Early Career Researcher Awards

These awards are given to promising academic researchers and clinician-scientists who are just beginning their independent research careers. They are designed to attract qualified and promising scientists and clinicians early in their careers and provide opportunities to establish their independent research programs.

Dr. Andrew Pepper – Career Development Award (2020-2025)

Dr. Pepper is a promising young Canadian scientist and an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Alberta. Along with his team, he is examining the underlying mechanisms that govern pancreatic beta cell survival and function, with the ultimate goal of developing islet replacement therapies that could become a universal treatment for a broader range of people living with T1D.

Dr. Pepper also held a postdoctoral fellowship award via the JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (2015-2016).

Dr. Alanna Weisman – Emerging Clinician Researcher Award (2023-2027)

Dr. Weisman is an endocrinologist and clinician-researcher at the Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes in Toronto. Her research focusses on access to diabetes technologies for people with T1D. Dr. Weisman will use the ECRA funds to identify barriers to diabetes technology use in marginalized people with T1D and develop strategies to improve the equitable use of diabetes technologies across provinces.

Dr. Weisman also held a postdoctoral fellowship award via the JDRF Canadian Clinical Trial Network (2015-2017).

Dr. Kacey Prentice – Faculty Transition Award (2023-2024)

Dr. Prentice is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto and researcher at the UofT Banting and Best Diabetes Centre. Her research focuses on proteins that impact beta cell function through complex interactions. Her work has targeted once such protein (FABP4) which improved beta cell mass, function, and resistance to stress in animal models.

Dr. Prentice previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

Trainee Awards

These fellowships are designed to attract qualified, ambitious scientists to full-time research training and assist these promising individuals in transitioning from a fellowship to an independent (faculty-level) position.

Dr. Amanda Oakie – Postdoctoral Fellowship (2022-2025)

Dr. Oakie is a postdoctoral fellow at the McEwen Stem Cell Institute, University Hospital Network in Toronto. Dr. Oakie’s research examines methods to improve the yield obtained from beta-like cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells. Her work examines different strategies to expand the beta-like cells throughout differentiation.

Dr. Lauar de Brito Monteiro – Postdoctoral Fellowship (2024-2027)

Dr. Monteiro is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Monteiro’s research examines changes in the nutritional environment surrounding beta cells that impact immune cell responses. In particular, how immune cells and cells in the pancreas communicate by identifying nutrients and other factors that are altered in T1D and how these factors are received by immune cells, leading to their activation.

CIHR Research Excellence, Diversity, and Independence (REDI) Early Career Transition Awards (2023-2029)

These awards support the career development of the next generation of health researchers. The REDI awards are available to post-doctoral researchers, clinicians, and research associates from specific underrepresented groups to help them launch their research faculty careers in Canada. This transition award is intended to foster the development of independent research scientists who would benefit from tailored, mentored career development in Phase 1 (supervised research) before transitioning to Phase 2 (independent research position) and establishing and sustaining their independent research program in academia. The first competition was held in 2023, and JDRF partnered with CIHR to support two applicants in T1D.

  • Dr. Yi-Chun Chen
    Dr. Chen is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. She earned her PhD in cellular and integrative physiology from Indiana University School of Medicine in the United States. Her research focuses on the causes and consequences of insufficient islet prohormone processing in diabetes. Dr. Chen previously held a JDRF-I postdoctoral fellowship award.
  • Dr. Hyekyoung (Cindy) Sung
    Dr. Sung is a postdoctoral fellow at York University in Dr. Gary Sweeney’s laboratory. Her research studies the impact of adiponectin (a naturally occurring hormone primarily produced by fatty tissue) on regulation of glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.

CIRTN Partnership Awards

JDRF Canada has partnered with the Canadian Islet Research and Training Network (CIRTN) to leverage funding to this network from the National Science and Engineering Research Council – Collaborative Research and Training Experience (NSERC-CREATE) program. Through this partnership, JDRF Canada is pleased to fund 7 PhD trainee scholarships and 4 postdoctoral fellowships to trainees working on pancreatic islet research.

More about the trainees: Cohort 1 (2023-2025), Cohort 2 (2024-2026)

JDRF-SCN J. Andrew McKee Fellowships

Supported by JDRF Canada and Stem Cell Network, the J. Andrew McKee Fellowship Program in Type 1 Diabetes attracts new qualified, promising postdoctoral scientists entering their professional career in the T1D research field to join the JDRF Centre of Excellence at UBC.

