Faculty Focus - James T. Rutka

James T. Rutka, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS, FAAP

Born in Toronto, and educated at Princeton University (1975-1977), and Queen's University Medical School (1977-1981), Dr. Rutka completed an internship at McGill University (1981-1982) before entering the University of Toronto Neurosurgery Training Program in 1982. His training included a research fellowship at the Brain Tumor Research Centre, the University of California San Francisco where he obtained his PhD in Experimental Pathology (1984-1987). Upon conclusion of his neurosurgical residency 1989, Dr. Rutka completed a clinical fellowship in microvascular neurosurgery with Dr. Kenichiro Sugita at the University of Nagoya, and a post-doctoral research fellowship in molecular immunology at Juntendo University, Tokyo (1990).

Dr. Rutka assumed his appointment in the Department of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery in 1990, and has been on the surgical staff at the Hospital for Sick Children in the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery since that time. He has served a Co-Director of the Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumor Research Centre at the University of Toronto since 1998. From 1999-2010, Dr. Rutka held the Dan Family Chair in Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, leading the world's largest neurosurgical training program.  In 2011, he was selected as the R.S. McLaughlin Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. Dr. Rutka has also served as the President of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (2010-2011), President of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery (2011-2012), and in 2013 he was appointed as the seventh Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neurosurgery, the first Canadian neurosurgeon to hold this prestigious role. Dr. Rutka is married to Mari and has three children, Daniel, Hana and Marissa.

Clinical Research

Dr. Rutka's primary research and clinical interests relate to the science and surgery of human brain tumors. His laboratory interests lie in the molecular biology of human brain tumors - specifically in the determination of the mechanisms by which brain tumors grow and invade.

Current Appointments

  • R.S. McLaughlin Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto
  • Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (cross-appointment), Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
  • Director, Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Senior Scientist, Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Staff Surgeon, Division of Neurosurgery, The Hospital for Sick Children

Past Appointments

  • Dan Family Chair in Neurosurgery, University of Toronto, 1999-2010
  • Harold Hoffman Chair in Pediatric Neurosurgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, 1998-1999

Selected Distinctions

  • Fellow, American Surgical Association, 2013-present
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 2011-present
  • Fellow, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, 2010-present
  • Honored Guest Award, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, 2009
  • Honorary Member, The Japan Neurological Society, 2007-present
  • Grass Award, Society of Neurological Surgeons, 2004
  • Career Scientist Award, Medical Research Council of Canada, 1999

Selected Professional Activities

  • Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Neurosurgery, 2013-present
  • Past President, American Academy of Neurological Surgery, 2011-2012
  • Past President, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 2010-2011
  • Board of Directors at Large, Canadian Cancer Society, 2009-2012
  • Chair, Neurosurgery Expert Panel and Neruosurgery Wait Times Strategy, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, 2007-present
  • Chair, Nominating Committee, World Federation of Neurological Surgeons, 2007-2008

Selected Peer-Reviewed Funding

  • Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Institute Award, 2012-2015.
    Translational Targeting of Group D Medulloblastoma
    PI: Rutka JT.
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2010-2015
    Molecular targeting of the Rho-GTPase pathway in astrocytomas.
    PI: Rutka JT, Hynynen K, Mainprize T.
  • Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, 2011-2014.
    Blockade of Aberrant HGF/cMET Signaling in Medulloblastoma.
    PI: Rutka JT.
  • Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada, 2011-2013.
    The Role of Dysregulated HGF/c-MET Pathway Signalling in Medulloblastoma Dissemination.
    PI: Rutka JT.

