Janet Rossant will be awarded the 10th ISTT Prize at the TT2014 meeting in Edinburgh

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Janet Rossant (Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada) will be awarded the 10th ISTT Prize at the TT2014 meeting in Edinburgh (picture kindly provided by JR)

Janet Rossant (Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada) will be awarded the 10th ISTT Prize at the TT2014 meeting in Edinburgh (picture kindly provided by JR)

The International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT) is pleased to award the 10th ISTT Prize to Professor Janet Rossant, Senior Scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Program, Chief of Research at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; University Professor at the University of Toronto; Deputy Scientific Director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network; and Professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics, Obstetrics / Gynaecology and Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. The ISTT Prize is given to an investigator who has made outstanding contributions to the field of transgenic technologies. As a world leader in developmental biology, and someone who has made seminal contributions to our field, Professor Janet Rossant will receive the award at the next Transgenic Technology meeting (TT2014), which will be held in Edinburgh (Scotland, UK) on October 6-8, 2014.

In awarding this prize to Dr. Rossant, the ISTT Prize committee acknowledges her many fundamental contributions to the science and technology of manipulating early pre-implantation mouse embryos and their instrumental role in our current understanding of mouse genetics and developmental biology. Her work on embryonic stem cell biology, blastocyst-derived cell lineages, and the mechanisms of cell-fate decisions in the early mouse embryo have been fundamental in deciphering how embryo-derived stem cells can be maintained and differentiated. Furthermore, her personal contributions in all of these areas have facilitated the development of the mouse transgenesis tools and methods used daily by many ISTT members.

Along with her active participation in many other related scientific and educational events, the ISTT Prize committee wishes to highlight Dr. Rossant’s most generous dedication to the dissemination of mouse transgenesis techniques among young scientists and technologists, through her pivotal role in the organization of the Great Lakes Mammalian Developmental Biology Meeting series in Toronto for more than thirty-five years, and her participation in the two classical CSHLP videos on techniques of mouse transgenesis (1989) and ES cells (1993), still regularly used today, and available as digital videos from the ISTT web site for its members.

Dr. Rossant was among the few pioneers who established, mastered and disseminated the technique of introducing targeted mutations into genes using mouse ES cells, leading to the generation of knockout mice and using them both to understand fundamental developmental processes and as animal models of human disease. Dr. Rossant’s interest in following the progression of mouse development from embryo to adulthood has led her to study stem cells from which individual tissues are derived during development. Her current research interests are focused on understanding the genetic control of normal and abnormal development in the early mouse embryo using both cellular and genetic manipulation techniques. Her interests in the early embryo have increased our understanding of the trophectoderm, and the discovery of a novel placental stem cell type, the trophoblast stem cell. Her current goal is to understand the genetic and cellular networks involved in blastocyst formation. By understanding how normal mammalian development occurs, she aims to understand how to regulate pluripotency using human ES or iPS cells in future therapeutical applications.

Dr. Rossant was born in Chatham (UK) in 1950. She obtained her B.A. and M.A. in Zoology at the University of Oxford, UK, in 1972, followed by her PhD in Developmental Biology in 1976 at the University of Cambridge, UK, working in Richard Gardner’s laboratory. While she was an undergraduate student in Oxford she attended a few courses taught by John Gurdon and became fascinated by developmental biology. Since 1977 she has been working in Canada, first at Brock University in St Catharines as an Assistant Professor and later as Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, where she was appointed Professor in 2001. Since 1985 she has been working in Toronto, first at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, until 2005, and then at the Hospital for Sick Children, where she now leads her research group.

In addition to being awarded the 10th ISTT Prize for Transgenic Technologies at the TT2014 meeting by the International Society for Transgenic Technologies, Dr. Rossant has been recognized for her contributions to science with many other awards, including the Killam Prize for Health Sciences, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, the Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology, the CIHR Michael Smith Prize in Health Research (Canada’s most prestigious health research award), the Excellence in Science Award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the National Cancer Institute of Canada /Eli Lilly Robert L. Noble Prize for excellence in cancer research, and the McLaughlin Medal from the Royal Society of Canada. She has twice been named a Howard Hughes International Scholar, and is a recipient of the Ross G. Harrison Medal (lifetime achievement award) from the International Society of Developmental Biologists. She is a Fellow of the Royal Societies of both London and Canada, and is a foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Science.

Her highly prolific career includes over 340 publications, including some milestone achievements in the fields of early mouse embryogenesis and stem cell biology.

Her first few papers, dating from 1975, already addressed what would be a recurrent research topic in her career, namely, investigating the cell-fate determination of the inner cell mass of mouse blastocysts, from which embryonic stem cells are derived. She worked with Andrzej K. Tarkowski, the pioneer in producing mouse chimeras, and published with him a 1976 Nature paper on the development of haploid mouse blastocysts from bisected zygotes. She worked in 1979 with Richard Gardner, another pioneering researcher in pre-implantation embryos, investigating the cell fate of inner cell mass cells. Her studies resulted in the completely normal development of interspecific chimeras in mammals in 1980, using two species of mice. Since the early 1980s she showed an interest in the trophectoderm cell lineage and its relevance in mammalian pre-implantation embryos and in the generation of the placenta and other extra-embryonic cell lineages. Since then she has collaborated with many other key scientists in the fields of mouse transgenesis, mouse embryogenesis and stem cells, including V. Papaioannou, R. Balling, A. McLaren, A. Bernstein, A. Nagy, A. Joyner, W. Skarnes, A. Gossler, KS. Zaret, TW. Mak, A. Pawson, A. McMahon, R. Jaenisch, EM. DeRobertis, P. Soriano, D. Melton, R. Kemler, P. Avner, S. Yamanaka and Q. Zhou, among many others, and has contributed extensively in the areas of mammalian vascular development, trophoblast-derived cell lineages, and early mouse embryogenesis, as well as in the development of large-scale collaborations such as the International Gene Trap Consortium, The International Knockout Mouse Consortium, and the International Stem Cell Initiative, for establishing benchmarks for human stem cell research. Dr. Janet Rossant is also the current President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR).

Dr. Rossant joins the list of previously awarded scientists with the ISTT Prize, consisting of (in descending chronological order): Allan Bradley (2013), Ralph L. Brinster (2011), A. Francis Stewart (2010), Brigid Hogan (2008), Charles Babinet (2007), Andras Nagy (2005), Qi Zhou (2004), Kenneth J. McCreath (2002), Teruhiko Wakayama (2001). All ISTT Prize winners are given Honorary Membership in the ISTT and a unique sculpture representing a silver mouse blastocyst created by the Hungarian artist Mr. Béla Rozsnyay.

The ISTT Prize Committee includes the ISTT President and Vice-President, the CEO of genOway (the company generously sponsoring the award), and previous ISTT Prize awardees.

Selected references from Janet Rossant’s lifetime achievements:

Download the 10th ISTT Prize press release to be awarded to Janet Rossant

Additional sources of information for Janet Rossant’s biography:

 

 

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