Gala 2012 - Tables and Topics

(Thursday April 26 at MaRS)

There are 25 tables.  Here are Tables 13 to 25.

For Tables 1 to 12, go HERE

Go to RCI Home Page

Table 13:  Udo Schuklenk, Professor of Philosophy and Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics, Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University

Should We or Should We Not? - Modern Medicine's Challenging Ethical Questions

Ethical issues in modern medicine raise troubling questions.  Should we permit the use of performance-enhancing drugs such as Ritalin?  Should Canada decriminalize assisted dying in some form or shape?  Should the expenses for IVF really be covered by a taxpayer-funded health care system?  What are the ethical challenges a rapidly aging Canadian society faces in its health care system?  Should we take drugs designed to help us forget for good traumatic experiences in our lives?  Is it a good idea to search for life-extending drugs?

Udo Schuklenk is Joint Editor-in-Chief of the leading international journal *Bioethics*.  He has published seven books as well as more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and anthologies.  Most recently he chaired an international expert panel that produced a high-impact report on end-of-life decision-making in Canada on behalf of the Royal Society of Canada.

Table 14:  Peter Dillon, Professor of Environmental Studies and of Chemistry, Trent University

The Future of Canada’s Lakes and Rivers

Although we tend to compartmentalize environmental issues, and try to resolve them one problem at a time, this is leading to incomplete solutions, or sometimes no solution at all. The interactions between factors that stress our environment often play a central role in the future of our ecosystems.  In addition, understanding that almost all of the water in our lakes and rivers has interacted extensively with the land around is central to protecting and managing these resources.

Dr. Dillon was trained as a classical chemist, but turned this background into a starting point for his research on lakes and rivers. He has studied eutrophication, the over-enrichment of lakes with nutrients, acid rain, climate change and a host of different contaminants including mercury and lead.  He worked in government for 25 years, during which time he started the world-renowned Dorset Research Centre.  For the past decade, he has taught environmental chemistry at Trent University in Peterborough.

Table 15:   Kelly Lyons, Associate Professor, Faculty of Information,

U of T

Service Science and Computer-Supported Value Co-Creation              

The service sector represents over 72% of the Canadian economy and is the fastest growing sector in most developed markets.  Motivated by this growth, researchers in a variety of fields have defined a new multidisciplinary field of study called ‘service science’ that strives to better understand service activities and establish scientific concepts and methods for studying service.  Compared to manufacturing and commodity-based organizations that produce and sell goods independently of customer inputs, customer input is required to deliver services.  This differentiating aspect of service organizations is called value co-creation and requires novel uses of technology to support relationship-building, group interactions, collaborative work processes, and information sharing across organizational and geographic boundaries.

Dr. Lyons was one of the pioneer researchers in service science while she was the Program Director of the IBM Toronto Lab Centre for Advanced Studies from 2004 to 2007.  In 2008, she joined the Faculty of Information at the U of T to embark on a research and teaching career in service science, where she specializes in social media and computer-supported value co-creation. She has received an NSERC Discovery Grant, an NSERC Collaborative Research and Development Grant with SAP, and an IBM Smarter Planet Faculty Innovation Grant.  She holds a cross-appointment with the Department of Computer Science at the U of T, is a member of the Knowledge Media Design Institute, a Member-at-Large of the ACM Council, and a member of the ACM-Women’s Executive Committee.  She is very interested in promoting Women in Technology initiatives and has given several presentations to young people and teachers on this topic. 

Table 16:  Peter Zandstra, Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bioengineering and Professor, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, U of T

Cells and Tissues as Drugs to Treat Degenerative Disease

Stem cells have emerged as the starting material of choice for bioprocesses to produce cells and tissues to treat degenerative, genetic, and immunological disease.  Translating the biological properties and potential of stem cells into therapies will require overcoming significant cell-manufacturing and regulatory challenges.  Bioengineering fundamentals, including bioreactor design and tissue engineering need to be combined with cellular biology principles to guide the development of cell-based products in a safe, robust, and cost-effective manner.

In 2010 Dr. Zandstra led the successful application for a National Centre of Excellence in Research and Commercialization on regenerative medicine.  He currently acts as Chief Scientific Officer for this new center (  Dr Zandstra’s strong commitment to training the next generation of researchers is evidenced by his role as the Director of the undergraduate Bioengineering Program and his leadership in the development of curricula and several courses at U of T.

Table 17:  Kim Allen, CEO and Registrar, Professional Engineers of Ontario

Why Aren’t There More Engineers in Government?


Would Ontario be a better place if we had engineers instead of lawyers running the government, as they do in China?

