Research Platforms

Research within the Department of Physiology is organized into four Research Platforms. Through this organizational structure, the Department of Physiology is well positioned to capitalize on opportunities arising from advances in genomic, epigenetic, proteomic and metabolomic sciences.  Members in each platform meet regularly to exchange information about research interests and to oversee research trainee programs.

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Platform

Platform Leader: Dr. Steffen-Sebastian Bolz

Members of the Integrative Sciences Division of the Department of Physiology research the way in which the body's "internal milieu" is maintained, thereby truly reflecting what physiology is all about in its most general sense. Primary areas of focus are the cardiovascular/renal and respiratory systems. Investigative techniques employed range from the molecular through isolated tissue and organ preparations to the whole animal or human, and the investigators themselves conduct a wide range of programs from the clinically applied to the basic sciences. Both primary and cross-appointed faculty have research programs housed either at the Medical Sciences Building or at the affiliated teaching hospitals and research institutes. For specific details on research areas of focus in either the cardiovascular/renal or respiratory, please refer to the individual group descriptors at the websites identified below.

Endocrine and Diabetes Platform

Platform Leader: Dr. Michael Wheeler

Although the discovery of insulin was a major breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes, it was not a cure. Today, diabetes has reached epidemic proportions and it is predicted that this disease will afflict more than 300 million people world-wide by the year 2010. Research in the diabetes field continues throughout the world in the hopes that better methods of detection and prevention will be developed and that better drugs will be discovered to treat this debilitating disease. The Endocrinology and Diabetes Research Group (EDRG) at the University of Toronto continues the tradition of diabetes research as inspired by Banting, Best, MacLeod, and Collip. Our group comprises many distinguished researchers who are at the forefront of their respective fields in the study of endocrine disorders. Areas of research range from the study of diabetes, obesity, endocrine development and dysfunction to that of intestinal and pancreatic growth factors. In the areas of diabetes and obesity, specific fields of study include beta cell transplantation and secretory dynamics, insulin resistance, in vivo carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and neuroendocrine adaptations to diabetes. Our group is also active in the search for possible therapies for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. This work includes the study of new drugs to treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and the development of novel ways to restore endogenous insulin secretion through islet transplantation and gene therapy techniques. The group is also highly active in the area of appetite control and the prevention of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

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Neuroscience Platform

Platform Leader: Dr. Zhengping Jia

Members of the Department have research programs in the neurosciences that range from the level of molecular genetics to understanding the physiology underlying learning and memory. Members of this division can be found in several of our research groups including "Cellular and Molecular" as well as "Systems Neuroscience". The Department is known for its advanced electrophysiology and optical and imaging techniques. One of our members is the director of the "Program in Neuroscience" and another is head of the "Centre for Pain". The Department, through its partnerships with our members in several hospital research institutes, provides one of the most advanced Neuroscience Centres in North America.

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Reproduction and Development Platform

Platform Leader:  Dr. Andrea Jurisicova

The Reproduction and Development Platform is one of the largest and best integrated groups in Reproduction and Development with exceptional national as well as international recognition. The platform exploits the immense potential for rapid advances in translational medicine by fostering effective clinical – basic science collaboration among investigators on campus and in the nearby hospitals.  Faculty in the Platform investigate important clinical and basic research questions with the goal of advancing our understanding of reproductive physiology, pregnancy, as well as embryonic and fetal development. Members apply a range of approaches from cell culture to in vivo whole animal studies, to evaluate the function of single molecules or entire genomes. Synergy across disciplines from conception to adulthood is encouraged because prenatal and postnatal health is not independent. It is clear that appropriate early development is critical to cardiovascular, metabolic, and mental health in adulthood. Research underway by Platform members focuses on the causes, preventions, and cures for infertility, fetal maldevelopment of the kidney, lung, brain and placenta, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and ovarian cancer. Faculty research programs are housed either in the Medical Sciences Building on campus or in affiliated teaching hospitals and research institutes within walking distance of the main campus. For details on research areas of focus please refer to the websites of programs involving Platform faculty and those of individual faculty using the links below.

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