Being a woman and juggling the roles of a professional, a parent, a child and a spouse is not a new dilemma. What may be new is an increased awareness that historically we have thought of this as more of a woman's problem than a man's.
"Why are certain things so ingrained in our culture and society about what a woman's role should be?" asked Dr. Gelareh Zadeh, during a panel discussion about closing the gap for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The event was hosted by JLABS, Johnson & Johnson's innovation incubator, and co-presented by UHN on International Women's Day. It began with a talk given by Dr. Molly Shoichet, Ontario’s first Chief Scientist, describing her academic and career path.
Dr. Shoichet was followed by a panel discussion including Dr. Zadeh, the head of Surgical Oncology at UHN and PM Cancer Centre Scientist; Dr. Christine Allen, a drug delivery and cancer researcher at the University of Toronto; Doina Oncel, CEO of hEr Volution; and Melissa Sariffodeen, CEO and co-founder of Canada Learning Code. The discussion was moderated by Catherine Wang, VP of Clinical Operations and Diagnostic Partnerships at UHN.
While gender stereotypes are still common, Dr. Zadeh and the other panelists discussed how there is a growing understanding that we shouldn't use different rulers to measure how women and men balance career and personal life. But changing this perception can be especially hard in careers that demand long hours and a lifetime of dedication.
All successful women in leadership roles in STEM, the panelists shared their struggles in coordinating their careers with motherhood. Most importantly, they told their stories on how to fight stigma and be able to really share responsibilities with their partners.
Dr. Zadeh, for example, said she never had the time to prepare her daughter's lunch box—something often expected of a mother. However, she has built an open and solid relationship with her daughter, something she wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
"Do I make mistakes? Absolutely," Dr. Zadeh said. "Am I perfect? No. I'm never going to be that perfect mom who participates in all school activities, but my relationship with my daughter is completely solid and I wouldn't change it. I'm really happy that she's in my life."
"And it goes back to my main point. How do we know if we are good mothers? We use metrics defined historically and culturally by our society. But these metrics don't make sense to me. I should use metrics that fit my life and, as a consequence, I can deliver on them."
'Me too' movement and its impact for women in STEM
Although Hollywood is quite a distant world for women in STEM, the panelists said the main impact of the "Me too" and "Time's up" movements are in raising awareness to gender discrimination in the workplace.
Dr. Zadeh said she is very proud that at UHN women are in senior management positions and in research leadership roles, but that medicine and especially her field—neurosurgery—are still very much dominated by men.
For her, to involve men as well as women in ending gender disparity is key to having more women opting for a career in STEM.
"It is our responsibility as a society to make sure that our men are also equally involved and fully understand what the issue is," she said. "We assume that men are deliberate on this process [of excluding women], but I would argue it is not the case."
"There is a much bigger role that men can play and I think they are willing to play it. We need to work together to make it happen, to move towards real change."
As the panel's moderator, Catherine Wang said it is very important for UHN to participate in events such as this. She pointed out the institution is very engaged in promoting gender equality.
"Being a woman and a leader at UHN, I'm so proud to be a part of this event and hear impactful women in STEM share their powerful experiences," she said.
"While I think UHN is far ahead of most other Canadian hospitals, there are still opportunities for us to improve on gender equality. The pace of progress is tremendous right now and we need to see this continue."
This is an adaptation of a story originally published by UHN News on www.uhn.ca
Canadian pancreatic cancer researchers, including those at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, are joining forces under a Terry Fox Research Institute initiative to help tackle this deadly disease.
"For many years it's been hopeless from a patient perspective, and we are hoping to help shift this," says Dr. Daniel Renouf of BC Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia (UBC) who, along with Dr. David Schaeffer of the Vancouver General Hospital and UBC, is leading a $5-million pan-Canadian, precision medicine initiative.
In addition to Drs. Renouf and Schaeffer, Principal Investigators of the study include Drs. Jennifer Knox and Steven Gallinger, who are Cancer Clinical Research Unit (CCRU) members at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
A lack of early detection tests. Few known symptoms. Very limited treatment options. No known biomarkers that can be used to direct therapy. These are among the clinical challenges team EPPIC, short for Enhanced Pancreatic Cancer Profiling for Individualized Care, is tackling over the next five years to improve personalized treatments for patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, a disease with a five-year survival rate of just nine per cent.
