When we set about revamping our website here at the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, we realized that a subject as exciting and loaded with potential as stem cells ought to have a website that captured that sense of excitement and explored that potential.
Not that our previous version didn’t. Our original site was innovative enough to win a Webby Award – the online equivalent to an Oscar – in 2010. But it was created in our early days and, just like the field of stem cell science, we have moved ahead, taking on bold new challenges our old site could no longer encompass.
The first step was to simplify the message. As the national voice and champion, our essential role is to unite scientists, business and community leaders behind accelerating the process of turning stem cell research into clinical applications to treat or cure currently untreatable and incurable diseases. We were able to distil that role into the seven words trumpeted on our home page: Help Us Help Stem Cells Help You.
Everything found on the new site fans out from there. The Toward Treatments section, for example, is there to explain – in language everyone can understand – how far along stem cell research is in addressing diseases that have perplexed medical science for centuries. The idea is to provide a resource where patients, their families and friends can go to get the straight goods on whether there is a stem cell treatment available or where a potential treatment is in the research-to-clinic pipeline.
‘Watch this space’
Currently, we have 14 diseases/conditions covered, ranging from ALS to Wound Healing. We hope to have a total of 18 prepared by year’s end. Which speaks to the evolving nature of our website. It is a work in progress. For example, our Stem Cell NewsDesk is in “watch this space” mode. The idea with the NewsDesk is to provide regular updates on progress in stem cell research, assess the importance of advances that the mainstream media are highlighting and shine a light on work that may be going unnoticed. It will be the go-to place for fair and balanced reportage of the progress that stem cell science is making. We plan to test run it over the summer and have it operational for the fall.
As for the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy, it represents the Foundation’s number one priority for the next two years. Canada needs a properly funded, publicly supported research and development strategy to stay at the forefront of this exciting field of medical research and to move further, faster toward the types of treatments everyone is hoping for. We are in the formative stages of creating the Strategy, but Canadians will be hearing a lot more about it over the coming months.
New features, old favourites
One of the new features on the site is our powerful Legacy Video that outlines Canada’s role in founding and developing stem cell science. Watching it, you can’t help but be impressed by Canada’s remarkable contributions to founding and developing this exciting and important field of research, and to fully appreciate the notion that, ‘If hockey is Canada’s game, its science is stem cells.”
For those who enjoyed the old website, do not despair. We have maintained its most-visited and best-loved elements. The Rock Star Scientists Video that features several of Canada’s leading scientists talking about their work continues to inspire. We encourage you to visit the Stem Cell Charter page and, if you haven’t already, add your name to the thousands of Canadians who believe in the therapeutic potential of stem cells and who have committed to becoming more informed about and engaged in advancing stem cell science.
We built this site to evolve and move forward as the science we champion evolves and moves forward. To explore the potential. Now, that’s exciting.