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Bridging the Gap between Life Sciences and Politics

Microbiology & Immunology Grduate Student Society

Thursday, 5 November 2015 from 4:00 PM to 9:30 PM (PST)

Bridging the Gap between Life Sciences and Politics

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Event Details



This workshop- and panel-style conference will tackle significant issues concerning the “gap”, or disconnect, between policymaking and research funding and regulations. Prepare to deliberate on big topics and their surrounding controversies, as notable individuals involved in research, policymaking, and industry tackle relevant concerns head-on. Subject matter at the macro level will include anti-science movements in recent years and the resulting mistrust of research in society, as well as the tension between science and political power. At the micro level, workshops will focus on science funding and communication, biotechnology in B.C., and how treatments make their way from the lab to a clinical setting.

This event aims to bridge the gap between science and politics in such a way as to inform individuals of the complexities of life sciences and the political and societal factors involved in ensuring that this research prospers.



We're happy to announce that the Honourable Minister Andrew Wilkinson will also attend the panel dicussion!

Conference Shedule:

4:00 to 4:15 pm - Registration (West Atrium)

4:15 to 5:00 pm - Frist workshop session (TBA)

5:00 to 5:15 pm - Break 1

5:15 to 6:00 pm - Second workshop session (TBA)

6:00 to 6:15 pm - Break  2

6:15 to 7:45 pm - Panel discussion (LSC2)

7:45 to 9:30 pm - Networking reception (West Atrium)




Hon. Andrew Wilkinson (Minister of Advanced Education, BC), Dr. Pieter Cullis (Director of the LSI), Dr. Diane Finegood (President & CEO of Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research), Natalie Dakers (former CEO of CDRD Ventures Inc., now President & CEO of Accel-Rx), Dr. Mel Krajden (Medical Head of Hepatitis Clinical Prevention Services at BCCDC), Nicola Jones (freelance science journalist, writer and editor for Nature).

Moderator: Dr. Jennifer Gardy (BCCDC senior scientist and CBC host)



On Scientific Literacy, Unicorns, and the Game of Influence - Dr. David Ng, AMBL Director and Senior Instructor (UBC)

This is a session for those who are interested in looking at what “scientific literacy” is really all about, and how current media and social-economic landscapes can influence the public perception around various science-based topics. This will also explore how ideas delivered through writing or general communicating can influence opinions on science in general. As such, these notions may be useful for those interested in incorporating more evidence based concepts into their narrative.  Dave will present this workshop in a highly interactive fashion, and please do note that the unicorn will figure prominently at times.


The Politics of Research: How UBC Plays the Game to Win- Dr. Helen Burt, Associate Vice President Research & International (UBC)

When the curiosity of researchers is supported with needed resources, new knowledge can emerge. But who decides whose curiosity will be supported? With what magnitude of resources? In pursuit of what kind of new knowledge? Welcome to the politics of research. In this session we’ll explore how UBC influences—and is influenced by—individuals, governments, industry and society and what strategies you might use so that you too can play the game to win.


So You Want to Communicate Your Work? 10 Tips to Make Sure Your Message Is Heard - Dr. Jennifer Gardy, BCCDC senior scientist and CBC host

In this workshop, participants will get a crash course in science communication, learning ten top tips to tell their scientific stories. From understanding your audience to crafting your message to charts that work, we'll cover some of the basics you need to know to help share your research with policymakers and others.


Precision NanoSystems: A Case Study in Starting a Biotech in BC - Dr. James Taylor, CEO of Precision NanoSystems

In this session, we will discuss the importance of biotech entrepreneurship and why this should be top of mind as a career path for all biotechnologists. I will use Precision NanoSystems, a UBC spin out, as a case study as one example of how to start and grow a biotechnology company in British Columbia. I will describe the path Precision NanoSystems has taken through inception, funding, commercialization and initial growth and we will discuss how learnings from PNI can be transferred to other ventures. 


From Discovery to Cure in 25 years - The Hepatitis C Story - Dr. Mel Krajden, Medical Head of Hepatitis Clinical Prevention Services at BCCDC

This interactive session will provide an overview of:
1) the science of hepatitis C discovery;
2) highlight how unsafe injection practices and injection drug use has
been a driver of the current hepatitis C epidemic; and,
3) illustrate how the stigma of injection drug use combined with expensive
curative antivirals drives the need for heightened global activism if
disease elimination is to become a reality.


Do Science and Politics actually Mix? - Dr. Julian Davies, Emeritus Professor at UBC

In this session, Dr. Julian Davies will provide a thought provoking discussion on the reasons why science and politics often fail to work in unison to develop evidence based policy. Furthermore, while Julian asserts the immiscible nature of science and politics, he will discuss how this gap can be fixed, and, intriguingly, whether or not it should be fixed at all. This will be an interactive workshop, where attendees will be encouraged to engage in a discussion with Dr. Davies, challenge or support his views, and come out with a greater understanding behind the complex relationship between science and politics.


Have questions about Bridging the Gap between Life Sciences and Politics? Contact Microbiology & Immunology Grduate Student Society

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