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Join us virtually for Mini Med School 2020 as we explore the gut and your health.

Presented by Mini Med School Deans Dr. Laura Sly & Dr. Ted Steiner.

At Mini Med School, you'll have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the newest discoveries and innovations in research 
  • Virtually interact with world-class scientists and health professionals
  • Explore the diverse careers available in science and medicine


Mini Med School 2020 will be hosted online in October. Each night will feature lectures by two scientific leaders, followed by a question period. 

Session #1: Introduction to the Microbiome

Speaker: Dr. Bruce Vallance 
Fun Fact: In grade 5, Dr. Vallance filled out a quiz that took his answers about his values, skills, interests, and personality to identify the best career choice for him. The quiz identified his best career choice would be...microbiologist...Professor Bruce A. Vallance established his laboratory at BC Children’s Hospital in 2003 to study the role played by gut bacteria in driving the intestinal inflammation that characterizes enteric infections and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Since then, Dr. Vallance has authored more than 160 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and is internationally recognized for his research on disease-causing bacteria, as well as exploring the mechanisms by which intestinal epithelial cells defend against these microbes. His research has been recognized through a series of awards, including the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Young Investigator (2007) and Research Excellence awards (2016). He was also named a Michael Smith Foundation in Health Research Scholar (2004), held a Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Gastroenterology (2004-2014) and now holds the endowed CH.I.L.D. Foundation Research Chair in Pediatric Gastroenterology. Dr. Vallance has recently established a new microbiome profiling core (Gut4Health) at BC Children’s Hospital. He is also currently co-leading a CIHR Team grant seeking to identify gut bacterial pathobionts within pediatric IBD patients and develop new therapeutic approaches that will target these microbes.

Speaker: Dr. Genelle Healey
Fun Fact: Dr. Healey is from a country that has 5 times more sheep then people, a national flightless bird that has the same name as a type of fruit and one of the best rugby teams in the world - guess where I'm from? Dr Healey undertook her PhD in Nutritional Science at Massey University in New Zealand. Prior to commencing her PhD, Dr. Healey worked as a New Zealand registered Dietitian caring for patients with various gastrointestinal conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease. She moved to Vancouver to start a post-doctoral fellowship at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute in 2017 to undertake nutrition, gut microbiome and inflammatory bowel disease research. The project she is currently undertaking aims to determine what effect an exclusive enteral formula that contains fiber has on disease remission and the gut microbiome in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease patients. 

Session Dean: Dr. Laura Sly
Fun Fact: When not doing science, Dr. Sly parents and quilts in her “spare” time. Dr. Sly hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba where she did her undergraduate degree before pursuing graduate and postdoctoral work in Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia. Dr. Sly teaches in the Experimental Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology graduate programs. Her research focusses on the contribution of macrophages to inflammation with a special interest in reducing inflammation in immune-mediated diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease.

Session #2: Fecal Microbiota Transplantation: EEEWWW

Session Dean & Speaker: Dr. Ted Steiner 
Fun Fact: Dr. Steiner sings in Chor Leoni Men's Choir, the top amateur choir in Canada and recent Juno nominee! Dr. Steiner is a physician-scientist and Head of the UBC Division of Infectious Diseases. His research is focused on intestinal immunology and the host response to enteric infections. His work includes basic, translational, and clinical studies. He is also co-lead of the BC COVID-19 Clinical Research Node, helping to oversee and facilitate COVID-19 studies during the pandemic.

Speaker: Dr. Amee Manges 
Fun Fact: Dr. Manges spent the summer trying to make the perfect half-sour pickles with her garden cucumbers. Dr. Amee Manges is a molecular epidemiologist with expertise in the measurement and analysis of the human intestinal microbiome. She is a professor of epidemiology in the UBC School of Population and Public Health and supervises a research wet laboratory at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).  Dr. Manges' laboratory performs high throughput specimen processing, sequencing library preparation and computational analyses of whole metagenome data.  Her team has investigated the (1) intestinal microbiome and Clostridioides difficile infection, (2)  use of fecal microbiota transfer (FMT) to eliminate multidrug-resistant organisms from the gut and (2) role of the maternal gut microbiome during pregnancy and the infant gut microbiome in early life in child undernutrition.  

Session #3: Capitalizing on Good Gut Bacteria

Speaker: Dr. Deanna Gibson
Fun Fact: Over my pandemic summer Dr. Gibson learned to enjoy gardening and went from black thumb to green thumb digging over 100 holes for roses, trees, perennials in addition to tons of veggies. Dr. Gibson (Associate Professor and Associate Head of Research, Biology, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus) studies how the gut microbiome develops in response to the environmental ques like diet and how this drives immunity. One focus of Dr. Gibson’s research has been how to improve the bioavailability of probiotics. She has created patented designer probiotics to treat various inflammatory conditions including IBD, diabetes and neuroinflammation. She was the recipient of an NSERC research scholar award, a UBC Killam research award and the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology 2018 Young Investigator Award. She has been the recipient of grant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research, NSERC and Crohns and Colitis Canada.

Speaker: Dr. Harry Brumer
Fun Fact: Before coming to UBC, Dr. Brumer lived in Sweden for over a decade, where he met his wife through juggling! Dr. Harry Brumer is a Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and Department of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Brumer’s interests include studying the enzymes and proteins that build-up and break-down the huge variety of complex carbohydrates we find in nature.  His research group at UBC is studying how dietary fibre metabolism powers the human gut microbiota, and is also combining this new knowledge with chemistry to develop new ways to treat inflammatory bowel disease.

