This week's Vitals: Scientist at leading edge of developmental and stem cell biology visiting UAlberta

Get to know Friesen International Prize in Health Research recipient Janet Rossant ahead of her visit May 18 and 19.

Shelby Soke - 16 May 2017

Be ready for fascinating discussions about the ethics of genome editing and stem cell research when internationally renowned scientist Janet Rossant, recipient of the Friesen International Prize in Health Research, visits the University of Alberta May 18 and 19. Rossant is a developmental biologist whose knowledge and perspective has shaped embryonic stem cell research around the world.

Here are three quick facts to help you learn a little bit more about Rossant before her visit:

1. She crossed the pond

Although Rossant spent a large part of her career in Canada, she was born and raised in the United Kingdom. She received a BA from Oxford University and PhD from Cambridge University. She has been in Canada since 1977, first at Brock University and then at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, from 1985 to 2005.

Rossant is now senior scientist and SickKids Chief of Research Emeritus and the president and scientific director of the Gairdner Foundation.

2. She led the stem cell debate

Rossant works at the forefront in her field and is a leader in the stem cell debate. Her interests in the early embryo have led to the discovery of a novel placental stem cell type, the trophoblast stem cell.

Her wealth of knowledge and perspective in stem cell biology informed the scientific and ethical debate surrounding cloning and human embryonic stem cell research in Canada and the US.

Rossant's expertise resulted in her chairing the working group of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on Stem Cell Research, which came up with guidelines for CIHR funded research for human embryonic stem cell research in Canada.

3, Her work is well recognized

Rossant's list of awards and accolades is as long as it is impressive. In 2015 she was the first female to receive the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award. She has received four honorary degrees. To name a few more distinctions, Rossant received the 10th ISTT Prize, from the International Society for Transgenic Technologies, 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, Canada's most prestigious health research award.

Janet Rossant will be visiting the University of Alberta and presenting at two events:

Scientific, Legal, and Ethical Challenges around Human Embryology

Distinguished Visitor Forum: Roundtable Discussion

Thursday, May 18, 2017
3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
ECHA 2-490

Stem Cell and Genome Editing: Ethical Challenges in Human Health

Friesen International Prize Lecture at Medicine Grand Rounds

Friday, May 19, 2017
8 - 9:15 a.m.
Bernard Snell Hall

These events are open to all U of A faculty, staff, students and residents.

More information can be found here.