Dr. Samuel Weiss, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS
Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction
Hotchkiss Brain Institute
Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute
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B.Sc. Biochemistry, McGill University, 1978
Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Calgary, 1983
Dr. Samuel Weiss is a professor in the Departments of Cell Biology & Anatomy and Physiology & Pharmacology at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine. Dr. Weiss is the founder and was the inaugural Director of UCalgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute, whose mission is to translate innovative research and education into advances in neurological and mental health care.
Two major discoveries are the hallmarks of Dr. Weiss' research career. In 1985, together with Dr. Fritz Sladeczek, Dr. Weiss discovered the metabotropic glutamate receptor - now a major target for pharmaceutical research and development for neurological disease therapies. In 1992, Dr. Weiss discovered neural stem cells in the brains of adult mammals. This research has led to new approaches for brain cell replacement and repair, as well as to novel, experimental therapeutic strategies for brain cancer.
Dr. Weiss’ own explorations into the brain have changed the fields of developmental neurobiology and neural regeneration and have earned him one of the world’s most prestigious medical science awards, a Gairdner International Award. Dr. Weiss was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2009 and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2014.
As the Scientific Director of CIHR-INMHA, Dr. Weiss works with the Canadian neurosciences, mental health and addiction communities to identify research priorities, develop research funding opportunities, build partnerships and translate research evidence into policy and practice to improve the health of Canadians and people around the world. As a member of CIHR's leadership team, he participates in setting and implementing CIHR's strategic direction.
Areas of Research
- Brain Tumour Stem Cell Biology
- Experimental Therapeutics
My laboratory discovered a mammalian central nervous system (CNS) stem cell that can be induced to divide in cell culture and in the intact brain, and produce the three major cell types of the CNS - neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Remarkably, this CNS stem cell is present in both embryonic and adult mammalian (from rodent to human) brain. Recent evidence suggests that the adult human brain stem cells may be at the origin of the malignant human brain tumour – glioblastoma multiforme (glioma).
Thus, the current research goal of the Weiss laboratory is to gain insights into the aberrant cell biology mechanisms of human brain tumour stem cells (BTSCs) that may lead to brain tumour initiation, therapeutic resistance and recurrence. During the past few years, we have established close to 100 BTSC lines from human glioma patients. These BTSC lines display many of the fundamental characteristics of stem cells such as ability to grow as neurospheres under serum-free conditions, multilineage differentiation and clonogenicity. Importantly, they maintain the key parental tumour mutations and mimic human tumour growth in vivo in orthotopic xenografts in NOD SCID mice. We were the first group to report the establishment of BTSC lines with endogenous expression of the IDH1 mutant enzyme and our BTSC library has lines with many of the key characteristic mutations reported in glioma.
We employ a combination of cell biological, molecular, biochemical, and genomic approaches and use BTSCs as a model to study glioma biology and therapeutic response in vitro and in vivo.
We believe the BTSC model system is a powerful tool to investigate human glioma biology and develop novel experimental therapeutics for the disease.
- Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Senior Scientist Award, University of Calgary. 1998
- Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Senior Scientist Award, University of Calgary. 2003
- Presidents' Award in Life Sciences Research, Canadian Federation of Biological Societies. 2004
- Gairdner International Award, Gairdner Foundation. 2008
- Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Senior Scientist Award, University of Calgary. 2008
- Fellow, Life Sciences Division of the Academy of Science, Royal Society of Canada. 2009
- Innovations Award, Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010
- Premier's Selection: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012
- Medal of Honour, Alberta Medical Association. 2014
- Fellow, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. 2014
- Arch Awards, Distinguished Alumni for Lifetime Achievement, University of Calgary. 2018
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