W. Mac Burnham Achievement Award

W. McIntyre Burnham, PhD

Dr. McIntyre Burnham received his BA in Experimental Psychology from Cornell University and his PhD in Physiological Psychology from McGill University. Following post-doctoral studies in electrophysiology with Pierre Gloor at the Montreal Neurological Institute, he joined the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Toronto, where he is currently a Professor Emeritus.

His research career has centred on epilepsy and the anti-convulsant drugs. He was the first recipient of the Bahen Chair of Epilepsy Research, and is currently the Director of the University of Toronto Epilepsy Research Program. He is also a Co-Director of EpLink, the Ontario Brain Institute’s Epilepsy Research Program. He is a Past President of Epilepsy Ontario and the current President of Epilepsy Canada.

This award is presented by the Department for Outstanding Achievement in a Pharmacology or Biomedical Toxicology Major Program. The award recognizes the highest academic achievement in our courses by a student graduating from one of our Major programs and highlights the excellent and long-standing nature of Professor W. Mac Burnham’s contributions to The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology’s Educational Programs.

Current Recipient

2023-2024: Amy Cao

CaoAmy is incredibly grateful and honored to be receiving this award! Her interest in pharmacology first sparked from her younger sister who lives with diabetes. After joining the Pharmacology Major program in her third year of studies, Dr. Burnham’s Neuropsychopharmacology course was one of the first courses she took from the Department. The course greatly expanded her curiosity about pharmacology and her determination to learn what it has to offer.

Amy recently completed her undergraduate education majoring in Pharmacology and Psychology, and minoring in Physiology. She would like to thank all professors in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology who helped her build a strong foundation of knowledge. Learning about the possibilities in promoting human well-being has truly been inspiring. To that point, she is excited to explore different paths in healthcare. She looks forward to furthering her education to pursue a future as a healthcare provider. She is sure that her learning from the past few years will serve her well in the many years to come.

Past Recipients

2022-2023: Kristen Schulz

Photo of KristenKristen completed a double major in Pharmacology and Physiology and a minor in Immunology. Pharmacology and physiology courses have provided her with a solid knowledge base on normal physiology and pathophysiology and treatment of various diseases that she has been able to apply to her research projects throughout her undergraduate degree. Her research focus has been on investigating endothelial cell dysfunction underlying atherosclerosis pathogenesis.

She is appreciative of the support she received from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology during her degree. She would specifically like to thank Dr. Michelle Arnot, whose Systems Pharmacology course inspired her to pursue cardiovascular research. Kristen will utilize the knowledge gained from her pharmacology major program as she pursues a thesis-based Master’s degree in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto in the laboratories of Drs. Fish and Howe.

2021-2022: Rebecca Rocco

Photo of Rebecca RoccoRebecca Rocco is very honored to have received this award. Taking Dr. Burnham’s Neuropsychopharmacology courses were a highlight of her degree. She would like to thank the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology for the numerous opportunities and support given to her throughout her undergraduate years. She would like to thank the incredible faculty, including Dr. Michelle Arnot, Dr. Noufissa Kabli, and Dr. Mac Burnham. Without their guidance, she would not have discovered her developing interest in neuropharmacology and neural disorders. Rebecca is currently pursuing a Masters in pharmaceutical sciences at the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany and will be taking everything she learned at UofT with her!

2020-2021: Fei Lin and Terri Ser

Fei Lin, 2020-2021 Burnham Award RecipientFei recently completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto with a double major in Pharmacology and Physiology. Unsure of her interests, she entered the program with much doubt and apprehension, but quickly found her place in the supportive environment of the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Following her third year, Fei did a semester abroad at Fudan University in Shanghai, where her background in pharmacology allowed her the opportunity to be a part of a global interdisciplinary team aimed to investigate the challenges faced by Chinas elderly population.

While it is unclear what the future has in store for her, Fei hopes her continuing pursuit of new experiences will bring about the unexpected, and looks forward to seeing where her studies will take her next.


Terri Ser, 2020-2021 Burnham Award RecipientTerri grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, but chose to attend the University of Toronto to pursue her interests in the life sciences. She recently completed a double major in pharmacology and biochemistry and a minor in immunology. 

During her undergraduate studies, Terri has explored pharmacology in many different contexts, from the cell signalling pathways perturbed in cancer to the systemic effects of various medications. Her work in these courses, along with her other areas of study, sparked her interest in cancer research and immunometabolism, which led her to pursue research projects investigating the metabolic conditioning of T cells as a way to improve immunotherapies.

Terri is incredibly grateful to all the professors within the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology who have supported her throughout her undergraduate journey and contributed to her enthusiasm for learning and research. In the fall, Terri will be returning to Vancouver to pursue a thesis-based master’s at UBC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. She hopes to pursue a career as a physician-scientist, which would allow her to explore medicine in both a clinical and research setting.


2019-2020: Linsey Gong
2018-2019: Xulin Liu, Christopher Knox
2017-2018: Hoomam Homsi