The Winter 2012 Lectures


Sunday, January 15 at 3 pm                    TORONTO

Medicine - A Glimpse of the Future

Robert Roberts, MD, FRCPC, MACC, FRSM, President and CEO,
University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Professor of Medicine and Director, Ruddy Canadian Cardiovascular Genetics Centre

Heart disease is the number one killer in the world.  It is preventable, as shown by modifying known conventional risk factors such as cholesterol and high blood pressure.  However, 50% of the risk for heart disease relates to your genes.  The technology became available in 2005 to identify these risk-carrying genes.  We identified the first gene in 2007 and, together with an international consortium, have identified a total of 36 genes.  We believe that comprehensive prevention, based on conventional and genetic risk factors, could eliminate heart disease in this century.


This lecture is co-sponsored by the Gairdner Foundation

Sunday, January 22 at 3 pm                     TORONTO

Nanotech Tools for Diagnosing Disease

 Shana O Kelley, Ph.D., Faculty of Pharmacy, U of T

Cancer, infectious disease, and many other disease states are most treatable when diagnosed early and rapidly.  Current methods used clinically for the diagnosis of disease require specialized laboratories and centralized lab facilities, and do not allow on-demand testing to be carried out in real-time where patients are cared for.   We are working towards generating a new class of diagnostic instruments that can be used in any environment to perform rapid, cost-effective diagnostic tests.  The technology we’ve developed relies on sensors made of nanomaterials possessing record-breaking performance levels and making possible the direct readout of disease biomarkers in clinical samples.  The application of these sensors to challenges in the diagnosis of cancer, infectious disease diagnosis, and organ transplants will be highlighted.  A general overview of the applications of nanotechnology to medicine will also be presented.

Sunday, January 29 at 3 pm                    TORONTO

Reshaping the Mind: The Benefits of Bilingualism

Ellen Bialystok, Ph.D., FRSC, Department of Psychology, York University

Bilingualism is a common experience that has a powerful influence on cognitive ability.  I will describe research that demonstrates these effects across the lifespan, including more rapid development of crucial cognitive processes for young children being raised in homes where two languages are spoken, cognitive benefits for adults who use two languages in their daily lives, and protection against symptoms of dementia for older adults who have been lifelong bilinguals.  This research shows how a linguistic experience can reorganize the mind and produce better cognitive functioning for a wide range of important cognitive activities.

Thursday, February 2 at 7:30 pm      MISSISSAUGA

Green Economy: Fiction or Pathway to Sustainable Development?  Evidence from Green Energy


Paul Parker, B.Sc., B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Department of Geography and Environmental Management; Faculty of Environment,

University of Waterloo

The Earth Summit was held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro with Canadian and global leaders signing conventions to protect the planet.  In 2012, the Rio + 20 conference will assess what we have achieved and what we need to do.  Green economy has been proposed as a solution and the Ontario experience of green energy initiatives will be examined as a local case study. Energy efficiency to reduce demand and renewable sources of energy supply will be reviewed.

Sunday, February 5 at 3 pm                 TORONTO

The Startling Speedup of the Expansion of the Universe

Raymond Carlberg, M.Sc., Ph.D.,

Department of Astronomy,

U of T

Starting with some very simple ideas, Einstein built up a theory of gravity which dethroned Newton.  Applied to the whole universe Einstein's theory predicts that it is either expanding or contracting, which Hubble found to be expanding.  The theory also predicts that the matter in the universe should be causing the rate of expansion to slow.  New ideas of the early universe introduced in the 1980's indicated that the expansion could be accelerating, which Einstein had allowed in his equations.  In 2011 the Nobel Prize for physics was awarded for the 1998 discovery that the expansion of the universe was accelerating.  I will discuss how the measurement was            made, some of the implications, and the profound new puzzles created.

   This is a joint lecture with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Toronto Centre

Sunday, February 12 at 3 pm                TORONTO

Childhood Obesity:  Complex Causes Without Simple Solutions

Rena Mendelson, M.S., D.Sc., R.D., School of Nutrition, Ryerson

The rise in childhood obesity during the past 30 years can be attributed to many different changes in our environment and lifestyle as well as the possible impact of environmental factors on gene expression.  In spite of extraordinary efforts to find easily adapted interventions to combat obesity, the success rates are discouraging at best.  To effectively address this problem will require thoughtful and informed leadership in every domain of our society.

