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Join us virtually for Mini Med School 2021 as we commemorate scientific achievements in diabetes research. Together we will explore the remarkable discovery of insulin, advances and innovative therapies in diabetes treatment, diabetes’ impact on the immune system, and the personal impacts of living with diabetes.

Did you know 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin? Discovered by researchers Sir Frederick G. Banting & Dr. Charles H. Best in 1921, this remarkable innovation has transformed the lives of millions of people with diabetes around the world. One hundred years later and insulin is still one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of all time. More Information.

In a series of presentations hosted by Mini Med School Deans Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos & Dr. Francis Lynn, you'll have the opportunity to: 

  • Learn about the newest discoveries and innovations in diabetes research 

  • Virtually interact with world-class scientists and health professionals

  • Explore the diverse careers available in science and medicine


Mini Med School 2021 will be hosted online in October. Each night will feature lectures by scientific leaders, followed by a question period. 

Session #1: Wednesday, October 6 - Diabetes Basics
  • Dr. Daniel L Metzger, Investigator and Pediatric Endocrinologist, BC Children's Hospital; Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia

    Dr. Daniel Metzger is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia, and a Pediatric Endocrinologist working in the Endocrinology & Diabetes Unit at BC Children's Hospital. He received his undergraduate degrees in chemistry and biology from MIT, and his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He did his pediatric internship and residency at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital (also in Cleveland). After residency he served for 18 month as a general pediatrician on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He then did his fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Following that, he accepted his current position in Vancouver in 1993.
  • Ramya Hosak, Co-founder & Executive Director, Young and Type 1; Director of Philanthropy, Kidney Foundation - BC & Yukon Branch

    Ramya is the Director of Philanthropy at the Kidney Foundation of Canada, on the Board of Directors for the Fraser Health Authority and is the co-founder and Executive Director of Young and Type 1, a grassroots support system of over 600 adults 18 – 40+ living with type 1 diabetes and their loved ones in the Lower mainland.

    These experiences have furthered her passion for understanding and addressing needs in the health care system to ensure equitable access for all. She believes that that with community collaboration, we can create strong support systems for a healthy society. 
  • Taylor Morriseau, Graduate Student, Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba

    Taylor Morriseau is an Indigenous scholar and PhD candidate at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. As a recipient of a CIHR Vanier Scholarship, she investigates gene-environment interactions underlying type 2 diabetes among Indigenous youth. She is proud to represent her own community, Peguis First Nation in her commitment to broader scientific and societal challenges as a member of the Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council and the SING Consortium (Summer Internship for Indigenous Peoples in Genomics).
Session Dean: 

Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos, Investigator, Canucks for Kids Fund Childhood Diabetes Laboratories, BC Children's Hospital; Pediatric Endocrinologist, BC Children's Hospital; Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia

Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia and an Endocrinologist at BC Children’s Hospital where she also serves as the Medical Director for both the Type 2 Diabetes/Insulin Resistance Program and the Provincial Mental Health Metabolic Program. Dr. Panagiotopoulos is a nationally recognized leader in pediatric diabetes and her research spans both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. She is the Clinical Core Leader of a Team in Childhood Autoimmunity at BC Children’s Hospital, where she has developed a provincial biobank/clinical registry for childhood type 1 diabetes. She also serves as the Vancouver Affiliate Principal Investigator for TrialNet, a multicentre international research effort to understand the natural history of type 1 diabetes. In the area of type 2 diabetes, her research focus is on “at-risk” populations – including Indigenous youth, and children with mental health challenges. She has been recognized by several organizations including the Doctors of BC and Diabetes Canada for her volunteer work and pioneering innovative and sustainable clinical and healthy living initiatives for children and their families. She is a leader in medical education in the UBC Faculty of Medicine and was the 2016 Pediatrics Faculty Mentor of the Year. Most recently, she was honoured with the 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Health and Wellness category.

Session #2: Wednesday, October 13 - Celebrating 100 Years of Insulin
  • Dr. Evgeniy Panzhinskiy, Research Associate, Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia

    Dr. Evgeniy Panzhinskiy grew up in Khabarovsk, Russia. He received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in molecular biology in 2008 from the Novosibirsk State University in Russia. His Master’s theses were focused on the use of antigen-presenting dendritic cells for anti-cancer therapies. He then received a scholarship from Education USA foundation and moved to the USA to pursue doctoral degree studies at the University of Wyoming in Molecular and Life Sciences Program. He completed his PhD dissertation titled “Role of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B and endoplasmic reticulum stress in obesity-induced insulin resistance” in 2013. He continued his work in the field of diabetes research by joining group of Dr. James Johnson at the UBC as a research postdoctoral fellow. His research is focused on understanding the role of protein translation in the failure of insulin-producing beta cells during diabetes. Since 2020 Dr. Evgeniy Panzhinskiy has been teaching biochemistry at the University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Dan S Luciani, Investigator, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute; Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia

