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October 18, 2010

Stem Cell Network honoured with 2010 Stem Cell Action Education Award

by Drew Lyall

Earlier this month, the Stem Cell Network was delighted to be honoured at the World Stem Cell Summit in Detroit with the 2010 Stem Cell Action Education Award. Presented by the Genetics Policy Institute (GPI), the leading stem cell advocacy organization in the United States, the award recognized "the Network's extraordinary commitment to public education". Previous winners have included the National Association of Biology Teachers (2008) and the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures (2009).

While the Network, it researchers, and its students undertake literally hundreds of outreach events and activities every year, GPI highlighted four programs in particular:

  1. StemCellTalks, a high school outreach program led by three graduate students at the University of Toronto, that is being rolled out across Canada in 2011;
  2. StemCellSchool, a recently-launched web-based resource aimed at high school biology students that teaches basic biology concepts through the "lens" of stem cell research;
  3. SCN Ethics Whitepapers, a series that summarizes many of the ethical, legal and social questions that arise from stem cell research, in a form that is accessible to the general reader; and,
  4. SCN Patient Summaries, both a web-based and hard-copy resource that aims to summarize the latest information about the potential application of stem cell research to various disease areas, in a form that patients can readily understand.

As one of Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence, public outreach, education, and engagement are central parts of our mandate, and ones into which we have invested heavily over the past decade. Nevertheless, it is always nice to receive external validation of the work being done though none of it is done alone - credit must also be given to the many trainees and PIs who volunteered their time to the projects, as well as to the members of the Network's Policy Development Committee and to Lisa Willemse, our Director of Communications, who manages these programs.

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