U of T Crest Faculty of Medicine / University of Toronto
Department of Paediatrics
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Respiratory Medicine
 > Department of Paediatrics > Divisions > Respiratory Medicine

Respiratory Medicine

Dr. Felix Ratjen- Division Head

As well as a comprehensive consultation service, the majority of clinical activity relates to patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), respiratory technologically dependent children and children with unstable asthma. The division also provides care to patients in the lung transplant program and who have rare lung diseases.

The training program has independent Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada accreditation and provides the full range of training that is required for Board Certification in Pediatric Pulmonology in the United States. As well as offering training to Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada eligible candidates, it also trains physicians from abroad.

The major research foci include the molecular biology of electrolyte transport in the lung epithelium, lung growth and development, mechanisms of airway inflammation, clinical studies infantile asthma, clinical and basic science studies in aerosol therapy, new therapeutic approaches to CF lung disease. All trainees are expected to participate in the research opportunities offered within the division.


Known as the Chest Division until 1994, the division under Dr. Peter Turner was established in 1957 with a mandate of providing leadership in the care of infants and children with respiratory illnesses, and of improving paediatric respiratory health through educational and research activities. Particularly notable among the early recruits to the Service were Drs. Henry Levison and A. Charles Bryan, who created the first state-of-the-art pulmonary function laboratory at SickKids.

Initially focused on tuberculosis, the Chest Division quickly broadened its reach to include all major illnesses that affect the respiratory system, particularly CF. Pioneering work on the importance of nutrition in controlling CF led to outstanding survival rates for CF patients at SickKids, and brought worldwide acclaim to the division.

Another early focus of the division was the management of inpatient and outpatient children with asthma. Pioneering work in this area resulted in the division being selected to be the only Canadian participant in a North American asthma research project funded by the National Institute of Health.

Under its current leadership, the division is aiming to enhance translation research in cystic fibrosis and asthma.

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