Crowdfunding and the global marketplace for unproven stem cell interventions

Recipient locations and destinations from one year of GoFundMe crowdfunding campaigns for stem cell treatments for neurological diseases and injuries. (Source: Drs. Snyder and Turner) Jeremy Snyder, PhD, is a Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. Leigh Turner, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Center for Bioethics, School of Public Health and College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota. You can find them on Twitter @jeremycsnyder and @LeighGTurner…

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Got “sciart”?

Eleni Kanavas is the Acting Communications Specialist at CCRM. She has more than eight years of corporate communications experience working in the academic and health science fields. She graduated with an Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto and an Ontario College Advanced Diploma in Journalism from Centennial College. Eleni previously worked at Sunnybrook Research Institute and the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. Science and tech-based art, or “sciart” for short, has changed the scientific…

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Right Turn: PR, propaganda, science, storytelling and a soupçon of stem cells

Slide by Dr. Alicia Wanless at CPRS’ annual conference, June 2019. Propaganda is everywhere these days. Even (especially?) at a conference for public relations professionals. La Generalista, aka Alicia Wanless, was the opening keynote speaker at the recent Canadian Public Relations Society’s (CPRS) “Evolving Expectations” annual conference, held this year in Edmonton, Alberta. Dr. Wanless, a researcher at King’s College London, is an expert on information and propaganda, areas of study that are crucial to…

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Right Turn: Announcing a new blog for the cell and gene therapy industry

There’s a new blog in town and it’s in direct competition to Signals. Or is it? In our information saturated world, there is a great deal of competition for your attention. In 2015, Netflix users had streamed 42.5 billion hours of video and its users collectively spent 140 hours a day watching content from a library of 5,599 titles as of 2018, a drop from 2014 when it had 8,000 titles (source Netflix, uNoGS and…

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Right Turn: Are stem cell documentaries aiming to lend legitimacy to unproven stem cell treatments?

In our hyperconnected world, video is king. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that for marketers video helps convert visitors (to a website for example) into customers. Videos also bring testimonials to life. Real people are telling us why we should buy this product or trust that service. They believe what they’re saying or at least they are convincing at appearing to believe it. Social media juggernauts like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and…

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Right Turn: Viewer discretion advised when regenerative medicine goes to the movies

Writers will know that inspiration can come from the strangest places. Earlier this week I came across a Twitter thread from “Dr Esther @EstOdek” who was amusingly upset (I think that’s an oxymoron) that she learned, too late for her PhD on starfish, that The Hulk’s dad investigated the genetic basis of regeneration in starfish. That particular piece of Marvel trivia didn’t inspire a post on starfish and how they regenerate new limbs – although…

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Right Turn: Ethics, Australian culture and more when ISCT 2019 goes to Melbourne

Australian culture and pride were very much on display at ISCT 2019, the annual meeting of clinicians, regulators, researchers, technologists and industry who claim membership in the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy (ISCT). While it was my first time attending an ISCT meeting, CCRM has had a presence there for several years now. Like many scientific conferences, ISCT began with a pre-conference day and the official opening event began in the evening. At…

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Science Outside The Lab North 2019

The SOtL North 2019 A cohort. Credit: SOtL North What is science policy? How do I translate my research expertise into policymaking? And what does working in the federal public service involve? These were some of the questions swirling around in my head as I set off to attend the Science Outside The Lab North (SOtL North) program: a one-week deep dive into science policy in Ottawa and Montréal. In this post, I’ll share key…

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The ever-expanding optogenetic toolkit

The author’s mouse following preparation for in vivo optogenetics experiments. She performed stereotaxic neurosurgery to a) virally deliver the opsin gene to the brain region of interest through targeted, bilateral injections, and b) implant fibre optic cables hovering just above her region of interest to guide light into the tissue (white horn-looking structures on the mouse’s head, secured using black dental acrylic). A mouse with mysterious cables attached to its head explores an enclosure, casually…

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Right Turn: Sad news about regenerative medicine funding in Ontario

It was announced publicly this week that the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s (OIRM) funding will not be renewed after March 2020. Closing OIRM would be a significant loss to the regenerative medicine community in Ontario, where so many of Canada’s stem cell and regenerative medicine researchers are located. Kate Allen, Toronto Star, reported the news on May 14. Ironically, this was one day before OIRM hosted its biggest event of the year: OIRM Symposium.…

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