Genetics and Development

Early factors in life can lead to birth defects, childhood diseases, and susceptibility to disease. We investigate the genetic and environmental causes to improve quality of life through prevention, early diagnosis, and treatments.

Research Activities
Educational and Training Opportunities
Our Scientists

Genetics and Development


Researcher teams within the Division of Genetics and Development focuses on a variety of children's health problems, including:

  • diabetes and other diseases of the pancreas;

  • mental retardation;

  • abnormalities of the reproductive system affecting puberty;

  • abnormal bone formation;

  • growth retardation;

  • skin diseases;

  • heart abnormalities;

  • metabolic diseases; and

  • cancer

​Supported by the Children's Health Foundation, we have several research initiatives including those in stem cells, bioinformatics, and epigenetics. 

  • Stem cells are those cells that can become any cell type within your body. They can also act as a reservoir from which injured organs can regenerate. The stem cell initiative focuses on understanding what genes are necessary for the development of specific cell types. For example, what makes a stem cell become a heart cell? Or a nerve cell?

  • Bioinformatics involves computer-based approaches to understand complex disease processes. In many instances, childhood diseases are multifactorial – the results of multiple inherited and environmental factors. Using sophisticated computer programs and a process known as “next generation sequencing” scientists can take millions of data points and understand the effects of gene mutations and environmental changes on global gene expression. 

  • Epigenetics is a branch of biomedical science aimed at identifying and understanding how environmental events can change the expression of genes without causing mutations in the gene sequence. In some cases, these epigenetic changes can be passed along to the next generation. Epigenetic changes that persist into the next generation can increase the risk to various diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Research Activities

For information on current research activities of all CHRI Scientists and Associate Scientists please refer to their individual webpages via the link in the "Our Scientists" section below.

Educational and Training Opportunities

There are always opportunities at Children's Health Research Institute in the Division of Genetics and Development for undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows. Please contact the CHRI for information.

Our Scientists

Dr. Tom Appleton
Dr. Samuel Asfaha
Dr. Tugce Balci
Dr. Frank Beier
Dr. Nathalie Bérubé
Dr. Arthur Brown
Dr. Eileen Crowley
Dr. Robert Cumming
Dr. Lina Dagnino
Dr. Sash Damjanovski
Dr. Rodney DeKoter
Dr. Fred Dick
Dr. Gabe DiMattia
Dr. Tom Drysdale
Dr. Qingping Feng
Dr. Lauren Flynn
Dr. Matthew Grol
Dr. David Hess
Dr. David Hill
Dr. Lisa Hoffman
Dr. Natalya Karp

Dr. Greg Kelly
Dr. Zia Khan
Dr. Jibran Khokhar
Dr. Peeyush Lala
Dr. Shawn Li
Dr. Van Lu
Dr. Susan Meakin
Dr. Chris Pin
Dr. Chitra Prasad
Dr. Stephen Renaud
Dr. Tony Rupar
Dr. Bekim Sadikovic
Dr. Susanne Schmid
Dr. Cheryle Séguin
Dr. Parisa Shooshtari
Dr. Victoria Siu
Dr. Sunita Venkateswaran
Dr. Rennian Wang
Dr. Andrew Watson
Dr. Katherine Willmore

Find a CHRI scientist

Chair, Genetics and Development: Dr. Dean Betts

Dr. Dean Betts

Dr. Dean Betts is a developmental biologist whose lab researches pluripotent stem cells and embryo development to better understand the mechanisms behind cell fate, often responsible for fertility and pregnancy complications.