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Jayne Danska

Title: Senior Scientist, Genetics and Genome Biology
Designations: PhD
Email: jayne.danska@sickkids.ca
Alternate Contact Name: Allison Hall
Alternate Phone: 416-813-8810
Alternate Email: allison.hall@sickkids.ca
U of T Positions: Professor, Departments of Immunology and Medical Biophysics
Chair Positions: The Anne and Max Tanenbaum Chair in Molecular Medicine

Research Positions

Associate Chief, Faculty Development and Diversity
SickKids Research Institute

Biography

Dr. Danska was raised in New York City, and educated in the United States at Kenyon College, Cornell University, Cold Spring Harbor Labs and Stanford University. Her research is focused on defining the mechanisms underlying immune system diseases and application of this knowledge to improve their diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Her lab works on the genetic and environmental causes of autoimmune disease, particularly Type 1 diabetes (T1D), the molecular mechanisms of acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL), and innate immune surveillance of leukemia and leukemia stem cells.  
 
She has led multi-disciplinary projects applying genetic, genomic and immunological analysis to identify T1D-risk genes and to determine how these variants control autoimmune pathogenesis. An evolving focus is the roles of environmental factors in the rising rates of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, specifically the role of the intestinal microbiome in modifying inherited risk of autoimmunity in rodent models and in longitudinal studies in children with high genetic risk for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This work is also investigating the impact of sex as a key determinant of autoimmune diseases, many of which are far more prevalent in females. 

Research

Dr. Danska’s research is focused on defining the mechanisms underlying immune system diseases and application of this knowledge to improve their diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Her lab works on the genetic and environmental causes of autoimmune disease, particularly Type 1 diabetes (T1D), the molecular mechanisms of acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL), and innate immune surveillance of leukemia and leukemia stem cells. 

She has led multi-disciplinary projects applying genetic, genomic and immunological analysis to identify T1D-risk genes and to determine how these variants control autoimmune pathogenesis. An evolving focus is the roles of environmental factors in the rising rates of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, specifically the role of the intestinal microbiome in modifying inherited risk of autoimmunity in rodent models and in longitudinal studies in children with high genetic risk for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This work is also investigating the impact of sex as a key determinant of autoimmune diseases, many of which are far more prevalent in females.

In addition, Dr. Danska and her collaborators discovered a signaling pathway in macrophages pivotal to the survival of human normal hematopoietic stem cells and acute leukemia stem cells that sustain leukemic growth. They have developed a biologic therapy to manipulate this immune checkpoint to impair the survival of leukemia and other blood cell cancers that is now in clinical trials. 

Education and experience

  • 1977: B.Sc. Magna cum Laude in Biology, Magna cum Laude in Genetics Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, USA
  • 1985: PhD Genetics and Molecular Biology Cornell University, School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
    (Graduate research performed at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY, USA. Supervisors: Drs. Lee M. Silver and Dorothea Bennett)
  • 1991: Post-doctoral Fellow, Immunology Stanford University School of Medicine, California, USA. (Supervisors: Drs. Hugh McDevitt and C. Garrison Fathman)
  • 1991–1997: Scientist, Program in Genetics & Genome Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 1991–1997: Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology and Department of Medical Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 1997–Present: Senior Scientist, Program in Genetics & Genome Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 1997–2003: Associate Professor, Department of Immunology and Department of Medical Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 2003–Present: Professor, Department of Immunology and Department of Medical Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 2018–Present: Associate Chief of Research, Faculty Development and Diversity, SickKids Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada

Achievements

  • 2001–Present: Canadian Society of Immunology Council
  • 2003–Present: Council Member, National Institute of Health (NIAID/NIDDK) Type 1 diabetes TrialNet Consortium
  • 2016–Present: Scientific Advisor, McGill University Research Centre on Complex Traits, Montreal PQ
  • 2016–Present: Chair of College of Reviewers, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • 2016–2021: The Anne and Max Tanenbaum Chair in Molecular Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto
  • 2018–Present: Associate Chief, Faculty Development and Diversity, SickKids Research Institute
  • 2019–Present: Executive Lead, Council of College Chairs, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

  • 1995–2001: Research Scientist Award, National Cancer Institute of Canada
  • 1999–2003: Premier’s Research Excellence Award, Government of Ontario
  • 2001: Principal Investigator Research Award, Canadian Genetic Disease Network, National Centres of Excellence
  • 2001–2005: Canadian Genetic Disease Network Priorities and Planning Council
  • 2004: Becton-Dickenson Health Sciences Award, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
  • 2004–2009: Scientific Advisor, Emerillon Therpeutics, Inc., Montreal, PQ
  • 2005–2010: Associate Scientific Director, Canadian Genetic Diseases Network
  • 2005–2010: Scientific Advisor, Mass spectrophotometer-based Flow Cytometer (CyTOF), DVS Sciences
  • 2014–2017: Scientific Advisor, Gilead Therapeutics, Inc. Foster City, CA
  • 2016–2019: College Chair, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Publications

