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08
Apr 2010
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Now that’s a good idea

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We love a good idea. We like to think that we’ve had a few, but we got an email recently with an idea that made us all stop, look at each other and say “Now that’s a good idea!”

The email came from Samuel, a student at McGill University.…

We love a good idea. We like to think that we’ve had a few, but we got an email recently with an idea that made us all stop, look at each other and say “Now that’s a good idea!”

The email came from Samuel, a student at McGill University. It said,

“Why don’t we create a Canadian Stem Cell Foundation Club at my university?”

Smart.

You know that the Foundation’s committed to helping Canadians understand why stem cell science is important. You’ve probably heard about the Stem Cell Charter and how it’s providing universal principals to help guide the future development of the field. And you may have seen posts about Stem Cell Shinny—our recent friendraising event. All of these are ways of raising awareness, educating each other and building commitment.

What struck us about Samuel’s idea was that it helps to accomplish many of the objectives of the Foundation. It also provides a great way for university students—who have been some of our most active and creative supporters—to get more involved and take greater ownership.

So we want to know what you think–respond to our poll. We’ll leave the poll open until Monday, April 19th (at noon).

If you’re interested in getting involved, participating or leading the creation of a club at your University, send me an email at tmunnvenn@stemcellfoundation.ca. Let me know what school you’re at, your program and year – and include your contact information.

If your commitment is there, we’ll try and do this together. Thanks.

And thanks to Samuel.

Trefor Munn-Venn is VP of Operations & Development at the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. And he thinks that Samuel is on to something.
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08
Apr 2010
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We won!

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We’ve been using the web and social media to reach people in innovative ways, and to be as interactive as possible.…

We’ve been using the web and social media to reach people in innovative ways, and to be as interactive as possible. So we were thrilled when we found out that our website won an Applied Arts Magazine Interactive Award! Thank you to all our supporters – your ideas and feedback have been invaluable. We’ll continue to spread the word about stem cell science in creative ways, and we’ll continue to ask for your input along the way.

Congratulations to Manifest Communications, Jam3 Media and everyone involved in creating the Stem Cell Charter and Canadian Stem Cell Foundation websites.

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31
Mar 2010
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Shinny, Stem Cells and Timbits – Oh, Canada

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It’s true. We were really cold. But this past weekend, over 20 people gathered to play a round of shinny at the “Shins of Steel” game in Ottawa.…

It’s true. We were really cold. But this past weekend, over 20 people gathered to play a round of shinny at the “Shins of Steel” game in Ottawa. It was a mix of Foundation staff, volunteers, friends and family who participated in the first ever Stem Cell Shinny game, kicking off a month-long awareness and friendraising campaign in support of stem cell science.

The game was friendly, but the players were serious. I gave a quick welcome, we divided into teams, the ref (Jennifer Molson, a stem cell transplant recipient and Canadian Stem Cell Foundation volunteer extraordinaire) dropped the bright orange ball, and scrambled to get out of the way. The game was on.

The game lasted almost two hours, with the occasional break for timbits and hot chocolate. (A more Canadian way to spend a morning has not yet been invented.)

Thank you

These kinds of events are a lot fun. But they succeed because of the individuals who give their time, their ideas, and yes, the money to support them. I’m grateful to each of the people who played a role in this event. You made it fun, you surprised us with your humour, your donations, and your ideas, and you reminded us how important supporting stem cell science is to you.

If we can do it, so can you

Probably most striking about this event was how easy it was. The Foundation has put the tools in place to create your event—your own shinny game or something else altogether. We played in a school parking lot, I borrowed nets from a neighbour (and have kept them), got sticks from some friends (I don’t even play hockey), and made a quick run to Tim Horton’s for coffee and hot chocolate. It was that easy.

I’d encourage you to hold a game yourself. If you want to learn more about Shinny, host your own game or become a supporter, visit the Stem Cell Shinny homepage.

Trefor Munn-Venn is VP of Operations & Development at the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. He’s also better at street hockey than you’d expect.
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24
Mar 2010
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New Directions for a New Foundation: Talking with James Price, CEO

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This week we’re speaking with James Price, the President & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, about current and future campaigns, and what we hope it will all lead to.…

This week we’re speaking with James Price, the President & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, about current and future campaigns, and what we hope it will all lead to.

Q: Tell us a bit about the Foundation and what you’re doing now.

A: The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation is about a year old now, and was established to be a champion for stem cell science. A big part of that is building awareness and engaging people, in the field as well as the general public. Listening is a big part of that.

Stem cell science is a field that has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat a vast array of diseases, and it’s important that everyone is informed about what’s happening and has a say in the direction it takes. As an organization, we want to hear what you have to say and we’ll use your ideas, feedback and guidance to create initiatives. The Stem Cell Charter was a starting point for that.

