Professor R. Mark Henkelman

Department of Medical Biophysics


Appointed a University Professor in 2005


After an honours undergraduate degree in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry in 1969, Mark Henkelman completed in one year a Master of Science degree in Theoretical Physics at McMaster University. Deciding to pursue a career in medical research, he returned to the University of Toronto and completed a Ph.D. degree in electron microscopy under Dr. Peter Ottensmeyer. By-passing a Postdoctoral Fellow, he went to a Faculty position at the University of British Columbia, where he headed up a team pioneering the use of pi-mesons for radiation treatment of cancer at TRIUMF.


In 1979, Dr. Henkelman returned to Toronto. In the Department of Medical Biophysics, he started research in medical imaging: initially using CT for radiation treatment and quickly moved into magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 1980. Dr. Henkelman was the first Canadian into the field of MRI. After a difficult period seeking funding for this new idea, he was provided a prototype MRI by the Government of Ontario to develop the technology and to evaluate its usefulness in cancer. This was about the twentieth MRI worldwide and the first in Canada. At about this time, Dr. Henkelman was appointed a full Professor.


Dr. Henkelman’s papers on MR exceed 200, and he is the most frequently cited imaging scientist in Canada.  He was awarded the Gold Medal of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (membership over 5,000) at its 1998 scientific meeting in Sydney, Australia. He is the only Canadian to receive this award.


In 1989, Dr. Henkelman accepted an invitation to become Vice President of Research at Sunnybrook and Women’s with a mandate to turn Sunnybrook into a research hospital. This endeavor is a remarkable success – growing from a level of external funding of about $1M per year up to $30M per year a decade later. This involved the building of a >10,000 square meter research building, recruiting a team of about 40 Pls (including the current Dean of Medicine) and developing and implementing a research infrastructure to support a total complement of faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and technicians that grew to about 350 people. This development of Sunnybrook and Women’s as a research hospital has significantly contributed to the quantity and quality of biomedical research at the University of Toronto.


During his tenure as VP Research, Dr. Henkelman remained an active researcher with his own graduate students, multiple grants, and the publishing of almost 100 papers during his 10 years in office.


After choosing to return to his laboratory rather than continue in research management, Dr. Henkelman started the Mouse Imaging Centre (MICe) at the Hospital for Sick Children.  Dr. Mark Henkelman is recognized as a leader and major innovator in this new field. In the last two years, he has been invited to write six reviews and book chapters (not all of which have been alone) and to present 29 lectures and symposia around the world.