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Dr. John Roder
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Dr. John Roder

Dr. John Carlin Roder, FRSC, passed away on Saturday, January 6, 2018.  John was one of the Institute's first scientists, recruited by Lou Siminovitch in 1985 from Queens University. John spent over 30 years at LTRI as a Senior Scientist, before his retirement. For those who didn’t personally know John, he was an amazing scientist and truly caring person. Remarkably, in mid-career, he decided to switch his entire scientific focus from natural killer cells and immunology to the genetics of neuroscience. John went on to become a world leader in this field, developing new tests and mouse models of psychiatric disease including, as this Globe and Mail story describes, important advances in schizophrenia (

John established the Lunenfeld’s neurobehavioural laboratory, which is now part of The Centre for Phenogenomics, and he was directly involved in the discovery of the R1 embryonic stem cell line that has been used by countless researchers to generate mouse models of human disease. His many contributions to science are far too numerous to list and John also mentored many of Canada’s most successful neuroscientists. John had Huntington’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder that he refused to let define or limit him. He actively participated in awareness efforts for the disease and often gave interviews (see links below).  He was featured in a documentary, "Do You Really Want to Know” about the impact of genetic diagnosis on individuals with Huntingtons in their family. His mind remained as sharp as as a razor and many of us remember being sent a list of papers John thought we should know about.

Our deepest condolences to John’s wife, Mary-Lou, and to John's family. Canada has lost a giant in neuroscience, they have lost a most wonderful man.




John Roder (centre) with fellows, Tatiana Lipina (right) and Steven Clapcote (left)


Links to John’s efforts to educate and rise awareness of Huntington’s disease:


Link to Obituary in the Toronto Star: 

Link to Guest Book: 




dr. john roder

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Dr. John Roder


Dr. John Roder is an acclaimed neuroscientist at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, known worldwide for his pivotal research in brain illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, as well as learning and memory.

Dr. Roder's ultimate goal is to discover new treatments for schizophrenia, anxiety, epilepsy, depression, and other mental disorders.His research focuses on the roles of molecules in the central nervous system and aims to determine targeted new drug therapies for neurological and psychiatric disease. He has carried out genome-wide forward and reverse genetic screens of ENU mutagenized mice. The Roder lab is also focused on identifying new genes, synapse and signaling pathways that contribute to learning and memory.

In a groundbreaking study in 2007, Dr. Roder demonstrated for the first time in mouse models that malfunction of the gene DISC 1, previously associated with schizophrenia and depression, does, in fact, cause symptoms of those disorders.

In 2013, Dr. Roder was profiled in the TVO documentary film called Do you really want to know?,  an inspirational testament to the emotional and psychological journey of predictive genetic testing, and to his unwavering commitment toward a cure for Huntington's disease. Dr. Roder was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease 16 years ago after having watched both his father and grandfather succumb to the illness while just in their 50s.

Dr. Roder continues to publish groundbreaking research papers, mentors scientist trainees and exercises daily to help control his symptoms. He is steadfast in his fight again Huntington’s - in fact, Dr. Roder has already contributed to significant progress in unravelling the genetics of Huntington’s by understanding why a specific genetic mutation leads to this illness in mice.




At a Glance

  • Ultimate goal is to discover new treatments for schizophrenia, anxiety, epilepsy, depression and other mental disorders
  • Researches the roles of molecules in the central nervous system
  • Holds a Canada Research Chair in Learning and Memory
  • Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto


Major Research Activities

Dr. Roder is exploring the link between long ­term potentiation (LTP), synaptic and learning and memory using engineered mice that lack the glutamate receptors. His lab is focusing on the steps of the complex cascade of events that lead to LTP. Specifically, the Roder lab is examining the means by which NMDA, AMPA and metabotropic glutamate receptors, and their downstream signalling cascades, act to regulate synaptic strength.


Recent Publications



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