Appointment of Professor Leah E. Cowen as Associate Vice-President, Research (PDAD&C #27)

From: Ted Sargent, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives
Date: November 20, 2020
Re: Appointment of Professor Leah E. Cowen as Associate Vice-President, Research (PDAD&C #27)

I am pleased to announce that the Senior Appointments Committee of Governing Council has approved the appointment of Professor Leah E. Cowen as Associate Vice-President, Research for a four-year term, from March 1, 2021 to June 30, 2025.

The Associate Vice-President, Research reports to the Vice-President, Research & Innovation, and Strategic Partnerships and will have an integral role in furthering the strategic goals of the University. The Associate Vice-President, Research will take academic leadership to elevate even further the quality, impact, and resourcing of our scholarly research by:

  • Leading the institutional support and advocacy for prestigious international and national honours and awards for research and innovation.
  • Working with academic leaders to resource and support major team grants that benefit teams of faculty members.
  • Developing, updating, and paving UofT’s research infrastructure roadmap.
  • Working with Academic Divisions to define and track quantitative metrics: establishing baselines and benchmarks and tracking our progress in support of PI-led research.
  • Further developing our culture of excellence in research, and of faculty members helping other faculty members in this pursuit.

Professor Cowen is currently Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine since 2016. She has an outstanding track record of excellence in research, scholarship, and education. Her laboratory takes an interdisciplinary approach to understand what allows some microbes to exploit the host and cause disease, and to develop new strategies to treat life-threatening infectious disease. She has published over 100 high impact research articles. She has been recognized with awards including a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award, Grand Challenges Canada Star in Global Health Award, Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award, E.W.R. Steacie Award, Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics & Infectious Disease (Tier I and Tier II), and Fellowship of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Professor Cowen has contributed to building international research networks, such as in her role as co-Director of the CIFAR Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities program. On the innovation and entrepreneurship front, she is co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Bright Angel Therapeutics. The company leverages state-of-the-art technologies to develop novel antifungal therapeutics.

Dr. Cowen received her undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia, a PhD from the University of Toronto, and pursued postdoctoral studies at the Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor Cowen’s collaborative and innovative approach to research, her proven leadership in advancing knowledge translation, and her passion for championing trainees and colleagues, will continue to be of great benefit to the University with her in this new role. Please join me in congratulating her on this new appointment.