Public Talk: Wrapping Personalized Medicine around the Patient

On February 10, 2016, this LSI Public Talk held at VPL Central Branch featured a conversation with a family member of someone who had a dangerous, but preventable reaction to a drug, a student who is exploring the power of language to bridge the gap between diabetes patients and healthcare providers, a pharmacist who is bringing “pharmacogenomics” to rural and urban community pharmacies across British Columbia, and an oncologist involved in “personalized onco-genomics”.

The Talk featured:


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Rennie Hoffman
Executive Director, Better Pharmacare Coalition

Rennie Hoffman was a member of the Vancouver Police Department for nearly twenty-nine years. After retirement he became the Executive Director of the Mood Disorders Association of BC and currently serves as Executive Director of the Better Pharmacare Coalition, whose mission is to ensure equal access for all British Columbians to the best medications in the most timely manner.

Panelists and Discussion Topics (please view video above):

Advocating for e-health and genomics to save lives and create cost savings in our health care system


Amani Saini
Family member of an adverse drug reaction patient (starts at 14:24 in the video)

Amani Saini became interested in personalized medicine and e-health after a family member suffered from an adverse drug reaction, which could have easily been prevented. She has worked on health care policy for governments and graduated from Dalhousie University with her Master of Public Administration

From Port McNeill to Fort St. John, you can ask your pharmacist about using DNA to pick the right medications for you

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Mark Kunzli
Pharmacist & Project Manager, Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC (starts at 27:33 in the video)

Mark Kunzli is Associate Director & Project Manager of the UBC Sequencing Centre, a practicing pharmacist, and a business consultant. While pursuing his Executive MBA in Healthcare Management at the Sauder School of Business, Mark worked with a team in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to establish Genomics and Individualized Therapy as a key research initiative. This led to his involvement in the recently completed “Genomics for Precision Drug Therapy in the Community Pharmacy” project, which had pharmacists in 33 community pharmacies throughout the province educate, consent, and recruit 200 patients to provide a saliva sample for pharmacogenomic research.

Harnessing the power of language: an empathy-based approach to chronic illness – diabetes and beyond

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Lucinda McGroarty
MDes Candidate, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Type 1 Diabetic (starts at 35:11 in the video)

Lucinda McGroarty is currently a Master of Design student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. As a designer, she is increasingly interested in the profound impact of design on all aspects of daily living, especially as it relates to health and wellbeing.

How do I talk to my oncologist about molecularly based treatment for my cancer?

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Janessa Laskin, MD
Oncologist, BC Cancer Agency (starts at 45:27 in the video)

Dr. Janessa Laskin is a medical oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver. She is the clinical lead for an experimental clinical trial using genome sequencing to try to inform treatment decisions for patients with advanced cancers. Read a CBC news article about Dr. Laskin’s work.

Want to learn more?

  • Roadmap for Bringing Personalized Medicine to British Columbians
  • Patients Canada
  • Dr Janessa Laskin on Personalized Onco-Genomics (with video)
  • Cancer genomics treatment program gets millions in funding in B.C. (CBC News | January 12, 2016)
  • Pharmacists hope gene technology will improve safe prescribing of drugs (Vancouver Sun | October 29, 2014)

The Life Sciences Institute hosts the LSI Public Talks, a series of informal panel discussions and audience Q & A that aim to help the public understand how our research has an impact on their lives. The 2015-2016 series focuses on personalized medicine and how we are working to change clinical practice, improve health outcomes, and reduce health costs.


Read about other Public Talks


A Partnership Event:


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