The work: Dr. Rossant is a world leader in developmental and stem cell biology. Dr. Rossant has provided significant insights into how an embryo develops, how genes control development and how pluripotent and other stem cells are established. Her research interests focus on understanding the genetic control of normal and abnormal development in the mouse embryo and its impact on human development and disease.
The impact: By understanding the underpinning of early development in the mouse embryo, she has contributed to the understanding of human embryo development and stem cell origins. Her interests in the early embryo led to the discovery in 1998 of a novel placental stem cell type, the trophoblast stem cell. This work has highlighted how congenital anomalies in the heart, blood vessels and placenta can arise. Further, her research on the genes controlling blood vessel development has defined novel pathways for new drug interventions in cancer. Throughout her career, Dr. Rossant has been a pioneer and innovator of new techniques to manipulate the mouse genome, enabling the mouse to become the pre-eminent model for understanding the function of the human genome sequence.
Dr. Janet Rossant, SickKids Chief of Research and a world-renowned expert in developmental biology, is the definition of a trailblazer. Widely known for her studies of the genes that control embryonic development in the mouse, Rossant has pioneered techniques for following cell fate and altering genes in embryos. This work continues to resonate in medical genetic research. Her current research focuses on stem cell development and cell differentiation in the developing embryo, important areas for the study of birth defects as well as regenerative medicine. Firmly planted on the front lines of technological change, Rossant has established SickKids as a global forerunner in genetic research.
Dr. Rossant trained at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, United Kingdom and has been in Canada since 1977, first at Brock University and then at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute within Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, from 1985 to 2005. She joined SickKids in 2005. Dr. Rossant has been recognized for her contributions to science with many awards, including the Ross G. Harrison Medal (lifetime achievement award) from the International Society of Developmental Biologists, the Killam Prize for Health Sciences, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, the Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology, and the CIHR Michael Smith Prize in Health Research. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Societies of London and Canada, and is a foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Science. Rossant was most recently recognized in October 2014 with the 10th ISTT Prize, from the International Society for Transgenic Technologies in Edinburgh, Scotland.