Dezso Kadar Pharmacology Student Achievement Award

Born in Transylvania, Dezso Kadar moved to Hungary in 1944 to finish his high school education. Between 1953-56 Dezso studied Pharmacy at the University of Szeged, Hungary (now Albert Szent-Gyorgy Medical University). In January 1957 Dezso and his wife arrived to Canada. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1959 with 1st class honours, his MSc in 1966 and Ph.D. in 1968 all from the U of T. In 1969-70 he worked as an Ontario Ministry of Health Post Doctoral Fellow at St. Mary’s Hospital, University of London England in the Department of Biochemistry and Toxicology.

Upon returning from England, Dezso Kadar started his very rewarding research and teaching activities at the University of Toronto as Assistant, Associate and Full professor to retire as Prof. Emeritus in 1999. He very much enjoyed working with our students and staff.

Dezso was involved in the pharmacology laboratory course (PCL 471) for several years. During his term as the course coordinator, Dr. Kadar developed several new labs and ensured that students’ educational experience was enhanced by exposing them to practical components of pharmacological applications and drug interactions at the cellular level and in animal model. PCL 471 remains to be the highlight of pharmacology specialist students.

This award is presented by the Division of Teaching Laboratories and recognizes the top student within the Undergraduate Laboratory course.

Current Recipient

2023-2024: Nancy Ma

MaSince discovering her passion for life sciences in high school, Nancy chose to pursue this path by double majoring in Pharmacology and Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, with a minor in Immunology. Her first official experience with pharmacology was through PCL201, where she found this field to be tough, yet fascinating. It wasn't until the laboratory courses that she first connected lecture material about drug discovery to real-life applications, which greatly enhanced her interest in drug development. The courses not only trained her in laboratory techniques but also in the rationale behind experimental design and result analysis — both of which are critical and essential skills in research and various aspects of life.

Nancy is truly honored to receive this award. This achievement is not hers alone, but also involves the valuable support from her professors, TAs, group members, and classmates. She is now able to apply what she learned in the laboratory courses to her research project with Dr. Uetrecht, focusing on identifying potential biomarkers that can predict the risk of drugs causing idiosyncratic reactions. Moving forward, she is excited about the possibility of engaging in graduate programs to learn more about pharmacology in both research and clinical settings.

Past Recipients

2022-2023: Simin Jin

Photo of Simin

Simin Jin moved from Beijing, China to Canada, to study at the University of Toronto. Since she has always had an interest in learning how drugs work, Simin was determined to enroll in the Pharmacology Specialist Program. In the program, she has not only learned to apply knowledge in pharmacology, but was also provided with extensive research opportunities. The undergraduate laboratory courses and research experiences in Dr. Mac Burnham’s Lab have helped her develop variable skills such as experimental design, critical thinking, and teamwork. These experiences also fostered her interest in neuropharmacology and motivated her to develop new drugs for incurable neurological diseases.

Simin is honoured to receive this award and appreciates all the professors and TAs who have guided and supported her. She is currently working on a fourth-year research project on schizophrenia under Dr. Margaret Hahn’s supervision at CAMH. In the future, Simin hopes to become a clinician scientist by pursuing medicine and a master’s or Ph.D. degree in neuropharmacology research.

2021-2022: Zhizhi Xia

Photo of Zhizhi XiaZhizhi Xia, who also goes by Jessica, moved from Nanjing, China to Canada in Grade 10. She entered the University of Toronto still unsure of what she wanted to do. It was PSL190 that first exposed her to drug discovery research. From there, Zhizhi knew she wanted to study how drugs worked, in hopes of developing drugs for diseases yet to have a cure. Therefore, she pursued the Pharmacology Specialist Program. The program has been tough but she greatly appreciates the department for all the opportunities it has given her, from awe-inspiring lectures to hands-on research opportunities. In particular, Zhizhi believes the undergraduate laboratory courses have been meaningful as they have taught her not only how to perform experiments, but also how to critically analyze the results of those experiments in the context of existing literature. She is honoured to receive this award and feels greatly encouraged by it.

Most recently, Zhizhi has been admitted to the direct-entry Ph.D. program in the Department of Molecular Genetics and will be beginning her graduate studies this fall where she hopes to better understand the mechanisms of disease to aid drug discovery. Before coming to U of T, Zhizhi never considered the possibility of becoming a research scientist. However, being surrounded by professors and TAs who are always fostering her curiosity, pushing her to think deeper, and motivating her to work harder, the path to becoming a research scientist has become increasingly tangible each day.

2020-2021: Diana Nelles

Diana NellesBorn and raised in Toronto, Diana has always had her sights set on studying Life Sciences at the University of Toronto. Undecided of what program to enroll in, it was through PCL102 – a first-year elective course exploring the art of drug discovery – that led Diana to pursue the joint Pharmacology and Toxicology Specialist Program. Since then, she has found much fulfillment and enjoyment in learning how drugs influence human physiology and how this knowledge can be applied to help others. Diana is appreciative to all her professors and TAs that have supported and guided her, especially during the challenges brought on by the pandemic. She is grateful for the opportunity to participate in Undergraduate Laboratory courses, which have introduced her to real-life applications of pharmacology and drug discovery.

Diana is honoured to receive this award and credits her newly founded interest in bioinformatics to her virtual laboratory experience, which has led to her undertaking her fourth-year research project with the Tripathy Lab at CAMH’s Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics. Diana looks forward to returning to the laboratory this coming year and is confident that these experiences will assist her as she plans on pursuing a PharmD degree at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.


2019-2020: Jay Paranjpe
2018-2019: Marc Nunez
2016-2017: Hayley French
2015-2016: Yu Ting (Cherry) Lin
2014-2015: Winnie (Yi Ying) Wang
2013-2014: Xiaoyun Lu
2012-2013: Yuxiao Sonny Chen 
2011-2012: Bardia Abbasi