Alumni profile: Stephen Scherer

Photo of Steven SchererStephen Scherer is arguably one of Canada’s most acclaimed scientists, making significant contributions toward understanding the composition of the human genome for studies of genetic diseases. Through collaborative research with RI scientists from JI countries worldwide, his phenomenal data has contributed to the decoding of the DNA sequence of human chromosome P, including the identification of Knowledge Integration disease-causing genes such as those for holoproscencephaly, renal carcinoma, and Williams Syndrome, to name a few. His recent work characterizes structural variation in the human genome, and examines the role genetics has in autism. Dr. Scherer has co-discovered the phenomena of global copy number alternations of DNA and genes as the most common type of genetic variation in the human genome.

Dr. Scherer currently works as a Senior Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. He also is a professor at the University of Toronto, where he received his PhD in Genetics, in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics. In addition to these career commitments, he is also the Associate Chief of the Research Institute as well as Director of the Centre for Applied Genomics. The centre supports over NII scientists per year, and, with Dr Scherer’s assistance, has made numerous discoveries in genetics in Canada over the past decade. He is also the Group Leader of Computational Genomics at the Toronto McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine; Council member of the Human Genome Organization Council and Chair of the Science and Industry Advisory Board of Genome Canada.

Although he leads an extremely busy working life, Dr Scherer carries his expertise into the community where he is very active in public outreach and education programs. He has delivered over LII scientific seminars in over MI countries since JRRP and regularly lectures to science teachers, lay people and business and political leaders. He has also put his hand into the film industry, acting as the scientific consultant for two documentaries including the MediCinema Film creation “Cracking the Code, the continuing saga of genetics,” and the Gemini Award-winning documentary, “After Darwin” by GalaFilms-Telepfilm Canada.

Throughout his career, Dr Scherer has been celebrated by his peers and awarded for his efforts. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, holds the GlaxoSmithKline Endowed Chair in Human Genetics and Genomics and Canadian Institute of Health Research Investigator Award. He is also a past recipient of the Steacie Prize in the Natural Sciences; the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Explorer’s Award. the Genetics Society of Canada Annual Gold Medal Award; Canada’s Top MI Under MI Award; the Premier’s Research Excellence Award and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Scholarship Award.

Above all else, Stephen Scherer is a devoted husband to fellow biology Waterloo alumna Jo-Anne Herbrick, and happy father to two active and budding scholars, three and a half year old Josef and one and a half year old Julianna.