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Who we are

The Program for Individualized CF Therapy is led by Dr. Christine Bear, Co-director of the CF Centre, Dr. Felix Ratjen, Co-director of the CF Centre, and Dr. Janet Rossant, Sick Kids Emeritus Chief of Research.  

Dr. Christine Bear, PhD

Christine Bear is the Co-Director of the CF Centre at SickKids and is a Senior Scientist in the Molecular Medicine program at the SickKids Research Institute. She is also a Professor of Physiology with cross appointment to biochemistry and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto.  Bear’s laboratory has had a major interest in understanding the molecular basis for ion channel activity. She pursued postdoctoral training in patch clamp electrophysiology because of its power to provide insight into mechanisms underlying single ion channel activity. Her laboratory together with Dr. Jack Riordan, the co-discoverer of the CF gene, provided the first direct evidence that the CFTR protein functioned as a cyclic AMP regulated chloride channel. 

Since this discovery, the work in her laboratory led to key findings that underpin the current understanding in the field regarding the mechanism of action of this protein and the intrinsic defects induced by disease-causing mutations of the CFTR gene. Her laboratory has also contributed to the larger field of membrane protein assembly and function through the development of novel methods for membrane protein purification and functional reconstitution. These methods have also been successfully applied to discover the mechanisms underlying the correction of mutant CFTR protein by emerging small molecule therapeutics and in discovering new lead compounds targeting the major CF causing mutant protein.  Currently, in collaboration with the stem cell and respiratory biology community in Toronto, her laboratory has been successful in developing methodology suitable for measuring channels in patient derived nasal epithelia and epithelia differentiated from iPS cells.  

Dr. Felix Ratjen, MD, PhD, FRCP(C), FERS

Dr. Felix Ratjen is the Co-Director of the CF Centre at SickKids, and is Medical Director of the Clinical Research Unit. He completed a majority of his medical education in Germany, along with a research fellowship at the Children's Hospital in Boston. He was subsequently Deputy Chief of the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Essen, and was the chief executive of the scientific board of the German CF Foundation until coming to Canada in 2005. His CF research involves multiple clinical trials, including new therapeutic strategies to target the underlying defects, as well as in the treatment of airway infections within the CF Centre at SickKids, in collaboration with the adult centre at St. Michael's Hospital, and internationally. Ratjen holds the H.E. Seller's Chair in Cystic Fibrosis at SickKids. In addition, he is the Division Chief in Respiratory Medicine at SickKids, as well as Senior Scientist, Translational Medicine at the SickKids Research Institute, and a Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Janet Rossant, PhD, FRS, FRSC

Dr. Janet Rossant is SickKids Emeritus Chief of Research and a Senior Scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology program. Her ground-breaking research with mouse embryos has advanced the understanding of the roles genes play in human embryo development and defined the embryonic process of establishing stem cells with the capacity to make all cell types in the body. Rossant is actively involved in the international developmental and stem cell biology communities and has contributed to the scientific and ethical discussion on public issues related to stem cell research. Rossant has been recognized for her contributions to science with many awards, including the Ross G. Harrison Medal (lifetime achievement award) from the International Society of Developmental Biologists, the Killam Prize for Health Sciences, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, the Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology, and the CIHR Michael Smith Prize in Health Research. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Societies of London and Canada, and is a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Science. Most recently it was announced that Rossant received the 2015 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, the first female to do so. - See more here.   

Co-directors to the program include Dr. Tanja Gonska, Dr. Theo Moraes, Dr. Peter Ray and Dr. Lisa Strug.  A Scientific Advisory Board comprised of national and international leaders in the areas of CF, biobanking, iPS cell differentiation and pharma directs the activities of the Program.  

Dr. Tanja Gonska - Bio coming soon!

Theo J Moraes, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Dr. Theo J Moraes, MD, PhD, FRCPC is a Paediatric Respirologist at SickKids, a Scientist in Translational Medicine at the SickKids Research Institute and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto.  He graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto and then completed his paediatric residency in Kingston, Ontario and a paediatric respirology fellowship in Toronto before pursuing his PhD in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory Downey and postdoctoral training in laboratory of Dr. Tania Watts. He has been on staff at SickKids since 2008.  His lab has a focus on respiratory viral infections, in particular respiratory syncytial virus.  In addition, in collaboration with other CF researchers, the Moraes lab has been examining strategies to improve CFTR function using human primary airway epithelial cell cultures as a model system.

Dr. Peter Ray, PhD, FCCMG, FACMG

Dr. Peter Ray is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto and Head of Genome Diagnostics at the Hospital for Sick Children. Ray received his PhD from the Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto followed by post-doctoral training at the Stanford University School of Medicine.  He moved to the Department of Genetics at SickKids in 1980 and began investigating on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). This work resulted in the discovery, in 1985, of the gene responsible for this common, lethal genetic disorder.  

In 1987 Ray established a diagnostic laboratory at SickKids to provide carrier testing and prenatal diagnosis for families with DMD and cystic fibrosis.  Since 1987 the laboratory has rapidly expanded and now offers genetic testing for a wide variety of disorders to families across Canada and the US.  The laboratory is the largest genetic diagnostic laboratory in Canada and has developed several of the molecular diagnostic tests that are used by diagnostic laboratories in North America.  Ray is Scientific Director of The Centre for Applied Genomics at Sickkids as well as an executive member of the SickKids Centre for Genetic Medicine.  

Dr. Lisa Strug, PhD

Lisa Strug, PhD, is a Senior Scientist in the Genetics & Genome Biology program at the SickKids Research Institute, Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Toronto, and Co-Director of the statistical genetics facility of The Centre for Applied Genomics. Strug was trained in biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Toronto, and trained in statistical genetics at Columbia University in New York City.  After two years on faculty at Columbia University in the Biostatistics department, Dr. Strug joined the Cystic Fibrosis research community at The Hospital for Sick Children to lead their modifier gene mapping efforts.  Strug now leads the Canadian CF Gene Modifier Consortium, and is a co-lead of the International CF Gene Modifier Consortium.  Strug’s research focuses on the development of statistical genetics methodology with particular emphasis on methods specific to identifying gene modifiers in Mendelian disease; and in addressing fundamental problems in the foundations of statistics.

For questions about the resources available, training programs, travel awards and synergy grants, and the annual meeting, please contact Paul Eckford, Program Manager, peckford@sickkids.ca.