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About Derek van der Kooy

image dvdk

160 College St., Room 1102

Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research

University of Toronto

Toronto, ON. M5S3E1 Canada

Ph: 416-978-1960 Fax: 416-978-2666


Administrative Assistant: 416-978-0553



Derek van der Kooy received a M.Sc. in Psychology at the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D in Anatomy, first at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and finishing in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Toronto. Dr. van der Kooy gained postdoctoral research experience at Cambridge University in England and at the Salk Institute in California. In 1981, Derek became an Assistant Professor, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1986, served as Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Toronto 1991- 2002, and has since become a Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics. His lab is the Neurobiology Research Group.

The van der Kooy lab works on various stem cell biology and developmental biology research projects; specifically, stem cells in organisms from Drosophila to humans. With his lab, Derek van der Kooy produced the first report of stem cells in the adult mammalian eye, published in 2000 in Science. Further work, which was published in the journal, Neuron, 2001, documented how embryonic stem cells were shown to differentiate directly to neural stem cells through a default mechanism. Derek's lab continues to investigate the nature of stem cells, embryonic and adult, the concept of immortal cells, and the differentiation of embryonic stem cells, capable of forming any tissue in the body, to neural stem cells.

Outside of the van der Kooy lab, Derek is both a founding and planning committee member of the Ontario Stem Cell Initative (OSCI), the head of the Pancreas Program for Regenerative Medicine at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, serves on the project management committee for the Ontario Consortium for Regeneration inducing Therapeutics (OCRiT), and serves on numberous editorial boards and review committees.


Recent Media Attention:

Doctors’ Notes: Why scientific breakthroughs take time to move from lab to bedside

By: Molly Shoichet, University of Toronto

Toronto Star, August 8, 2016

click here for full article.


Hydrogels boost ability of stem cells to restore eyesight and heal brains

By: Jovana Drinjakovic

U of T Engineering News, May 14 2015

click here for full article.


Building a better brain, and other medical advances

By: Universtiy of Toronto

Toronto Star, December 21, 2015

click here for full article.


Successful retina transplant sparks hope

By: Jovana Drinjakovic

Special to the Globe and Mail, October 23, 2014

click here for full article.


Team discovers new type of neuron that plays key role in nicotine addiction

Medical Press, November 17, 2014

click here for full article.


Can stem cells cure blindness?

By: Megan Ogilvie

The Toronto Star, Jan 23 2012

click here for full article.


Stem cells in eyes offer hope for reversing leading cause of blindness in seniors

By: Sheryl Ubelacker, Health Reporter

Global News, Thursday, January 05, 2012

click here for full article.


Stem cells give sight to blind mice, raising hope for aging humans

By: Carolyn Abraham

The Globe and Mail, November 30th, 2010

click here for full article.


**photo credit: Samantha Yammine**

**photo of Derek van der Kooy credit: Michael Glassman**