Toronto Region Areas of Expertise/Assets and Track Record of World Firsts

The Toronto region’s Human Health and Sciences cluster offers specialized scientific infrastructure and globally recognized expertise, and is known for conducting pioneering research in the following areas:


A History of Innovation in Toronto at University Health Network

Life-changing scientific breakthroughs made here include:

 The first clinical use of heparin

  North America’s first artificial kidney designed and used clinically

 First use of radiation therapy to cure Hodgkin’s disease

 Development of lumpectomy for breast cancer

 First use of total body cooling as a method for making heart surgery safer

 First external heart pacemaker used in an open-heart resuscitation

 Identification of blood-forming stem cells—a discovery that gave birth to the field of stem cell science

 First allogeneic blood stem cell transplant (transplants between unrelated donors)

  First successful single-lung transplant (1983) and double-lung transplant (1986)

 Discovery of the human T-cell receptor

 First treatment of sleep apnea in patients with heart failure by a mechanical assist device (CPAP) that improves heart function

 First use of deep brain stimulation to help with treatment-resistant depression

  First transplant using donor lungs repaired outside of the body (ex vivo) using lung perfusion technique

 First human blood stem cell isolated in its purest form—as a single stem cell capable of regenerating the entire blood system