More about the trainees: Dr. Karoliina Tuomela (2022-23), Dr. Sing-Young Chen (2023-24). See here for 2025 fellowship information.

Where are they now?

JDRF’s funding is designed to attract new talent to the field of T1D, retain world-class talent in T1D, and build capacity for the future of T1D research. Here is a look at past JDRF-funded trainees and where they are now:

Researcher Trainee Award Current Position
Dr. Rangarajan Sambathkumar Postdoctoral Fellowship (2019-2022) Senior Scientist – Islets and Stem Cell-Derived Beta Cells, Allarta Life Science Inc. Development of immunoprotective cell therapy
Dr. Heather Denroche Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2017) & Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2022) Director of Preclinical Development, Integrated Nanotherapeutics, Inc.  Developing new nanomedicines to treat immune diseases such as T1D.
Dr. Adriana Migliorini Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2021) Research associate, McEwen Stem Cell Institute (University Health Network)Developing human pluripotent stem cells as a source of insulin-producing cells for people living with T1D.
Dr. Dan Luciani Career Development Award (2013-2019) Associate professor, University of British Columbia researching stem cell-derived beta cells
Dr. Anne Pesenacker Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2017), CCTN Postdoctoral Fellowship (2017-2018) Career Development Fellow, University College London, UK Researching autoimmune function in arthritis and T1D.
Dr. Yasaman Aghazadeh CCTN Postdoctoral Fellowship (2016-2017) Assistant Professor, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM)
Dr. Ahmad Haidar Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013-2016) Associate professor, McGill University Researching diabetes technologies and insulin therapies
Dr. Francis Lynn Postdoctoral Fellowship (2007-2010) & Career Development Award (2011-2016) Associate professor, University of British Columbia; Investigator, BC Children’s Hospital; Research Lead, JDRF Centre of Excellence at UBC Stem cell therapies for T1D cures.
Dr. Emmeline Heffernan CCTN Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2016) Pediatrician, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children
Dr. Kate Verbeeten CCTN Postdoctoral Fellowship (2018-2019) Pediatric endocrinologist, private practice, Toronto
Dr. Ashish Marwaha CCTN Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2015) Assistant Professor, University of Calgary, geneticist researching basic immunology and member of CanScreenT1D: JDRF-CIHR Screening Research Consortium
Dr. Jennifer Bruin Postdoctoral Fellowship (2011-2015) Associate Professor, Carleton University Environmental factors affecting T1D development
Dr. Pat MacDonald Career Development Award (2009-2014) Professor, University of Alberta; Canada Research Chair in Islet Biology; Director of Alberta Diabetes Institute IsletCore; lead of the Canadian Islet Research and Training Network (CIRTN) researching insulin production from islet cells
Dr. Reza B. Jalili Postdoctoral Fellowship (2011-2014) Director of In Vivo Sciences, Aspect Biosystems Developing immunoprotective biomaterials
Dr. James Surapisitchat Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2012) Regional Medical Scientific Director of Oncology at Merck Pharmaceuticals
Dr. Majid Mojibian Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2012) In Vivo Modelling Lead, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute
Dr. Pedro Geraldes Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship (2009-2012) Professor, Université de Sherbrooke; Canada Research Chair in Diabetes and Vascular Complications
Dr. Sylvie Lesage Career Development Award (2008-2011) Professor, Université de Montréal researching genetics of immune system cell populations
Dr. James Johnson Career Development Award (2005-2010) Professor, University of British Columbia; Research Lead, JDRF Centre of Excellence at UBC researching islet biology
Dr. Cristina Nostro Postdoctoral Fellowship (2008-2010) Senior Scientist at the McEwen Stem Cell Institute (University Health Network); Associate Professor, University of Toronto. Stem cell therapies for T1D cures.
Dr. Lucy Marzban Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005-2007) Associate professor, University of Manitoba researching beta cell death
Dr. Tim Kieffer Career Development Award (2001-2006) Professor, University of British Columbia researching stem cell-derived beta cells
Dr. Gregory Korbutt Career Development Award (2000-2005) Professor, University of Alberta; Scientific Director, Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing Facility; and a member of the original Edmonton Protocol team.
Dr. Janette Dufour Postdoctoral Fellowship (2001-2003) Professor, Texas Tech University Researching protective options for islet transplantation cells