Kim Allen holds an engineering degree and an MBA.  In 2005, he launched a Government Liaison program that built relationships between legislators and Ontario's 80,000 engineers.  He set up an Ontario Centre for Engineering and Public Policy and made a goal to grow the number of politicians who have technical expertise like engineers.  Eleven engineers ran in the recent Ontario election and three were elected.  The results are being copied by other professions across Canada.  Do engineers bring something special to government?  Weigh in on an emerging trend to find out who we need running our governments.

Table 18:  Kamran Khan, Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, U of T and clinician at St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto

The Globalization of Infectious Diseases

New infectious diseases are emerging faster than ever before, while many others are reemerging.  The evolution of commercial air travel has made the world a much smaller place, providing unprecedented opportunities for local infectious disease threats to rapidly transform into international epidemics or pandemics.  While the drivers of infectious disease globalization are complex, major forces such as human population growth, urbanization, changing human-animal population interactions, climate change, mass gatherings and international air travel are thought to be major contributors.  Understanding how these factors interact is essential to protecting global health, security and economic prosperity.

Throughout his training at the U of T, Cornell, Columbia, and Harvard, Dr. Khan has sought to understand the complex relationship between human population movements and infectious diseases.  In 2008, he founded Bio.Diaspora, a novel technology that integrates information on global population mobility with knowledge of global infectious disease activity to help countries prepare for emerging threats before they occur and respond to them effectively and efficiently in near real-time when they inevitably arise.

Table 19: Christine Kraus, Canada Research Chair in Particle Astrophysics, Department of Physics, Laurentian University, Sudbury

Particle Astrophysics at SNOLAB - Learning About Neutrinos and Searching for Dark Matter

SNOLAB (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory) is a laboratory located deep underground at VALE's Creighton mine in Sudbury, where physicists are doing fundamental research to understand particles and astronomical phenomena.  This is a very exciting field, with great potential for discoveries in the next 5-10 years.  Scientists are seeking to understand what our universe is made of and, indeed, why we exist at all (in the sense of “why is there more matter than antimatter in the universe?”)  Working deep underground in an active mine is interesting in itself, especially if you need to keep your equipment extremely clean!  

Originally from Mainz, Germany, Prof. Kraus worked on determining the mass of the “ghost particle” (neutrino) during her Ph.D. and moved on to a post-doctoral fellowship at Queen's University, working on the SNO experiment.  She won a 40 under forty award in 2011.

Table 20:   Marshall McCall, Professor and Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, York University

How We Got Here:  The Milky Way and Beyond

Our understanding of the Milky Way and our place within it is inextricably tied to thinking about galaxies.  Our own bodies bear the imprint of galactic evolution.  How did we get here mentally?  How did we get here physically?  How special are we?

Prof. McCall is an astronomer who has spent most of his research life studying the structure, evolution, and formation of galaxies and galaxy aggregates.  Born and raised in Victoria, B.C., he has been interested in space and astronomy since kindergarten, which is when his mother towed him into the night to see Sputnik.  His professional skills were initially honed as a gardener at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.  After acquiring a B.Sc. from the University of Victoria, he went on to graduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin.  Before returning to Canada, he spent two years observing southern skies at Mt. Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories in Australia.  His primary research adversary is interstellar dust, and he has spent a good deal of time uncovering what lies behind it, including two hitherto unknown galaxies in the back yard of the Milky Way.

Table 21:  Hossein Rahnama, Research Director, Digital Media Zone, Ryerson University

Context-Aware Computing and Mobile Sensing in the Cloud:  The Information Should Find You When You Need It

Dr. Rahnama is the Research Director of Ryerson Digital Media Zone and CEO and Founder of Flybits Inc, a company focused on Context Aware Computing and Ambient Intelligence. His research combines context-aware computing, ambient intelligence and computer mediated social networks.  With special interests in cloud-driven computation, his research team specializes in mobile software frameworks that respond to situational factors and personal information.  Their goal is to use mobile devices to enhance interpersonal communications while conserving privacy and energy.  Dr. Rahnama, an ambassador of Privacy by Design, a program initiated by Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner, is leading a project at Ryerson focused on building a “Privacy Rule Engine” for preserving users’ privacy in ubiquitous software applications, and has used it to deploy large-scale research projects for entities many multi-national organization.  Utilizing his patented framework, location-based and Context-Aware applications can maintain their functionality without putting users’ private information at risk.  He is the recipient of the ORION Innovation Award ( 2011) , Harvard Business School Semi Finalist Award ( Flybits 2008), OCE International.

Table 22:  Brenda Zimmerman, Director, Health Industry Management, Schulich School of Business, York University

Can Positive Deviance be the Solution to the Challenge of Hospital-Acquired Infections?


