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About the Institute

Profile of Seema Mital

Dr. Seema Mital
Dr. Seema Mital

Dr. Seema Mital, MD

  • Associate Scientist, Genetics & Genome Biology
  • Principal Investigator, Heart Centre Biobank
  • Cardiologist, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Associate Professor, Paediatrics, University of Toronto

1. Where are you from? Where did you study?
I am originally from Mumbai, India.

I pursued my Medical Degree at the University of Bombay. I then moved to the United States and completed my residency in Michigan. I continued my education in the US, attending Columbia University in New York City to do a fellowship in Paediatric Cardiology. I spent the next seven years at Columbia before moving to SickKids in 2007.

2. What are you researching right now?
I study the genetics and genomics of heart disease in kids.

To support this work I am currently working to build a biorepository and registry. The Heart Centre Biobank is an Ontario-wide effort with contributions from both adults and children from multiple centres across the province. The biobank stores DNA, tissue samples and clinical information from close to 2,000 subjects. We use this information to help us identify the genetic basis of congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy and other genetic heart conditions.

With the knowledge we gain from this biobank, we will be able to develop new or improved diagnostic tests and treatment options.

3. Who is your all-time favourite scientist, and why?
The scientist I most admire is Dr. Michael R. Rosen. The Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Pediatrics at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre, Dr. Rosen is a role model for me and the kind of scientist I aspire to be.

While I was at Columbia, he was a mentor to me and taught me the importance of integrity in research. He taught me not just the science but also the art behind the science. He showed me how to have fun with research; and how exciting the quest for knowledge can be.

I learned to look for possibilities in the unknown – what might initially seem like a small finding can generate important knowledge that can eventually be translated into a clinical application or solution to a problem.

4. What in your opinion is the single most important scientific breakthrough, and why?
The work of Watson and Crick.

5. What are your interests outside the lab?
I have many interests outside of the lab. I enjoy world travel and outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. I also very much enjoy the arts, and prefer taking in small-production plays in the theatre, visiting art galleries and museums, movies, and reading – mostly non-fiction.

6. Why science?
Science is the only way to bridge the gaps in knowledge. While practicing medicine allows me to apply existing knowledge to better patient care, science allows me to generate new knowledge. As a researcher, I actually start with the unknown and let my findings guide me to the new solutions.

7. Why SickKids?
SickKids is not only a well respected academic institution but is also one of the few academic centres where a hospital and a research institute work closely together to apply research innovations to the care of children with disease. This unique structure provides access not only to the cutting edge in clinical practice, but also to cutting edge in basic science, and encourages partnerships between clinicians, scientists, geneticists, molecular biologists all under one umbrella. It makes SickKids a uniquely exciting place to conduct my research and treat my patients.

8. What is the most controversial question in your field right now?
One of the most interesting controversies is whether it will be possible to use genetics, genomics and regenerative technologies towards the attainment of the goal of personalized medicine.

September 2009

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