Q: What’s happening with the Stem Cell Charter now?

A: The goal of the Charter was always to build a community that is informed about stem cell science and passionate about its advancement. It was our first initiative as an organization and we spent a lot of time and effort trying to establish a large, dedicated following. I think we’ve been pretty successful at this. Over 3,000 people have signed up since it was launched last September and it’s taken on a life of its own. More and more people are signing up every day and we’ve seen individuals and organizations take on the cause and champion it on their own. Now that this is happening, we will continue to promote and support the Charter community, but move from building the community to serving its members, as well as the general public.

Q: What other initiatives does the Foundation have going on?

A: We’re focusing on creating an open dialogue — getting input from as many sources as possible and creating initiatives and campaigns that reflect that. So, our activities right now revolve around promoting awareness of stem cell science and encouraging people to give us guidance and feedback. For example, we’re using social media to get input into what kind of events we run over the course of the year. Last month we ran a poll asking fans of our facebook pages to vote for a disease area that we should run an awareness campaign for. The poll ran for a week, and Multiple Sclerosis emerged as the choice in the end. So, based on that, we’re running a month-long awareness campaign in May focusing on stem cells and MS. We will continue to run polls like this in the future for awareness campaigns and other types of public outreach events.

Q: Besides the MS awareness campaign, what other ways will you engage with the public?

A: We’re trying to be creative in everything we do. Besides our social media strategy, we’re also pursuing friendraising. Our first event is Stem Cell Shinny, where people play shinny and raise awareness and funds to advance stem cell science. I think it’s a great way to celebrate stem cell science in a pretty unique and fun way. We’ll continue to run events like this in the future, and our hope is that others will come up with their own creative events too.

Q: What can people do to help advance stem cell science?

A: Learn about stem cell science. A well-informed community is a strong community, and one that can move stem cell science forward in a responsible way.

Share your knowledge with others. The more people know about stem cell science, the richer the dialogue will be.

Share your ideas with us. One of the best things about a new organization like ours is that everyone can help shape it. Send us an email, phone us, post on the wall of our facebook pages, comment on our blog. We read it all, and we’re thrilled when people tell us what they think.

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18
Mar 2010
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Shinny for Stem Cell Science

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There’s nothing that gets Canadians excited like hockey. It’s a source of national pride, something that defines us on the international stage.…

There’s nothing that gets Canadians excited like hockey. It’s a source of national pride, something that defines us on the international stage. We think Canadians should be equally proud of stem cell science. Ever since stem cells were first discovered in Toronto in 1961, Canadians have been leaders in the field, making startling breakthroughs on a regular basis. So, we’ve come up with a way to combine these two great Canadian innovations: Stem Cell Shinny.

Here’s the idea: over the next month, people across the country play street or ice hockey and raise awareness and funds to advance stem cell science. You can organize a game in your neighbourhood, invite friends and family to play and ask them to support you with a donation to the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

If you don’t organize your own game, join someone else’s. And if you don’t play hockey, support a friend’s team, or even ours. The Foundation staff will be hosting a game in Ottawa on Saturday, March 27th. Click here to learn more about our team, the “Shins” of Steel.

Find out more about Stem Cell Shinny, sponsor a team or set up your own personal Shinny site, by visiting the Stem Cell Shinny homepage.  Check back here and on our facebook and twitter pages for updates over the next couple of weeks. We hope to see you on the ice (or off)!

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16
Mar 2010
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People’s Choice Awareness Campaign: MS

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As we’ve said before, we look to you for direction and leadership, and we want to give you the information and resources you want.…

As we’ve said before, we look to you for direction and leadership, and we want to give you the information and resources you want. So, over the past week, the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation ran poll to determine which disease area we would run our first awareness campaign for. We asked our facebook and twitter fans to vote and, in the end, you told us you want to see an awareness campaign for Multiple Sclerosis.

What comes next? For a full month we’ll conduct an awareness campaign about MS and Stem Cells. We’ll profile patients who have undergone stem cell therapies for MS, doctors treating the disease and scientists working in the lab to develop new treatments. We’ll provide articles, videos and other material about how stem cells are being used.

We’ll continue to ask for your input along the way, so check back regularly to see what we’re up to. And if you have any ideas or questions in the meantime, email us at info@stemcellfoundation.ca.

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12
Mar 2010
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Diabetes in the lead, Muscular Dystrophy close behind

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There are only three days left to vote in our Awareness Campaign Poll, and the results are far from certain. So far, Diabetes is in the lead, followed closely by Muscular Dystrophy.…

There are only three days left to vote in our Awareness Campaign Poll, and the results are far from certain. So far, Diabetes is in the lead, followed closely by Muscular Dystrophy. Multiple Sclerosis and Stroke aren’t too far behind though, so if you want to see a campaign for either of those disease areas, or any of the others on the list, vote here by Monday, March 15th, 2010.

