Zero initiatives and active transportation programs, particularly in urban areas.

The potential impact of this work is high, particularly with the changes in transportation patterns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is an accomplished researcher with a strong track record in epidemiology. His proposed research has the potential to contribute significantly to our understanding of the effectiveness of traffic calming measures, which could lead to improvements in public health and safety.