Research Institute Retreat: Celebrating Janet Rossant’s Scientific Legacy
By Carolyn Gooderham
On June 30, 2015, Dr. Janet Rossant’s ten-year tenure as SickKids Chief of Research will come to an end. At the 26th annual Research Institute Retreat on Friday, June 5 there was no theme more fitting than to celebrate Rossant’s scientific legacy.
Over 900 SickKids Research Institute staff gathered at the Roy Thomson Hall to learn about the breadth and scope of research conducted at SickKids. All fifteen speakers were recruited to SickKids by Rossant during her time at the helm of the Research Institute. Topics ranged in subject from Dr. Monica Justice’s discussion of the use of animal models to identify disease suppressors to Dr. Greg Wells’ presentation on the use of exercise as medicine in cystic fibrosis patients.
Collaboration and clinical impact were also common themes throughout the day. Researchers spoke of their achievements, made possible through cross-laboratory partnerships. Dr. Vito Mennella thanked collaborators Dr. Sharon Dell and Dr. Theo Moraes for their partnership in developing a project aimed at applying super resolution microscopy as a novel method to diagnose patients with Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia. Dr. Zulfi Bhutta highlighted game-changing advances and challenges in international child health, encouraging other researchers to consider how their work can relate to the global field. Dr. Jason Maynes discussed how research into cardiac dysfunction led to the creation of new treatments for dilated cardiomyopathy, in collaboration with Dr. John Coles.
The focus on collaboration amongst researchers further underscores the impact of bringing SickKids’ 2,000 research institute staff under one roof in the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning (PGCRL). Rossant was a key player in the development of the PGCRL, a milestone achievement for SickKids and an evident highlight of Rossant’s tenure as Chief.
The retreat culminated with Rossant’s speech, “Why Research Matters.” Rossant spoke passionately about the achievements of her colleagues and reinforced the importance of collaboration. “This is the part of being Chief of Research that I have enjoyed most - the opportunity to watch these interdisciplinary interactions occurring in real time and driving research innovation,” said Rossant.