Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development
During the first 2,000 days of life – approximately from conception to age six– the vast majority of the brain’s pathways are developed. Teams at U of T are leading the global charge to identify the environmental factors—from breast-feeding to emotional stress to chemical exposure—that impact gene expression, effectively determining well-being from the early years to later on in life. Creating strategies to promote optimal developmental and learning outcomes is essential as growing numbers of children worldwide are affected by sub-optimal environmental conditions.
We are in a unique position to make a local and global contribution to child-maternal health. Understanding that no single area of study can unravel the mysteries of human development, the Institute brings together the brightest minds across a variety of disciplines—education, social work, medicine, economics and public health, for example. As well, community partners including the Hospital for Sick Children, St. Michael’s Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and others within the Toronto Academic Health Science Network have come together through the sophisticated infrastructure of the University system. Together, we seek to better understand which factors affect which genes and how we can best influence the positive expression of these genes.
The Institute consequently possesses unprecedented strength across transdisciplinary collaboration and discovery, contributing greatly to a healthy, capable and confident society that secures Canada’s future prosperity.