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.
- Rossant J (2013) Making a knockout mouse: From stem cells to embryos. Nat Cell Biol. 15(10):1133.
- Wong AP, Bear CE, Chin S, Pasceri P, Thompson TO, Huan LJ, Ratjen F, Ellis J, Rossant J (2012) Directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into mature airway epithelia expressing functional CFTR protein. Nat Biotechnol. 30(9):876-82.
- Rossant J (2011) The impact of developmental biology on pluripotent stem cell research: successes and challenges. Dev Cell. 21(1):20-3.
- Rossant J, Nutter LM, Gertsenstein M (2011) Engineering the embryo. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108(19):7659-60.
- Lanner F, Rossant J (2010) The role of FGF/Erk signaling in pluripotent cells. Development 137(20):3351-60.
- Cockburn K, Rossant J (2010) Making the blastocyst: lessons from the mouse. J Clin Invest. 120(4):995-1003.
- Ralston A, Rossant J (2010) The genetics of induced pluripotency. Reproduction 139(1):35-44.
- Rossant J (2009) Reprogramming to pluripotency: from frogs to stem cells. Cell 138(6):1047-50.
- Rossant J (2008) Stem cells and early lineage development. Cell 132(4):527-31.
- Rossant J (2007) Stem cells and lineage development in the mammalian blastocyst. Reprod Fertil Dev. 19(1):111-8.
- Rossant J (2006) Derivation of Trophoblast Stem (TS) Cell Lines from Blastocysts. CSH Protoc 2006(2).
- Rossant J (2006) Culturing Trophoblast Stem (TS) Cell Lines. CSH Protoc. 2006(2).
- Coultas L, Chawengsaksophak K, Rossant J (2005) Endothelial cells and VEGF in vascular development. Nature. 438(7070):937-45.
- Niwa H, Toyooka Y, Shimosato D, Strumpf D, Takahashi K, Yagi R, Rossant J (2005) Interaction between Oct3/4 and Cdx2 determines trophectoderm differentiation. Cell. 123(5):917-29.
- Skarnes WC, von Melchner H, Wurst W, Hicks G, Nord AS, Cox T, Young SG, Ruiz P, Soriano P, Tessier-Lavigne M, Conklin BR, Stanford WL, Rossant J; International Gene Trap Consortium (2004) A public gene trap resource for mouse functional genomics. Nat Genet. 36(6):543-4.
- Rossant J (2003) Targeting mammalian genes–rats join in and mice move ahead. Nat Biotechnol. 21(6):625-7.
- Brivanlou AH, Gage FH, Jaenisch R, Jessell T, Melton D, Rossant J (2003) Stem cells. Setting standards for human embryonic stem cells. Science 300(5621):913-6.
- Kunath T, Gish G, Lickert H, Jones N, Pawson T, Rossant J (2003) Transgenic RNA interference in ES cell-derived embryos recapitulates a genetic null phenotype. Nat Biotechnol 21(5):559-61.
- Rossant J (2001) Stem cells from the Mammalian blastocyst. Stem Cells 19(6):477-82.
- Rossant J, McKerlie C (2001) Mouse-based phenogenomics for modelling human disease. Trends Mol Med. 7(11):502-7.
- Rossant J, Cross JC (2001) Placental development: lessons from mouse mutants. Nat Rev Genet. 2(7):538-48.
- Nagy A, Rossant J (2001) Chimaeras and mosaics for dissecting complex mutant phenotypes. Int J Dev Biol. 45(3):577-82.
- Rossant J, McMahon A (1999) Cre”-ating mouse mutants-a meeting review on conditional mouse genetics. Genes Dev 13(2):142-5.
- Tanaka S, Kunath T, Hadjantonakis AK, Nagy A, Rossant J (1998) Promotion of trophoblast stem cell proliferation by FGF4. Science 282(5396):2072-5.
- Rossant J, Spence A (1998) Chimeras and mosaics in mouse mutant analysis. Trends Genet 14(9):358-63.
