SURP Director’s Message

SURP Director’s Message

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By: Dr. Vasundara Venkateswaran

The Institute of Medical Science (IMS), University of Toronto has an exceptional Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) that provides an opportunity for undergraduate science students as well as medical students to be involved in projects relating to biomedical research. There are diverse research areas encompassing a broad continuum of disciplines, from molecular biology and cognitive science to clinical investigation and bioethics. This exceptional program offers a great platform for students to work with distinguished faculty, develop research methodologies, and experience outstanding mentorship.

I have had the privilege to serve as Director of SURP for the past two years. It has been an exciting experience and I am looking forward to upholding the torch of success in the years to come. It has been extremely gratifying to see another batch of enthusiastic students participate in the summer research program this year. There were 102 students (both domestic and international) enrolled in the program. Students came from various universities—from as far as Shandong in China to as close as Guelph.

The summer program commenced first week in June and continued until the end of August, concluding with the research day on August 15th, 2012. All students enrolled in the program were provided an opportunity to showcase their findings through oral or poster presentations, and I was thoroughly impressed with the extraordinary student work. Several students were recipients of cash awards and certificates in recognition of their stupendous effort. It was heart-warming to see students beam with excitement when they presented their research—the enthusiasm they exhibited clearly demonstrating their fruitful summer experiences in the laboratories or clinics. They showcased their work with confidence, pride, and responded to the challenging questions posed by the judges.

Highlights of the research day included an inspiring keynote address by Dr. Freda Miller, Professor at the University of Toronto and a cell and molecular developmental neurobiologist at the Hospital for Sick Children. An eminent scientist with over 150 scientific papers, reviews and book chapters, Dr. Miller inspired us with her superb lecture on neural stem cells. Some of her major findings have provided evidence that adult mammalian skin contains an accessible multipotent dermal stem cell population that can generate peripheral neural cells.

As a final remark, I would like to thank all the supervisors who contributed valuable time and effort, providing students with the environment, motivation, and guidance to complete their research projects. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all faculty who served as judges at the research day, as well as to the distinguished researchers for delivering lectures at the weekly seminars.

Congratulations to all the students on their research achievements. I wish you the very best in all your endeavours!

Dr. Vasundara Venkateswaran
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto
Graduate Coordinator, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto
Scientist, Division of Urology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
S-118B, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4N 3M5, CANADA
Tel: (416) 480-6100 x 3127 (Direct); (416) 480-6100 x 89327 (Lab); Fax: (416) 480-5737
Email: vasundara.venkateswaran@sunnybrook.ca[N1]