Past Issues

There is no question about it - "collaboration" is past the buzzword stage when it comes to university research and scholarship. The notion of researchers working together is now not only a key consideration in how research is conducted, but an advantage we strive for in our work at the University of Toronto.

It's not that researchers haven't collaborated in the past. Nor would I deny the value of research carried out by individual scholars. But today, collaboration has taken on a much more active and formal role in university research. And universities and research institutes are the better for it.

At U of T, there is ample evidence of this cooperative spirit, between researchers within the university and, in turn, between U of T and various institutions around the world. Our Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (profiled in Edge, Spring 1999) - set to open this spring thanks to investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust and philanthropist Terrence Donnelly - will be a model for collaborative research in biomedical science, where we will encourage researchers from diverse disciplines to bump into each other and share their ideas.

And our involvement in the renowned History of the Book in Canada project (profiled in Edge, Fall 2003) is a perfect example of how a multitude of universities, as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, can work together on innovative scholarship.

As you will read on page eight, there is no finer model of collaborative research than the work enabled by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. This marvellous organization explores tough questions only through collaboration between scholars from a multitude of universities.

Of course, we also maintain productive collaborative relationships with private sector companies, foundations, and governments. And the contributions from graduate and undergraduate students are, to a large extent, the lifeblood of the university research enterprise.

Collaboration, in all its forms, enables us to create knowledge from new and innovative angles. Whether this happens across disciplines or between institutions, collaboration is a critical part of what we do, and I am excited by the results and the possibilities.

Two of U of T's top scientists have been honored with the first-ever Brockhouse Canada Prize, created by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to recognize innovative interdisciplinary research. University Professor Sajeev John, of Physics, and University Professor Geoffrey Ozin, of Chemistry, were given the $250,000 award in early December for their research into the containment of light in crystals. Over a period of five years, they designed the first photonic crystal capable of trapping light, a key discovery for the future development of optical computers which use beams of light to perform digital computations. The award is in memory of the late Dr. Bertram Brockhouse, a researcher for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., professor at McMaster University and 1994 Nobel Prize laureate in physics.

The University of Toronto is the best place for a scientist to work, outside of the U.S., according to a survey by The Scientist magazine. The survey asked 35,000 life scientists in tenure track positions to rank the best schools in the U.S. and "other countries." U of T took the top ranking in the "other countries" category, which included 24 other institutions in Canada and Europe. An increase in federal government funding during the past few years through initiatives such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Canada Research Chairs program is being credited with strengthening the research environment at U of T and helping the university attract faculty from around the world.

The annual Maclean's magazine university rankings issue put U of T in the top spot for the 11th year in a row among Canadian universities which have a broad range of PhD programs and research as well as medical schools. In addition to taking the top overall spot among 15 universities in this "medical-doctoral" category, U of T placed first on indices including medical and science grants, alumni support and library holdings. More than 12,000 graduates from 46 universities were surveyed.

Eleven U of T faculty were elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2004. Joining the Society's Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences are: Stephen Clarkson, professor emeritus of Political Science; Alison Fleming of Psychology at U of T at Mississauga (see profile on page 3); John Myles of Sociology; Richard Simeon of Political Science and Law; Rosemary Sullivan of English; and University Professor Donald Stuss of Psychology and Medicine. Elected to the Academy of Sciences are: Gregory Brown, professor emeritus of Psychiatry and Physiology; Daniel Brooks of Zoology; John Dick of Medical Genetics and Microbiology and Princess Margaret Hospital; David Naylor of Medicine; and Barbara Sherwood Lollar of Geology.

Research ranging from how theatre education helps city kids to why some bacteria cause disease got a boost in November with the federal government announcement of 15 new Canada Research Chairs for U of T professors, totalling $12.9 million. The new Tier I Chairs ($200,000 annually for seven years) are: Liliana Attisano (Signalling Networks in Cancer); Joseph Culotti (Molecular Neurogenetics); John Floras (Integrative Cardiovascular Biology); Cheryl Grady (Neurocognitive Aging); Tania Li (Political Economy and Culture in Asia-Pacific); and Akira Miyake (Human Memory and Attention). The new Tier II Chairs ($100,000 annually for five years) are: Aneil Agrawal (Genetics of Evolutionary Interactions); Denise Belsham (Neuroendocrinology); Kathleen Gallagher (Urban School Research in Pedagogy and Policy); David Guttman (Comparative Genomics); Joel Levine (Neurogenetics); Alberto Martin (Antibody Diversification); Lisa Robinson (Leukocyte Migration in Inflammation and Injury); Daniel Sellen (Human Ecology and Public Health Nutrition); and Sharon Straus (Knowledge Translation).

The John Charles Polanyi Prize has been awarded to Andrea Most, for her work on Jewish identity and American culture, and Anthony Gramolini, for his contribution to understanding the molecular deficiencies that contribute to muscle diseases. The award is named for U of T professor John Polanyi, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and is given in the same fields as the Nobel Prizes.

ON THE COVER: Doris McCarthy's Tip of the Iceberg. Considered one of Canada's greatest painters, McCarthy studied with Group of Seven member Arthur Lismer. A former high school art teacher, McCarthy earned a BA from U of T in 1989 at age 79. The Doris McCarthy Gallery at the University of Toronto at Scarborough features a permanent collection of the artist's work.

University of Toronto Office of the Vice-President, Research and Associate Provost