Selected Publications

  • Rutka JT. Editorial: Leading transition while maintaining tradition. J Neurosurg. 2013 Jun 4
  • Gawad N, Moussa F, Christakis GT, Rutka JT. Planting the 'SEAD': early comprehensive exposure to surgery for medical students. J Surg Educ. 2013 Jul-Aug;70(4):487-94.
  • Ibrahim GM, Rutka JT, Snead OC 3rd. Network analysis reveals patterns of antiepileptic drug use in children with medically intractable epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav. 2013 Jul;28(1):22-5.
  • Fallah A, Guyatt GH, Snead OC 3rd, Ebrahim S, Ibrahim GM, Mansouri A, Reddy D, Walter SD, Kulkarni AV, Bhandari M, Banfield L, Bhatnagar N, Liang S, Teutonico F, Liao J, Rutka JT. Predictors of seizure outcomes in children with tuberous sclerosis complex and intractable epilepsy undergoing resective epilepsy surgery: an individual participant data meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e53565.
  • Dubuc AM, Remke M, Korshunov A, Northcott PA, Zhan SH, Mendez-Lago M, Kool M, Jones DT, Unterberger A, Morrissy AS, Shih D, Peacock J, Ramaswamy V, Rolider A, Wang X, Witt H, Hielscher T, Hawkins C, Vibhakar R, Croul S, Rutka JT, Weiss WA, Jones SJ, Eberhart CG, Marra MA, Pfister SM, Taylor MD. Aberrant patterns of H3K4 and H3K27 histone lysine methylation occur across subgroups in medulloblastoma. Acta Neuropathol. 2013 Mar;125(3):373-84.
  • Diaz RJ, Guduk M, Romagnuolo R, Smith CA, Northcott P, Shih D, Berisha F, Flanagan A, Munoz DG, Cusimano MD, Pamir MN, Rutka JT. High-resolution whole-genome analysis of skull base chordomas implicates FHIT loss in chordoma pathogenesis. Neoplasia. 2012 Sep;14(9):788-98.
  • Northcott PA, Shih DJ, Peacock J, Garzia L, Morrissy AS, Zichner T, Stütz AM, Korshunov A, Reimand J, Schumacher SE, Beroukhim R, Ellison DW, Marshall CR, Lionel AC, Mack S, Dubuc A, Yao Y, Ramaswamy V, Luu B, Rolider A, Cavalli FM, Wang X, Remke M, Wu X, Chiu RY, Chu A, Chuah E, Corbett RD, Hoad GR, Jackman SD, Li Y, Lo A, Mungall KL, Nip KM, Qian JQ, Raymond AG, Thiessen NT, Varhol RJ, Birol I, Moore RA, Mungall AJ, Holt R, Kawauchi D, Roussel MF, Kool M, Jones DT, Witt H, Fernandez-L A, Kenney AM, Wechsler-Reya RJ, Dirks P, Aviv T, Grajkowska WA, Perek-Polnik M, Haberler CC, Delattre O, Reynaud SS, Doz FF, Pernet-Fattet SS, Cho BK, Kim SK, Wang KC, Scheurlen W, Eberhart CG, Fèvre-Montange M, Jouvet A, Pollack IF, Fan X, Muraszko KM, Gillespie GY, Di Rocco C, Massimi L, Michiels EM, Kloosterhof NK, French PJ, Kros JM, Olson JM, Ellenbogen RG, Zitterbart K, Kren L, Thompson RC, Cooper MK, Lach B, McLendon RE, Bigner DD, Fontebasso A, Albrecht S, Jabado N, Lindsey JC, Bailey S, Gupta N, Weiss WA, Bognár L, Klekner A, Van Meter TE, Kumabe T, Tominaga T, Elbabaa SK, Leonard JR, Rubin JB, Liau LM, Van Meir EG, Fouladi M, Nakamura H, Cinalli G, Garami M, Hauser P, Saad AG, Iolascon A, Jung S, Carlotti CG, Vibhakar R, Ra YS, Robinson S, Zollo M, Faria CC, Chan JA, Levy ML, Sorensen PH, Meyerson M, Pomeroy SL, Cho YJ, Bader GD, Tabori U, Hawkins CE, Bouffet E, Scherer SW, Rutka JT, Malkin D, Clifford SC, Jones SJ, Korbel JO, Pfister SM, Marra MA, Taylor MD. Subgroup-specific structural variation across 1,000 medulloblastoma genomes. Nature. 2012 Aug 2;488(7409):49-56.
  • Weeks A, Okolowsky N, Golbourn B, Ivanchuk S, Smith C, Rutka JT. ECT2 and RASAL2 mediate mesenchymal-amoeboid transition in human astrocytoma cells. Am J Pathol. 2012 Aug;181(2):662-74.
  • Diaz RJ, Golbourn B, Shekarforoush M, Smith CA, Rutka JT. Aurora kinase B/C inhibition impairs malignant glioma growth in vivo. J Neurooncol. 2012 Jul;108(3):349-60.
  • Dubuc AM, Morrissy AS, Kloosterhof NK, Northcott PA, Yu EP, Shih D, Peacock J, Grajkowska W, van Meter T, Eberhart CG, Pfister S, Marra MA, Weiss WA, Scherer SW, Rutka JT, French PJ, Taylor MD. Subgroup-specific alternative splicing in medulloblastoma. Acta Neuropathol. 2012 Apr;123(4):485-99.
  • Etame AB, Diaz RJ, O'Reilly MA, Smith CA, Mainprize TG, Hynynen K, Rutka JT. Enhanced delivery of gold nanoparticles with therapeutic potential into the brain using MRI-guided focused ultrasound. Nanomedicine. 2012 Oct;8(7):1133-42.
  • Witt H, Mack SC, Ryzhova M, Bender S, Sill M, Isserlin R, Benner A, Hielscher T, Milde T, Remke M, Jones DT, Northcott PA, Garzia L, Bertrand KC, Wittmann A, Yao Y, Roberts SS, Massimi L, Van Meter T, Weiss WA, Gupta N, Grajkowska W, Lach B, Cho YJ, von Deimling A, Kulozik AE, Witt O, Bader GD, Hawkins CE, Tabori U, Guha A, Rutka JT, Lichter P, Korshunov A, Taylor MD, Pfister SM. Delineation of two clinically and molecularly distinct subgroups of posterior fossa ependymoma. Cancer Cell. 2011 Aug 16;20(2):143-57.
  • Rutka JT. Hemispherectomy for the control of intractable epilepsy in childhood. Neurosurgery. 2011 Jul;69(1):E263-4; discussion E264.
  • Northcott PA, Korshunov A, Witt H, Hielscher T, Eberhart CG, Mack S, Bouffet E, Clifford SC, Hawkins CE, French P, Rutka JT, Pfister S, Taylor MD. Medulloblastoma comprises four distinct molecular variants. J Clin Oncol. 2011 Apr 10;29(11):1408-14.
  • Rutka JT. Discovering neurosurgery: new frontiers. J Neurosurg. 2011 Dec;115(6):1053-66.
  • Kim BY, Rutka JT, Chan WC. Nanomedicine. N Engl J Med. 2010 Dec 16;363(25):2434-43.