Session Dean: Dr. Laura Sly 

Session #4: Gut Microbiome in Non-Gut Diseases

Speaker: Dr. Stuart Turvey
Dr. Stuart Turvey is a Professor of Pediatrics at The University of British Columbia where he holds both the Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Precision Health and the Aubrey J. Tingle Professorship in Pediatric Immunology. He is a clinician-scientist and Pediatric Immunologist based at BC Children’s Hospital. Dr. Turvey’s research program is focused on determining the early-life origins of asthma and allergic disease, as well as harnessing the power of genomics to diagnose, treat and prevent pediatric immune disorders. 

Speaker: Dr. Silke Cresswell
Fun Fact: Dr. Cresswell has a rescue dog and cat as well as several crested geckos happily contributing to her family’s home microbiome. Dr. Silke Appel Cresswell is a movement disorder neurologist, Associate Professor and Marg Meikle Professor in Parkinson’s disease at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and the UBC Movement Disorder Clinic. Her clinical and research work focusses on the role of the microbiome in neurodegenerative disorders with the goal to find novel treatment approaches and on a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to the treatment and prevention of brain disorders. Complementary to typical medical treatments, interventions target physical and emotional wellbeing through active engagement in exercise, art, mindfulness, nutrition, enjoying nature and community building. She serves as the president of the Canadian Movement Disorder Group, as the director of the annual National Canadian Neurology Residents Course for Movement Disorders, and is co-founder and director of the BC Brain Wellness Program as well as co-director of the Canadian Course for Ultrasound Guidance of injection therapy in dystonia. 

Session Dean: Dr. Ted Steiner

We are excited to announce the following new additions to our Mini Med School program for 2020. 

Research Trainee Spotlight

Learn more about our future health science leaders and discover what it takes to pursue a career in research. Our panel of experts includes:

Mimi, Research Assistant - Hi! My name is Mimi and I am a Research Assistant with the Division of Neonatology at BC Children's Hospital. I completed my undergraduate degree at McGill University with a major in pharmacology and a minor in kinesiology. After undergrad, I worked in Dr. Vallance's microbiome lab before  pursuing a master's degree at UBC. I completed my master's degree with the Experimental Medicine program and my thesis focused on pediatric cardiology and physical activity. Outside of research, I love hiking, drawing, and playing basketball. 

Ask a Med Student or Resident

Questions you've always wanted to ask about what it takes to be a medical student or resident today! Our panel of experts includes: 

Dr. Peters, Resident - Hello! I'm Sarah, a first-year Pediatrics resident at BC Children's Hospital. I went to high school in the United States and then moved to Ontario, where I did an undergrad (Neuroscience, Psychology, and French) and Master's (Neuroscience) at the University of Toronto, and medical school at McMaster. Outside of medicine, I love doing arts and crafts, hiking nearby trails and running in Stanley Park, and finding new restaurants with my friends! When I was in high school, I loved art, writing, and science, and had dreams of becoming a doctor. It has been amazing to learn how medicine combines both logic and creativity, and it feels like a perfect fit for me! I'm excited to answer your questions about medical school, university, and life in general. 

Anjuli, Medical Student - Hi, I’m Anjuli and I am a 3rd year student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. I was born and raised in Vancouver, and moved to Dublin for the direct entry medicine program. Feel free to ask me any questions about life as a med student, doing medicine outside of Canada, and about the many different opportunities medicine affords. Outside of school, I enjoy baking, music, and fashion.

Katherine, Medical Student -  Hi everyone! My name is Katie and I am a second-year medical student at the University College Dublin in Ireland. I am born and raised in Vancouver, and attended Point Grey Secondary for high school. I completed my undergrad degree at Western University, with a major in medical cell biology and a minor in pharmacology. I graduated undergrad in June of 2019 and went straight into my first year of medicine in September of 2019. It has been an incredible experience so far! Outside of school I love to spoil my dogs, hang out with my friends and play as much soccer and tennis as possible. I look forward to answering all your questions!

Sydney, Medical Student – Hi everyone, my name is Sydney, and I am a second year medical student at UBC’s Vancouver campus. I graduated from high school in Victoria and then completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary while competing with the Dino’s Women’s Softball team. I have a love for research, running, trying new restaurants, and baking treats to share with my friends. I have had so much fun on this journey and am excited to answer any questions about medical school and this process!

Victoria, Medical Student - Hi everyone! My name is Victoria and I am a second-year medical student at Queen's University. I grew up in Vancouver and did my undergraduate degree in genetics and immunology at UBC where I played for the Women's Ultimate Team. Outside of school, I really enjoy drawing, running and spending time outdoors with friends. I look forward to answering any questions about the exciting path to medical school!

Interested in participating?

Mini Med School is transitioning to an all virtual learning platform. Participation is free, but participants will require access to a computer, tablet or smartphone and a stable internet connection. 

Virtual attendees across BC will now have two ways to participate in Mini Med School 2020: 

  • Mini Med School Live: Engage with researchers and clinicians at BC Children's Hospital in real-time! Participation is restricted to BC students from grades 10-12. Interested students must be nominated by a teacher to participate. To maximize interactions between students and presenters, only 200 students will be enrolled.
  • Mini Med School On-Demand: Participate when it works for you. Registration is open to everyone. A maximum of 300 participants will be enrolled in the program.

Mini Med School is supported by BC Children's Hospital Foundation. If you have any questions please contact

Only interested in watching a single session? By late November, all sessions will be posted on the BCCHR website's Video Library for anyone to access.

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