Event Details



The StemCellTalks Symposium will take place in the Auditiorium of the MaRS Building at 101 College Street, Toronto, Ontario on Friday, March 11th, 2016.

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Directions: From the Queen's Park subway station, take the South-East exit to street level. Proceed east (keeping right) across College Street. Enter through the main entrance on College Street and continue down the main escalator to the MaRS Collaboration Auditorium located on the Basement level. For those that may be driving, parking is available east of the MaRS Building on Elizabeth Street. Rates are roughly $20 for the day. 

Students must arrive between 8:00AM and 8:45 AM for symposium registration. The symposium will begin at 9:00AM sharp. Please remember to bring your signed consent form.

2016 Event Schedule

Registration | 9:00AM - 9:15AM


Welcome | 9:15AM - 9:20AM        


Morning Session | 9:20AM - 11:45PM


9:20AM - 9:45AM | Introduction to Stem Cell Biology: Dr. Penny Gilbert 

9:45AM - 10:40AM | Debate #1: Debate #1: Pluripotent stem cells versus multipotent stem cells to cure blindness

                                   Dr. Andras Nat: vs. Dr. Vincent Tropepe 

                         9:45AM – 9:50AM | Case Introduction
                         9:50AM - 10:10AM | Breakout Session
                        10:10AM - 10:25AM | Debate: Pluripotent vs. multipotent stem cell
                        10:25AM - 10:45AM | Knowledge Sharing Session
  10:45AM - 10:50AM | Debate #1 voting


10:45AM - 11:40AM | Debate #2: Cellular regeneration versus medical device to restore vision

                                   Dr. Derek van der Kooy vs. Dr. Flavio Rezende

                        10:50AM - 10:55AM | Case Introduction
                        10:55AM - 11:15AM | Breakout Session
                        11:15AM - 11:30AM | Debate: Cellular regeneration vs. medical device
                        11:30AM - 11:50AM | Knowledge Sharing Session
10:50AM - 10:55AM | Debate #2 voting

11:55AM - 12:00PM | Concluding remarks


Lunch | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM


Afternoon Session | 1:00PM - 3:20PM


1:00PM – 1:30PM | Premature commercialization of stern cell research and the need for effective clinical trials
Dr. Zubin Master


1:30PM - 2:00PM | Breakout Sessions

                       Vignette 1: The Patient
                       Vignette 2: The Clinician
                       Vignette 3: The Scientist/Biotechnology Entrepreneur
                       Vignette 4: The Government Regulator


2:00PM – 2:30PM | Knowledge Sharing and Panel Discussion

 Clinician/Scientist: Dr. Brian Ballios

Patient Advocate: Jack McCormick
Biotechnology company representative: Dr. Jennifer Moody
Government regulator: Dr. Sowmya Viswanathan


2:30PM - 3:10PM | Educational Games 

3:10PM - 3:20PM | Conclusions

Student Departure | 3:20pm


Timothy CaulfieldTimothy Caulfield

Timothy Caulfield is a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, the Research Director of the Health Law Institute, and a Senior Health Scholar with the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. He is the Principal Investigator and on a numerous interdisciplinary projects that look at the ethical and legal issues surrounding various topics including stem cell research and commercialization of research. Professor Caulfield is also involved in many national and international policy and research ethics committee.

Alexander Ivovic

Alexander IvovicAlex is a 4th year PhD student in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. His research aims to enhance the understanding of the mechanisms through which fat and inflammation impair the function of insulin secreting beta cells in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Alex is the chair of the University of Toronto chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association, and hopes to use his passion for diabetes research and his experience with managing his own type 1 diabetes during the last 17 years to create an environment where students with diabetes can help each other deal with the stresses of balancing diabetes management with university life. Alex is also a member of the Ontario Advocacy Committee and a National Delegate for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Derek van der Kooy, PhD

Derek van der KooyDerek van der Kooy is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Toronto, and a Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine. He received a Master’s Degree in Psychology at the University of British Columbia, and a PhD in Anatomy, both at Erasmus University in 1978, as well in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Toronto in 1980. The Neurobiology research group, led by Dr. Van Der Kooy, is separated into three distinct areas: Neural Development and Stem Cell Biology, Neurobiology of Motivation, and Learning and Memory Genes.

Cristina Nostro, PhD

Cristina NostroCristina Nostro is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto and a Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Nostro completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Florence in 2000 and then received a Ph.D. in Biomolecular Sciences from The University of Manchester in 2004. She completed her post-doctoral work in Dr. Gordon Keller’s laboratory, first at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and then at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University Health Network in Toronto after he relocated his lab in 2007. Dr. Nostro remained at the University Health Network in Toronto to start her own lab in 2012. Her lab studies the development of the pancreas using pluripotent stem cell populations, and is particularly interested in discovering how to form, expand and differentiate pluripotent stem cells to mature beta cells in a dish. In 2013 she was named the inaugural Harry Rosen Chair in Diabetes Regenerative Medicine Research at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

Elia Piccinini, PhD

Elia PiccininiElia Piccinini is a postdoctoral fellow in the Stem Cell Bioengineering laboratory at the University of Toronto. Dr. Piccinini's research focuses on developing an artificial thymus to recreate immune systems for immunodeficient patients. Dr Piccinini previously held a fellowship and completed his PhD at the University of Basel, and served as the head of development for Cellec Biotek AG's cell therapy bioreactor systems.

Ian Rogers, PhD

Ian Rogers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and cross-appointed to the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto and an Associate Scientist in the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. The focus of Dr. Rogers' laboratory is to develop stem cells for clinical use with the long term goal of establishing them as the standard therapy for disease treatment. However, there are a number of hurdles that need to be overcome in order for stem cells to be considered for therapeutic use: 1) safety issues 2) sufficient cell numbers 3) easily accessible sources 4) efficient mode of delivery to the target organs and 5) demonstrated functional improvement after transplantation. The research in Dr. Rogers’ laboratory aims to solve some of these problems through development of umbilical cord blood (UCB) stem cells for broad therapeutic use.

Michael Sefton

Michael SeftonMichael Sefton is the Michael E. Charles Professor of Chemical Engineering and a Professor at the University of Toronto, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. He is regarded as a pioneer in tissue engineering and a leader in biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine. He was one of the first scientists to recognize the importance of combining live cells with biomaterials to construct artificial tissues from the bottom-up. Sefton has published extensively in the world's leading journals and is the holder of numerous U.S. and international patents and awards.

Alan Wassyng, PhD

Alan-WassyngAlan Wassyng is an Associate Professor at McMaster University, Department of Computing and Software, the Director of the McMaster Centre for Software Certification, and the Acting Director of the Software Quality Research Laboratory. He received his degrees in Applied Mathematics (BSc, MSc and PhD) from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. His expertise is in safety-critical software engineering and he is highly involved in developing software for medical device (such as infusion pumps and pacemakers), nuclear power station and automotive.


Head of Organizing Committee:

  •  Nika Shakiba
Co-Head of Organizing Committee:
  •  Theresa Chow

 Content Development:

  • Anna Badner
  • Yonatan Lipsitz
  • Ines Lohse
  • Osman Mahamud
  • Samantha Yammine
  • David Zhang

Logistics Coordinators:

  • Olivia Chan
  • Osman Mahamud
  • Shawn Xiong
  • Nestor Fernandez
  • Ali Nasseri

A/V Coordinator:

  • Geoff Clarke


  • Olivia Chan