Billed as a Public dialogue on “personalized health”, the Vancouver Public Library (central branch) will be hosting a panel of experts from the University of British Columbia (UBC) on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015 from 6 pm to 8 pm (from the Feb. 2, 2015 UBC announcement),
Experts from the University of British Columbia and affiliated health care organizations will discuss how health and health care are no longer a matter of “one-size-fits-all” but rather a complex confluence of our biology, behaviour and environment.
Speakers will discuss:
- What can our DNA can reveal about our future health – and what it can’t.
- How can molecular markers in blood reduce the need for invasive procedures, minimize guesswork, and prevent adverse drug reactions?
- How do you want your DNA to be used for your care?
- Can we stop – or slow down – brain failure?
- How can we move from “sick care” (reactive) to “health care” (preventive)?
- Pieter Cullis, biochemist
- Bruce McManus, laboratory physician and scientist
- Ida Goodreau, health care and health research administrator
- Teresa Liu-Ambrose, physical therapy professor
- Larry Lynd, health care economist
Details and RSVP: lsi.ubc.ca/talks
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
6 – 8 PM
Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level
Central Library, 350 West Georgia St
Getting there: Vancouver’s Central Library is located in Library Square which occupies a full city block: bounded by Homer, Hamilton, Robson and Georgia Streets. The Central Library is accessible by bicycle, bus, skytrain and car, with underground and street parking available. The Alice MacKay Room is wheelchair accessible.
I view this not as a public dialogue so much as a sales pitch. Here’s the real title of the event on the UBC webpage: Personalized Medicine: Your Life, Your Genes, Your Health and Happiness. Interestingly, Ida Goodreau (one of the experts) has some additional information about her current job title along with an important affiliation listed on the page: Adjunct Professor, UBC Sauder School of Business; Vice-Chair of Board of Directors, Genome British Columbia [emphases are mine]. The Genome British Columbia connection reminded me of a series of front page articles in the Vancouver Sun newspaper about genomes, authored by Brad Popovich, Genome BC’s chief scientific officer. I was not able to find the articles online but I did find this Vancouver Sun podcast about Popovich and genomes (including his own which was the subject of his first front page article in a Saturday paper).
I can’t help wondering if this ‘public dialogue’ along with Popovich’s articles aren’t part of a pull marketing strategy, i.e., convince people they want something and they’ll start demanding it. In this case, (1) get people to demand ‘personalized health care’ which requires personal genomic information. (2) the provincial ministry of health responding to public outcry/demand needs to acquire expertise and products which Genome BC can fulfill—for a price. For those who are unfamiliar with the situation, the genome projects in BC and elsewhere have produced much research but little of it has proved to be financially rewarding as was expected.
In any case, it could be an interesting experience although I wouldn’t expect any critical thinking or serious critiques of ‘personalized’ medicine.
The second event, presented by ARPICO (Society of Italian Researchers and Professionals in Western Canada), is billed as a public lecture. Scheduled for Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, it is titled: The Epidemiology of Cancer (event flyer), from the Feb. 2, 2015 reminder notice,
The Epidemiology of Cancer – Persistent pollutants and risk of cancer
Dr. J. Spinelli will review the epidemiology of cancer and what we know about the causes of cancer. He will the focus on the association between organochlorines and cancer, particularly lymphoma, including possible gene-environment interactions. Organochlorines (OCs) are a diverse group of organic compounds that contain chlorine. They include industrial products such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides such as DDT and chlordane, and by-products of industrial production and combustion such as dioxins and furans.
Dr. John Spinelli, PhD P. Stat. – Distinguished scientist and Head of Cancer Control Research at BC Cancer Agency, Professor at the School of Population and Public Health at UBC, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at SFU.
Dr. Spinelli’s research interests focus on the identification of environmental and genetic risk factors for cancer and in the interaction between genes and the environment, particularly for lymphoid cancer (lymphoma and myeloma) and breast cancer. He has contributed to the understanding of the etiology of cancer, including key findings on occupational and environmental causes.
He is also active in the development of statistical methodology for epidemiology and other areas of health research.
He is the principal investigator for the BC Generations Project, part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, the largest health study ever undertaken in Canada and the author of over 240 peer reviewed publications.
Here are the logistics,
Date & Time: Friday, February 6, 2015, 8.00 pm
Location: Roundhouse Community Centre (Room B),
181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver, BC
(Yaletown-Roundhouse Sky Train Station, C21 & C23 Buses, Parking $3)
Refreshments: Complimentary coffee and cookies
Admission & RSVP: Admission is free. Registration required at firstname.lastname@example.org
I did a little digging and found this 2011 self-authored biography page for Dr. John Spinellli at the BC Control Agency,
My name is John Spinelli, and I am a research scientist in Cancer Control Research at the BC Cancer Agency. My background is probably quite different than most of the scientists and physicians at the BC Cancer Agency, as I did not study medicine or any of the hard sciences. Instead, I received my training in mathematics and statistics.
For me growing up, there were only two seasons: baseball and winter. I spent hours playing little league or wiffle ball in the backyard, or just throwing the ball against the wall of our house (breaking many windows in the process). When I wasn’t outside playing, I was poring over the many statistics collected in baseball; and I spent my time developing better ways to measure the value of baseball players and understanding the role of chance in sports.
With that background, it’s not surprising that I ended up in statistics, but I only realized this after first trying engineering, education, social work and psychology.
After I obtained my Master’s degree, I was hired at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver to be a programmer-statistician — I loved the work. I helped oncologists evaluate treatments, develop models to better predict how patients would do, and assist with the design of new studies. Much of this work involved the application of new statistical methodology to better understand what the data was telling us.
I was also working on studies to understand the relationship between the environment and cancer — this excited me even more. In particular, I worked on several studies to look at the effects of carcinogens in the workplace.
This soon led to me developing my own research studies, for example looking at the cancer risks in aluminum workers and farmers. I realized that I wanted to be an independent researcher, so I had to move on from the Agency at the time in order to pursue my doctorate in statistics; but I hoped to return to the Agency later on and continue pursuing my research interests.
I hope Dr. Spinelli speaks in a fashion as charming and engaging as he writes.
* ‘p’ added to ‘ersonalized’, Feb. 3, 2015 at 12:31 pm PDT.