The results so far:

More about the Awareness Campaign:

We’ve identified six disease areas for which stem cell treatments hold great promise, and we’re asking you to vote for one. You pick, and we’ll run a month-long awareness campaign. We’ll post articles and videos about the disease area and new stem cell research in the area. We’ll conduct interviews with researchers, physicians and patients. And of course, we’ll showcase your stories relating to the winning disease area all month long.

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08
Mar 2010
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A Champion for Stem Cell Science

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Canada has tremendous stem cell expertise. Drs. Jim Till and Ernest McCulloch first discovered stem cells nearly 50 years ago at the Ontario Cancer Institute.…

Canada has tremendous stem cell expertise. Drs. Jim Till and Ernest McCulloch first discovered stem cells nearly 50 years ago at the Ontario Cancer Institute. And for five decades, Canadian scientists have made some of the most significant discoveries in the field.

In discussion with Dr. Till, he shared that their initial discovery — and the many that have followed — are the result of Canada’s collaborative spirit. “Science isn’t done by individuals” he says, “it’s done by teams”. And we agree. We believe that realizing the full promise of stem cells also relies on engaging the public — all of us —  in advancing stem cell science.

The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation was established to champion the importance of stem cell science for the health of all humanity. But champions don’t act alone. We’re working with scientists, community leaders and the public. We’re providing education and leadership. We’re building partnerships. All to accelerate the speed at which research can be translated into clinical applications and therapies for people everywhere.

We’re inspired by patient advocates and health charities who are hungry for better information and want progress now. We’re motivated by scientists and clinicians who commit every day to make a difference in the lives of patients.

Stem cells are full of promise. Realizing that promise requires each of us to act. And the Foundation will continue to share ideas — small and large — that you can act on. We hope you will share your ideas as well. Together we can build on this Canadian legacy.

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08
Mar 2010
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The Stem Cell Charter

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The Stem Cell Charter was the first initiative of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. It was a call to action in support of stem cell science that you answered with passion and enthusiasm.…

The Stem Cell Charter was the first initiative of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. It was a call to action in support of stem cell science that you answered with passion and enthusiasm.

Since its release last September, we’ve been astounded by the Charter’s ability to bring people together and inspire them to speak out about stem cell science in powerful and creative ways.
Some highlights from the journey so far:

  • September 22, 2009: The Charter is released at the World Stem Cell Summit in Baltimore, MD. The Charter website, “Rock Star Scientists” video and 11 mini-videos are released at the same time. The Charter receives national press attention.
  • September 25, 2009: 1,000 people sign the Charter in the first 72 hours after its release.
  • October-December, 2009: Organizations from around the world became organizational signatories to the Charter, including the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), Stem Cell Network (SCN), Australian Stem Cell Centre, Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, Genetics Policy Institute (GPI) and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) among others.
  • November 12-14, 2009: The inaugural Stem Cell Charter Sign&Share Rally. Dedicated volunteers from across the country spread the word using social media in innovative ways. The result: 1,000 new Charter community members in just 48 hours.

The success of the Charter allows the Foundation to move forward with the support of a committed community of stem cell supporters. As of today, 3,267 individuals and 10 organizations have signed the Charter. Not a bad start, and the community is growing. Are you as excited as we are about where this movement is heading?

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08
Mar 2010
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Stem Cell Pioneers

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You might say that Jim Till and Ernest McCulloch didn’t exactly go looking for stem cells, but stumbled upon them in their search to understand the effects of radiation in a new atomic age.…

You might say that Jim Till and Ernest McCulloch didn’t exactly go looking for stem cells, but stumbled upon them in their search to understand the effects of radiation in a new atomic age. It’s not unusual. A mixture of planning, scientific rigor, human creativity, and serendipity often coincide for breathtaking scientific discoveries-along with the insight to understand what’s in front of you, and build from there.

Their discovery happened in 1961 in Toronto, Canada while injecting bone marrow into mice. They observed small raised lumps growing on the spleens of the mice and speculated that each lump arose from a single marrow cell: perhaps a stem cell. With this new knowledge, their research provided a scientific explanation for why bone marrow transplantations work.

The team went largely without public recognition until 2005 when Till & McCulloch were awarded the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research-a deeply prestigious award. At that time, the Lasker Foundation made the importance of Till and McCulloch’s contribution indisputable: “Their work laid the foundation for all current work on adult and embryonic stem cells and transformed the study of blood-cell specialization from a field of observational science to a quantitative experimental discipline.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

See Dr. Jim Till speak about the discovery that spawned a new field of research.

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