The Gairdner High School Symposium is a half-day event held each fall that gives secondary students and teachers the opportunity to interact with Gairdner award-winning scientists and BC Children's Hospital researchers. 

This event is hosted in conjunction with the Center for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) and the Canada Gairdner Foundation, recognizing the world’s most creative and accomplished biomedical scientists who are advancing humanity and the world.


The next Gairdner High School Symposium is scheduled virtually for Monday, October 25, 2021, 8:30 - 10:30 am. 

8:30 am - Welcome & Introduction

Presented by:

  • Dr. Michael Hayden, Investigator, BC Children's Hospital; Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine; University Killam Professor, Department of Medical Genetics, UBC
8:35 am - Research Presentations
  • The Many Hats Scientists Wear
    Presented by: Dr. Rodolphe BarrangouRecipient of the 2016 Canada Gairdner International Award Associate Professor, Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences; Todd R. Klaenhammer Distinguished Scholar in Probiotics Research North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

    During this presentation participants will explore:
    - The many paths to diverse scientific careers (i.e. industry, academia, governmental institutions, NGOs)
    - The educational needs for scientist at all levels of learning
  • Listening to Your Gut - a Scintillating Scientific journey

    During this presentation participants will explore:
    - Potential pathways to a career in science
    - Challenges and obstacles in the scientific journey
    - Key elements of the glucagon-like peptide story

    Presented by: Dr. Daniel J. Drucker, Recipient of the 2021 Canada Gairdner International Award Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto; Senior Scientist, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health, Toronto, Ontario


9:30 am - Panel Discussion

Join Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou & Dr. Daniel J. Drucker to explore a variety of career opportunities in health sciences. This discussion will be driven by participants, so get your questions ready! 

10:00 am - Trainee Presentations
  • The impact of antidepressant use during pregnancy on child behaviour
    Antidepressants readily cross the placenta and reach the developing fetus, but it is unknown whether early exposure to antidepressants will affect the child's emotional and behavioural regulation. In order to make an informed decision on antidepressant use during pregnancy, it is important to understand how prenatal exposure to antidepressants influences early brain development and whether it affects stress regulation, mental health and behaviour during childhood. Therefore, as part of my PhD I study the associations between antidepressant exposure during pregnancy and changes in stress regulation, behaviour and mood across childhood.

    Presented by: Enav Zusman, Pharm.D., M.Sc. UBC PhD Student; Oberlander Research Team
  • Mixed messages in the media – are there ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ foods? 
    Food and eating are vital aspects of our everyday lives. While many personal factors like taste or cost can influence what we choose to consume, broader factors that are embedded within societal structures, like gender, also play a role. Boys and girls receive a multitude of information about what they ‘should’ consume based on their gender. Today we’ll talk about how to recognize some of these messages in the media and explore why they can be harmful for health and wellbeing.

    Presenter by: Alysha Deslippe, MSc UBC Doctoral Student; Cohen Research Team

Moderated by:

  • Dr. Bruce Verchere, Investigator, BC Children's Hospital; Director, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics Academic Affiliations; Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBC; Professor, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, UBC
10:30 am - Closing Remarks

Interested in Participating? 

The 2021 Gairdner High School Symposium 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. 

Participation is restricted to BC students from grades 10-12. Interested students must register to participate. To maximize interactions between students and presenters, only 150 students will be enrolled.

BC Children's Hospital strives to empower youth and promote an equitable and inclusive learning environment. Further space is available for BC students from grades 10-12 who identify as First Nations, Inuit, or Métis. Students will be asked to self-identify as Indigenous on the registration form.

Why is the 2021 Gairdner High School Symposium online when students are back in the classroom? The Gairdner High School Symposium 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.  

Learn more about participating!


Video recordings of past education events, including these lectures, are available online. These may be useful for classes, or of interest to those who are unable to attend events. 

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