Canada’s Contribution

“There are few areas of health research that are as exciting and that hold as much potential for human health and treating disease as stem cells. Canadians have been at the very forefront of stem cell research from its early beginnings to the present day.”
Dr. Alan Bernstein, President, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Founding President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Chair of the Board of Directors, Canadian Stem Cell Foundation

This video looks back at the legacy of stem cell discoverers Till and McCulloch, and forward to a future transformed by stem cell science.

Canadian Stem Cell History

The history of stem cell science in Canada is really the story of stem cell science itself. Here are the highlights:

1961

Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch stun the scientific world when they discover transplantable stem cells at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. Stem cell science in Canada, and around the world, is born.

James Till, OC, O. Ont, FRSC, is a University of Toronto biophysicist and stem cell pioneer. Ernest McCulloch, OC, O. Ont, FRSC, was a University of Toronto cellular biologist and stem cell pioneer. He died in 2011.

1992

Dr. Sam Weiss discovers human neural stem cells.

Dr. Sam Weiss is director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary.

1993

Dr. Janet Rossant and Dr. Andras Nagy prove the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells.

Dr. Janet Rossant is Chief of Research at Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Andras Nagy is Senior Scientist at Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital.

1994

Dr. John Dick isolates cancer stem cells.

Dr. John Dick is Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute, University Health Network.

1999

Dr. Ray Rajotte and Dr. James Shapiro establish the Edmonton Protocol for Diabetes.

Dr. Ray Rajotte and Dr. James Shapiro are part of the internationally renowned Islet Transplantation Group at the University of Alberta.

2000

Dr. Derek van der Kooy discovers retinal stem cells.

Dr. Derek van der Kooy is a Professor at the University of Toronto.

2001

Dr. Freda Miller identifies skin-derived stem cells.

Dr. Freda Miller is Senior Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children.

2002

Dr. Guy Sauvageau and Dr. Keith Humphries advance blood stem cell expansion.

Dr. Guy Sauvageau is Scientific Director, Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, University of Montreal. Dr. Keith Humphries is Distinguished Scientist, BC Cancer Agency Professor at the University of British Columbia.

2003

Dr. Peter Dirks isolates cancer stem cells in human brain tumours.

Dr. Peter Dirks is a Neurosurgeon and Senior Scientist at Hospital for Sick Children.

Dr. Michael Rudnicki advances muscle stem cell regeneration.

Dr. Michael Rudnicki is Director, Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

2004

Dr. Derek van der Kooy discovers pancreatic precursor cells.

Dr. Derek van der Kooy is a Professor at the University of Toronto.

Dr. John Dick presents a breakthrough cancer stem-cell hypothesis on leukemia, identifying a “pecking order” among different cancer cells in which the abnormal stem cell forms and feeds the cancer.

Dr. John Dick is Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute, University Health Network.

2006

Dr. Connie Eaves discovers breast stem cells.

Dr. Connie Eaves is Director of the Terry Fox Laboratory at BC Cancer Agency.

2007

Dr. John Dick identifies human colon cancer stem cells.

Dr. John Dick is Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute, University Health Network.

2009

Dr. Andras Nagy achieves virus-free induction of induced pluripotent stem cells.

Dr. Andras Nagy is Senior Scientist at Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital.

2010

Dr. Mick Bhatia converts human skin cells to multi-lineage blood progenitors.

Dr. Mick Bhatia is Director of the McMaster Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Research Institute, McMaster University.

2011

Dr. Derek van der Kooy demonstrates that the pancreas contains insulin-expressing stem cells.

Dr. Derek van der Kooy is a Professor at the University of Toronto.

2013

Dr. John Dick finds a way to disarm a gene called BMI-1 that regulates colorectal cancer stem cells.

Dr. John Dick is Senior Scietnist, Ontario Cancer Institute, University Health Network.

The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation works to keep Canada at the forefront of discoveries that will help stem cells renew humanity. We’ll keep doing all we can to maximize the potential of stem cell science and establish a Canadian stem cell strategy.