Renée Brost and Bryan San Luis Win Staff IMPACT Awards

Jun 27, 2017
By Jovana Drinjakovic

The Donnelly Centre is thrilled to announce that Ms. Renée Brost and Mr. Bryan San Luis have won two of this year’s Staff IMPACT Awards, awarded annually by the Faculty of Medicine to administrative and technical staff in recognition of their work.

Brost is Manager of Finance and Administration in the Centre and the recipient of the Leadership Award for creating a collegial and balanced work environment and supporting the professional development of her staff.

San Luis is a research technician in the lab of Professor Charlie Boone and the winner of the Service in a Laboratory Research Environment Award for outstanding help to students and principal investigators. 

Staff IMPACT awards were awarded at the Faculty of Medicine’s annual Staff Recognition Barbeque on June 27, 2017.

Ms. Renée Brost Brost joined the Faculty of Medicine in 2002 as a research technician in the Boone and Hughes labs that were at the time located in the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research (BBDMR). She quickly took on more responsibilities and became lab manager first in the Boone lab, and then also in the lab of University Professor Brenda Andrews, who was then Chair of BBDMR. During this time, Brost managed the teams’ flagship large-scale functional genomics project as it was ramping up and supervised several research technicians who were handling the robotic equipment built for that purpose. For this, she received a U of T Stepping UP Merit Award in 2007, at a reception hosted by President David Naylor in his official residence for establishing a world-class infrastructure and enhancing the student experience.

In 2008, two years after Andrews was appointed Director of the Donnelly Centre and the labs moved to the new building, Brost became Administrative Manager and was then promoted to Manager of Finance and Administration in 2014 as her duties grew with the Centre’s expanding research. Today, Brost manages a staff of 13 full time employees, with five technical, six administrative and two IT staff, and has also helped establish communications and advancement teams.

“I am extremely fortunate that during my time in the Faculty of Medicine I have been consistently entrusted with solving unique challenges and undertaking expanded responsibilities, both have led to fantastic leadership opportunities within our unbeatable team.  I am particularly grateful to Brenda Andrews for mentoring and leading me throughout much of my career at U of T, her unwavering trust and support continues to drive and inspire me,” says Brost.

Brost ensures that the Centre runs smoothly on a daily basis, from overseeing research funds of $25 million for the 18 faculty with primary appointments to dealing with unpredictable elevator glitches. For this she is highly appreciated and respected by all 500 researchers and staff who work in the Centre.

“Renée leads by example - she is fair and balanced, recognizes the strengths of each staff member, and is absolutely dedicated to the goal of ensuring that each and every member of the Donnelly team (and anyone else she encounters!) reaches their full potential and does their very best work,” says Andrews. “I have had the pleasure of working directly with many exceptional staff at the University but Renee stands out in this impressive group due to her incredible dedication to making the Donnelly Centre and the University a better place, her consistent professionalism and her outstanding management skills.”

Mr. Bryan San Luis Like Brost, San Luis too started in the Boone lab as a research technician when he was hired in 2006 by Brost and Dr. Michael Constanzo, a senior research associate in the lab. He quickly transitioned from a simple operational role to managing the entire automated genetics platform that the lab’s research depends on, while also doing data analysis.

San Luis is praised among lab members for strong work ethics, attention to detail, and strength and accuracy of the data he produces. He also looks after thousands of yeast and bacterial strains used in experiments and shared with collaborators at home and abroad that have to be handled in an accurate and consistent way. San Luis is well known to anyone in the global research community wishing to use the automated platform in the Boone and Andrews labs for their own experiments and has helped optimize standard protocols to match the requirements of hundreds of collaborators over the years.

“Bryan is always there to help and despite his busy schedule, he never fails to make time for those that need his help, whether is to get their robots operational, to get strains, or to do some side-experiments for them, says Dr. Sara Sharifpoor, Boone lab manager. “He is also a great friend and manages to bring the lab together by co-ordinating lab events and group lunches and dinners that create bonds between our lab members and foster the team-building spirit.”

The Faculty of Medicine employs approximately 850 appointed administrative and technical staff who support students, help to recruit and retain faculty, keep the labs running, fundraise for research and student awards, and maintain the vast infrastructure which the faculty and students rely on.