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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Ronald Cohn, MD, FACMG

The Hospital for Sick Children

Research Institute
Senior Scientist
Research Institute

University of Toronto

Phone: (416) 813-7654 Ext. 206122
Fax: (416) 813-7479
Email: ronald.cohn@sickkids.ca

For more information, visit:

Dr. Cohn's lab site

Brief Biography

Ronald Cohn joined The Hospital for Sick Children as the Chief of the Division of Clinical and Metabolic Genetics, Co-Director of the Centre for Genetic Medicine and Senior Scientist in September 2012. He also became the Inaugural Women’s Auxiliary Chair in Clinical and Metabolic Genetics in April of 2013, as well as joining the department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. On July 1st, 2016  Ronald Cohn was appointed to the position of Chief of Paediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children and Chair of Paediatrics at The University of Toronto”.

He received his medical degree from the University of Essen, Germany.  After his postdoctoral fellowship at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Kevin Campbell, he moved to Baltimore where he was the first combined resident in paediatrics and genetics at the Johns Hopkins University.  He subsequently joined the faculty of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins where he became the director of the worlds' first multidisciplinary centre for Hypotonia, which has earned national and international recognition. The centre focused on identifying, supporting and treating patients with various conditions associated with hypotonia with the goal to directly combine clinical experience and basic research efforts to ensure that the clinical approach to and therapy for the patient will be tailored to his/her individual needs. He will continue his work in this area at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. As well, in July of 2013, The Centre for Genetic Medicine launched the Genome Clinic, focusing on genetics research and discovery in the years to come.

He was also the director of the medical genetics residency program at Johns Hopkins. He received numerous awards including the David M. Kamsler Award for outstanding compassionate and expert care of pediatric patients, 2004, First Annual Harvard-Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics Award in Medical, 2006 and the NIH Young Innovator Award, 2008.

Research Interests

  • Maintenance of muscle mass in inherited and acquired muscle disorders
  • Molecular mechanisms of muscle regeneration and fibrosis
  • Hypotonia with a particular focus on muscle and connective tissue disorders
  • Translating next generation sequencing into daily clinical diagnostics and management

Research in Cohn’s laboratory focuses on the biology of muscle regeneration as it relates to various inherited and acquired myopathic states with a particular interest in muscular dystrophies. More recently, he used a novel approach to understand the mechanisms of maintaining muscle mass and regeneration, by studying hibernating ground squirrels. Hibernating mammals have evolved mechanisms to survive prolonged immobility without pathologic loss/atrophy of muscle mass. The molecular mechanisms underlying this fascinating phenomenon are largely unknown. 

His laboratory is currently for the first time applying knowledge of normal mechanisms of muscle protection in the hibernating mammal to the disease process of disuse muscle atrophy in non-hibernating mammals. This will provide unique insights into the fundamental cellular and molecular pathways underlying skeletal muscle atrophy and the protection against it.

Cohn plans to continue his research activities and ensure that novel genetic technologies will be translated into clinical medicine with the goal of one day making individualized treatment a standard of care for all children.


  • 2008 NIH Director’s Young Innovator Award
  • 2006 Mentored Clinical Investigator Career Development Award in Muscle Disease
  • 2006 First Annual Harvard-Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics Award in Medical
  • 2006 The Helen B. Taussig Award, 29th Johns Hopkins Young Investigators’ Day
  • 2006 Johns Hopkins University Clinician Scientist Award
  • 2005 Young Investigator Award at the 7th International Symposium on the Marfa
    syndrome, Ghent, Belgium, September 2005
  • 2005 Award for best postdoctoral research presentation at the 2nd annual retreat of the
    McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine
  • 2004 David M. Kamsler Award for outstanding compassionate and expert care of pediatric


A detailed list of Dr. Cohn's publications is available at PubMed.