"Our project focuses on metastatic cancer versus surgically resectable primary tumours, because this is the clinical problem we see most often," says Dr. Schaeffer, noting a priority is to discern if the metastatic and primary tumour differ in their genetic make-up.
Genomic sequencing and bioinformatics analyses of patient tumours will be conducted at the OICR and the BC Cancer Genome Sciences Centre.
This project is currently under way in Toronto and Vancouver, and is expanding to include up to 400 eligible patients in Montreal, Kingston, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. More than 100 patients from the McCain Centre for Pancreatic Cancer at the Princess Margaret have already participated in the COMPASS trial, initially funded by Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), Pancreatic Cancer Canada (PCC) and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Early results were published in late 2017 in Clinical Cancer Research.
"Only with national collaboration can we move forward at pace with global understanding of this disease and make a significant contribution," says Dr. Knox, Principal Investigator of COMPASS and co-Director of the McCain Centre.
Many of the EPPIC team's investigators are members of PancOne, an initiative of PCC that brings together pancreas researchers from across the country. The foundational funding from PCC has also been integral in establishing a strong framework from which to build pan-Canadian collaboration.
Applications are now open for the Vector Institute’s 2018 Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning Summer School, which take place from July 25 to August 3, 2018 in Toronto.
This ten-day lecture series includes 6 days of deep learning and 3 days of reinforcement learning, and features talks by leading researchers in these fields from around the world.
Canadian and international students and researchers—in academia, industry, health or elsewhere—are welcome to apply. A limited number of spots will be held for applicants from the Vector Institute’s industry sponsors and health partners. A limited number of spots will also be reserved for partners of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (amii) and the Institut québécois d’intelligence artificielle (MILA) as partners under the CIFAR pan-Canadian AI strategy.
The application form went live on Friday March 2, 2018, and the deadline to apply is March 26, 2018 at 3:59:59 PM EST.
Reading is a gift that keeps on giving. As soon as we learn how to read, we keep reading every day for the rest of our lives. We use this skill to learn, relax and communicate with others. And when we lose the ability to read, it negatively impacts our emotional wellbeing and quality of life.
“Central vision loss can impair a person’s ability to read. It is characterized by the appearance of a blurred or distorted area in the center of a person’s field of vision. This area can become so blurred that a person’s central vision is completely eliminated,” explains Dr. Tarita-Nistor, a Scientific Associate at the Krembil Research Institute.
Recently, a team led by Drs. Tarita-Nistor and Esther González (Affiliate Scientist at Krembil) evaluated the effectiveness of two new measures of reading performance—the reading accessibility index (ACC) and a quality of reading grid—in patients with central vision loss. The ACC assesses a person’s ability to read text sizes found in everyday life, such as those in newspapers and books, whereas the quality of reading grid classifies the speed at which a person reads different sizes of text.
The study included 24 participants with normal vision and 61 patients with central vision loss. The researchers used a variety of reading parameters, such as the maximum reading speed and the smallest print size that can be read, to calculate each participant’s ACC score and assess their reading ability using the quality of reading grid.
The researchers found that the ACC scores of people with normal vision were consistently high and strongly associated with indicators of good reading performance. Whereas, the scores were significantly lower in patients with central vision loss and strongly associated with indicators of poor reading performance. They also showed that the quality of reading grid provided a better understanding of the type of reading impairment affecting each patient, suggesting that it may be a good tool to evaluate improvement after reading rehabilitation.
These findings show that the ACC is a good measure of overall reading performance in patients with central vision loss and, when combined with the quality of reading grid, provides detailed information about a patient’s reading impairments. These new measures could not only improve the diagnosis of reading impairments in patients with central vision loss, but also help researchers develop more effective rehabilitation strategies for it.
This work was supported by an anonymous donor, the Vision Sciences Research Program and the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.
Tarita-Nistor L, González EG, Mandelcorn MS, Brent MH, Markowitz SN, Steinbach MJ. The reading accessibility index and quality of reading grid of patients with central vision loss. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2018 Jan. doi: 10.1111/opo.12429.