The University of Toronto has a proud legacy of discovery. Since Banting and Best discovered Insulin, The
University of Toronto has been home to some of the world’s finest investigators. Leaders in research at
the University of Toronto were among the first to see the boundless potential of Biomedical research after
the sequencing of the human genome.
In the late 90’s, The Faculties of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Applied Science and Engineering came together
to envision a Centre for Cellular and Bio-molecular Research. The Centre for Cellular and Bio-molecular
Research became the brainchild of Faculty of Medicine professors Cecil Yip, former vice-dean,
Research in the Faculty of Medicine and James Friesen, former chair of the Banting and Best Department
of Medical Research. They recognized the Faculties of Medicine, Pharmacy and Applied Science and Engineering
needed a centre where they could work together and bring in disciplines such as chemistry and
computer science. Dr. James Friesen wanted to create “an intellectual greenhouse" where ideas grow into robust research initiatives through multidisciplinary collaboration.
On November 3, 2005 The Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research opened its
doors to world renowned researchers from many disciplines to come together to identify the causes and
cures of diseases.
Thanks to an investment from the Government of Canada, the province of Ontario, private sector companies
and a visionary philanthropist by the name of Dr. Terrence J. Donnelly, The Donnelly Centre continues to
inspire more than 30 principal investigators and 500 research staff members.
Dr. Brenda Andrews, a leading yeast genomics researcher was hired as the first director with the mandate
to break down any research boundaries. “We’re just constantly searching for people who are thinking
the right way,” says Dr. Andrews, referring again to the Centre’s open-ended, interdisciplinary approach.
“Having this type of space is a good way to attract them and keep them here.”
The approach is paying off. The profile created by the new building has been a key element in recruiting
world-class scientific talent—a critical and increasingly difficult task in the life sciences, where global competition
is intense. And already, researchers at the Centre are beginning to produce breakthrough insights
on a key frontier—understanding the complex ways in which genes and proteins interact with one another.