Stuart Matan-Lithwick, MSc, BEd, Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology
Stuart Matan-Lithwick Bioinformatics PhD Student, Science Educator, & Blindness Advocate,Taylor Laboratory, Peter Gilgan Centre for Research & Learning, Hospital for Sick Children & Bader Laboratory, Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.
Michael D. Taylor, MD, PhD; Neurosurgeon & Principal Investigator, Hospital for Sick Children; Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology and Department of Surgery, University of Toronto.
Gary Bader, PhD; Principal Investigator, Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research; Professor, Departments of Molecular Genetics & Computer Science, University of Toronto
PhD Thesis: Characterizing the Molecular Mechanisms of Medulloblastoma Metastasis Stuart Matan-Lithwick is a devoted scientist, passionate educator, and vocal blindness advocate
Stuart has been an active member of the scientific community in Canada for over 17 years. His experiences have been multidisciplinary, including time spent studying Drosophila egg development (Lasko laboratory, McGill University), parasite genomics (Dr. A. Fadiel, Hospital for Sick Children), retinoblastoma epigenetics (Gallie Laboratory, Princess Margaret Hospital), transcription factor binding site structure, annotation, and identification (Wasserman Laboratory, University of British Columbia), mammalian cone phototransduction (Wallace Laboratory, Toronto Western Hospital), and 4 years spent as a high school Biology and general Science educator. What separates Stuart from most other graduate students is that he is in the process of going blind; Stuart has Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a genetic disorder characterized by progressive vision loss. Since being diagnosed with RP 15 years ago, he has been a vocal advocate on behalf of the blind and visually impaired, speaking at research conferences, participating in several media interviews, and most recently being featured in a documentary, produced by Accessible Media Incorporated (AMI), that seeks to provide personal perspectives on life with vision loss.
Stuart is currently pursuing PhD studies in the laboratories of Dr. Michael Taylor at the Hospital for Sick Children, and Dr. Gary Bader at the Donnelly Centre, where he is using bioinformatics to study the molecular mechanisms of metastasis for medulloblastoma, the most common type of childhood brain malignancy. This work has only been possible thanks to the unwavering support of Drs. Taylor
and Bader, the Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology Department, and the University of Toronto Accessibility office. As a bioinformatician, Stuart will be able to remain a fully active scientist, even if he loses his sight entirely. His long-term goal is to be a principal investigator in Canada. In support of this pursuit, Stuart was one of only 56 doctoral students from across Canada to receive the 2017 CIHR Vanier-Canada Graduate Scholarship. As noted by one of his Vanier referees, “Stuart has experienced significant challenges, including losing his sight, but he has never lost his vision”. Indeed, this vision is supported not only by the Vanier Committee and the U of T community but also by other groups – Stuart is the 2017 recipient of scholarships offered by the National Educational Association for Disabled Students (NEADS), and the Association for the Equality of Blind Canadians