Carolyn Cummins takes on new role at Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy with focus on helping trainees achieve their goals

Carolyn Cummins, associate professor at the U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, was recently appointed as director of the Pharmaceutical Sciences program, effective this fall. With a leading-edge research program based at the Faculty, Cummins has a strong interest in ensuring that students and trainees gain valuable skills that will serve them in their careers.

Cummins shared details of her research and her goals as director of the Pharmaceutical Sciences program.

How long have you been at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy?

I started in September 2007 with an eight-month-old baby. It’s hard for me to believe that he’s turning 15 at the end of the year, so it has already been 14 years!

What is your area of research?

My biomedical sciences research focuses on uncovering new molecular targets for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. I study a specific class of proteins called nuclear hormone receptors that I find extremely interesting because they are druggable. Our group currently consists of one technician, two undergraduate students, one postdoctoral fellow, three MSc students and five PhD students.

What do you enjoy most about being a faculty member at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy?

I love the amazing research that we carry out. We are a diverse group, yet we really shine in our individual areas of expertise. I will always be excited to tell you about the latest results that my trainees have generated. I’m constantly in awe of their creativity and inventiveness. I also love that we are a small but mighty Faculty. Despite our size, we have truly outstanding – even one-of-a-kind – facilities to ensure access to the latest equipment and cutting-edge technologies is available to our students. 

What are your early priorities for the Pharmaceutical Sciences Program?

The trainees are responsible for the amazing research that we do in the Faculty. Ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed personally and professionally is very important to me. We have had a difficult year that will take some time to recover from, and I want to help support our students to achieve their goals under all circumstances. Part of this process is to ensure that students are reflecting on their short and long-term goals throughout their time at the faculty. I would also like to provide students with the professional development tools to stay up-to-date with the changing trends in science and industry, so they are well prepared to be successful in their careers after graduation. For example, our focused quarter course modules will provide greater flexibility for our students to learn broadly about different aspects of pharmaceutical sciences. 

What are you looking forward to most as director of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Program?

I look forward to interacting with the wider student body and strategizing about ways to engage our faculty to promote broader faculty-student engagement. We all benefit from having multiple mentors both informal and formal. Fostering these interactions with our students is an important component of their eventual success.  Our graduate students represent the future of our respective fields and future colleagues.

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