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University of Toronto recognizes distinguished scholars in sciences

Toronto, ON July 21, 2003 The University of Toronto says it has approved the appointment of professors Roderick McInnes of pediatrics, Nancy Reid of statistics, Michael Sefton of chemical engineering and applied chemistry and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and Peter St George-Hyslop of medicine and the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases to the level of university professors. The designation recognizes a professor’s unusual scholarly achievement and pre-eminence in a particular field of knowledge.

“Not only have their great achievements advanced understanding in their respective fields but they have strengthened the stature and international significance of this university,” says Robert Birgeneau, the university’s president.

Dr McInnes is a human geneticist in the fields of eye development and inherited eye disease. His discoveries in vision research include the identification of major regulatory genes of eye development, the co-discovery of retinal stem cells and the identification of a common principle underlying virtually all retinal degenerations. His realization of the significance of the exponential rate of decline of cell numbers, characteristic of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, is said to have changed the outlook of scientists on these diseases.

Dr Reid has focussed on the development of improved asymptotic theory for inference in statistical models characterized by one or more unknown parameters. She was the first woman and first Canadian-based statistician to receive the president’s award of the Committee of Presidents of the Statistical Societies.

Dr Sefton’s work is in the emerging field of bioengineering and the development of tissue engineering as a science, technology and industry. His work on the diffusion and surface reactions of polymers, the development of procedures related to cell transplantation, the preparation of materials that are compatible with blood and the development of implantable insulin pumps has helped further understanding of these phenomena.

Dr St George-Hyslop work as a geneticist has led to discoveries in the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s disease. His work in the identification of genes causing inherited forms of Alzheimer’s disease and the use of molecular genetic techniques to understand the disease has impacted the design of clinical and basic research studies of this disease.