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David Kaplan

Title: Senior Scientist, Neurosciences & Mental Health
Designations: PhD
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 301434
Alternate Contact Name: Diana Arthurs
Alternate Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 309451
Alternate Email:
U of T Positions: Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, Member, Institute of Medical Science


David's PhD thesis work at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard, identified the signal transducing protein PI-3 kinase. He performed his post-doctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco with Dr. Harold Varmus, identifying novel substrates that interact with growth factor receptors. In 1990, he established a laboratory at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland where he identified Trk as the receptor for nerve growth factor. In 1996, he relocated to the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill where he was head of the Brain Tumour Research Centre and William Feindel Chair in Neuro-oncology. In 2002, he became head of the Cancer Research Program at Sickkids, and is now Senior Scientist, Program in Neuroscience and Mental Health, Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Faculty Member, Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto.


Kaplan shares a lab with his wife, Freda Miller, working on how stem cells build and maintain the brain, and discovering drugs that mobilize our stem cells to enhance and repair the aging or injured brain and skin and to treat childhood cancers.

He is best known for co-discovering, as a graduate student, the signalling protein PI3-kinase (Cell 1987) and discovering the Trk/Nerve Growth Factor receptor when his lab was at the NIH (Nature, Science 1990). He has published almost 200 research papers with over 40,000 citations. David, with Freda, founded the biotechnology companies Exogen Neurosciences, Aegera Therapeutics, and Reveille Inc. to bring their research discoveries in the cancer, nerve degeneration, and stem cell fields to the clinic. David moved to Canada 20 years ago, attracted to the promised land of collaboration, great trainees, and perfect weather. 

Education and experience

  • 2006–Present: Senior Scientist, Program in Neuroscience and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children 
  • 2002–Present: Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto 
  • 2002–Present: Faculty Member, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto  
  • 2020–Present: Adjunct Professor, U. British Columbia, Vancouver, BC 
  • 2016–Present: Adjunct Professor, Trent University, Peterborough, ON 
  • 2002–2006: Head, Cancer Research Program, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Senior Scientist, Program in Cell Biology, Toronto, ON  
  • 2003–2012: Vice-Chair, Science, Board of Directors, Neuroscience Canada and Brain Canada  
  • 1996–2002: Head, Brain Tumor Research Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill U., Montreal, PQ and William Feindel Chair in Neuro-oncology 
  • 1996–2002: Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montreal, PQ 
  • 1990–1995: Section Head, ABL-Basic Research Program, National Cancer Institute-FCRDC, Frederick, MD


  • 2002–2016: Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Cancer and Neuroscience
  • 2017–Present: Co-Founder, Reveille Inc., Toronto, ON 
  • 2006-2010: Receiving Editor and Member, Editorial Board, Cell Death and Differentiation
  • 2003-2015: Chair-Science, Board of Directors, Brain Canada and Neuroscience Canada Partnership
  • 2002: Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Injury Research, CIHR Institute of Neuroscience 
  • 2002: William Feindel Endowed Chair in Neuro-oncology, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University 
  • 2000–2006: Co-founder, Aegera Therapeutics Inc., Montreal, PQ 
  • 1997–2000: Co-founder, Exogen Neuroscience Inc., Montreal, PQ 
  • 2000: Distinguished Lecturer Award for ‘Outstanding Contributions in Cell Signaling Research’, Neuroscience Center for Excellence/LSU Greater New Orleans Society for Neuroscience  
  • 1996–2002: Research Scientist Award, Canadian Cancer Society 
  • 1996: Harold E. Johns Award for ‘Most Outstanding Applicant for a Canadian Cancer Society Research Scientist Award, National Cancer Institute of Canada
  • 1994-1996: Associate Editor, Neuron
  • 1986: Richard K. Smith Award and Seminar, Dana Farber Cancer Institute 


  1. Restoration of hippocampal neural precursor function by ablation of senescent cells in the aging stem cell niche. Fatt MP, Tran LM, Vetere G, Storer MA, Simonetta JV, Miller FD, Frankland PW, Kaplan DR. Stem Cell Reports. 2022 Feb 8;17(2):259-275. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2021.12.010. PMID: 35063124
  2. Acquisition of a Unique Mesenchymal Precursor-like Blastema State Underlies Successful Adult Mammalian Digit Tip Regeneration. Storer MA (co-supervised), Mahmud N, Karamboulas K, Borrett MJ, Yuzwa SA, Gont A, Androschuk A, Sefton MV, Kaplan DR, Miller FD. Dev Cell. 2020 Feb 24;52(4):509-524.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2019.12.004. PMID: 31902657
  3. The Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Receptor Delta Regulates Developmental Neurogenesis. Tomita H (co-supervised), Cornejo F, Aranda-Pino B, Woodard CL, Rioseco CC, Neel BG, Alvarez AR, Kaplan DR, Miller FD, Cancino GI. Cell Rep. 2020 Jan 7;30(1):215-228.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.11.033.PMID: 31914388
  4. Single-Cell Profiling Shows Murine Forebrain Neural Stem Cells Reacquire a Developmental State when Activated for Adult Neurogenesis. Borrett MJ (co-supervised), Innes BT, Jeong D, Tahmasian N, Storer MA, Bader GD, Kaplan DR, Miller FD. Cell Rep. 2020 Aug 11;32(6):108022. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108022. PMID: 32783944 
  5. A neuroprotective agent that inactivates prodegenerative TrkA and preserves mitochondria. Feinberg K, Kolaj A, Wu C, Grinshtein N, Krieger JR, Moran MF, Rubin LL, Miller FD, Kaplan DR. J Cell Biol. 2017 Nov 6;216(11):3655-3675. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201705085. PMID: 28877995
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