Amar K. Sen Memorial Award

The Amar K. Sen Memorial Award pays tribute to the outstanding contributions that the late Professor Amar K. Sen made to the areas of graduate education and graduate student mentoring. Dr. Sen was a tremendously respected scientist, teacher, colleague, mentor and friend in the Department from the 1960s until his retirement in the early 1990s. He will be remembered not only for his seminal scientific contributions but also for his tireless commitment to the Department's mission and his friendship among his colleagues, students and peers.


This award is presented to a recently graduated Ph.D. student for outstanding scientific contributions made during the course of the Doctoral program in Pharmacology at the University of Toronto.

The primary criterion for the award is the quality and impact of scientific research, as demonstrated in original first-author publications.

Other criteria that will be considered include:

  • Academic performance in the Doctoral program
  • Graduate awards and distinctions
  • Student leadership activities
  • Contribution to scientific activities and team projects
  • Timeliness of Doctoral degree completion


Selection will be made by the Graduate Education Committee of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology.

Applications for this award shall consist of the following components:

  1. Candidate's curriculum vitae and publication list
  2. Candidate's graduate transcript or ACORN academic history
  3. Candidate's first-author papers describing the Ph.D. thesis research
  4. One letter of support from the candidate's Ph.D. Supervisor OR a member of the candidate's Ph.D. Supervisory Committee

Graduates of the Ph.D. program who graduated during the 2023 calendar year are invited to apply for the 2023 award. Applications must be received no later than Friday, April 26, 2024 by 5 PM. Applications should be emailed to Dr. Peter McPherson. Graduate Supervisors are also encouraged to nominate former trainees.

Current Recipient

2024: Mandeep Mann

MannMandeep graduated from the University of Waterloo with a B.Sc in Honors Biochemistry in 2016. In the fall of 2017, she began her PhD studies at the University of Toronto, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, under the supervision of Dr. Matthieu Schapira at the Structural Genomics Consortium. Mandeep's research training focused on developing high-quality chemical tools against an understudied protein fold for oncology targets in the ubiquitin proteasome and autophagy lysosomal pathway. Her thesis research led to four first-author publications.

Mandeep completed her PhD in December 2022, and shortly thereafter started an industry post-doctoral fellowship at Janssen R&D, where she is currently working on coronavirus biochemistry.

Mandeep is honoured to receive the Amar K. Sen Memorial award as a recognition of her doctoral work. Her time at the University of Toronto, allowed her to foster her research skills in a multi-disciplinary and collaborative environment which was instrumental to her success as a scientist.

Past Recipients

2023: Ahmed El-Boraie

Photo of AhmedAhmed defended his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Rachel Tyndale. Inspired by the goals of precision medicine, his research which focused on the field of Pharmacogenomics, aimed at identifying genetic variation that can be used to better understand differences in smoking behaviours and improve smoking cessation outcomes. His primary research projects included developing CYP2A6 activity genetic risk scores and evaluating the intersection of racial ancestry and rare genetic variation on the performance of these scores. His research accomplishments as a PhD trainee included contributing eight publications, four as a primary author, along with several oral and poster presentations at international conferences, including ASHG, PGRN, SRNT, and MDO.

Beyond research, he was passionate to teach as exemplified by his teaching assistant posts for undergraduate and graduate courses. Ahmed was also an active member of multiple student organizations; he was a proud member of the Pharmacology’s Graduate Student Association for several years, including a term as president. He has also been an executive member/team lead for the Life Sciences Career Development Society.

Since graduating, Ahmed has leveraged his scientific training to pursue a career in medical affairs within the pharmaceutical industry, where he has worked for Novartis and AbbVie within the lung cancer and psychiatry therapeutic areas.

Ahmed is grateful to receive the Amar K. Sen Memorial Award, and will forever be thankful for the mentorship, training, and opportunities that he received throughout his time at the department.

2022: Chidera Chukwueke

Profile picture of Chidera ChukwuekeChidera completed his Honours Bachelor of Science (Specialist in Psychology/Major in Neuroscience) at the University of Toronto
Scarborough. In the Fall of 2016, he began his MSc in Pharmacology under the supervision of Dr. Bernard Le FolI at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). His thesis focused on  neuroimaging and behavioural experimental tools to explore the role of neurotransmitter systems in addiction. Eventually, he continued his graduate training as a PhD student in 2017, where he explored the influence of dopamine D3 and cannabinoid CBl receptors in substance use disorders. His thesis research led to three first-author published  research articles and three first-author book chapters.

During his doctoral research, he became interested in pursuing careers in business and explored opportunities to broaden his exposure outside the world of academia. He completed courses through the Rotman School of Management and took on leadership roles with the Graduate Management Consulting Association and the University Consulting Group. Following the completion of his PhD, Chidera successfully transitioned to a role with Oliver Wyman, a global top 10 strategy firm, as a management consultant.

2021: Justin Matheson

Profile picture of Justin MathesonJustin has always been interested in understanding how drugs impact brain function, so he came to the University of Toronto to pursue a PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology under the supervision of Dr. Bruna Brands in the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH. Justin’s research training emphasized human laboratory studies of acute cannabis effects, and he developed a passion for the cannabis and cannabinoid field. His PhD thesis focused on individual factors (such as sex/gender and cannabis product potency) that influence subjective and objective measures of acute cannabis intoxication in the human laboratory. 

Justin is honoured to receive the Amar K. Sen Memorial Award as a recognition of his doctoral work in pharmacology. He is eternally grateful to the Department and the Graduate Education Committee.

Justin is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Translational Addiction Research Lab at CAMH, under the supervision of Dr. Bernard Le Foll. He is excited to be continuing and expanding his cannabis and cannabinoid research, as well as gaining new training in clinical trials design, neuroimaging, and other related methodologies. His research goal is to integrate a range of methodologies (especially human lab experiments and clinical trials) to better understand both the potential harms and therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids. The Amar K. Sen Memorial Award will forever be a reminder of his incredibly impactful training in pharmacology and the Department’s commitment to graduate education and mentorship.

2020: Myuri Ruthirakuhan

Profile picture of Myuri RuthirakuhanMyuri’s interest in pursuing a PhD in the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology was sparked during her time working with the Neuropsychopharmacology Group at Sunnybrook Research Institute. She witnessed how debilitating severe Alzheimer’s disease (AD) was to its patients, and the burden it posed to its caregivers and healthcare system. Under the supervision of Dr. Krista Lanctot, Myuri was encouraged to pursue her interest in identifying safe and effective treatment options for AD patients, and investigating biomarkers of interest.

Myuri is honored to receive the Amar K. Sen Memorial Award. It is a reminder to her that interdisciplinary and collaborative research is a necessary factor in moving the field forward. She hopes to continue striving to forge new collaborative relationships to further developments in drug and biomarker AD research.

Myuri recently started a post-doctoral fellowship funded by CIHR at Sunnybrook under the mentorship of Dr. Sandra Black. She is excited to be investigating neuropathological markers of behavioural symptoms in AD using the new skills and techniques she will be exposed to.


2019: Taraneh Taghavi 
2018: Julie-Anne Tanner
2017: Yuliya Lytvyn
2016: Meghan Chenoweth
2015: Andy Zhu
2014: Noufissa Kabli
2013: Meaghan Creed
2012: Vaneeta Verma
2011: Simerpal Gill
2010: Jill Mwenifumbo & Ameer Taha
2009: Lick Pui Lai
2008: Anna M. Lee
2007: Dennis Lee & Mary Erclik
2006: Diana Stempak
2005: Kerri Schoedel