Director’s Message

by Dr. Mingyao Liu

Dr. Mingyao Liu
Director, Institute of Medical Science
Professor, Department of Surgery
Senior Scientist, Toronto General
Hospital Research Institute,
University Health Network

Photo Credit: Mikaeel Valli

The start of a new year is a chance to reflect on where we have been and look forward to what lies ahead. This past year we were once again able to gather with our colleagues and celebrate our achievements after a long hiatus. We were reminded of the importance of human connection and the power it has to uplift our spirits. I am looking forward to the many events to come in 2023 and the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our IMS community. 

The Winter 2023 issue of IMS Magazine focuses on the brain and spinal cord, highlighting the breadth of research being conducted in the IMS and the many advances in our understanding of the central nervous system. This issue features faculty who are working hard to effectively translate research into clinical practice and improve the lives of patients living with neurological disorders. Dr. Arlene Astell’s lab is making technology accessible to individuals living with dementia and witnessing the impact this has on the patient’s quality of life. The work of Dr. Corrine Fischer and Dr. James Kennedy recognizes the diverse ways neuropsychiatric diseases can present and the need for a personalized approach to diagnosing and treating these conditions. A feature article on Dr. Charles Tator discusses the need for a better diagnostic tool for concussions. Dr. Cecil Hahn’s work is enabling intensive care unit (ICU) workers to recognize and quickly treat non-convulsive seizures in newborns. 

Two fields you may not expect to see covered in IMS Magazine are law and economics, but in this issue, we showcase how embracing new opportunities can lead our students and alumni to unique places. Dr. Gabriella Chan, a lawyer and IMS alumnus, shares how critical it is for scientists to understand intellectual property. This is particularly relevant given the innovative discoveries made by IMS researchers. Master’s student Donna Yang is travelling to Rwanda next year to study economic justice with the University of Toronto’s Reach Alliance and IMS Magazine Co-Editor in Chief, Jason Lo Hog Tian. We wish them best of luck on this adventure and look forward to hearing about their experience when they return. 

This past year, we celebrated the accomplishments of students in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at the annual SURP Research Day. You can find a recap of the day in this issue and hear from the Jasmine Quigley Memorial Award winners, Wenzhu Ye and Cherrie Zhu. Applications for the 2023 SURP program are open and I am already looking forward to seeing what the students accomplish at the 2023 SURP Research Day. 

I would like to thank the Editors-in-Chief, Jason and Stacey, along with the editors, journalists, photographers, and design team for putting together another great issue of IMS Magazine. I hope you will find enough inspiration in this issue to make it through yet another Canadian winter. 


Dr. Mingyao Liu

Director, Institute of Medical Sciences