By Nicole Lam
As part of Discovery Week, SSC presented Aspects of Healthcare to a small crowd in a classroom at the Physics and Astronomy Building. The speaker series featured Dr. Lindi Wahl from the Applied Mathematics department, Dr. David Cecchetto from Anatomy and Cell Biology, Dr. David A. Stanford from Actuarial Sciences, and Dr. Marcelo Kremenchutzky from the Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences.
Ghania Sohail, SSC’s VP Events, hoped the event would showcase the different fields relating to healthcare, and dismiss the idea that the only path after graduation for Medical and Biological Science students is medical school. “Our biggest goal with this speaker series is to enhance the idea that there’s so much more out there for students to go and study, to go and learn, and to go and expand upon themselves,” says Ghania.
The diverse collection of speakers touched upon specific issues in healthcare from different perspectives. In Dr. Wahl’s presentation, “Mathematics & genetics: Discovering new members of the mobilome,” she spoke about the research on mobile genetic elements she was conducting in her lab. With a particular focus on MITEs (Miniature Inverted-Repeat Transposable Elements), her lab uses mathematical models to predict the behaviour of mobile genetic elements.
Dr. Cecchetto discussed his research on Alzheimer’s disease dementia, focusing on vascular risk factors. He discussed the impact that amyloids (protein aggregates) had on the development of Alzheimer’s, but more interestingly, the impact that metabolic syndromes resulting from high fat and sugar diets had on the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Stanford gave a talk on congestion and queues in hospitals, and discussed the role that mathematical models could play in shortening wait times. He connected real healthcare issues such as organ transplants and blood types to mathematical principles such as randomness and variability.
Finally, Dr. Kremenchutzky spoke about his area of focus, multiple sclerosis (MS). In his presentation, he outlined all the scientific fields relevant to MS research, including epidemiology, pathology, microbiology, and genetics. Because the cause of MS is still unknown, he hopes that his Discovery Week talk will motivate students to pursue MS research in the future, regardless of the field that they go into. Dr. Kremenchutzky says that his take-home message is to “try and inspire students to get into discovering MS as a field that is fascinating, mysterious, where there is still plenty of room to find answers for questions that remain unanswered, and help people in need.”
Although the turnout was small, the event took on a more intimate quality and allowed more time for questions and a mini meet-and-greet with the speakers afterwards.