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Order of Canada: top honours go to U of T stem cell pioneer Janet Rossant, public policy leader Bob Rae

More than 20 U of T researchers, alumni recognized for breaking ground in global development, medical innovation, legal scholarship, more

(photo by mgabelmann via Flickr)

They have transformed cancer research, complexity theory, neurology innovations, international non-profits – even the landscape of harp music performance.
 
On Canada Day, Governor General David Johnston recognized some of U of T’s most distinguished faculty and alumni with more than 20 spots on the 100-strong list of Order of Canada appointments.
 
Internationally honoured stem cell and institutional research innovator Janet Rossant and public policy leader Bob Rae earned the highest decoration in Canadian public life, with their new appointments as Companions of the Order of Canada.
 
Rossant (pictured below) is a professor in U of T’s departments of molecular genetics, obstetrics and gynaecology and holds appointments as chief of research at SickKids, president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, deputy scientific director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network, and director of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In March, she won the Gairdner Foundation's $100,000 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for outstanding national leadership in medicine and medical science. “We’re going to see a future where regenerative medicine will transform the treatment of many different human diseases.” (Read more about Rossant’s Gairdner win on U of T News, in The Globe and Mail)
She was recognized by the Order of Canada for “advancing the global understanding of embryo development and stem cell biology, and for her national and international leadership in health science.”
 
Rossant's fundamental work in developmental biology combined with her revolutionary establishment of cross-disciplinary medical research facilities to earn her international recognition as a scientific pioneer.
 
“She carries the Canadian stem cell banner internationally like no one else,” James Price, president of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, told The Globe and Mail in a feature published upon Rossant’s Gairdner win.
 
Rae, who served as Ontario’s 21st premier, now teaches as a senior fellow at U of T’s School of Public Policy & Governance. He is renowned for his work as a lawyer, negotiator, mediator, and arbitrator with a particular focus on First Nations, Indigenous peoples and governance issues.
 
Rae's promotion to Companion of the Order of Canada recognizes “his contributions to public life in Canada and for his enduring commitment to strengthening ties between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in our country.”

“It is a wonderful honour to be recognised in this way. Many of my feelings about politics and public service came to life at U of T many years ago, and I continue to be grateful to many friends and mentors from that time,” said Rae, before sharing a few words for youth considering a career in public life.

“Live life to the fullest and remember that things get easier and more fulfilling when you stop worrying about yourself and start thinking about everyone else.”

Officers of the Order of Canada

Among those named Officers were many of the university’s leading health researchers, including:
 
Sandra Black, Brill Chair in Neurology at U of T’s Department of Medicine and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, was recognized “for contributing to improved diagnosis and treatment of vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke,”
 
Daniel Drucker, professor of medicine at U of T and a senior investigator at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, was recognized “for his contributions to the development of medicines used around the world to treat diabetes and intestinal disorders.” (Read more about Drucker’s research on U of T News),
 
Mary Gospodarowicz Evans, Medical Director at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at U of T, was honoured for “contributing to improved cancer radiotherapy and for her leadership in advancing cancer care around the world.”
 
James Thomas Rutka, director of the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre at U of T was recognized “for his contributions to advancing treatment for pediatric brain tumours and for his international leadership in neurosurgery.”
 
The category of Officers also included a diverse range of U of T researchers and public leaders whose work crosses fields including international relations, jurisprudence and theoretical computer science.
 
Stephen Cook (pictured right), winner of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Herzberg Medal in 2012, was recognized by the Order “for his seminal contributions to theoretical computer science and mathematics, including his contributions to complexity theory.” (Read more about the research of Stephen Cook)
 
“I joined the faculty of the computer science department at U of T in 1970,” Cook told U of T News upon his Herzberg win. “This was one of the world's first CS departments, and Tom Hull, the department chair, had a powerful vision for its future. He already had recruited some aspiring young faculty, including my close colleague Allan Borodin, who continues to be a pillar of the department.”
 
