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High school students get lesson in regenerative medicine from U of T's Medicine By Design

More than 100 students and their teachers from high schools across the Toronto area attended a conference last week on regenerative medicine that covered everything from new research to the range of job opportunities in the field (photo by Romi Levine)

Plunging a metal rod into an inflatable kiddie pool filled with multicoloured plastic balls may not look like the cutting edge of medical research. 

But the activity, which was designed to show the challenge of isolating relatively rare stem cells – in this case, a handful of balls with magnetic strips – from a much larger pool of cells, had a serious purpose: to introduce more than 100 students and their teachers from high schools across the Toronto area to regenerative medicine.

High school students learn about the challenge of  isolating rare stem cells by plunging metal rods into a pool of plastic balls (photo by Romi Levine)

The display was part of Regenerative Medicine: The Next Frontier, a conference on Nov. 2 co-hosted by University of Toronto's Medicine By Design and University of Toronto Schools. In addition to interactive booths highlighting research from labs at U of T and its affiliated hospitals, the day featured talks on everything from what regenerative medicine is to the complex process of turning discoveries into better treatments for diseases such as heart failure, stroke and diabetes.

Students also heard about the range of jobs available in the field, including in academic research, regulatory affairs, venture capital, cell manufacturing and communications.  

The conference included interactive booths highlighting research from labs at U of T and its affiliated hospitals, as well as talks on regenerative medicine (photo by Romi Levine)

Matthew Lynn, a Grade 12 student at Michael Power-St. Joseph High School in Etobicoke who plans to study life sciences at university, said the event opened his eyes to the diverse paths he could take. 

“It’s great to know about these new, emerging career opportunities and really take advantage of that,” said Lynn.