Molecular Medicine

At Robarts Research Institute, scientists are studying the human body – how it functions, why it operates the way it does, and how it reacts to trauma and disease.

Molecular medicine research at Robarts focuses on identifying the mechanisms that drive human disease and developing new treatment options for patients. Our scientists are working to better understand diseases of the heart and brain that are associated with decreased cell function, acute and chronic inflammation, wound repair and chronic degenerative diseases.

As national and international leaders in their fields, our researchers excel in interdisciplinary and collaborative translational research. We focus on fostering creative solutions to human disease, with a patient-centred perspective.

From the bench to the bedside: Our molecular medicine research is changing lives

Neurodegenerative Disorders

Robarts scientists are focusing on pinpointing the earliest events that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. By looking at early changes in the brain, and how these changes impact memory and behaviour, we are working to improve early diagnosis for patients to protect against further deterioration.

Spinal Cord Injury

Our research is striving to minimize the damage from acute spinal cord injuries and restore neurological function and quality of life for patients. We are boosting the body’s natural response to the debilitating effects of these injuries by accentuating wound healing while minimizing the negative effects of inflammation.


Robarts scientists were the first in the world to discover the genes that cause more than a dozen different human diseases, including hereditary disorders and several types of familial diabetes. The identification of these new genes enables diagnostic DNA testing and is the first step toward the development of new treatments.


As part of a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort, our scientists are working to improve the diagnosis and treatment of concussion. Using blood analyses, cognitive testing and imaging assessments, we are establishing ways to determine the severity of a concussion injury, guidelines for return to play and predictions of future risk.

Cardiovascular Health

With a commitment to studying and understanding cardiovascular disease, Robarts scientists are examining blood vessel formation, maintenance and injury, which can result in blocked arteries and contribute to stroke. Through this research new therapeutic options are being developed and tested. Our researchers have also discovered a substance in tangerines that not only prevents obesity and high blood fats, but also offers protection against Type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Regeneration and Tissue Repair

Our researchers are investigating ways to help the body heal itself. By understanding the role stem cells play in the repair of the nervous and cardiovascular systems, we are hoping to develop alternative therapies for acute injury and chronic diseases.

Our Team

  • 21 core investigators, including six clinician-scientists and 15 basic scientists
  • 32 postdoctoral fellows and research associates
  • 49 MSc and PhD candidates
  • 35 research assistants

Award-winning Research

  • 15 international and 22 national research grant awards in 2014
  • Tony Graham Award, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
  • European Commission Group Grant in Human Microbiome Standards

Patents and Publications

  • More than 94 publications from Robarts scientists in 2014
  • More than eight global patents since 2010