Game-Changing Research at Ontario’s Universities

Click on a photo below to learn more about each discovery

Alphabet blocks
Setting Standards for Language Testing 1989 Janna Fox develops the trend-setting CAEL, a global leader in high-stakes, standardized English proficiency testing. Learn more
Copyright symbol
Defining 21st Century Standards 2007 Michael Geist changes Canadian government policy on copyright into one of the most significant, user-oriented and progressive reforms in the world. Learn more
TV screens with Marshall McLuhan on them Courtesy of Flickr
Redefining Media 1967 Marshall McLuhan revolutionizes media theory and develops terms like “global village” and “the medium is the message.” Learn more
Marguerite D'Youville
Humanizing Medicine 1990 Jacalyn Duffin reveals the role of faith in medical practice, helping canonize Marguerite d’Youville as the first Canadian-born Catholic saint. Learn more
Human body with nerve routes highlighted
Repairing Nerves 1988 Alan Hudson and Susan Mackinnon perform the world’s first nerve transplant, restoring feeling to those with nerve damage due to accident or disease. Learn more
Cow in front of sunset
Breathing Easier 1981 Fred Possmayer extracts and purifies natural surfactant from a cow’s lung, helping premature infants breathe and saving millions of children worldwide. Learn more
Maple leaf
Inspiring the “Cultural Mosaic” 1965 John Porter makes significant contributions to the field of sociology, inspiring the term “cultural mosaic.” Learn more
Global map with human hand
Protecting Human Rights 2001 The Citizen Lab exposes how some countries censor citizens’ use of the Internet and uncovers global cyber-espionage networks affecting governments, businesses, and human rights organizations. Learn more
Nutrition label
Improving Health 1999 Bruce Holub discovers trans-fats have a significant negative impact on human health, resulting in the virtual elimination of them from supermarket shelves. Learn more
Pill bottle with a heart on it
Preventing Strokes 1978 Henry Barnett leads the global study that demonstrates Aspirin can prevent strokes, creating new possibilities for the treatment and prevention of heart disease. Learn more
Frederick Banting and Charles Best
Treating Diabetes 1921 Frederick Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod, and J.B. Collip develop insulin to treat diabetes—a lifesaving discovery for millions. Learn more
Gene sequence
Identifying Genes 1989 Lap-Chee Tsui and Manuel Buchwald isolate the CFTR gene that causes cystic fibrosis, a milestone in fighting the disease. Learn more
Book cover Paris 1919 Penguin Random House Canada
Understanding the Present 2002 Margaret MacMillan demonstrates the past’s influence on current international politics and how history can suggest solutions for today’s issues. Learn more
Bertram Brockhouse
Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research
Understanding the Atom 1956 Bertram Brockhouse invents the triple axis neutron spectrometer, shedding new light on how atoms in solids behave, which later earns him a Nobel Prize. Learn more
Allan Davenporte
Defining Wind Engineering 1965 Alan Davenport defines the modern field of wind engineering by developing an equation to measure wind loads, making building structures safer and more economical. Learn more
Collage of male model pictures © Andy Lee
Thinking Differently about Beauty 2012 Ben Barry opens Fashion Diversity Lab, a global hub for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in fashion – changing our views of beauty. Learn more
Slice of grapefruit
Discovering the Power of Grapefruit 1991 David Bailey proves grapefruit can affect the way your body metabolizes drugs, the first discovery that what we eat can affect drug effectiveness. Learn more
Scan of an atom © j.c.polanyi
Ushering in a New Chemical Age 1986 John Polanyi’s research in chemiluminescence leads to innovations like chemical lasers and earns him the Nobel Prize. Learn more
Poster for
Making Research Local 2010 David Hulchanski provides ground-breaking evidence of income and geographic polarization in Toronto, putting critical social and neighbourhood disparities on the public agenda. Learn more
Lake surrounded by forest
Testing the Waters 1984 John Smol uses lake sediments to show that acid rain causes declining pH in many North American lakes, exposing the long-term negative impacts of humans on aquatic ecosystems. Learn more
Row of red needles
Improving Cancer Treatment 1990 Elizabeth Eisenhauer discovers a method for administering a commonly used cancer drug Taxol® that reduces toxic side effects in patients. Learn more
Statue of Norman Bethune Courtesy of Flickr
Revolutionizing Medicine 1936 Norman Bethune organizes the world’s first mobile blood transfusion unit, revolutionizing battlefield and remote medicine. Learn more
Woman and child using sulfer sprinkes
© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0610/Shehzad Noorani
Treating Anemia 1996 Stanley Zlotkin develops an iron and mineral supplement for food, helping to eliminate childhood anemia in developing countries. Learn more
Cattle behind fence
Creating New Vaccines 1988 Pat Shewen and Bruce Wilkie develop a vacc- ine against “shipping fever” pneumonia in cattle, which becomes the foundation for all vaccines against this major disease. Learn more
Surgeons in operating room
Unleashing Potential Stem Cells 1961 James Till and Ernest McCulloch discover the hematopoietic stem cell, making bone marrow transplantation possible. Learn more
Wheelchair wheel
Creating Accessible Transit 1982 Henk Wevers develops Q’Straint, a retractable, four-point system used around the world to keep wheelchair passengers safe while in transit. Learn more
Harold Innis
Creating a Canadian Point of View 1930 Harold Innis’ seminal works on media, communications and economic history establish a distinctly Canadian approach to social science. Learn more
Shakespeare Sander's Portrait
© Government of Canada, Canadian Conservation Institute, CCI73456-0003
Revealing Identities 2014 Daniel Fischlin confirms that a 400-year-old painting is of William Shakespeare and is the only known portrait painted while he
was alive.
