The 2014 Ori Rotstein Lectureship in Translational Research

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By: Gaayathiri Jegatheeswaran

On November 13th, 2014, the Institute of Medical Science (IMS) hosted the Annual Ori Rotstein Lecture in Translational Research at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. The Ori Rotstein Lectureship was established in 2011 to honour the leadership of Dr. Ori Rotstein, the Director of IMS from 2000-2011. The lectureship is a half-day event that features an invited keynote speaker who has made great strides in translational research.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker for the 2014 lecture was Dr. Elliot L. Chaikof. Dr. Chaikof was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. He pursued his MD at John Hopkins University, Residency in General Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and completed a PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering. He received further training at the Emory University in Vascular Surgery. Currently, Dr. Chaikof is the Johnson and Johnson Professor of Surgery at the Harvard Medical School, as well as the Chair of the Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Department of Surgery, and the Surgeon-in-Chief at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His research interest includes the development of biologically inspired materials for tissue repair. His research group utilizes both synthetic and genetic approaches to explore their research ideas.

Dr. Chaikof’s lecture, “Opportunities at the Interface of Engineering and Surgery: Lessons from Nature,” began with a historical overview of how materials of the natural world like silk and natural rubber were used to create tools for surgical practices. Further, he described research endeavors in his lab where they have produced artificial collagen fibers and elastin-like materials to create tissue replacements. Notably, for students, Dr. Chaikof also provided his insights on how to become problem finders and solvers. He encouraged students to identify any gaps between what we are doing at the moment and what we should do for the patients. He wanted students to think outside of the box and suggest creative solutions to the gaps that they have identified.

Lastly, he ended his presentation with the following reminder, “Work a bit harder this evening, remember that the work that you do in the laboratory or in the operating room is not about writing another paper or achieving a promotion. It’s certainly not about becoming a chairman… there is a family out there who really cares about your work, whose clock is ticking, who needs your best ideas, who needs you to innovate and to translate. It’s not about caring–although that’s central to what we do–it’s about curing.”

IMS Student Presentations and Panel Discussion

The lectureship also included a presentation by two IMS students, Vinod Chandran and Richard Foty, who recently attended the International Certificate Program in Translational Medicine hosted by the Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine. The 7-day program was held between May 11th to 17th in Siracusa, Italy. Both attendees shared their valuable experiences, including learning and networking opportunities attained from the program, and described new initiatives by the University of Toronto to foster interdisciplinary science. The lectureship ended with a panel discussion titled, “Overcoming Barriers to Innovation: Problem Finding and Solving.” The insightful discussion was moderated by Dr. Ori Rotstein himself and included panelists Dr. Elliot Chaikof, Dr. James Rutka, Dr. Michael Sefton, and Dr. Ian McGilvray.

The lecture was recorded and can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z2mW6tgBCs