Professor John R.G. Challis FRSC


Professor John R.G. Challis FRSC



Dr John RG Challis is Professor in the Departments of Physiology, Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Toronto, and an Affiliate Scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital.He served as Vice-President, Research and Associate Provost of the University of Toronto from May 2003 to June 2007. Dr. Challis was formerly the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health.He is also a past Chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto.


Dr. Challis was born in Cambridge, England.He received his undergraduate education at the University of Nottingham (1st class hons), and his PhD from the University of Cambridge. He conducted postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Diego, and at Harvard Medical School before returning to the University of Oxford as a Research Scientist and Junior Research Fellow of Wolfson College in 1974. In 1976, he moved to Canada as a Medical Research Council Scholar at McGill University.Two years later he moved to the University of Western Ontario, where he was appointed Professor in the Departments of Physiology and Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1981.


A long-standing leader in his field, Dr. Challis was the founding Scientific Director of the Lawson Research Institute in 1983, and Vice-President, Research at St. Joseph's Health Centre, London, Ontario. He was also the founding Director of the Medical Research Council Group in Fetal and Neonatal Health and Development in 1989, a post he held until his move to Toronto in 1995.


In recent years, Dr. Challis has served as Chair of the Canadian Investigators in Reproduction, Chair of the Fetal Physiology Commission of the International Union of Physiological Societies, and Chair of the International Council on the Fetal Origins of Adult Disease. He is also a past President of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation, the Physiological Society of Canada, and the Perinatal Research Society.He has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Science Centre, as member of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto, and on the Boards of the John Patrick Professorship (University of Western Ontario), the Liggins Institute (University of Auckland) and the Ontario Health Research Alliance (OHRA).


Dr. Challis’s research has uncovered fundamental processes contributing to both pre-term birth and birth at term. He has uncovered the role of different hormones in the birth process, and has developed the concept that in women, the control of labor results from local endocrine and paracrine interactions within the uterus and placenta. More recently he has made major contributions to our understanding of how adverse intrauterine circumstances can result in predisposition to disease in later life.Dr. Challis has published more than 500 scientific papers and articles and trained more than 80 graduate students and post-doctoral trainees, many of whom have gone on to hold faculty appointments at major academic institutions. He has held continuous funding from the Canadian CIHR (formerly MRC) since 1977.His work has been cited more than 11000 times, with an H factor of 55.He has been an Editorial Board member of leading journals in the fields of endocrinology and obstetrics, including Endocrinology, J. Mol. Endocrinology, J. Endocrinology, Placenta, Reproductive Sciences and Reviews in Reproduction.


Challis has served on key Advisory Boards and peer-review panels in Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. He was Co-Chair of the MRC Standing Committee on Science and Research, Chair of the AHFMR Senior Scholars Review panel, Chair of the AHFMR interdisciplinary teams review panel, Chair of the provincial committee of the Ontario Council for University Research (OCUR) and Chair of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), Internal Review Committee of the University of Manchester, UK. He was a member of the Industry Canada, University Advisory Group, the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), Minds to Market Awards committee and is currently a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Gairdner Foundation International Prize, the Experts panel, Committee for Human Research Participant Protection and the International Scientific Advisory Panel of both the Centre for Research Excellence and the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.


Challis has received many prestigious international awards and lectureships for his work.He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Fellow of the Institute of Biology (UK) and Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists UK (ad eundem).He is recipient of both the EC Amoroso Prize and the Sir Alan Parkes Award of the British Society for the Study of Fertility, the Transatlantic Medal of the British Endocrine Societies, the Malcolm Brown Award and the Sarrazin lectureship of the Canadian Physiological Society, the Florey Award from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and the Arnaldo Bruno International Prize of the Accademia, Nazionale Dei Lincei, Italy. In 2007 he received the McLaughlin Medal of the Royal Society of Canada for sustained excellence in medical research.