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Developmental & Stem Cell Biology

Collage of various model systems that our scientists use to study stem cell biology, disease, and development.

We're pushing the boundaries of stem cell biology. We're focused on understanding molecular genetic mechanisms affecting embryonic development, organ formation, tissue homeostasis and regeneration.

The Developmental & Stem Cell Biology program is making an impact on paediatric health-care by translating our research into treatments for associated developmental disorders like childhood cancer, birth defects, and other paediatric diseases. We continue to develop new therapeutic approaches for children and youth through a better grasp of developmental genetics, genomics, and stem cell biology.

Research team

Program head Dr. Brian Ciruna and the scientists that lead DSCB labs and core facilities are supported by over 225 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates, technicians, and administrative staff. 

You'll find our lab work regularly published in top peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals. Our scientists and trainees receive consistent funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), March of Dimes Foundation, Canada Research Chairs, NIH, Genome Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and several other national and international organizations, illustrating the importance and impact of DSCB research.

We always welcome new trainees and staff that are eager to improve the health outcomes of children through cutting-edge biomedical research.

Ian Scott

Senior Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology

James Ellis

Senior Scientist, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Janet Rossant

Chief of Research Emeritus, Senior Scientist, The Hospital for Sick Children

Johann Hitzler

Senior Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology

Michael D. Taylor

Neurosurgeon, Division of Neurosurgery

Norman Rosenblum

Paediatric Nephrologist, Division of Nephrology

Peter Dirks

Chief, Division of Neurosurgery

Sevan Hopyan

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Division of Orthopaedics

Tae-Hee Kim

Senior Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology

Vijay Ramaswamy

Staff Physician, Section of Neuro-Oncology, Division of Haematology/Oncology

Xi Huang

Senior Scientist, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology

Yun Li

Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology

  • Dr. Herman Yeger 

  • Dr. Ben Alman
  • Dr. Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez 

Program Manager

Dr. Najeeb Siddiqui

Administrative Assistants

  • Iris Biberstein
  • Nahed Mojadiddi
  • Tirhas Okubazghi
  • Alicia Campbell 
  • Maryam Shafiq
  • Jody Hayer

Latest news

Six staff headshots grouped together in one image.

June 6, 2022

Six SickKids researchers among latest new and renewed Canada Research Chairs

Six scientists at SickKids Research Institute were awarded new or renewed Tier 1 and Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs through the University of Toronto.

March 14, 2022

Researchers show whole genome sequencing can identify hidden changes in genomes of patients with cardiomyopathy

An international group of researchers, led by SickKids, used whole genome sequencing to uncover genetic changes associated with childhood cardiomyopathy that would not have been found by standard clinical genetic tests.

Headshots of five women.

February 11, 2022

Five women in science who are shaping child health research at SickKids

On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, learn about five women in diverse roles that support child health research at SickKids, and their insights on pursuing a career in science.

Research themes

Our team works across a number of research themes and labs. See what child health challenges we're tackling at each facility by pushing our understanding of stem cells.

Genetic models of human development and disease

We utilize diverse experimental organisms in their research, including C. elegans, D. melanogaster, zebrafish, planaria, and mice. By developing genetic models of numerous human diseases and cancer, we provide an unmatched platform for interrogating pathogenic mechanisms and performing genetic modifier and therapeutic drug screens.

Mechanisms of tissue patterning and organ development

Developmental signaling pathways – including BMP, Hh, FGF, Notch, TGFb, PCP, and Wnt, – play key roles in pattern formation and organogenesis. We examine the roles of these signaling pathways, as well as other regulatory factors in the development of diverse tissues and organs (e.g. blood, bone, brain, heart, gut, kidney, limb, lung, and skin). 

Molecular regulation of cell fate decision, cell differentiation and cell death

We aim to answer a fundamental question in developmental biology - How do cells adopt their fate? Our team studies molecular switches that regulate a cell's fate, as well as mechanisms that program cells to die. 

Stem cell biology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine

We study the molecular genetic regulation of stem cell states, including embryonic, induced pluripotent, cancer, and multiple tissue stem cell models. Stem cells offer tremendous potential for repair and/or regeneration of damaged tissues and organs. We unlock how stem cells and organoids can be used in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, such as spinal cord injury and bladder regeneration.


Browse a list of DSCB labs to learn more about the exciting research taking place in our program.

Core facilities

Centre for Advanced Single Cell Analysis

CASCA provides comprehensive training and expert consultation services to enable researchers to use the Fluidigm Helios Mass Cytometry (CyTOF), Fluidigm Hyperion Imaging Mass Cytometry (IMC) and BD Rhapsody single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) platforms.

Flow Cytometry Facility

The FCF provides academic and corporate clients access to state-of-the-art analytical flow cytometers and high-speed cell sorting services. It offers comprehensive training and education as well as expert consultation services to enable users to enhance the scope and quality of their research using the FCF's technology.


Najeeb Siddiqui, Research Program Manager
686 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5G 0A4

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