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Andras Kapus Appointed Associate Vice Chair of Research

In his newly created position as Associate Vice Chair for Research, Andras Kapus called together the 40 non-clinician scientists who work closely with members of the Department of Surgery. Widely distributed throughout the city and working often in isolation from each other, these outstanding scientists bring the disciplines of cell biology, physiology, neuroscience, education, psychology, epidemiology and other disciplines to bear on the problems encountered and analyzed by clinical surgeons. In addition, they conduct their own very significant basic research in a variety of institutes, laboratories and hospitals. Vice Chair for Research Ben Alman and Richard Reznick recognized the need to bring this group together to increase their visibility and recognition within the Department, and to optimize their working conditions and collaboration with the surgery community. At the first meeting of the NCS group, Andras emphasized the unique situation -- 40 basic scientists in a single clinical department. This could be a model for other departments in the University and more broadly in the academic community. It is likely that there will be more, not fewer, collaborating basic scientists as surgical and medical research increases in complexity.

The group is putting together a database describing their roles as teachers, supervisors, co-investigators and mentors who oversee surgeons in training and provide expert evaluation of the relevant research questions raised by clinicians. This database will be extremely helpful to surgeon scientists in the Clinician Investigator Program of the Institute of Medical Scientists to help them choose their advisors and mentors. The twelve surgical residents per year who enter the Surgeon Scientist Program spend 2-5 years in scholarly work mentored by surgeons and scientists. They find their way to these positions in an informal and unstructured way. This could be greatly improved by a well-organized website presenting the opportunities and options for surgeon scientists as well as faculty. It will be helpful to the NCS faculty to participate in the orderly and effective programs of the Department of Surgery such as the Memoranda of Agreement, the annual reviews, and the CV Program, all of which are applied to clinical faculty to help with their promotion and personal life. Andras hopes to organize a mentoring system for new principal investigators and clinicians who wish to start their own laboratories in their development as professional researchers. By creating a collaborative web of committed scientists, the mechanisms for learning, the administration and organization of laboratories, securing research funding, collaboration, and addressing issues in publication, intellectual property and patenting, will be strengthened. While some few clinical surgeons manage two careers as solid basic scientists as well as clinicians, most rely heavily on non-clinician scientists. Their role should be more clearly defined and their contribution should be recognized -- not simply as helpers but as co-supervisors and collaborators. The review process of the productivity of the NCS group will be facilitated by participation in the University Department of Surgery reviews. This will provide an objective review somewhat outside the requirements of individual research institutes and laboratories. This may help to correct problems that sometimes develop, such as reduction in laboratory space or expected infrastructure support. Ideally a Department of Surgery representative would serve on the Research Institute Review Committee and guidelines can be developed to assure the success of the NCS in the same way that Memoranda of Agreement assure that the commitments to clinical surgeons are met in order to assure their success following recruitment.

Andras Kapus
Andras Kapus
Gallie Day presents the work of clinical surgeons as described in the Summer 2007 issue. All of this outstanding work is supported by our NCS colleagues. In the future, the work of the NCS group will also be presented to the Department of Surgery in a more formal way; it is now included within the poster sessions at Gallie Day.

Andras is extremely well-suited to the role he will fulfill. His biography, interests and accomplishments are well-presented in Ben Alman's announcement below. Born and educated in Budapest, Andras is an MD, PhD cell physiologist who cites Professor Fonyo in Budapest and Sergio Grinstein at the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute as important mentors during his education. Andras has worked closely and productively with St. Michael's Surgeon-in-Chief Ori Rotstein for many years overseeing, advising and helping to launch the scientific careers of a large number of surgeon scientists like Sandro Rizoli, Ian McGilvray and others. He is currently a staff scientist at the St. Michael's Hospital Research Institute, a dynamic research centre headed by Critical Care Chair and Respirologist Arthur Slutsky. He is married to Annamaria, a radiologist and has three children, Gergely, 22, Mihaly, 19 and Anna, 17. Andras is an avid reader outside of science. He writes poetry and essays in addition to in-depth reviews and reports in Molecular Biology of the Cell and other high-impact scientific journals.


Please join me in congratulating Dr. Andras Kapus on his appointment as our department's inaugural Associate Vice Chair of Research. In this new position, Andras will help represent the department's 44 non-clinician scientists in departmental and university matters, and provide leadership in many of our research endeavors.

Andras was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, received his MD from Semmelweis University of Medicine in Budapest in 1986 and subsequently received a PhD in Physiology at the same University. Following postdoctoral training at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Sergio Grinstein at the Hospital for Sick Children, Dr. Kapus returned to his home university in 1995 to take up a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology. He was recruited back to the University of Toronto and joined the Faculty in 1997.

Over the past decade, Dr. Kapus established himself as an outstanding independent scientist and teacher. He was named a scholar of the Medical Research Council of Canada and received a Premier's Research Excellence Award. He has an active lab located at St. Michael's Hospital, and has an impressive publication and student training record. Dr. Kapus' research focuses on the cellular and molecular responses of mammalian cells to hyperosmolarity and shape change.

Andras has an excellent reputation as a collaborator, a teacher, a facilitator, and an investigator who integrates fundamental science into a clinical context. As such he is extremely well suited to be our first Associate Vice Chair of Research, and will undoubtedly bring an exciting research vision to our Department.

Ben Alman
Vice Chair, Research

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