What we do

The discoveries made by the Tanz CRND are embodied in over 1,055 peer-reviewed publications and over 1300 invited lectures (comprising nearly 1000 international invited lectures plus over 400 national invited lectures). This body of work has been cited by other scientists over 71,895 times. Impressively, 5 papers have each been cited over 1000 times and 2 have been cited over 2500 times. This is a truly prodigious impact for a research centre composed, on average at any one time, of seven Principal Investigators. It places the Tanz CRND as one of the world-leading centres for research on these diseases.

The importance of the work by the Tanz CRND scientists has been repeatedly and robustly validated by the fact that it has garnered over 76 national and international academic honours and prizes to the Principal Investigators. These awards include election to the Fellowship of some of the world’s most prestigious scientific societies such as the Royal Society of London and Institute of Medicine of the US National Academies of Science. This work has also resulted in over 23 academic prizes (beyond stipendiary and travel grants) to Postdoctoral Fellows and students.

The second critical mandate of the Tanz CRND has been to train the next generation of physicians and scientists and to engage and inform the lay community and policy makers about these diseases. Both of these educational and societal mandates have been robustly engaged.

The mandate of education of the next generation of physicians and scientists has been conducted at many levels. It has involved the day-to-day scientific mentoring of PhD, MSc, BSc students at the bench by all of the Tanz CRND principal investigators. It is also involved the mentoring of clinical residents and fellows at the bedside by the clinically qualified Tanz CRND investigators including Lili-Naz Hazrati, Lorraine Kalia, Tony Lang, Peter St George-Hyslop and Carmela Tartaglia. The educational mandate has also been conducted through teaching in formal courses, including teaching at Continuing Medical Education events, formalised award-winning graduate and undergraduate courses within the cognate academic departments, and the Tanz CRND’s own lecture and seminar series. The latter have included over 380 lectures, as well as the Diane Charlwood Memorial Lecture, which is the Centre’s annual keynote lecture.

Members of the Tanz CRND have taken on important Commissions of Trust and Leadership Roles in international scientific bodies. They have participated in over 28 international and 20 national academic Scientific Advisory Boards (including World Federation of Neurology, Alzheimer Disease Genetics Consortium and Global Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson’s Disease). They have served editorial functions for hundreds of articles from more than 17 different scientific journals. The faculty have been members of numerous international and national scientific peer-review panels for research grant funding bodies including National Institutes of Health, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, L’Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Wellcome Trust, Canada Research Chairs, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Finally, members of the Tanz CRND have robustly engaged in translational research. Thus, Tanz CRND faculty have been key members of 12 scientific advisory panels for major international pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Eli Lilly. There have been 11 funded research collaborations, 8 technology licensing agreements with private sector pharmaceutical and biotech partners. The Tanz CRND principal investigators and/or graduates have founded two biotech companies and one biotech venture capital company. At least 35 patents have been filed or granted, as depicted in. 

The work of the Tanz CRND has been supported through three key sources: i) philanthropic donations from private individuals and lay foundations such as the ASO; ii) institutional support from the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Toronto (including most recently the provision of salary for two new investigators) and the University Health Network (with up to two new joint appointments with UHN – Lorraine Kalia being the first); and iii) competition for peer-reviewed funds from government and private foundation grant-funding bodies. To date, the Tanz CRND has leveraged the first two sources of support by successfully competing for over $116 million in peer-reviewed grant funding for basic research (administered through the Tanz CRND), and at least comparable amounts for clinical research (administered via the academic teaching hospitals).

 

Education, Teaching and Training

A critical mandate of the Tanz CRND is to train the next generation of physicians and scientists. This is conducted at many levels, and involves the day-to-day scientific mentoring of PhD, MSc, and BSc students, as well as clinical residents and fellows, by Tanz CRND principal investigators. Our educational mandate extends to the teaching of formal courses, including Continuing Medical Education events, award-winning graduate and undergraduate courses within university academic departments, and the Tanz CRND’s own lecture and seminar series.

As a result of our rigorous and diverse educational program, the Tanz CRND has “graduated” at least 121 postdoctoral fellows, 46 PhD and MSc Graduate Students, as well as at least 105 Undergraduate Students. The majority of Tanz CRND graduates have stayed in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, either in clinical medicine or scientific research, or both.

Many of these graduates now work in senior position at leading institutions around the world, including universities, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, top-tier scientific journals, and national and international policy-setting bodies.

The diverse and far-reaching impact that our graduates are having around the world attests to the enriching and demanding intellectual environment that they were exposed to during their mentorship at the Tanz CRND.

 

Community Outreach and Public Service

Another important mandate of the Tanz CRND is to engage and inform the lay community, policy makers, and media, both in Canada and abroad, about our research in neurodegenerative diseases.

Our public engagement efforts have included more than 100 structured interactions with lay neurological disease organizations, including seminars, hands-on tours at the Tanz CRND, visits to local chapters of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, and numerous television, newspaper and radio interviews.