From discovery to drug development on home turf
Drs. Valerie Wallace and Mark Reed

​Dr. Mark Reed and Dr. Valerie Wallace are working together to try to bring new discoveries to market

​She did the basic science, now he's helping to turn her findings into a drug. Drs. Valerie Wallace and Mark Reed embody the spirit of true scientific collaboration, right here in Toronto

What if there were a protein that could influence eye development, slow the growth of brain tumours and allow doctors to get medications more directly to the brain?

After years of trial and error in her lab, Dr. Valerie Wallace has made a series of important discoveries about Norrin, a protein involved in neurological signalling for the eye, brain and ear. Now, she's leading the world in research on this protein that could hold the key to a range of vision-preserving and life-saving applications.

Discoveries of this sort require a willingness to keep asking questions, notes Dr. Wallace, co-director of the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute at UHN and the Donald K. Johnson Chair in Vision Research. "Sometimes you need to be wrong in order to be right," says Dr. Wallace. "I'm often surprised, I tell my lab. I'm very curious by nature."

Until recently, it would have been up to other researchers or pharmaceutical companies to build on Dr. Wallace's ideas and make products for market, such as medications.