Thank you for attending the 2017 EWH UofT Symposium!

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The University of Toronto’s annual Engineering World Health symposium, themed Origins and Opportunities, hosted a number of speakers and workshops to share innovative ideas about world health. It took place on January 20th at the University College, located on the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus. Engineers and non-engineers alike were drawn to the full-day event and enjoyed speaker-sessions, panel discussions, interactive workshops as well as a networking lunch and poster session.

Throughout the symposium, a common theme emerged as speakers, regardless of their backgrounds, placed a particular emphasis on studying the context of the problem along with its technical aspects to eventually create an effective solution. This knowledge is best acquired by hands-on experience through collaborations, volunteering, and fieldwork. It is also apparent that there is no limit in age or background–with enough drive, we are all capable of making an impact on Global Health! For highlights on the topics that were discussed by the speakers during the Symposium, please find a summary at the end of this post, and check out the live tweets that were posted by all our attendees using the #2017EWHS hashtag. We’d also like to congratulate Ina Muskaj on winning this year’s best tweet prize!

The poster session gave students an opportunity to showcase their research and interact with attendees from differing backgrounds. It was wonderful to see the genuine interest in global health work and to observe the innovative research being performed at the University of Toronto. Congratulations to this year’s poster winners, Bryan Gellner and Pengzhou Lu, for their presentation on Normothermic Ex Vivo Heart Perfusion!

We were fortunate to have the support of multiple organizations and student groups, who were on hand to inform students about other potential opportunities to participate in global health related activities. We are immensely grateful to our sponsors, as well as the speakers, moderators, and poster judges that made this thought-provoking day of discovery and discussion a reality. We’d also like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the Symposium Organizing Committee, who volunteered their time (and sanity) to make this event a success.

The morning session had the theme Origins, where speakers shared their backgrounds to motivate and inform the audience about the different paths to participate in global health through real life, relatable stories.

It started off with Jerry Ennett, whose passion in medical science and technology led him to the field of Biomedical Engineering. He discussed his use of portable, solar-powered 3D printers to create affordable, custom-made medical devices in low- and middle-income countries as well as the International Space Station! Ennett’s work also focuses on creating a social enterprise which uses proceeds to fund further development and education in the communities. This will enable local physicians to design and print devices for patients at low cost such as finger splints and prosthetic arms. By bringing sustainable solutions to where needed, Ennett empowers the locals instead of displacing jobs.

Next up was Stephanie Gora, who discussed the challenges regarding the lack of access to clean water in small communities in Canada. Gora reminisced about her volunteering and consulting experience, which brought upon numerous opportunities that ultimately led to her current PhD studies. She also remarked the increasing female presence in the water industry, advocating for women in STEM! While working on a new water purification method that employs Titanium Oxide, Gora pointed out that the bigger challenge lies in fighting the industry’s resistance to change. In addition to technologies, innovations in management, financing, education, and environmental stewardship hold the key to improving drinking water quality for isolated communities.

Calvin Rieder inspired listeners by discussing his inspiration: the world around him. Rieder’s interest in water purification started in elementary school. Upon discovering the sheer number of people who do not have access to clean water, he created a science project to demonstrate passive water purification, a skill that he learnt while camping. Rieder continued to innovate in his backyard, using hot air from the back of a dryer to create iterations of prototypes that extracted water from air through condensation. Inspired by ancient architecture, he channels cool air during the night to condense water, and utilizes solar energy to disinfect water. Now an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at UofT, Rieder is progressively improving his design and aims to produce enough water that one person needs to consume each day. Be sure to look out for this budding new engineer and his resourceful solutions to a global issue!

After a morning of inspiring speakers, symposium attendees enjoyed lunch and a poster session, followed by workshops. The Origins workshop What’s Your Problem?! – Tackling challenges in complex healthcare systems, led by consultant Jessica Fan, involved an interactive brainstorm session to explore problems in healthcare to identify a common issue. This workshop emphasized the importance to identify the root cause of a problem and find a resolution as opposed to treating the symptoms of an issue. Fan introduced a 3 stage process: distinguish problems and their common denominator, identify the stakeholders and understand their needs through the “empathy pathway”, then redefine the problem.

The Opportunities workshop, titled Ideation and Designing for Healthcare, was led by Lily Lo and Hadi Salah from MaRS and Hacking Health. The participants broke into small groups to practise systematic strategies and come up with ideas improving healthcare. One memorable exercise was writing down questions that challenged the status quo–why do we have to go to the doctor? Why do we have to go to grocery stores to buy food? Why can’t we grow our own food?–and imagining potentially better approaches. Other strategies were explored, such as simulating the life of a hypothetical patient to generate ideas for better patient care and using the “fast idea generator” as a tool to think differently and systematically for more effective idea generation.

Speakers in the afternoon Opportunities session included pioneers in the exciting fields of regenerative medicine, synthetic biology, and biomedical engineering. They also commented on the future opportunities and challenges of their field of research.

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Dr. Emily Titus introduced the innovations at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) to bring regenerative medicine to industry here in Toronto. CCRM’s framework is designed based on Toronto’s strengths in the academic, industry, investor and healthcare landscape. One example of their work is the use of stirred bioreactors to scale up mesenchymal stem cell production. As millions of cells are required to treat a single patient, scalability is essential to creating an industry that serves a large community.

Next, Dr. Keith Pardee discussed the possibility of synthetic biology without cells. BY harnessing the sensory power of biology, synthetic biology has potential applications in medicine, ecological monitoring, and food supply. Paper-based technology employs cell-free extracts to produce programmable sensors that allows rapid development, on-site and on-demand manufacturing, and room-temperature distribution. This innovation was tested for Zika virus diagnosis. The turnover from design validation to production took less than a week, producing devices capable of discriminating various viral strain.

