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May 19, 2010 (Toronto, ON) Dr. Frederick Roth, an acclaimed computational and cellular biologist from the esteemed Harvard Medical School, was selected as an inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC), and will join the Lunenfeld in 2011 as a Senior Investigator, in addition to a joint affiliation he will share at the University of Toronto’s Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (CCBR).
Dr. Roth’s role as a CERC is part of a new program initiated by the Federal Government, to attract the world’s most renowned researchers to universities and institutes across Canada. At an event held at the University of Toronto On May 17, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, announced the 19 inaugural recipients of the prestigious Research Chairs, including Dr. Roth.
“The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting leading-edge research and world-class researchers,” said Minister Clement. “The CERC program confirms Canada’s standing as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. This program supports our government’s commitment to ensuring Canada’s future economic growth by investing in innovation and research capacity in priority areas.”
For each Chair, the host research institutions will receive up to $10 million over seven years to support chairholders and their teams in undertaking ambitious research programs.
Dr. Roth was named the program’s Chair in Integrative Biology, while Dr. Oliver Ernst (who joins the University of Toronto from from Charité, a medical institute set up jointly by the Free University of Berlin and Humboldt University) was named Chair in Structural Neurobiology.
Building on his work in experimental and computational genomics at Harvard University, Dr. Roth will work with Lunenfeld researchers in the Systems Biology group to develop new technologies for discovering gene functions, the pathways they encode, and how these genes and pathways are related to human diseases. Dr. Roth is harnessing DNA sequencing technology to systematically map the effects of multiple genetic changes, and measure interactions between proteins.
His research has already led to the development of a computational approach for prioritizing candidate disease genes so that researchers can focus efforts on the genes most likely to impact human health.
Dr. Roth will bring this computational expertise to the CCBR and the Lunenfeld, to reveal more about the causes of diseases such as cancer. His work will also contribute significantly to the discovery and development of new drugs to treat complex diseases, through collaborations with the Lunenfeld’s many world-renowned researchers.
“I am honoured to be coming to Canada and excited to join the University of Toronto and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute as a CERC,” said Dr. Roth. “Science [in Toronto] is absolutely world-class, and especially so in the application of large-scale experimentation to understand the biology of cells and complex diseases. I very much look forward to advancing my group’s research in Toronto.”
The CERC program was announced in the 2008 federal budget, as part of the government’s science and technology strategy to help build expertise in strategic areas. Research conducted by the chairholders will focus on the areas of environmental sciences and technologies, natural resources and energy, health and related life sciences and technologies, and information and communications technologies.
The CERC program is administered jointly by Canada’s three research granting agencies: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
For more information about the CERC program, click here.

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