Hospital-acquired infections (C.Diff, MRSA, VRE) are typically antibiotic-resistant organisms, often nicknamed “superbugs”.    Patients and staff in hospitals are at risk of becoming infected and of infecting others.  Positive Deviance is a change-management approach that has been used in six Canadian hospitals to address this challenge.  The hallmark of positive deviance is locally-created and -implemented solutions in contrast to dictated guidelines or rules.  How can the lessons learned from these hospitals be used to broadly spread the ideas without destroying the very essence of the PD approach?

Professor Zimmerman‘s primary research applies complexity science to organizations, especially health care organizations.  She was a member of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences chronic disease expert panel, is a member of the Health Foundation’s Improvement Science Network (UK), advises the Canadian Public Health Agency, and is the Chair of Patient Safety and Quality Committee for Mount Sinai Hospital.

Table 23:   Marianna Foldvari, Canada Research Chair in Bionanotechnology and Nanomedicine and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Waterloo

Needle-free Nanomedicines -- Developing Drug Delivery Systems for Protein and DNA Drugs

Nanomedicine is a new term, used to define the medical applications of nanotechnology.  One of the most important fields of nanomedicine is ‘drug delivery’.  The development of safe and effective delivery systems for non-invasive administration of protein drugs and nucleic acid is becoming increasingly important for both local and systemic treatments.  The discussion will focus on some recent designs of needle-free technologies that provide specific advantages in drug delivery.  The development of these technologies and their impact on personalized medicine and self-health will be discussed.

Dr. Foldvari’s expertise is in pharmaceutics, dosage form and drug delivery system design, nanotechnology, non-viral delivery methods, vaccine development, and computational modeling.  She founded two spin-off companies, PharmaDerm Laboratories Ltd. and DDS Research Inc., which focus on nanomedicine product development to commercialize technologies that she and her research team developed.  Topical Interferon Alpha-2b cream, based on the Biphasix™ technology on which she holds the patent, is currently in Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of patients with lesions caused by the human papillomavirus, for the prevention of cervical cancer.

Table 24:  Emma Westecott, Assistant Professor, Game Design, Digital Futures Initiative, OCAD University

Digital Games as Expressive Form

Modern digital games are a significant cultural force, increasingly accepted as the current generation's medium of choice and as a powerful contemporary art form.  One of the most significant aspects of digital games is the explicit inclusion of the consumer in active and playful experience.  Our discussion will explore how digital gaming is evolving as an expressive form - in the mainstream industry, indie community and via artistic engagement.

Emma is Director of the game:play lab at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) University (  She has worked in the game industry for over 17 years in development, research and the academy.  She achieved international recognition for working closely with Douglas Adams as producer for the best-selling CD-ROM Adventure Game, Starship Titanic (1998, Simon & Schuster).  Since then, she has built up a worldwide reputation for developing original as well as popular game projects.

Table 25:  Scott Menary, Professor of Physics, York University

Antihydrogen Trapping and Spectroscopy

Prof. Menary’s present main research thrust is the ALPHA experiment at the Antiproton Decelerator at CERN, the European Centre for Particle Physics located in Geneva.  ALPHA aims to produce, "trap", and spectrally analyze a sample of antihydrogen atoms. Comparison of the properties of antihydrogen to those of hydrogen, the most precisely understood system that exists, promises to be a stringent test of our present description of the interactions of the fundamental objects in our universe. 

Before coming to York he was a Scientific Associate of CERN, a Research Associate with the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Staff Scientist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) located near Chicago.  He has performed research at CERN (specifically at LEP - the Large Electron Positron collider), Fermilab where he helped design a neutrino beam, as well as HERA, the large electron-proton collider at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg, and the CLEO experiment at the CESR electron-positron collider located on the Cornell University campus.

OUR MUSICIANS: ‘Three Docs and a Dame’

Nelles Van Loon, Ph.D. U of T, retired after a long career teaching English at Ryerson; David Bell, Ph.D. Harvard, retired after a long career in Environmental Studies at York; Lorne Tepperman, Ph.D. Harvard, still teaching Sociology at U of T; Patricia Duffy, lounge singer for twenty years or so [and mother of the lead singer for "Three Days Grace"].  Dave, Patti and Nelles have been working together since the early nineties.  Lorne joined about seven years ago.  Lorne and Nelles played in the band for the UC Follies in 1963 and Lorne and Dave did some gigs together the year after that.  All are members of the Hurricanes, an eighteen piece swing band that rehearses every Monday night.  Their repertoire is mostly standards - Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Harold Arlen, etc., along with the songs of the great Brazilian composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim.

For Tables 1 to 12, go HERE