Director’s Message

by Dr. Mingyao Liu

Spring is a season of change, a time of growth, and new beginnings. This season coincides nicely with the theme of the Spring 2023 issue of IMS Magazine which shines the spotlight on Children’s Health. At the University of Toronto, we are fortunate to have one of the world’s best children’s hospitals on our doorstep. Many IMS faculty and students are conducting ground-breaking research at the Hospital for Sick Children to address some of the most important issues affecting children and youth today. 

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

This issue features several IMS faculty from SickKids who are dedicated to improving the health of children both within Canada and abroad. Dr. Helen Dimaras is taking a global health approach to remove barriers to diagnosing retinoblastoma using genetic testing. Dr. Cathy Barr is furthering our understanding of the role genetics plays in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Dr. Uri Tabori is finding new ways to diagnose and treat brain tumours with novel and non-invasive methods. Dr. Brain Ballios is exploring how stem cell transplantation could be used to treat vision loss in children with inherited retinal diseases. 

In this issue, we also hear from two student leaders in the IMS. Nairy Khodabakhshian is a PhD Candidate and the leader of the Peer-2-Peer Mentorship program at the IMS. Nairy is also assisting with the development of a new modular course which uses virtual reality to teach clinical research skills to new graduate students in the IMS. In the Diversity in Science section, PhD student Ali Golbabaei, the President of the IMS International Community, discusses some of the barriers affecting the international graduate student experience.  

This issue also covers the 12th annual Ori Rotstein lecture in translational research which took place on November 2nd 2022. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Yasmine Hurd, an internationally renowned neuroscientist who discussed the neurobiology of opioid addiction. This is a very important and timely topic given the rise in opiod-related deaths in recent years. Also in this issue, Dr. Michael Chaiton discusses the impact of public health policies on youth vaping and mental health and how we can leverage technology to better support the younger generation. 

On behalf of the entire IMS community, I extend my sincere congratulations to the new faculty joining the IMS, members who have recently been promoted, and our recent graduates. I would also like to thank the Editors-in-Chief, Jason and Stacey, along with the editors, journalists, photographers, and design team producing another great issue of IMS Magazine. I hope you enjoy reading about how the IMS is contributing to incredible discoveries in children’s health. 


Dr. Mingyao Liu

Director, Institute of Medical Science