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The halls are alive, with the sound of students

Toronto, July 28, 2015

By Geoff Koehler

St. Michael’s Hospital’s Keenan Research Summer Students have now become posterchildren for presenting complicated...

Posted by St. Michael's Hospital on Monday, July 27, 2015

St. Michael’s Hospital’s Keenan Research Summer Students have now become poster children for presenting complicated research projects through simplified scientific posters.

Scientific posters are large posters (usually more than three feet wide) that are used at conferences to explain research within a few minutes to a scientific audience.

There were 40 student-designed posters that lined the event space at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s on July 21. The posters covered research projects in three categories: basic science, health science and clinical research.

The Keenan Research Summer Student Program provides opportunities for undergraduate and medical students to conduct research in a laboratory or clinical setting at St. Michael's under the supervision of a scientist or physician. Students are also involved in educational programming such as seminars, networking activities and this poster competition.

“Over the past several years, this program has evolved to include more than 200 undergraduate and medical students,” said Dr. Kim Connelly, competition chair and a cardiologist with St. Michael’s. “I’m amazed at the depth of work these participants took on for this competition and the interest shown by participants made this the biggest poster competition the Keenan Research Summer Student Program’s ever had.”

  • The basic science winner was Aren Mnatzkanian, who compared DNA damage from nuclear medicine procedures to other causes of DNA injury in patients with BRCA 1 and 2 mutations. The research team, led by Dr. Joseph Barfett, also assessed the potential protective effects of antioxidants.

  • Health science winner Kathryn Hong assessed gender-related differences in stoke prevention management. The research team, led by Dr. Paul Dorian, also looked at clinical outcomes of high-risk atrial fibrillation patients who come to an academic hospital.

  • There were two clinical science winners. Winner Jeffrey Mah was part of a research team led by Dr. Aaron Nauth which compared surgical and non-surgical outcomes for AC joint dislocation in the collarbone. Winner Elizabeth Fryer was led by Dr. Dorcas Beaton in a study looking at differences in stiffness after total knee replacement compared to other treatments.

“I’m proud to recognize the students who competed and those who won, but it’s also important to acknowledge this outstanding program would not exist without the generous support of the Keenan family,” said Dr. Ori Rotstein, director of the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science of St. Michael’s. “The program is named in honour of Pat and Barbara Keenan.”

In total, the Keenans have donated $30 million to St. Michael’s over three decades. Their most recent gift created the Chair in Critical Care for star researcher Dr. Laurent Brochard.

Although Pat passed away in May of 2014, Barbara continues her strong ties to St. Michael’s, having just joined the Foundation for its inaugural Angels’ Den research event and in her ongoing support of the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science.

Barbara Keenan attended the competition and reviewed posters before addressing the students.

“I’d like to congratulate all of you [students] for your outstanding work,” said Barbara Keenan. “This is truly a room full of brilliant, passionate and dedicated people. I can confidently say that the future of health care and health research looks bright.”

The Keenan’s philanthropy is not limited to St. Michael’s. They have donated to many, many other worthy causes, including a $5-million gift to McGill University in 2013, where the couple first met as students. And now, Barbara’s daughter Gwen is extending the family tradition of philanthropy by serving on the St. Michael’s Foundation board of directors.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.