Jun 1, 2021

Annual Research Symposium Brings MBP Together

MBP Symposium Logo

The first annual MBP Symposium was held on Monday, May 31, 2021. This full-day, student-led affair combines the James Lepock Memorial (JLM) Student Research Symposium with the annual Alumni Networking Reception. Due to pandemic restrictions, the event was hosted virtually using a combination of platforms, including Zoom, VoiceThread and Tocca. Despite the distance, the Symposium was successful in bringing MBP faculty and students together to celebrate the accomplishments of our diverse department.

JLM Symposium

This annual event, organized by the Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association, fosters scientific debate across disciplines, streams and institutes. The JLM commemorates the significant research contributions of the Dr. James Lepock, a former MBP faculty member, and provides opportunities for MBP students to present their research in a conference setting.

The day featured a student research showcase in the form of scientific posters presented online through VoiceThread, which included all first-year MBP students. Oral presentations were made by MBP MSc students Fayez Habach, Janny Kim, and Foram Vyas, and MBP PhD candidates Gautier Courbon, Cornelia Redel, and Yohan Yee. There was also a 3-minute thesis competition featuring MBP students Sasha Main, Kate MacDonald, Angelica Manalac, Jonas Yeung, David Won and Ginni Ting.

Presentations and posters were assessed by a group of MBP faculty and postdoc volunteers. Top presenters were recognized with a merit award at the reception following the event. The winners of these awards are as follows:

  • Top MSc Presentation ($250) - Fayez Habach, Ghugre Lab (Sunnybrook Hospital), Investigation of Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived Cardiomyocyte Engraftment in Myocardial Infarction using Hybrid PET-MRI
  • Top PhD Presentation ($250): Gautier Courbon, Rubinstein lab (SickKids), Inhibition of the mycobacterial ATP synthase by the tuberculosis drug Bedaquiline
  • 3-Minute Thesis
    • 1st Place ($200) - Sasha Main (MSc), Bratman Lab (Princess Margaret Cancer Center), Precision medicine: How a bit of blood can make a big difference
    • 2nd Place ($150) - Kate MacDonald (PhD), Harding Lab (Princess Margaret Cancer Center), Alerting your immune system to damaged DNA
    • 3rd Place ($100) - Angelica Manalac (MSc), BRAIN-To Lab (Dr. Uludag), Extracting novel information about vessel architecture using perfusion imaging to differentiate brain lesions
  • Research Posters ($100 each)
    • Top PhD Poster, Biological Sciences - Parasvi Patel, Hakem Lab
    • Top MSc Poster, Biological Sciences - Ruhma Masud, Stambolic Lab
    • Top PhD Poster, Physical Sciences - Alex Dhaliwal, Zheng Lab
    • Top MSc Poster, Physical Sciences - Andrew Frizado, O'Reilly Lab

The event also featured two inspirational keynote addresses. The first was delivered by Dr. Lewis Kay, Professor of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Chemistry at U of T and senior scientist at SickKids, with a talk entitled 'Studies of Protein Dynamics in Health and Disease'. The second keynote address was presented by Dr. Quaid Morris, Full Member of the Computational and Systems Biology Program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute, with a talk entitled 'Reading the Fossil Record in the Cancer Genome'.

Alumni Networking Reception

The MBP Alumni Networking Reception immediately followed JLM portion of the Symposium. This evening event, organized by the MBP Career Development Association, allowed MBP students to explore various career paths through a panel discussion and a networking session featuring a number of MBP alumni.

The career panel included three MBP alumni:

  • Dr. Natalie Galant, Co-Founder of Paradox Immunotherapeutics
  • Dr. Elizabeth Huynh, Clinical Medical Physicist & Instructor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. Samuel Oduneye, Manager at Ontario Treasury Board Secretariat and Adjunct Faculty at Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation (IHPME).

The networking reception also featured two-round table networking sessions in which students were able to select from a group alumni to chat with regarding possible career paths.

MBP alumni who contributed to the round-table session:

  • Javier Alfaro
  • Liane Chen
  • Ralph DaCosta
  • Bahar Davoudi
  • Allen Eaves
  • Ali Fatehi
  • Natalie Galant
  • Elizabeth Huynh
  • Bradley MacIntosh
  • Samuel Oduneye
  • Ryan Pinto
  • David Sealey
  • Lusia Sepiashvili
  • Mahadeo Sukhai
  • Nina Wang
  • Jared Westreich

Symposium a Success

Overall, MBP students enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their work, answer questions, engage in lively discussions with colleagues and learn more about possible career paths after the completion of their graduate degrees. Faculty found the event to be an excellent vehicle to mentor students and learn about graduate research being conducted in our extremely diverse department. Despite participants attending from their respective homes, the event fostered an environment of unity and collaboration, which is not easy to achieve during these difficult times.

The Department wishes to thank members of the MBPGSA for the hard work and dedication that went into organizing the MBP Symposium. In particular, we want to recognize the tireless efforts of Esther Matus and Brian Nghiem of JLM Committee, and Justin Cowen, Megan DeWeerd, Cindy Ha, Jenny Lou, Hassaan Maan and Helen Zhu of the MBP Career Development Association. A special thanks to the MBP faculty and postdocs who volunteered their time to act as competition judges.

View the Symposium website to learn more about this event.

See the Virtual Research Posters.

Learn more about the MBPGSA and how MBP students can get involved.