News & Events

The Biochemistry Department enjoying the great outdoors at Geneva Park

2016 Biochemistry Retreat at Geneva Park

27 August 2016|

On August 25th and 26th, the Biochemistry Department held its first Retreat outside of Toronto at the Geneva Park Conference Centre near Orillia.

The turnout was terrific with 140 trainees, staff and Faculty gathering for two days to celebrate the science that we do and to enjoy each other’s company in a beautiful lakeside setting. The Retreat featured cutting-edge talks by trainees and Faculty members as well as an evening poster session […]

Twenty-three trainees, staff and faculty enjoyed a terrific day of golf at our 2016 Biochemustrry Golf Day

2016 Biochemistry Golf Day

9 August 2016|

August 9th dawned hot and steamy but that didn’t deter our hardy biochemists from heading out to Flemingdon Park 9-hole Golf Course in Midtown Toronto for our annual Golf Day. Each team had its share of beginners and ringers playing a “best ball” format that allowed everyone to contribute to their team. Despite the 32 degree heat and sticky humidity the competition was fierce with the Dead Ringers pulling out […]

An image of models for two conformations of the AAA+ chaperone VAT, built into cryo-EM density maps.

Protein unfolding machinery visualized

9 August 2016|

Using a combined cryo-EM and solution NMR approach the laboratories of John Rubinstein and Lewis Kay have determined the structure and equilibrium distribution of two unique conformers along the ATP hydrolysis cycle of the AAA+ unfoldase VAT. The paper published in PNAS ( lends insight into how this class of molecular machines are able to convert the chemical energy of ATP hydrolysis into the mechanical force required […]

An image of Gordon Dixon.

Passing of Gordon Henry Dixon

9 August 2016|

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Gordon Dixon on July 24, 2016. Gordon, a very accomplished biochemist, was Associate Professor in our Department for the period 1960-63.  Gordon was most recently  Professor Emeritus of Medical Biochemistry at the University of Calgary. He served as Department Chair there for 1983-88.

“During his illustrious academic career, he was the recipient of numerous accolades and international recognition. He served as President of […]

An image of word cloud of keywords in Dr. Fairn's publications. Since 2005, he has authored 35 publications including 32 focused on lipids and/or membrane biology.

Dr. Greg Fairn wins the 2017 Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award!

9 August 2016|

Dr. Greg Fairn, St. Micahel’s Hospital and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Surgery, has won the 2017 Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Fairn is also the first Canadian to win this award.

The award recognizes outstanding research contributions in the area of lipids by young investigators who are an Assistant professor or […]

An image of an atomic model of a ubiquitinated and dimethylated histone core particle with bound 53BP1 built into a cryo-EM density map.

Seeing the first steps of DNA repair

2 August 2016|

The laboratories of John Rubinstein and Frank Sicheri (Biochemistry), and Dan Durocher (Molecular Genetics) have used electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) to determine the structure of the DNA-damage recognizing protein 53BP1 bound to modified nucleosome core particles. The work, published in Nature (, was led by postdoctoral fellow Marcus Wilson and research associate Samir Benlekbir and provides the first structural insight into how dimethylation and ubiquitination of nucleosomes in […]

The annual poster session of the Biochemistry Summer Student Research Program.

Undergraduate Summer Students Share their Research

22 July 2016|

Each summer, the competitive Biochemistry Summer Student Research Program provides outstanding students with the unique opportunity to engage in research throughout the department. On Thursday July 21, 2016 students were able to share their findings in an annual poster session, outlining the goals of their project and describing their results.

An image of malignant lymphocytes from a patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Image: Dr. Sina Oppermann.

Andrews’ lab identifies potential new drug combinations for chronic lymphocytic leukemia

8 July 2016|

In a paper recently published in the journal Blood, Dr. David Andrews’ group used high-content screening to test 320 kinase inhibitors and identify ones that, when given in combination with venetoclax, can overcome resistance to the drug. Venetoclax inhibits the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and received breakthrough status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year. It is available in the U.S. to treat patients with chronic lymphocytic […]

An image of bacterial chaperone.The molecular chaperone RavA forms amyloids at low pH and elevated temperatures.

When molecular chaperones misbehave

5 July 2016|

Walid Houry’s group together with Simon Sharpe’s group and others at the University of Toronto unexpectedly discovered that a bacterial chaperone forms amyloids under physiologically-relevant acidic conditions at elevated temperatures. The work has been accepted in Structure. Experimental and theoretical studies revealed that the folded core of one of the domains of the chaperones is amyloidogenic and is protected by its N-terminal loop. While molecular chaperones are […]

An image of Alex Ensminger (left) and Trevor Moraes (right) at the 66th annual CSM.

The 66th Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists – a huge success!

27 June 2016|

On June 12-15, the 66th annual Canadian Society of Microbiologists led by co-chairs Trevor Moraes and Alex Ensminger was held at the University of Toronto hosted for the first time in over 30 years. CSM2016 was a resounding success with over 525 registrants the most ever recorded at a CSM conference. The conference was held on campus with >45 talks in MSB and >300 posters in Hart […]


The 66th Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists

11 June 2016|

The local organizing committee (LOC) cordially invites you to the University of Toronto for the 66th Annual Conference of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists, to be held between Sunday June 12th and Wednesday June 15th. The LOC has identified symposia topics that will be of interest to CSM members within the three central themes of the CSM. The conference will start on Sunday with an education and career development workshops. […]

An image of overview of strategy for screening for novel mtDNA repair and replication factors.

Kelley lab screened for new pathways involved in the maintenance of mitochondrial DNA

6 June 2016|

In a paper recently published in Nature Chemical Biology, Simon Wisnovsky in Kelley laboratory describes a high-throughput screening study that leverages small-molecule probes to look for new DNA repair and replication factors in human mitochondria.  The study uncovered a DNA polymerase that is essential for mitochondrial function that had never been observed in the organelle before.  Given the importance of mitochondria as cellular energy generators and trigger points […]