December 15, 2015




This will be the last issue of PhysioLINK for 2015.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for welcoming me so warmly into the department.  Special thanks to the office administration and the members of the Chair’s Advisory Committee for their invaluable assistance.

The University will be closed from 5pm Tuesday, December 22, 2015 to commencement of the working day, Monday, January 4, 2016 when normal activities will be resumed.

Warmest best wishes to everyone in the Department for a festive Holiday Season.


Graham L. Collingridge, FRS, FMedSci, FRSB, FBPhS
Ernest B. and Leonard B. Smith Chair 
Department of Physiology



Effective January 1st, 2016, there will be a turnover in leadership of our Graduate Coordinator positions. A third position has also been added to lead the new Professional Master's Program in Physiology.

Dr. Zhong-Ping Feng will assume the position of Graduate Coordinator, Student Admissions and Affairs. Our sincere thanks and gratitude to Dr. Martin Wojtowicz who has done a tremendous job in this position for 8 years. His leadership and attention to graduate student issues was greatly appreciated.

Dr. Douglas Tweed, will assume the position of Graduate Coordinator, Academic Affairs. Our sincere thanks and gratitude to Dr. Carin Wittnich for her contributions in this role over the past year, including updating all the course descriptions and regulations.

Dr. Carin Wittnich is the new Graduate Coordinator of the Professional Master's Program. Carin will oversee the academic planning process and direct the application for a new program through governance. We wish her the best taking our graduate program to the next level.



~ Eligible for PSL1000H/PSL2000H Course Seminar Attendance ~

Speaker: Anita M. McGahan, PhD, MA, MBA

Institution: Rotman Chair in Management, Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Title: “ Healthcare's Grand Challenge: Stimulating Basic Science on Diseases that Primarily Afflict the Poor”

Date: Thursday, January 7, 2016

Time: 4:00 p.m.

Location: Medical Sciences Building, Room 2172, St. George Campus, University of Toronto


Speaker: Dr. Cathryn M. Kolka, PhD

Institution: Assistant Professor, Research Scientist 1, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Los Angeles

Title: “ Diet-induced insulin resistance: Early effects in the development of disease”

Date: Thursday, January 14, 2016

Time: 4:00 p.m.

Location: Medical Sciences Building, Room 2172, St. George Campus, University of Toronto

Hosts: EDRG Platform


Speaker: Phyllis Billia, PhD, MD, FRCPC 

Institution: Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, U of T, Associate Staff, Cardiology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto General Research Institute (TGRI)

Title: TBA

Date: Thursday, January 28, 2016

Time: 4:00 p.m.

Location: Medical Sciences Building, Room 2172, St. George Campus, University of Toronto

 Host: Cardiovascular & Respiratory Platform



A tremendous THANK YOU to all of the people who participated in this year’s CP24/CHUM Christmas Wish Holiday Raffle. To the graduate students who sold tickets, all of the people who provided prize contributions, and especially those who bought tickets! We managed to raise $2216 – again a new record amount - for the charity and this demonstrates the remarkable generosity of our faculty, students and staff.

A note of appreciation from the CP24 CHUM Christmas Wish follows this message.

Congratulations and happy holidays to all!

Denise Belsham

From: CP24 CHUM Christmas Wish

Dear Department of Physiology, U of Toronto - GASP,

Thank you for your gift of $2216.00 in support of the CP24 CHUM Christmas Wish.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Thank you for helping to give a kid a Christmas!



Congratulations to the faculty members below on receipt of a Teaching Award at the Holiday Party…. outstanding! Your continuing dedication to the education mission of our department is enormously appreciated.

  • Innovative Course Design Award and Excellence in Teaching Performance 2015 - Dr. Michelle French
  • Excellence in Undergraduate Small Class Teaching 2015 - Dr. Michelle French
  • Excellence in Undergraduate Large Class Teaching 2015 - Dr. William Ju
  • Excellence in Graduate Teaching 2015 - Dr. Richard Horner



Congratulations to Dr. Kacey Prentice (Wheeler lab) on being awarded the 2015 Jack Kraicer Award for excellence in scholarship during doctoral studies in the Department of Physiology. Kacey sent a lovely note of appreciation to the Department (see below).

Denise Belsham

To the Department of Physiology,

It is a great honour to be selected as the recipient of the 2015 Kraicer Award. It feels like yesterday that I was attending my first Department of Physiology Holiday Party and listening to the accomplishments of the Kraicer award nominees for 2010. What these students had accomplished in their time in graduate school was inspirational (and, lets be honest, daunting for a new graduate student). A short 5 years later, I consider it a privilege to just have been considered for this award and in the same league as those who came before me. Surely none of this would have been possible without the endless support and encouragement of everyone in the Department of Physiology. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I have to extend my deepest gratitude to Mike. I don’t think I could have had a more diverse graduate student experience in terms of projects or more opportunities to travel the world. You never waivered when it came to giving me the support, flexibility, and freedom to explore my crazy theories and develop my passion for research, and without your guidance I would not be the scientist I am today. Thank you so much.

I would also like to thank all the members of the Wheeler Lab, past and present, for their help and guidance. Not only for being with me all those early mornings, late nights, weekends, and holidays, but for your ever important contributions to maintaining my sanity. You all made it fun to come into the lab each and every day, and I’m so happy to call you my friends.

Finally, for the new trainees, who are sitting where I was 5 years ago looking at these daunting lists of accomplishments from all of my fellow graduates: one of the most important things I learned during my PhD was that it is not about how much you know, how many hours you work, or the impact factor of the journals you publish in. Success, in any field, is about passion. As the old adage goes: Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. Science, especially, is not a job, but a lifestyle. In the Department of Physiology you are surrounded by people who are incredibly passionate. Get inspired. Find what you love. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity that you have to work at a world-class institution and learn from the best. With passion you’ll accomplish great things.

So thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I wish I could be there with all of you again this year enjoying a delicious meal in great company, but there is no rest for the Harvard Postdocs. 

Happy Holidays from Boston!




We want to hear about the great things happening in Physiology.  Please share your accomplishments, awards….   Send news items to the Chair’s Office c/o