Learn more
Fighting Antigens
Fighting Antigens 1984 Tak Mak helps identify the T-cell receptor gene, a vital component of our immune system and a major advance in immunology and cancer treatment. Learn more
Surgeons operating
Leading the Way 1988 The Multi-Organ Transplant Program completes the world’s first combined liver and bowel transplant, improving outcomes for those with multiple organ failure. Learn more
Advancing Treatment
Advancing Treatment 1958 Charles Beer and Robert Noble isolate the anti-cancer drug Vinblastine from the periwinkle plant, providing the first of a critical series of chemotherapy drugs. Learn more
Older woman
Delaying Dementia 2007 Ellen Bialystok finds the lifelong use of two languages can help delay the onset of dementia symptoms by four years. Learn more
"Cobalt-Bomb" cancer treatment machine
Treating Cancer 1951 Ivan Smith leads the development of Cobalt-60 therapy units, revolutionizing radiation treatment of cancer
and benefitting millions of patients.
Learn more
Diphtheria Vaccine
Transforming Disease Control 1914 John FitzGerald pioneers public health and disease prevention in Canada, manufact- uring life-saving public health products such as diphtheria and tetanus vaccines. Learn more
DNA barcodes and pictures of butterflies and owls
Biodiversity Institute of Ontario
Digitizing DNA 2003 Paul Hebert proposes DNA barcoding, a major breakthrough in species identification with applications ranging from protecting global biodiversity to curbing food fraud. Learn more
Diagnosing Genetic Disorders 1948 Murray Barr discovers the sex chromatin — the Barr Body — ushering in a new era in research and diagnosis of genetic disorders, including Downs syndrome. Learn more
Treating the Untreatable 1958 Charles Drake pioneers the first surgical treatment for cerebral aneurysms at the base of the brain, a milestone in neuroscience. Learn more
Tomato held in two hands
Exploring a Cell’s Life 2000 John Thompson discovers a gene that determines if a cell lives or dies, resulting in opportunities to enhance cancer therapy and prolong the shelf- life of fresh produce. Learn more
Microscope image of bug
Bringing the World into Focus 1938 Eli Burton leads development of the first practical electron microscope, allowing the study of materials on a molecular level for the first time. Learn more
Two hands shaking
Making Peace 1998 John McGarry’s work on the Northern Ireland conflict redefines the terms of debate and informs the successful Good Friday Agreement. Learn more
Statue of Northrope Frye
Mastering the Art of Criticism 1957 Northrop Frye revolutionizes the field of literary criticism through his Anatomy of Criticism, one of the most important works in 20th century literary theory. Learn more
Children waiting for vaccine
Courtesy of Wellcome Library
Battling Polio 1949 Raymond Parker leads a team that discovers "Medium 199", which later helps Jonas Salk develop the polio vaccine. Learn more
Better Understanding the Universe 2001 Physicists at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory discover that neutrinos have mass and redefine the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Learn more
Arthur Lismer skipping rope with students
Group of Seven member Arthur Lismer skipping rope with students, c. 1927. Courtesy OCAD U Archives.
Revolutionizing Canadian Art 1920 - 1933 The Group of Seven explores the unique character of the Canadian landscape in a new distinctive and iconic painting style. Learn more
Man on the moon
Fighting Gravity 1942 Wilbur Franks develops the anti-black-out suit, giving Allied pilots the advantage in WWII, and enabling high speed flight as well as space travel. Learn more
Multi-coloured lights
Seeing in Colour 1917 Herbert Kalmus develops the colour motion picture process Technicolor™ which becomes the most widely used colour process in Hollywood
for nearly 50 years.
Learn more
Water pump
Kitchener-Waterloo Record Photographic Negative Collection, University of Waterloo Library
Supplying Clean Water 1970s Alan Plumtree and Alfred Rudin develop an easily repairable and inexpensive hand- operated pump, ensur- ing long-term access to clean, safe water in developing countries. Learn more
Vintage Pablum advertisement
Improving Infant Nutrition 1931 Fred Tisdall, Theo Drake, and Alan Brown develop a new food that becomes the infant cereal Pablum and provide nutrition for generations of children. Learn more
One needs and a group of pills
Exploring Drug Resistance 1992 Susan Cole and Roger Deeley discover the gene coding for a multidrug resistance protein (MRP) that prevents cancer-killing drugs from working. Learn more
Yukon Gold Potatoes Nicholas Murphy, SPARK
Reinventing the Potato 1966 Gary Johnston develops the Yukon Gold potato, giving new Canadians the kind of yellow-fleshed spud they had back home - its popularity has made it a household name. Learn more