Mina Tadrous will maintain Toronto affiliations, Bowen Li to arrive from MIT

The Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy has recruited Mina Tadrous and Bowen Li as tenure-stream assistant professors, whose appointments will begin in August 2021 and January 2022, respectively.

Mina Tadrous

Tadrous first joined the Faculty in 2014 as an instructor, later becoming assistant professor, status. He has developed an impactful research program that has helped change drug policies in Ontario and nationally, and has earned a reputation as a respected teacher and mentor.

Tadrous leads research in the Faculty’s clinical, social and administrative pharmaceutical sciences division, using real-world evidence to improve how medications are used. He works with policymakers and large data sets to answer questions about medication safety and effectiveness.

Tadrous’s research has helped inform policies that improve access to critical medications, including chronic hepatitis B therapeutics.

“My research boils down to trying to use data to better inform pharmaceutical policy and improve clinical use,” Tadrous said. “At the end of the day, it’s about getting the right drug to the right patient and improving their health.”

As a teacher, mentor and preceptor, Tadrous said he has two main goals — giving his students opportunities to practice making evidence-based decisions, and exposing them to non-traditional pharmacy career paths and opportunities.

Students have selected him for two teaching awards: a Professor of the Year Award in 2018, and an APPE Preceptor of the Year Award in 2021.

“Teaching is very rewarding work, and I appreciate the energy and ideas that students bring,” he said. “I also hope to give back to the health care system and my profession in helping to develop pharmacists who understand and develop evidence that will lead the profession in the future.”

Tadrous will maintain his research appointments at Women’s College Hospital, ICES and the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network. With the stability of his new role at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, he plans to undertake longer-term projects that tackle larger problems, particularly drug shortages.

He created a drug monitoring tool to monitor drug utilization in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic and is working to address medication shortages across Canada and globally.

Tadrous grew up in Toronto and said he is excited to stay in the city and grow his program beside other pharmacy researchers with diverse expertise.

“Most of our faculty do research related to drugs or drug therapy, but they all look at it differently,” he said. “Being around them will make my research and teaching better because I’ll see different perspectives to similar problems, while still feeling at home with the questions they’re asking.”

“To be able to stay home and commit to being here is really energizing for me,” said Tadrous. “I have a deep passion and love for this city, and this a dream come true.”

Bowen Li

Bowen Li brings biomaterials, immuno-engineering and mRNA delivery expertise to Toronto

Bowen Li, a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will launch a cutting-edge research program in the biomolecular sciences division at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

Li develops novel biomaterials-based technology that delivers bio-macromolecules to train immune cells for applications in preventing or treating diseases. His research has already led to seven patents and a start-up company based in Boston, ZWI Therapeutics.

“We can use our own immunity to combat many diseases, such as cancer, autoimmunity and infectious diseases, but currently there are a lot of barriers to delivering large and complex bio-macromolecules, particularly mRNA,” Li said. “The advanced delivery systems I’m developing will facilitate the development of new mRNA-based therapeutics or vaccines with enhanced efficacy and safety.”

Li’s research will contribute to U of T’s PRiME precision medicine research initiative, in part because mRNA vaccines are flexible and can be tailored to individual needs.

Li said that multi-disciplinary initiatives and collaboration opportunities were part of what drew him to U of T and that he looks forward to connecting with new colleagues in the Faculty and broader research and clinical communities to advance his research and help patients.

“My work relies on connections with physicians and clinician-scientists, so that I can accurately identify the critical problems in the clinic and use my approach to address them,” he said.

“The Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy provides amazing opportunities for collaborative work.”

Li is also an enthusiastic teacher and mentor. He has experience with students in his own lab, but also through volunteer work with the University of Washington’s Health Sciences Center Minority Students Program, and tutoring teenagers from Seattle’s Somali community. He helped find mentors of similar backgrounds and pursuing science and research who could expose the teens to career possibilities.

“The experience helped me realize the importance of role models in underrepresented communities,” said Li. “In the future, I hope to carry on that tradition and invite underrepresented faculty to the campus to give lectures and interact with students.”

Li said he also looks forward to meeting his own role models at U of T when he joins the Faculty in January.

“Several of my role models in academia are based at the U of T, so I’m really excited that one day I can have the opportunity to work with them,” he said.

By: Eileen Hoftyzer

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