- Shalaby F, Ho J, Stanford WL, Fischer KD, Schuh AC, Schwartz L, Bernstein A, Rossant J (1997) A requirement for Flk1 in primitive and definitive hematopoiesis and vasculogenesis. Cell 89(6):981-90.
- Ang SL, Jin O, Rhinn M, Daigle N, Stevenson L, Rossant J (1996) A targeted mouse Otx2 mutation leads to severe defects in gastrulation and formation of axial mesoderm and to deletion of rostral brain. Development 122(1):243-52.
- Rossant J, Nagy A (1995) Genome engineering: the new mouse genetics. Nat Med. 1(6):592-4.
- Conlon RA, Reaume AG, Rossant J (1995) Notch1 is required for the coordinate segmentation of somites. Development 121(5):1533-45.
- Reaume AG, de Sousa PA, Kulkarni S, Langille BL, Zhu D, Davies TC, Juneja SC, Kidder GM, Rossant J (1995) Cardiac malformation in neonatal mice lacking connexin43. Science 267(5205):1831-4.
- Ang SL, Rossant J (1994) HNF-3 beta is essential for node and notochord formation in mouse development. Cell 78(4):561-74.
- Rossant J. (1991) Gene disruption in mammals. Curr Opin Genet Dev 1(2):236-40.
- Joyner AL, Herrup K, Auerbach BA, Davis CA, Rossant J (1991) Subtle cerebellar phenotype in mice homozygous for a targeted deletion of the En-2 homeobox. Science 251(4998):1239-43.
- Nagy A, Gócza E, Diaz EM, Prideaux VR, Iványi E, Markkula M, Rossant J (1990) Embryonic stem cells alone are able to support fetal development in the mouse. Development 110(3):815-21.
- Rossant J (1990) Manipulating the mouse genome: implications for neurobiology. Neuron 4(3):323-34.
- Rossant J, Joyner AL (1989) Towards a molecular-genetic analysis of mammalian development. Trends Genet 5(8):277-83.
- Rossant J (1989) Transgenic animals: techniques. Genome 31(2):1112-3.
- Varmuza S, Prideaux V, Kothary R, Rossant J (1988) Polytene chromosomes in mouse trophoblast giant cells. Development 102(1):127-34.
- Rossant J (1987) Cell lineage analysis in mammalian embryogenesis. Curr Top Dev Biol. 23:115-46.
- Rossant J, Vijh KM, Grossi CE, Cooper MD (1986) Clonal origin of haematopoietic colonies in the postnatal mouse liver. Nature 319(6053):507-11.
- Rossant J, Croy BA (1985) Genetic identification of tissue of origin of cellular populations within the mouse placenta. J Embryol Exp Morphol. 86:177-89.
- Rossant J, Papaioannou VE (1985) Outgrowth of embryonal carcinoma cells from injected blastocysts in vitro correlates with abnormal chimera development in vivo. Exp Cell Res. 156(1):213-20.
- Chapman V, Forrester L, Sanford J, Hastie N, Rossant J (1984) Cell lineage-specific undermethylation of mouse repetitive DNA. Nature 307(5948):284-6.
- Rossant J, Frels WI (1980) Interspecific chimeras in mammals: successful production of live chimeras between Mus musculus and Mus caroli. Science 208(4442):419-21.
- Tarkowski AK, Rossant J (1976) Haploid mouse blastocysts developed from bisected zygotes. Nature 259(5545):663-5.
- Rossant J. (1975) Investigation of the determinative state of the mouse inner cell mass. II. The fate of isolated inner cell masses transferred to the oviduct. J Embryol Exp Morphol. 33(4):991-1001.
- Rossant J. (1975) Investigation of the determinative state of the mouse inner cell mass. I. Aggregation of isolated inner cell masses with morulae. J Embryol Exp Morphol. 33(4):979-90.
Additional sources of information for Janet Rossant’s biography:
- Janet Rossant’s lab at SickKids
- Janet Rossant’s profile at SickKids
- Janet Rossant’s profile at Science.CA
- Janet Rossant’s profile at the Banting Research Foundation
- Janet Rossant’s profile. Interview by Kristie Nybo (Biotechniques 2012, Sep; 53(3):129)