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Dr. Valerie Wallace - University Health Network. Toronto, ON, CA

Dr. Valerie Wallace Dr. Valerie Wallace

Senior Scientist | University Health Network

Toronto, ON, CANADA

A molecular biologist by training, Dr. Wallace is recognized for work on the role of Hedgehog signaling in neural progenitor proliferation.





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Dr. Valerie Wallace - FFB's Insight



Research in Dr. Wallace's lab at Krembil Research Institute (Krembil) is focused on the general problem of how cell number and fate are regulated in the developing brain. Unraveling how signaling pathways and genes that control these processes is key to understanding brain function but also important for understanding tumorigenesis and degenerative processes. Dr. Wallace uses the mammalian retina as a model to address these questions because its development is well characterized and it is a tractable system for experimental manipulation. General approaches in the lab include conditional mouse mutagenesis and primary retinal cell culture. Projects in the lab include the functional analysis of Hedgehog regulated genes in retinal histogensis and Hh-dependent tumorigenesis, elucidation of the mechanisms of Hedgehog protein trafficking in neurons, and cell transplantation approaches to restore retinal function.

From 1998-2013 Dr. Wallace was at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (University of Ottawa) where she was Senior Scientist and Director of the Vision Research Program. A molecular and developmental biologist by training, she is recognized for her work on the role of Hedgehog signaling in neural progenitor proliferation in the central nervous system. Dr. Wallace joined the Toronto Western Research Institute (now the Krembil Research Institute) in September 2013, where she is Director of Vision Sciences and Chair of the Vision Science Research Program. She holds appointments in the Department of Opthalmology and Vision Sciences and in LMP, UT. Dr. Wallace holds peer-reviewed grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada and Brain Canada.

Industry Expertise (3)

Research Health Care - Services Education/Learning

Areas of Expertise (10)

Neuroscience Opthalmology Vision Research Developmental Biology Molecular Biology Cell Biology Genetics Stem Cell Research Immunology Cancer Research

Education (2)

University of Toronto: Ph.D., Immunology 1993

University of Ottawa: B.S., Health Sciences 1987

Affiliations (5)

  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Foundation Fighting Blindness Canada
  • Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute
  • Brain Canada

Media Appearances (2)

Going Blind: Scientist Seeks to Cure to Own Disease

University Health Network Newsroom  online


He is passionate about the research Wallace and her team are involved with – rebuilding the damaged retina with new cone cells, cells in the eye which are specialized to receive light ...

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Dr. Valerie Wallace is asking big question about the brain and the eye and opening up new avenues for the development of regenerative therapies

The Ottawa Hospital Newsroom  online

“Unraveling the signaling pathways and genes that control brain development is key to understanding how the brain works, and is also important for the development of cell and drug therapies to treat degenerative diseases,” says Dr. Wallace ...

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Articles (5)

LRP2 Acts as SHH Clearance Receptor to Protect the Retinal Margin from Mitogenic Stimuli Developmental Cell


Our current findings uncovered LRP2 activity as the molecular mechanism imposing quiescence of the retinal margin in the mammalian eye and suggest SHH-induced proliferation of the retinal margin as cause of the large eye phenotype observed in mouse models and patients with LRP2 defects.

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Autologous fibrin glue as an encapsulating scaffold for delivery of retinal progenitor cells Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology


The retina is a highly sophisticated piece of the neural machinery that begins the translation of incoming light signals into meaningful visual information. Several degenerative diseases of the retina are characterized by photoreceptor loss and eventually lead to irreversible blindness. Regenerative medicine, using tissue engineering-based constructs to deliver progenitor cells or photoreceptors along with supporting carrier matrix is a promising approach for restoration of structure and function.

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Combinatorial hedgehog and mitogen signaling promotes the in vitro expansion but not retinal differentiation potential of retinal progenitor cells Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science


The in vitro expansion of multilineage competent primary neural progenitor cells is typically limited. Hedgehog (Hh) signaling is required in vivo for the maintenance of stem cell (SC) and progenitor populations in the central nervous system, including the retina. Here we investigated the impact of Hh signaling on in vitro expansion of perinatal mouse retinal progenitor cells (RPCs).

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Gene networks: dissecting pathways in retinal development and disease Progress in Retinal and Eye Research


During retinal neurogenesis, diverse cellular subtypes originate from multipotent neural progenitors in a spatiotemporal order leading to a highly specialized laminar structure combined with a distinct mosaic architecture. This is driven by the combinatorial action of transcription factors and signaling molecules which specify cell fate and differentiation. The emerging approach of gene network analysis has allowed a better understanding of the functional relationships between genes expressed in the developing retina.

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Overlapping expression patterns and redundant roles for AP-2 transcription factors in the developing mammalian retina Developmental Dynamics : An Official Publication of the American Association of Anatomists


Here we show that, in addition to their highly overlapping expression patterns in amacrine cells, AP-2α and AP-2β are also co-expressed in developing horizontal cells. These studies have uncovered critical roles for AP-2 activity in retinogenesis, delineating the overlapping expression patterns of Tcfap2a, Tcfap2b, and Tcfap2c in the neural retina, and revealing a redundant requirement for Tcfap2a and Tcfap2b in horizontal and amacrine cell development.

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