  1. Dai H, Friday, AJ, Abou-Daya KI, Williams AL, Mortin-Toth S, Nicotra ML, Rothstein DM, Shlomchik WD, Matozaki T, Isenberg JS, Oberbarnscheidt MH, *Danska JS and *Lakkis FG. (2017) Donor SIRPa polymorphism modulates the innate immune response to allogenic grafts. Science Immunology 2(12) eaam6202. *co-senior authors
  2. Verdu EF, Danska JS (2018). Common ground: shared risk factors for type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Nat Immunol 19(7): 685-695.
  3. Alexandra Paun*, Christopher Yau*, Shahab Meshkibaf, Michelle C. Daigneault, Leili Marandi, Steven Mortin-Toth, Amit Bar-Or, Emma Allen-Vercoe, Philippe Poussier and Jayne S. Danska (2019). Association of HLA-dependent islet autoimmunity with systemic antibody response to intestinal commensal bacteria in pediatric subjects. Science Immunology 4:eaau8129 1 February. *co-first authors. Accompanying article: Luber J.M. and Kostic, A.D. (2019) “A perfect storm: Genetics and anti-commensal antibodies shore up type 1 diabetes. Science Immunology 4:eaau3345, 1 February
  4. Rajakumar S, Papp E, Lee K, Grandal I, Merico D, Liu C, Allo B, Zhang L, Grynpas M, Minden M, Hitzler J, Guidos C, and Danska J (2020). B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia cells mediate RANK-RANKL dependent bone destruction. Science Translational Medicine, aba59422020
  5. Dai H, Lan P, Zhao D, Abou-Daya K, Liu W, Chen W, Friday AJ, Williams AL, Sun T, Chen J, Chen W, Mortin-Toth S, Danska JS, Wiebe C, Nickerson P, Li T, Mathews LR, Turnquist HR, Nicotra1 ML, Gingras S, Takayama E, Kubagawa H, Shlomchik MJ, Oberbarnscheidt MH, Li XC, Lakkis FG (2020). PIRs mediate innate myeloid cell memory to nonself MHC molecules. Science, aax4040

February 2020–January 2025: Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Team Grant: Canadian Microbiome 
“Microbiome Regulation of Beta-Cell Autoimmunity and Type 1 Diabetes” 
PI: Jayne Danska 
Co-PIs: Emma Allen-Vercoe, Kathy McCoy, Laura Sycuro, Ian Lewis, Pere Santamaria, Lars Bode, Kevan Herold 
Total Funding: $2,000,000.00 

April 2018–March 2023: Canadian Foundation for Innovation (Infrastructure Grants ) – John R. Evans Leaders Fund
“High Dimensional Single Cell Immune-Analytic Platforms for Deciphering Immune Complexity in Health and Disease” 
PI: Katherine Siminovitch (University Health Network – UHN) 
Co-PIs: Cynthia Guidos, Jayne Danska 
Total Funding: $1,997,697 

April 2018–March 2023: Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence Round 9
“Transforming disease outcomes with precession immune cell monitoring”
PI: Katherine Siminovitch (University Health Network – UHN) 
Co-PIs: Cynthia Guidos, Jayne Danska 
Total Funding: $3,914,127 

April 2017–June 2021: Ontario Institute of Cancer Research: Translational Research Initiatives
“Acute Leukemia Translational Research Initiative” 
PIs: John Dick and Aaron Schimmer (University Health Network – UHN) 
Co-PIs: Mick Bhatia, Cynthia Guidos, Daniel De Carvalho, Gary Bader, Jayne Danska, Jean Wang, Johann Hitzler, Suzanne Kamel-Reid, Darlene Lane, Brian Leber, Monica Lenkiewicz, Leonardo SalmenaDawy Lilley, Liran Shlush, Mathieu Lupien, Michael Hoffman, Mark Minden, Mitchell Sabloff, Norman Iscove, Paul Spagnulol, Philip Awadalla, Steven Chan, Karen Yee 
Total funding: $9,993,600 
Funding to Danska Project: $508,000 

July 2017–June 2020: RDV Foundation Award: 
“Innate Immune Surveillance of malignant cells” 
PI: Jayne Danska 
Total funding: $184,000 

June 2017–June 2020: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada: 
“The RANK-RANKL axis in B cell acute leukemia” 
PI: Jayne Danska 
Co-PI: Leanne Ward 
Total funding: $200,000

October 2016–September 2021: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
“Mechanisms of Inflammation, Immunity and Islet Dysfunction in Diabetes (MI3D)” 
PA: Jayne Danska 
Co-applicants: Emma Allen-Vercoe; Jill Hamilton; Michael Wheeler; Philippe Poussier 
Total funding: $1,563,404 
Total funding to Danska Project: $500,000

April 2016–March 2021: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
“Innate immune cell interactions mediated by the SIRP receptor family” 
PI: Jayne Danska 
Total funding: $180,000 

May 2016–April 2021: Anne and Max Tanenbaum Chair in Molecular Medicine (renewable for second 5-year term) 
~$125,00/year, operating funds 

May 2018–2023: Associate Chief, Research Institute Operating funds
~$80,000/year

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