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About Sickkids
About SickKids

November 30, 2009

Research Institute Scientific Retreat 2009: Not retreating but moving forward in Research

On November 27, 865 SickKids Research Institute staff and trainees gathered at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the Annual Research Institute Scientific Retreat. This year’s retreat featured 194 scientific posters by trainees and platform presentations by researchers that focused on three themes: personalized medicine, stem cells and regenerative medicine and development of new technologies to improve clinical care.

“These important areas are likely to have major impact on the health care system in the next few years and we are lucky to have scientists from SickKids who are at the forefront of advances and who can address the likely future impact,” said SickKids Chief of Research Dr. Janet Rossant.

The Aser Rothstein keynote speaker Dr. Michael Hayden, Killam Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine and Director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics in Vancouver, followed the flow of the day focusing on genetic research and personalized medicine.

In his presentation entitled Global Adventures in Genetics: from Genes to Therapy, Hayden discussed his work with patients suffering from rare disorders. In studying the genetics behind these disorders, he works to find therapies that could be of use to the greater population. He argued that while we have a long way to go before many applications of personalized therapeutics become an everyday reality, predictive testing is one example which is helping today in early detection and treatment.

Hayden applauded SickKids for its leadership in pharmacogenomics and distinguished the culture of collaboration between researchers and clinicians at SickKids and with their external colleagues as crucial to advancements in health outcomes.

Hayden concluded by speaking directly to research trainees and fellows, “Have the courage and self-confidence to immerse yourselves in questions that matter. Although many of you are separated by language and culture you are united in changing the lives of children and changing medicine for the population.”

The retreat is also a time to honour those who have excelled in the past year. The Citizenship Award recognizes an individual Research Institute staff member who consistently goes "above and beyond" expectations in carrying out their work in the Institute. This year’s honoree, Paul Taylor, is “one of those people who has quietly had a big impact on the Research Institute,” said Dr. John Rubinstein who presented the award. Taylor is a Senior Proteomics Specialist in Molecular Structure & Function and Manager of the Advanced Protein Technology Centre who has conducted seminars, started clubs and written journals to ensure the understanding of mass spectrometry across the board.

The Exceptional Trainee Awards were also presented. Each program acknowledges one trainee for extra efforts to improve research and/or the lives of their colleagues.

Cell Biology – Ian Watson
Child Health & Evaluative Sciences – Dr. Ivan Diamond
Development & Stem Cell Biology – Dr. Akitsu Hotta
Genetics & Genome Biology – Adam Durbin
Molecular Structure & Function – Dr. James Wasmuth
Neurosciences & Mental Health – Dr. Yin Chan
Physiology & Experimental Medicine – David Douda