Signals Blog

Dr. Mary Sunderland is quite at ease talking to a video camera. The Director of Research & Education for the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) has been hosting Facebook Live sessions on a variety of topics related to vision research for the past six months. If she was nervous when she began these public outreach sessions in November 2016, there’s no sign of nerves today, despite having a guest co-host, a “live studio audience,” and a bad cough.

Last week, my colleagues and I were invited to witness how a Facebook Live session is produced. We were conducting research before taking the plunge ourselves and “going live” for CCRM, and we wanted to get tips and guidance from some pros. The team at FFB couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful, and we left motivated to give it a whirl ourselves. (More on that in the near future.)

On this particular Friday, Dr. Sunderland was joined by Dr. Brian Ballios, a resident physician in ophthalmology who has been awarded FFB’s inaugural Clinician-Scientist Emerging Leader Award for his efforts to develop stem cell therapies for inherited retinal diseases. As it turns out, FFB’s live sessions frequently cover advances in stem cell research, gene editing and other topics related to regenerative medicine and cell and gene therapies, like this one. When confusing messages about stem cell treatments are everywhere, there is a great need for thoughtful, unbiased commentary to put everything into perspective. Dr. Sunderland does this.

FFB has invested $30 million to support vision research across Canada, since 1974. According to them, 7 in 10 Canadians could be affected by retinal eye diseases, and age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50. With the graying population, the need for treatments and successful therapies becomes even greater.



Have you ever attended a live taping of a show? Studio audiences are privy to behind-the-scenes shenanigans and mishaps that you miss out on when you’re seeing the finished product on your screen. It’s a fun, memorable experience and I highly recommend it. Get free tickets to watch a taping of your favourite late night comedy host or, better yet, snag an invitation to watch Dr. Sunderland in action. In the meantime, watch her and Dr. Ballios in the video below.

Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at) 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.