York grad set to become newest Toronto deputy police chief

Ask Toronto’s newest deputy police chief if he wants the force’s top job and he doesn’t mince words, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 17.

“I think anybody who reaches this level and says they don’t have that aspiration would be lying to you,” replies Peter Sloly (MBA ’04). “I would love to lead an organization like this.”

That’s a good thing, because Sloly, who formally replaces Jane Dick next week to become one of four deputies serving under Chief William Blair, is already being touted as a future chief with the talent and background to soothe tensions between police and Toronto’s immigrant communities.

“Race relations is to me the No. 1 issue. If you’re the most diverse city in the world, then all of your public institutions have to be attuned to that reality. Police – we’re the barometer of a functioning democracy,” he says.

The Jamaica-born officer won’t be Toronto’s first black deputy chief – he’ll be joining his longtime friend Keith Forde, originally from Barbados – but he will, at 43, be the youngest deputy ever, a man rooted in street-level policing whose credentials include a master of business administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University and two spells as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo.

York study finds link between mutated gene and autism

A gene mutation found in some people with autism appears to disrupt very early stages of brain development and contribute to the nervous system deficits that are the hallmarks of autism disorder, a York University study has found, wrote the Brampton Guardian Sept. 16.

The study traces the link from autism and a mutated gene to the molecular mechanisms of cell signalling that occur as the brain is developing. It provides the first direct evidence that this gene influences brain development and the incidence of autistic behaviour.

Modern imaging equipment and molecular neuroscience techniques enabled the researchers to show how the protein encoded by this gene controls normal cell function and how this fails when the gene is mutated in individuals with autism.

“If we can identify defects in genes or molecules and the signalling pathways early in brain development – as we have in this study – then it should be possible to develop more effective treatments for children within three years of age, which is when autism is diagnosed,” said Dorota Crawford, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health.

The study, titled “The E646D-ATP13A4 Mutation Associated with Autism Reveals a Defect in Calcium Regulation,” is published online in the journal Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology. It represents a critical step toward the eventual development of pharmaceutical treatments for children affected with autism. It will also be of interest to scientists who are studying the same family of proteins, which are involved in other neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Crawford found the gene mutation in a 2005 study of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which are characterized by lifelong impairment in communication and social interaction, coupled with repetitive behaviour, and affect about 190,000 Canadians. That study, in which blood samples were examined for their genetic content, revealed an unknown gene that was mutated in about 20 per cent of the autistic individuals tested – a genetic marker for autism.

In the current study, Crawford, working with York former York student Janaki Vallipuram (BSc ’09), who is first author on the paper, and former York graduate student Jeffrey Grenville (MSc ’09), characterized the biological function of the protein in the mutated gene. They determined that it is involved in calcium signalling, which is critical for the development of neurons, and then showed that the mutation may contribute to neuronal deficits in the brain and autism.

Diversity expert gets nod as Liberal candidate for Thornhill

An educational psychologist and expert on multiculturalism has thrown her hat in the federal political ring with hopes of becoming the third female to represent Thornhill since the riding was created, wrote the Thornhill Liberal Sept. 16.

Karen Mock will be the Liberal party’s candidate in the next federal election, James Morton, president of the Thornhill Federal Liberal Riding Association, announced last week.

Considered a pioneer in the field of multicultural teacher education, Mock is past executive director and CEO of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the former national director for the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada. She has worked for more than 20 years in psychology and teacher education at York University, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University.

Fine arts grad will perform with Welsh choir

The Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir will perform a concert at George Street United Church on Saturday, Oct. 3, wrote The Peterborough Examiner Sept. 17.

Performing long with the choir will be soloist Leigh-Anne Martin (BFA Spec. Hons. ’09). Martin graduated from York University where her principal teacher was Catherine Robbin, music professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, who has taken a particular interest in Martin’s career.

Between performances as a soloist with a wide range of choral groups, she is continuing her voice studies in Canada and abroad.

Schulich grad retires from Canadian Forces to live by the sea

Terry McGinty (MBA ’73) was born in Shawinigan Falls, Que., and grew up in Sherbrooke and Montreal, wrote BC’s Sooke News Mirror Sept. 15 in a profile. He attended Loyola College (now Concordia University) and obtained his MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University. He was an officer in the Canadian Forces for more than 35 years, retiring to Sooke in 1997. Married to Carol for 37 years, they have two children, Sean and Shannon.

“After spending most of our adult lives in Ontario (apart from postings to a NATO headquarters in Germany and with the UN in Egypt), the lure of retiring to live on the West Coast was just too much to resist,” said McGinty in the interview. “Before arriving here, the prospect of living in a nice, small town by the sea, but close to a city, seemed ideal. Well it is, but what has really made it for us are the people and getting involved in the community.”

Motionless motion pictures

Kristan Horton’s best-known work is probably 2007’s Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove, his hilarious, 200-plus still-image reconstruction of Stanley Kubrick’s paranoiac Cold War comedy of the same name, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 17 in a review.

It was first shown at the Art Gallery of York University, and the resulting catalogue is a Toronto art world essential: using whatever random objects he had at hand, Horton rebuilt the film scene by scene, putting Kubrick’s images next to his own.