In the late 90s, there was no human genome sequence, no wide-spread stem cell technologies, and DNA sequencing was slow and expensive. However, University of Toronto Professors Cecil Yip and James Friesen foresaw that new genomic technologies would open up massive progress in biomedical research. Anticipating the growing need for interdisciplinary approaches, they envisioned a research institute where all boundaries in research could be lifted.
Thanks to an investment from the Government of Canada, the province of Ontario, private sector companies and Terrence J. Donnelly, a philanthropist with a vision, that revolutionary idea materialized into a world-renowned institute for biomedical research – the Donnelly Centre.
On November 5, 2005, the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research opened its doors to world-class researchers in biology, computer science, engineering, chemistry and pharmacy under one joint roof, where they could feed off each other’s expertise and creativity to decipher the biology behind the world's most devastating diseases.
“The Donnelly Centre has been a tremendously successful experiment in interdisciplinary research and has established a new paradigm for exploring biology in the genomic era."
Dean Trevor Young, Faculty of Medicine
The architecture of the building is a part of the science. The open concept labs and social space give our scientists an ideal place where they can interact, collaborate and share ideas.
Nestled in the heart of Toronto’s discovery district, the Donnelly Centre houses 35 faculty and some 500 research staff and trainees who invent and apply the latest technologies to tackle some of the biggest questions in biology.
During its short history, the Donnelly Centre researchers have already made breakthrough insights into the biology of cells and genes that underpins health and disease. These advances range from tracing how genetic errors can interact to affect disease to understanding in unprecedented depth how proteins regulate gene expression to engineering new technologies to manipulate human cells to regenerate tissue in the lab. Over that time, the Centre has grown through recruiting world-class scientific talent from other leading institutes such as Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and the Sanger Institute, a key part of its success. The first decade of The Donnelly Centre has been a tremendous period of growth and achievement.