SciChat at the University of Toronto

Presentations

We currently offer talks on the following topics:

Aging and Immunity

Allergies Demystified

Antibiotics as Friends and Foes

Autoimmunity and Disease

Cancer Recognition by the Immune System

Drug Discovery: Benchtop to Pillbox

Genome Editing: Harnessing the Power of CRISPR

HIV: From history to HISTORY!

Hygiene Hypothesis

Neurodegenerative Diseases

Organ Kijiji: The Immunology and Challenges of Organ Transplantation

Type 2 Diabetes

Vaccines Revealed

What’s in an Outbreak?: Ebola and Infectious Disease

 

Aging and Immunity

The immune system is a vital component of our body that helps us to fight against infectious diseases such as the common cold. As we get older, this defense mechanism undergoes a number of changes that impairs its ability to function properly. This presentation will introduce the immune system as well as our current definition of aging and its impact on immunity against infection.

Allergies Demystified

Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to relatively harmless substances such as nuts, fish, pollen, and pets. During an allergic reaction, a strong immune response against the allergen can result in uncomfortable and potentially dangerous symptoms—such as hives, rashes and asthma. If left unchecked these allergic reactions can culminate into immune-mediated anaphylaxis or even shock. In this talk, we will explore the biology behind allergies. We will address the growing prevalence of allergies in Canada and how exposure to environmental microorganisms help educate a developing immune system in distinguishing harmless allergens from dangerous pathogens.

Antibiotics as Friends and Foes

In this talk we will discuss: how antibiotics work against bacteria, cure infections when used properly and when misused can lead to antibiotic-resistant superbugs that plague global health. We will cover misconceptions around antibiotic use and discuss what’s next for us when antibiotics are no longer an option to fight bacterial disease. At the end of the talk, we will field any and all questions related to the topic that you may have.

Autoimmunity and Disease

The immune system protects us against bacterial and viral infections such as the common cold. Most of the time it does a great job at keeping us healthy, but in rare situations the immune system can become over-active and attack our own body. This is called autoimmunity and can cause diseases such as arthritis, lupus, and diabetes. This talk will introduce our wonderful immune systems and discuss how it can go awry to cause autoimmunity.

Cancer Recognition by the Immune System

Cancer is not one disease but rather a complex group of diseases resulting from an unnatural growth of our body’s own cells. Cancers can arise in almost all tissues and can spread to other parts of the body when left untreated. The immune system acts as a first line of defence in protecting against this disease by identifying tumours and shutting them down before they become too threatening. However, this form of immune surveillance is not perfect and many cancers can evade detection. In this talk, graduate students from the University of Toronto will discuss how the immune system distinguishes healthy and unhealthy cells in our body, and how researchers are developing “immunotherapies” that can enhance immune responses in the battle to conquer cancer.

Drug Discovery: Benchtop to Pillbox

Ever wonder how drugs evolve from basic ideas to medical treatments and why the process is so long? In this talk students from the University of Toronto will describe the transition of a scientific finding to clinical trials, answering questions such as “who pays for drug development?” and “how do we know these drugs are safe?”

Genome Editing: Harnessing the Power of CRISPR

In this talk we discuss a revoluntionary tool scientists can use to “cut and paste” our genes. We discuss how this type of gene editing works, its applications and ethics.

HIV: From history to HISTORY!

 

Hygiene Hypothesis

Is being too clean making us sick? Graduate students from the University of Toronto will tackle this question and more as we explore the link between germs and disease. We will discuss how bacteria and parasites can “educate” our immune system, and how that may affect the incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases in the developing vs the developed world. There are more bacteria than human cells in your body! We will talk about where they are and most importantly, how they contribute to keeping us healthy and fit.

Type 2 Diabetes

In this presentation, we will provide an overview of type 2 diabetes, a growing global epidemic. We will discuss risk factors and management of diabetes, briefly highlighting the underlying biology of the disease.

Neurodegenerative Diseases

As we get older, we often find that we’re not as mentally sharp as we used to be in our youth. What changes occur in the brain as we age, and is this normal? Severe impairment may also happen with age in the form of cognitive and motor deficits that can be hard to treat. This presentation will provide an overview of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, the two most common neurodegenerative disorders. Topics include the biological bases of the diseases, symptoms, and available treatment options.

Organ Kijiji: The Immunology and Challenges of Organ Transplantation

A talk on the science and ethics of organ transplantation from the University of Toronto Immunology department. We explore why people get organ transplants, recent advances and major hurdles to be overcome in transplantation today.

Vaccines Revealed

Vaccination is an integral part of modern healthcare but many people are still suspicious about the effectiveness of vaccines and worried about the side effects they may incur. Vaccines boost the ability of your immune system to fight infections more rapidly and effectively. Many diseases, including polio and smallpox, have been almost eradicated by the practice of vaccination. On the other hand, some vaccines – such as the seasonal flu shot – are not always as effective as predicted. Our talk aims to clarify what goes into a vaccine, how they work together with your immune system, and how critical they are for preventing the spread of disease.

What’s in an Outbreak?: Ebola and Infectious Disease

The most recent Ebola outbreak in western Africa created a global effort to control the spread of disease. Amidst the media panic, graduate students from the University of Toronto want to clear up some of the misconceptions surrounding the virus. We will talk about how disease causing agents can cause disease and infect us. The focus will be on Ebola and the biological and sociological factors that have contributed to the outbreak, and why Ebola has spread so much in some areas and much less in other regions. We will also discuss current treatments of Ebola.