20 Questions with Michael Rudnicki

Michael Rudnicki, OC, FRS, FRSC

CEO & Scientific Director, Stem Cell Network; Senior Scientist & Director, Regenerative Medicine Program and Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute


20 Questions with Michael Rudnicki

1. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Ottawa delivered at the Grace Hospital. I lived in Pine Glen until I was about 8 years old, and then my parents bought a house in the Glebe. We moved to Queen Elizabeth Driveway in 1968. I grew up in the Glebe, attended Mutchmor Public School, then Glashan Middle School, and eventually Glebe Collegiate for high school.

2. Where did you go to school?
I attended the University of Ottawa for a degree in Molecular Biology. I did a fourth-year honors project and really enjoyed working at the (lab) bench, so I decided I would do a Master’s degree and see how that went. I did that at the University of Ottawa with Michael McBurney in the Faculty of Medicine. It was there I was exposed to embryonal carcinoma cells and more of molecular biology. After two years as a grad student, Tony Pawson offered me a position to work with him at the University of British Columbia. But then I realized, it would be a three-year Master’s degree and then another five years for a PhD. It made more sense to me to just hunker down and get my PhD here in Ottawa. And then go explore the world as a postdoc. So that’s what I did.

I did well as a graduate student, I had nine first author papers, or something like that. After my PhD, I joined the Whitehead Institute at MIT in Cambridge MA , where I trained for about four years with Rudolf Jaenisch. This was a very exciting time where a small group of us in the lab established the techniques for generating knock out mice. I introduced PGKneo a strong selectable marker developed in the McBurney lab, to the worldwide community for use in gene targeting. We were the first group to really make this work efficiently and off we went!

Read the full interview here.

Published January 2021.