The Kidney Foundation of Canada

2011 KFOC Medal for Research Excellence

Dr. Norman Rosenblum

The Kidney Foundation of Canada’s 2011 Medal for Research Excellence was awarded to Dr. Norman Rosenblum for his internationally recognized research in the area of pediatric nephrology, his outstanding role as a clinician scientist and his leadership in mentoring Canada’s next generation of kidney researchers.

A graduate of Dalhousie University, Dr. Rosenblum is currently a pediatric nephrologist and clinician scientist at the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children. He completed his postgraduate training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Nephrology at Harvard University, where he also began his research training in cell and molecular biology. He now holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Developmental Nephrology and is an international expert on experimental (mouse) models of renal development that replicate malformations in the human kidney.

Dr. Rosenblum’s research work is focused on studying malformations which occur during development of the kidney and urinary tract. Poorly understood, these abnormalities result in a whole family of diseases that are the leading cause of childhood renal failure. Yet, his laboratory has provided important new insights. Specifically, they have succeeded in genetically modifying the function of a number of critical protein pathways, which in turn affect the work of key cells. By manipulating the amount of intercellular communication or “signaling” in these pathways, his research team has generated mouse models that replicate human problems. The malformations appear in a number of ways, from anomalies in the number of kidney filters (nephrons) and the integrity of kidney tissue to the swelling of the kidney or urinary tract (a condition known as hydronephrosis). Investigating the roles of signaling pathways in their particular context during the actual process of kidney development is vital, providing unprecedented knowledge and understanding of the function of specific genes and the genesis of specific diseases. This can potentially lead to novel treatment of the disease itself and improved health for patients.

Dr. Norman Rosenblum accepts the 2011 Medal for Research Excellence 


A patient-centered researcher, Dr. Rosenblum is also a much sought-after mentor. For the past 10 years he has been the Principal Investigator of an interdisciplinary program that trains clinician-scientists in the field of child health in Canada. The principles of the program, which links 17 universities across the country in 7 child health disciplines, have served as a model for others. “Dr. Rosenblum’s launching of the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program was instrumental in helping to shape the Kidney Research Scientist Core Education and National Training Program founded by The Kidney Foundation and multiple partners in 2005,” says Dr. Kevin Burns, last year’s recipient of the Medal for Research Excellence and Program Director of the kidney-focused, researcher training program known as KRESCENT.

Since first being published in the journal “Pediatrics” nearly 25 years ago, Dr. Rosenblum has had 14 book chapters and over 65 manuscripts go to press. Most recently, he is the senior author on an article in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), in which his laboratory has shown that a particular protein signaling pathway, known as Sonic Hedgehog, controls cells that are essential for the rhythmic contractions of the ureter in mice. Failure of this system results in a condition frequently seen in pediatric nephrology, known as non-obstructive hydronephrosis. This latest finding could have significant implications for improving treatment of the condition.