Our last speaker, Dr. Geunther, shared the latest developments in bioprinting planar and ductular materials for tissue engineering. He commented that most engineered tissue applications are focused on in vitro models for drug screening rather than cell or tissue therapy. Therefore, his lab directed their efforts to design a skin printer for treating burn patients through partnership with a local dermatologist. Currently, bioprinting involves printing constructs onto which cells are seeded and grown. His research group started out by printing into a fish tank, and are now dispensing collagen-based tissue with a packing tape roller as an innovative method to achieve 3D-bioprinting. With his background in mechanical engineering, Dr. Geunther also emphasized on the importance of collaborations, where team members should be given the opportunities to interact in person at an early stage of the project. The audience was intrigued and we look forward to hearing more about his project in the future!

At the conclusion of this year’s Symposium, we’ve grown to appreciate the immense support for global health initiatives within the UofT community. Next year, we will return, armed with new knowledge and ready to take on the world once again. We hope to see you there!

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EWH Symposium 2016 Organizing Committee is recruiting!

The Engineering World Health University of Toronto (EWH UofT) Chapter is a student group seeks to inspire and mobilize the UofT community to improve healthcare in low- and middle-income countries. To achieve this mission, we will be hosting our one-day annual symposium in February 2016. This event will include podium presentations and panel discussions given by leading researchers and workers in global health issues, a poster session for students to present their work in the field of engineering and global health, and a networking reception.

To make this happen, we need talented volunteers like you! We are currently seeking for volunteers to help with speaker scheduling, logistics, marketing, and IT/AV system support.

If you would like to take part in organizing this exciting event, please sign up here.

We look forward to hearing from you!

“Girl Rising” – ISID Documentary Sceening

The U of T Interdisciplinary Society for International Development (ISID) is hosting a screening of the documentary “Girl Rising” this Thursday, Jan 29th at the Innis Hall Theatre. To learn more and register, follow this link! https://utisid.wordpress.com/  Did we mention there’s free pizza?

About the film: “From Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins, Girl Rising journeys around the globe to witness the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world: ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams. Prize-winning authors put the girls’ remarkable stories into words, and renowned actors give them voice.”

This is a documentary produced by Girl Rising – a global campaign for girls’ education. http://girlrising.com/

Our 1st Engineering Training Workshop and Survey!

Engineering Training Workshop

December 2nd, 2014 5–7PM

Room MB232
Mining Building
170 College Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3E3

Thank you to all those who attended the EWH Engineering Training Workshop despite exams being just around the corner. The event was a huge success and we are looking forward to hosting our next event with more hands-on learning fun!
At the event we learned all about resisters, capacitors, and transistors and spent most of the time being hands-on and learning how to assemble components together on a breadboard based on a given circuit diagram. All the groups were able to successfully create some or all of the available circuits. Everyone also got to experience what it takes to solder onto a prototyping board, Our next workshop will contain much more soldering so that everyone can become proficient at this skill, so don’t miss out!
For those that have attended our workshop, we would love to hear any feedback regarding how the event was run and the material covered. Please fill out the following short survey linked below. Positive feedback is also welcome so that we can keep doing what we’re doing! Even if you haven’t attended the workshop and would like to request certain material or concepts to be reviewed in the next one, please let us know in the survey.

Engineering Training Workshop

Engineering Training Workshop

December 2nd, 2014 5–7PM

Room MB232
Mining Building
170 College Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3E3

For the first of the learn-and-build series, we will be providing an introductory course on circuits. We will cover how to read circuit diagrams, identify and learn the function of basic electronic components, and get a taste of integrating components onto a circuit board. Non-engineering students are welcome as well!

Spots are limited, be sure to register here to reserve your spot!

University of Toronto World AIDS Day

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The annual University of Toronto World AIDS Day will take place at Hart House Great Hall, on December 1st, 2014.

We only have a limited number of seats available. Registration is open to all faculty members, alumni, and students of the university.

More information

Register here

Website

This event will commemorate the University of Toronto’s community and international partners that have been building research, education and service initiatives to take action against the pandemic of AIDS. This is a celebration of our efforts against the world’s indifference to the death of millions with AIDS. With guest speakers from various faculties as well as musical and artistic performances, this event promises to be an invigorating amalgamation of knowledge-sharing, fundraising and discussion. The Great Hall Gallery will also feature local NGOs and campus groups distinguished for their work surrounding AIDS. This is a free event, though donations will be accepted at the door and will go to Casey House, a specialty HIV/AIDS hospital in Toronto that aims to provide exemplary treatment, support and palliative care for individuals affected by the disease.

As one of the partners, EWH UofT will set up a booth at this event. Hope to see you there!

Launch Party!

Engineering World Health – UofT Chapter Launch Party!

Friday October 17th, 5:00-8:00pm

Wallberg Building, Room WB215
184-200 College Street Toronto, ON M56 3E5

Thanks to everyone who attended our launch party! It was great to see members from our previous and new faces.

Launch event’s survey results – we need to know more about global health!

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The winners of the launch party global health questionnaire are Emanuel and Wendy, who each answered 5 out of 10 questions correctly (you will get a prize!). Most people taking the questionnaire had one question correct. The good thing is that every time you answered incorrectly, it was because you were too pessimistic about the status of world health. This means the world is a better place than what we are imagining! However, it also means that we need to increase our knowledge to be able to focus on the right challenges, so keep coming out to our events to learn more.

The questions for the quiz came from Hans Rosling, a Swedish global health professor. He is a lot of fun to listen to, so we recommend that you check out his most recent TED talk, where he goes into more depth about these issues. If you didn’t get a chance to take the questionnaire, it is available on our home page. See how you stack up against your friends!

This event was kindly sponsored by the Centre for Global Engineering (CGEN) and The Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME).