What A Time To Begin A Career...


My U of T molecular genetics journey began in September of 1989, as a fourth-year project student in the lab of Diane Cox at SickKids. If you know the history of human genetics in Toronto, you’ll recognize that as the month that the cystic fibrosis gene was identified by Lap-Chee Tsui’s group and collaborators – the lab next door. My first week in Diane’s lab, and that was all I heard – “Did you hear about Lap-Chee’s lab? They found the CF gene! They published three papers in Science!” The enthusiasm was infectious – just what a brand new undergrad project student needed. The bench I sat at backed on to the part of Lap-Chee’s group that had overflowed from next door. The pedigrees of the CF families used for the analysis hung on that bench, a visual reminder of that landmark work that I got to see every day I spent in the lab – and there were many, because it was far more fun than going to the library, or studying at home!

Eventually, I ended up doing a PhD with Diane. I spent my time mapping immunoglobulin heavy chain genes, learning genomics, and absorbing as much as I could from neighbouring labs too: Worton, Ray, Buchwald, Tsui, Friesen, many others. My career since then has been full of friends made in those labs, no small number of whom I still work with now. Through it all, I haven’t wandered very far – always in the downtown core, near and sometimes on the university campus. For the better part of three decades, as a student with Diane, a postdoc at the Clarke Institute collaborating with the Culotti lab, in companies founded by faculty, I’ve been associated with MolGen in one way or another. For the last 13 years, I’ve been back at SickKids again, working for Steve Scherer, another one of those grad school friends from Lap-Chee’s lab, way back in the 90’s.