Sunday, February 19 at 3 pm               TORONTO

The Revolution in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Linda Penn, Ph.D., Canadian Research Chair in Molecular Oncology, University Health Network;  Director, Office of Research Trainees, UHN;  Co-Director, Microarray Centre;  Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital;  Professor, Dept of Medical Biophysics, U of T

It is an exciting time to be in cancer research.  Thanks to years of in-depth investigation, we now understand the fundamental differences between normal and tumour cells.  Incremental advances at the level of cellular and molecular biology, as well as a complete roadmap of the human genome have contributed to the many discoveries along the way.  This knowledge can now be exploited for the development of new diagnostic tools and treatment strategies that focus on the underlying cause of an individual’s cancer.  This transition to personalized medicine marks a key advance that promises to revolutionize cancer diagnosis and treatment.  In this lecture, we will walk through this journey, as well as highlight where we are now and where we are going, particularly as it relates to patient care. 

Sunday, February 26 at 2:30 pm            TORONTO


A fun-filled afternoon for kids aged 6 to 12.  Explore science through fun hands-on activities.  Parents welcome!  Doors open at 2 pm.  Free, with no reserved seats.

Thursday, March 1 at 7:30 pm         MISSISSAUGA

Examining the Health Impacts of Under-  and Unemployed Highly-Skilled Recent Immigrants to Canada

Kathi Wilson, Ph.D., Department of Geography, U of T at Mississauga

The majority of immigrants are accepted for entry to Canada under the Skilled Worker Program in order to fill employment shortages in the labour market.  Recent research has revealed that an increasing number of immigrants who gain entry under this programme face significant barriers to employment.  As a result, many remain unemployed or accept employment below their field of education and training.  However, the impacts such employment circumstances have on the health of recent highly-skilled immigrants have not yet been examined.  This presentation will discuss the results of a collaborative research project that explores the health impacts of under- and unemployment among skilled immigrants in Mississauga.

Sunday, March 4 at 3 pm              TORONTO

Of Ducks and Rabbits, Geese,

Cats and Dogs: Why Science

and Society Don’t Understand

Each Other


Massimiano Bucchi,  Ph.D., Department of Sociology, University of Trento, Italy

Whether the issue is genetically modified organisms, stem cells, or nuclear energy, public debate appears to be constricted within a consolidated pattern.  There are the advocates of the unbridled development of science and technology; there are those who call for restraints on science’s encroachment into fields that have traditionally been the prerogatives of social, political, and religious choices and practices.  Paradoxically, the two sides share the same prejudice: they both consider science and society to be internally compact entities, rigidly separate, and impervious to each other.  On this view, science’s task is to supply a constant flow of new proposals which society then inspects and (often) rejects.  But there are, in fact, frequent overlaps between scientific discourse and public opinion, and between research priorities and the expectations of citizens and consumers, which erode the boundaries between science and society and expose the divisions internal to each of them: suffice it to mention the debates on climate change or biomedicine.  This tangled relationship between science and society fuels the conflict between advocates of scientism and anti-scientism: a deceptive case of role-playing that hinders fuller understanding of the challenges raised by contemporary science and technology.

   This lecture is co-sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute

Wednesday, April 4 at 7:30 pm      MISSISSAUGA

Finding Science in Ice Cream

H. Douglas Goff, Ph.D., Department of Food Science, University of Guelph

The delicious treat enjoyed by countless people as dessert and for entertaining is also a very complicated lesson in several scientific principles.  This lecture will describe the manufacture of ice cream and then delve into its structure, which will involve a description of scientific principles such as colloidal stability and freezing point depression to explain how manufacturers make the optimum-quality product.   Keeping that quality through the storage and distribution chain to deliver it to the consumer is an equally large challenge involving further applications of scientific principles to understand sugar glasses and ice recrystallization, all of which will be demonstrated in detail. 


We thank the University of Toronto and

the Mississauga Central Library for their support



FREE public one-hour lectures followed by a question period

TORONTO:  Sundays at 3 pm (doors open at 2:15)

Macleod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, University of Toronto

1 King’s College Circle (Nearest Subway is Queen’s Park Station)

Parking on campus, pay/display; limited disabled parking available

MISSISSAUGA: Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm at Noel Ryan Auditorium, Mississauga Central Library, 301 Burnhamthorpe Road W. 

Parking under the library is free after 6 p.m.  Enter via the ramp

accessed from the southbound lane on Duke of York Boulevard

between City Centre Drive and Burnhamthorpe Road. 

FROM ISLINGTON STATION take either the #3 or #26 bus to City Centre Drive and Duke of York Blvd., (about 45 minutes), then walk south on Duke of York and east on Burnhamthorpe, about 4 minutes more.   NOTE: The April 4 lecture

is on a Wednesday.

Note: Dr Roberts was unable to deliver this lecture because his aircraft was delayed at Ottawa airport

NOTE:  Dr Bucchi included a video, “Our Friend the Atom”, in his talk, which we have removed from the webcast due to copyright

concerns.   The video can, however, be found by that name on YouTube.