Main Page Content

A podcast about the people behind the world-leading research at UHN
UHN Podcast Behind the Breakthrough Cover

What is the cure for Alzheimer’s? How can we help prevent the elderly from falling? Will stem cells regenerate a damaged heart? 

Over 1,000 researchers at UHN tackle these and many other profound health issues every day. For most, the pursuit of discovering a cure or better treatment is personal. You can feel their passion in these intimate one-on-one conversations about their pioneering work and revealing personal stories of how they got to where they are today.

Subscribe to our show:

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​

Tell people about us: link to UHNTwitter link to UHN Facebook link to UHN LinkedIn


Season 1 Episodes:

Heather Ross Hero Image

Episode 1 – Dr. Heather Ross on heart failure, artificial intelligence and a near-death experience

Air Date: October 8, 2019 | Length: 42:07

In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, we hear from cardiologist Dr. Heather Ross about her pioneering work with artificial intelligence, how she handles failure—especially after two rejections from medical school—and how a brush with death brought her closer to her patients than ever before.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Ross​ 


Karen Davis Hero Image

Episode 2 – Chronic pain and scientific baseball, with Dr. Karen Davis

Air Date: October 15, 2019 | Length: 34:56

In this episode, neuroscientist Dr. Karen Davis talks to us about pain. What is it? Can we predict it? What does personality-type have to do with it? While the complexity of pain is still not well understood, the uncertainty doesn’t stop Dr. Davis and her team. “We all have doubts,” she says. “But what drives most of us is a very fundamental curiosity … and the more we interact with patients the more it motivates us to think outside the box.”

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Davis


Camilla Zimmermann

Episode 3 – Challenging the meaning of palliative care, with Dr. Camilla Zimmermann

Air Date: October 22, 2019 | Length: 43:20

Dr. Camilla Zimmermann talks about how her research has helped change the practice of palliative care from end-of-life care to a more wholistic approach that answers the question, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” Dr. Zimmermann also reveals how the death of her parents when she was a teenager shaped her career, her initial reluctance to admit to colleagues her desire to be a palliative care specialist, and how stigma still hangs on the concept of what is palliative care.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Zimmermann


Milos Popovic

Episode 4 – Robotics, rehabilitation therapy and learning from failure, with Dr. Milos Popovic

Air Date: October 29, 2019 | Length: 32:03

We sit down with Dr. Milos Popovic to hear about his transformational shift from aerospace engineering to rehabilitation research, and how it led to his invention of a medical device that delivers electrical stimulation to restore upper limb mobility to people with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and stroke. Originally from Belgrade, Dr. Popovic shares how he narrowly escaped Yugoslavia’s brutal civil war as military soldiers banged on doors looking for conscripts.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Popovic


Mathieu Lupien

Episode 5 – Meet the cancer codebreaker, Dr. Mathieu Lupien

Air Date: November 5, 2019 | Length: 47:38

In the battle to defeat cancer, award-winning UHN researcher Dr. Mathieu Lupien is a modern-day version of the Bletchley Park World War Two codebreakers. Dr. Lupien searches the human genome, trying to crack the origin of how and why cancer starts. He knows deciphering that enigmatic code is one of the keys that will lead to a cure for cancer. Dr. Lupien also talks about the Terry Fox loonie he carries in his pocket at all times as a reminder of the commitment and importance of the work done in his lab, how a line in a TV show he watched as a child in Quebec has fuelled his research career,” and his advice for kids who want to go into science.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Lupien


Jenny Campos

Episode 6 – Overcoming ‘imposter syndrome’ and helping the elderly live well, with Dr. Jennifer Campos

Air Date: November 12, 2019 | Length: 40:02

Growing up, the death of Dr. Jenny Campos’ grandfather from a preventable fall while carrying groceries up a flight of stairs shook her family to the core. Today, it is the driving force behind her research in falls and driving collision prevention in the elderly. By simulating real life challenges in Toronto Rehabilitation Institute’s renowned Challenging Environment Assessment Lab (CEAL), Dr. Campos is finding ways to help older adults live well.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Campos


Michael Laflamme

Episode 7 – Repairing broken hearts with stem cells, with Dr. Michael Laflamme

Air Date: November 19, 2019 | Length: 28:22

In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, we hear from cardiac pathologist and award-winning principal investigator at the McEwen Stem Cell Institute Dr. Michael Laflamme. His mission: to restore the function of injured hearts by replacing scar tissue with healthy heart muscle cells made from stem cells.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Laflamme


Valerie Wallace

Episode 8 - Reversing blindness and the serendipity of science, with Dr. Valerie Wallace

Air Date: November 26, 2019 | Length: 35:04

Dr. Valerie Wallace is on a mission to reverse blindness. The award-winning senior scientist and co-director of the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute at UHN’s Krembil Research Institute sits down with Behind the Breakthrough to discuss the serendipity of science, the curiosity that drives her and the changing landscape of women in STEM.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Wallace



 Kristin Musselman

Episode 9 - Pioneering research by UHN’s Dr. Kristin Musselman is designed to get spinal cord injured patients mobile

Air Date: December 3, 2019 | Length: 30:22

Dr. Kristin Musselman is a pioneer in research designed to get patients with partial spinal cord injury up and walking again. She joins UHN’s Behind the Breakthrough podcast to talk about her latest research, how it relies heavily on patient input, and the satisfaction of seeing those same patients try new strategies to regain mobility and maintain their balance.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Musselman


Michael Hoffman

Episode 10 - Using computers to understand cancer with Dr. Michael Hoffman

Air Date: December 10, 2019 | Length: 31:00

In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre scientist Dr. Michael Hoffman explains how he leverages the power and speed of computers to understand the origins of cancer. He says cancer is a disease of the DNA – the genetic code that determines our individual characteristics. Essentially, our DNA acts as a program telling our cells what to do. In the case of cancer the wrong program gets run and cells divide in an unrestricted manner. The goal of Dr. Hoffman’s lab is to determine if there is a way of predicting when the wrong program gets run – before it ever happens.

Get this episode:​

Apple Podcast logo  
Listen on Google Play Music  
Podbean logo​​​​
Spotify logo​​​​
Read more about Dr. Hoffman