Right Turn: Toronto’s ‘Willy Wonka’ Could Have Worked at CCRM

Author: Stacey Johnson, 05/05/17

Everyone has a story of how they ended up in their career. My lightbulb moment happened when I was in fourth year at university, thankfully, which gave me a plan upon graduation. I was thinking about this yesterday when a large group of NSERC CREATE students (and some profs) visited CCRM to learn what we do and to tour our state-of-the-art lab in the MaRS Discovery District.

NSERC is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and CREATE refers to the Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program. These highly motivated students and postdoctoral fellows from Canada and abroad are being groomed to become productive employees in Canadian workplaces. CCRM has trained CREATE interns in the past and we’ve hired them too. But not every scientist and engineer follows a linear path.

Irwin Adam Eydelnant is a perfect example. He studied to be a molecular scientist who worked with microfluidics and cells. He has a master’s degree in chemical engineering and a PhD in biomedical engineering – just the sort of person we hire here. But his path went in a completely different direction.

Eydelnant founded Future Food Studio, a food design technology studio, where he and his team develop edible clouds, soup that dances to the beat of music, and cutlery that makes food taste sweet or salty, without the addition of sugar or salt. His fantastical forays into food are why he’s earned the nickname Willy Wonka.

According to this Toronto Star article, it was Eydelnant’s “passion for food and his disenchantment with academia” that led him down this path. “Eydelnant’s academic pursuits were largely in personalized medicine, and that has carried over into his food research as he examines how technology can create a greater understanding of how food choices directly impact people.”

Back when he was in university, Eydelnant invented and patented a compound “from cranberries that reduced bacterial adhesion to biomaterials” and during his doctorate, funded by NSERC, he grew microcultures of cells on tiny surfaces that allowed drugs to be tested on skin cells.

He eventually left academia to “completely revolutionize the future of the way [we] eat.” It’s not a traditional choice for a scientist, but it’s legitimate. To quote Einstein, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”

So while this post is not intended to dissuade anyone from continuing on an academic path or one that heads to industry, it’s reassuring to hear about non-traditional careers that employ skills you’ve developed over years of hard work. By the way, Eydelnant hires engineers and scientists on his team.

Watch Future Food Studio turn mini hamburgers into hamburger clouds (and then stick around for the birthday cake clouds). I’ll be even more impressed when the hamburgers are made from stem cells and Future Food Studio can create desserts that have all the flavour but none of the calories.

 

 

Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

 

 

 

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.
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