More than 200 local high school science students visited York’s Keele campus this fall to attend a lecture delivered by two award-winning scientists as part of the Gairdner Foundation High School Outreach Program. Accompanied by their teachers, the students listened to two leading scientists discuss their research, potential discoveries and why they chose a career in science.
This year’s Gairdner Foundation lecturers were Professor Michael Rosbash, 2012 Canada Gairdner International Award Recipient, and Professor Cheryl Arrowsmith, Canada Research Chair in Structural Proteomics and a member of the Gairdner Awards Medical Review Panel.
Rosbash, a researcher with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor in the Department of Biology at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, has pursued two fields of research: studies concerning the metabolism and processing of RNA, and the molecular basis of circadian rhythms.
It is his work delving into circadian rhythms – the built-in 24-hour biological clock that regulates sleep and wakefulness, activity and rest, hormone levels, body temperature and other important functions – for which he received the Canada Gairdner International award, along with his colleagues Brandeis University Professors Jeffrey Hall and Michael Young. Rosbash’s discoveries could lead to the development of drugs to treat insomnia, jet lag and other sleep disorders.
Rosbash encouraged students to pursue science as a career, but also told them of the importance of finding balance in their pursuits. “Science, and life in general, is balancing means and ends. Like lab experiments, life is not about the outcome, but about the journey and process of discovery. Find something you love and you will be much better for it, ” he said.
Arrowsmith, a professor and researcher in the Department of Medical Biophysics in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, is head of the Arrowsmith Lab and the senior scientist in the Division of Molecular & Structural Biology, Ontario Cancer Institute and at the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), a not-for-profit, public-private partnership. “Science is a highly rewarding team effort. Be passionate about your research, share your data with others and you’ll see the world,” Arrowsmith told students.
As part of her lecture, she demonstrated a portion of her work with the SGC which creates 3D models of proteins that represent potential drug targets. Knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of proteins involved enhances our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer and pharmaceutical agents that could impede disease processes. Arrowsmith encouraged students to “play” with the structures as they are all available online at the SGC website.
Following the lecture, many of the high school groups stayed on campus for a presentation by York University’s recruitment officers. Students also took tours of campus guided by York Student Ambassadors and remained on campus for lunch. Participants were encouraged to fill out reply cards to be kept up-to-date about admission events.
The lecture, which took place Oct. 24, is part of an annual event that brings high school science students to the Keele campus to hear lectures delivered by the world’s top scientists and medical researchers.
Visit the Gairdner Foundation website to learn more about the foundation, its work and awards.