Signals Blog


Last month (March 13), StemCellTalks held a symposium on diabetes and stem cell tourism to educate Toronto high school students about the field. (These events happen across Canada.) The morning session began with Dr. Elia Piccinini (University of Toronto) giving an introduction to stem cell biology, followed by two debates:

Drs. Derek van der Kooy (University of Toronto) and Cristina Nostro (University Health Network) on the topic: Donor islet versus ESC-derived pancreatic progenitors for treating type 1 diabetes. Winner van der Kooy.

Prof. Michael Sefton (University of Toronto) and Dr. Alan Wassyng (McMaster University) on the topic: Cell therapy versus acellular medical devices for managing type 1 diabetes. Winner Sefton.

In the afternoon, Prof. Tim Caulfield (University of Alberta) gave a presentation on stem cell tourism and moderated a panel on the same topic. CCRM was a sponsor of the event and I had the pleasure of being on the panel, along with clinician Ravi Retnakaran (Mount Sinai Hospital), scientist Ian Rogers (Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute) and patient advocate Alexander Ivovic, a grad student at the University of Toronto.

Twitter was also a prominent participant that day. With a giant screen at one end of the large auditorium, students and speakers (guilty) had incentive to share their thoughts with an engaged audience. From where I sat, it appeared that many students were paying attention to the “Twitter screen” as closely as they followed the speakers.

Here’s what had everyone so distracted.

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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.