    Dr. Dan Luciani is an Associate Professor in the UBC Department of Surgery, and an Investigator in the Diabetes Group at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute (BCCHRI). Dr. Luciani did his PhD training at the Technical University of Denmark. During this period, he entered the field of pancreatic beta-cell biology and worked with diabetes researchers in the US to study the behaviour of these insulin-secreting cells using mathematical models and live-cell microscopy. After completing his PhD, Dr. Luciani moved to Canada to continue his research on beta-cells at the University of British Columbia. His research team at BCCHR now studies how beta-cell dysfunction and loss contributes to the development of diabetes, and the cellular mechanisms by which this happens. Dr. Luciani is the recipient of a JDRF Career Development Award, and his research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 
Session Dean:

Dr. Francis Lynn, Investigator, BC Children's Hospital; Associate Member, Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia; Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia

Francis obtained his PhD in Physiology from the University of British Columbia in 2003. Following this he moved to San Francisco supported by JDRF Postdoctoral and Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowships with Michael German.

Francis was recruited to the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute in 2009 and is an Associate Professor in the UBC Department of Surgery and a Founding Member of the UBC School of Biomedical Engineering. Francis has been supported by the Goepel Family/ Diabetes Canada Young Investigator Award in Islet Cell Development; the JDRF Alan Permutt Career Development Award and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Sciences Scholar Award.

Francis’ work has led to publication of 55 highly-cited articles in top journals including Diabetes, Developmental Cell, PNAS, Nature and Nature Medicine. The Lynn Lab currently has 8 members and is funded by grants from the JDRF, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Stem Cell Network. Research is focused on understanding how we can improve the in vitro development of cell-based therapies for diabetes by taking cues from embryonic development. For more information please see

Session #3: Wednesday, October 20 - Diabetes & the Immune System
  • Dr. Megan Levings, Investigator, BC Children's Hospital; Lead, Childhood Diseases Theme, BC Children’s Hospital; Professor, Department of Surgery & School of Biomedical Engineering, University of British Columbia; Canada Research Chair in Engineered Immune Tolerance

    Dr. Megan Levings is a Professor in the Department of Surgery and School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Her lab studies how a special kind of white blood cell, known as a T regulatory cell, could be used as a cellular therapy to stop harmful immune responses. She leads a vibrant group of trainees and staff who are researching how to use T regulatory cells to replace conventional immunosuppression in the context of transplantation and autoimmunity. She has won numerous awards, including the Canadian Society for Immunology Investigator Award and the YWCA Woman of Distinction, Science, Research & Technology. She is internationally recognized in the field of human immunology and currently chairs the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies Centers' of Excellence. 
  • Dr. Bruce Verchere, Investigator, BC Children's Hospital; Director, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics; Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine & Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia

    Dr. Bruce Verchere is a Professor in the UBC Departments of Surgery and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Director of the UBC Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics at BCCHR, and holds the Irving K Barber Chair in Diabetes Research. He leads the BC Diabetes Research Network and was head of Childhood Diabetes Labs at BCCH from 2003-2021. Bruce completed his PhD in the UBC Department of Physiology in 1991, and after doing postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Washington and University of Geneva, returned to UBC and BC Children’s Hospital in 1997. His research focuses on understanding pancreatic islet function, with the goal of developing therapeutic approaches for enhancing beta cell survival and function in diabetes, and following transplantation. 
Session Dean:

Dr. Francis LynnInvestigator, BC Children's Hospital; Associate Member, Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia; Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia

Session #4: Wednesday, October 27 - Innovative Therapies in Diabetes
  • Dr. Angela Devlin, Investigator, BC Children's Hospital, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia

    Angela completed her PhD at UBC followed by postdoctoral training at University of California Davis (nutritional genomics) and the University of Iowa (vascular biology). She returned to Vancouver in 2005 and is currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia; and an Investigator at BC Children's Hospital Research Institute.

    Angela’s research program encompasses discovery and clinical studies focused on determining roles for prenatal and childhood dietary and metabolic factors on the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A particular focus is on identifying targets to prevent cardiometabolic complications in high-risk children, such as those with mental health conditions and type 1 diabetes. 
  • Dr. Tim Kieffer, MSFHR Senior Scholar; Professor, Department Cellular and Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia
Session Dean: 

Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos, Investigator, Canucks for Kids Fund Childhood Diabetes Laboratories, BC Children's Hospital; Pediatric Endocrinologist, BC Children's Hospital; Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia

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 2021: 

  • 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 strives to empower youth and promote an equitable and inclusive learning environment. Further space is available for Mini Med School Live and Mini Med School On-Demand for BC students from grades 10-12 who identify as First Nations, Inuit, or Métis. Teachers or the students will be asked to self-identify as Indigenous on the registration or nomination form.

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.

Why is Mini Med School online when students are back in the classroom? Mini Med School is typically held in-person at BC Children’s Hospital in space shared by our healthcare teams. In an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our hospital community, the decision was made to focus on virtual learning for 2021. We hope to welcome students back to BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute in 2022.  

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

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