Director’s Message

by Dr. Mingyao Liu

It is over a year into the pandemic and we have arrived at yet another IMS Scientific Day where we cannot meet in person! However, I am extremely grateful for the ingenuity of the IMS team members who have worked diligently behind the scenes to create an engaging and fun virtual experience for us all this year. I hope you enjoy the opportunity to celebrate the work of our IMS members online and congratulate yourselves for your efforts in this difficult time.

I am immensely proud of the way the IMS community adapted to the pandemic and continued to produce excellent research despite the challenges covid-19 posed. So many IMS members have also worked as clinicians on the frontline or pivoted their research to help better understand this disease and find ways to combat it.

This issue features researchers from a variety of disciplines who have applied their expertise to covid-19. Sunnybrook respirologist Dr. Andrea Gershon and her team have modified a smartphone app to help track covid-19 patients’ symptoms as they isolate at home. Psychiatry professor Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam’s group quickly realized that virtual mental health services would be vital for patients in lockdown; they’re evaluating which programs are most accessible and effective. Dr. Haibo Zhang is a professor in the departments of Anesthesia, Medicine and Physiology and is part of a team conducting preclinical and clinical trials investigating the use of his soluble form of ACE2 as a novel treatment for covid-19. Dr. Sharmistha Mishra is leveraging her expertise as a scientist at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions (Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute) to model how the virus is transmitted and treated in different communities across Canada, and how public health policies can be tailored for greater efficacy.

This issue also includes interviews with outstanding IMS faculty members and alumni. You can read about the world-class research on spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine conducted by neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Fehlings and his team on page 32. Then follow the journey of IMS Alumnus Dr. Stephen Wright as he builds his research program on heart function (page 34). Finally, you can find a thoughtful and thought-provoking interview with Dr. Chase McMurren (Department of Family and Community Medicine) on the importance of compassion and accountability in efforts to improve Indigenous representation in science and medicine (page 36).

I also want to congratulate the faculty who have been promoted to associate and full members as well as the new faculty of the IMS. In-person meetings are still some months away, but you can “meet” them on pages 30-31. Learn more about them and their inspiring research! I am proud to welcome you to the IMS and I am looking forward to your continued excellence as graduate faculty members!

As usual, I would like to thank IMS Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Natalie, and all the editors, journalists, photographers, social media team, and design team for their excellent production of this issue. I greatly appreciate the time they dedicated to the magazine during the pandemic. I am continually inspired by the work of my fellow IMS members detailed in these pages, and I hope you are too!


Dr. Mingyao Liu