Janet Rossant is a world-renowned expert in developmental biology. Funded by the Banting Research Foundation in 1983, while at Brock University, for her early research in developmental biology, she has become a global leader in understanding the role of genes in embryo development. Her work has been fundamental in the development of human pluripotent stem cells that have the potential to treat degenerative diseases.
Dr Rossant came to Canada from the UK in 1977, first to Brock University, then to the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, and the University of Toronto. In 2005, she became Chief of Research at the Hospital for Sick Children, a position she held for ten years.
Dr Rossant received the 2015 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, given to a scientist who has demonstrated outstanding national leadership in medicine and medical science in Canada. It was awarded for her outstanding scientific contributions to developmental biology and for her exceptional international leadership in stem cell biology and policy-making, and in advancing research programs for children’s illnesses. At the time she said, “The early support of the [Banting Research] Foundation was very helpful in setting my course towards the Gairdner Wightman award.”
In 2015, she was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honour, for advancing the global understanding of embryo development and stem cell biology, and for her national and international leadership in health science. She was also awarded the 2016 Friesen Prize, which recognizes exceptional innovation by a visionary health leader of international stature. In 2016, she became the President and Scientific Director of the Gairdner Foundation, where she presides over its prestigious awards program.