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About Sickkids
About SickKids

November 4, 2010

Research Institute Retreat 2010: Celebrating an exciting year in SickKids research

On November 1st, 2010 over 860 SickKids Research Institute staff and trainees gathered at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the 23rd Annual Research Institute Retreat. This was an exciting year for research at SickKids with the groundbreaking of The Research & Learning Tower and the completion of a successful five-year review of the leadership in the Institute.

The program featured 158 scientific posters by trainees and platform presentations by researchers on three themes: the science of learning, nutrition and proteomics.  Presenters ranged from SickKids veterans like Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, Vice President, Medical and Academic Affairs and Senior Scientist, Child Health Evaluative Sciences to those in the beginning of their career like Dr. Bret Pearson, Scientist, Developmental & Stem Cell Biology.

This year’s Aser Rothstein Lecture keynote speaker was André Picard, award-winning public health journalist from The Globe and Mail. In his presentation entitled A half-warmed fish: Communicating complex health issues in the age of Twitter, Picard discussed the symbiotic relationship between journalists and scientists.

He described the public as the most important audience for scientists and reinforced that the way the public gets the majority of their health information is from the media. Although the media is changing, Picard believes that the mainstream media is still driving the information and translating knowledge for the public.

“Is knowledge actually created if that knowledge is not communicated to a larger audience?” asked Picard. “It is essential to make health information and therefore health research accessible to the public.”

In order to make this information accessible, Picard said that it is the job of the health journalist to ensure they choose good stories to feature. These stories should be accurate, readable and include real people, to help bring the story to life for the reader and help them to understand the benefits of research through real examples.

“If we [researchers and journalists] can speak the same language and understand each others cultures I think there will be a lot less of this research lost in translation,” said Picard.

The event is also a time to recognize those who have excelled over 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 honouree Esther Galindo-Mata was described in one of her nominations as “the engine that drives our department”. Galindo-Mata is a Laboratory Research Project Coordinator in the Cell Biology Program. She is known for her willingness to help others and for her work with the youth science outreach programs at SickKids.

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 – Matthew Estey
  • Child Health & Evaluative Sciences – Dr. Shobhan Vachhrajan
  • Development & Stem Cell Biology – Dr. Katya Honsa-Park
  • Genetics & Genome Biology – Calvin Mok
  • Molecular Structure & Function – Patrick Walsh
  • Neurosciences & Mental Health –Melanie Sekeres
  • Physiology & Experimental Medicine – Dr. Matthew Wood