Linda Nazar, a PhD alumna now on faculty at the University of Waterloo, was appointed “for her contributions as a materials chemist who has developed advanced battery systems for clean energy storage.”
 
Former judge of the Federal Court of Appeal, The Honourable Allen Linden, began his academic career at U of T’s University College.
 
He went on to author a statistical study on compensation for car accidents that led the province of Ontario to adopt a no-fault auto insurance plan. His research on compensation for victims of crime also influenced the Ontario government to enact a procedure to compensate victims of violent crime. Before his elevation to the bench, he consulted for the litigation of Canadian thalidomide children seeking compensation from the company that produced the drug. Linden was honoured “for his contributions to jurisprudence as a judge and scholar.”
 
The Munk School of Global Affairs’ new director, Stephen Toope (pictured left), also received distinction as an Officer of the Order of Canada. His most recent book, with the Faculty of Law's Jutta BrunnéeLegitimacy and Legality in International Law: An Interactional Account – won the American Society of International Law’s Certificate of Merit for Creative Scholarship. He also served as president of the University of British Columbia and as president of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.
 
“The Munk School has built a reputation around the world for its thoughtful and insightful examination of international issues,” said Toope, upon taking his new position at U of T. (Read more about Toope’s role at the Munk School of Global Affairs at U of T News)
 
Toope was recognized “ for his leadership in post-secondary education and for his scholarship in the fields of international law and human rights.”
 

Members of the Order of Canada

Also named within the Order of Canada were many other U of T alumni and researchers whose work is advancing such fields as music, sport and literature. Below are just a few of the many members of the U of T community most recently named as Members within the Order of Canada:
 
Aubie Angel, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his contributions to endocrinology and to the establishment of health organizations in Canada.
 
Paul James Hill, C.M.
Regina, Saskatchewan
For his achievements as a business leader and for his generous contributions to community and education initiatives.
 
Sandra Irving, C.M.
Saint John, New Brunswick
For her contributions as a philanthropist and community volunteer who supports educational, social service and youth organizations across Atlantic Canada.
 
Jacques Israelievitch, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his contributions to music as a violinist, as an educator and as a champion of Canadian musical creation.
 
Jay Keystone, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his contributions as a clinician and educator who has expanded the discipline of tropical and travel medicine.
 
Douglas Knight, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his service to the arts community and for his leadership as a media publisher.
 
Johann Olav Koss, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his achievements in Olympic speed skating and for founding Right to Play, a non-profit organization that helps disadvantaged children in developing countries.
This is an honorary appointment.
 
Adeera Levin, C.M.
Vancouver, British Columbia
For her leadership in the treatment of kidney disease.
 
Judy Loman, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For her service to the arts community as one of Canada’s renowned harpists.
 
The Honourable John Wilson Morden, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his contributions to the administration of justice in Ontario and for his commitment to protecting the public interest.
 
Vivian Morris Rakoff, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his contributions to psychiatry as an educator and clinician, and for his role in founding the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
 
John Carman Ricker, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his contributions to the teaching of Canadian history as an author, educator and administrator.
 
Marla Shapiro, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For her contributions as a family physician and as a trusted source of health information who communicates both the medical and human impacts of health care concerns.
 
Don Tapscott, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his leadership in the field of business innovation, notably for his research on the economic and social impact of information technology.
 
Morley Torgov, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his contributions to Canadian literature as a humourist and storyteller.
 
Barbara Turnbull, C.M. (deceased)
Toronto, Ontario
For her contributions to spinal cord injury research as an author, speaker and advocate.
 
Carolyn Ruth Wilson, C.M.
Kingston, Ontario
For her contributions to improving primary care in Ontario and for her leadership in family medicine.
 
Martin Yaffe, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For his groundbreaking research in breast cancer screening and for his commitment to improving women’s health.
 
Phyllis Yaffe, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
For her leadership in Canada’s cultural industry, as well as for her community service, notably as the founding chair of Women Against Multiple Sclerosis.

Read the full list of Order of Canada appointments announced on 1 July 2015.

July 02, 2015