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The Spirit of Discovery at Women’s College Hospital

from the May 16, 2011 issue of Connect

The Spirit of Discovery at Women’s College Hospital

A century ago in Canada, it was considered groundbreaking when Women’s College Hospital allowed women to practice medicine. Since then, we have been guided by pioneers and leaders who always say, “This is not good enough – let’s find an answer.” And we have evolved over the past 100 years from a modest seven-bed facility to a revolutionary leader in ambulatory care and women’s health.

Today, the definition of groundbreaking has also evolved – and now it reflects the kinds of innovative advances in models of ambulatory care and women’s health research being developed right here at Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI).

To celebrate our many achievements over the past 100 years and to showcase our current research and innovation, WCRI hosted The Spirit of Discovery in Women’s Health Research event on May 5. Over 200 people attended the conference, which featured over 20 WCRI scientists and guest experts, as well as keynote addresses from CBC reporter Mellissa Fung, and Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, executive director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

“Today is all about the spirit of discovery, and for us at Women’s College, that’s nothing new,” said Marilyn Emery, president and CEO, as she addressed the crowd. “We have put innovation at the forefront of all we do since we began a century ago.”

Focusing on different areas of research, the conference showcased a number of impressive studies being conducted by various WCRI scientists in different fields of expertise. Just a few areas of focus included: reducing cancers common in women, identifying gaps in chronic disease care, exploring stigmas in mental health and HIV and the future of health care within an ambulatory setting.

A highlight for many was the keynote speakers. Following a session on violence against women, Fung courageously told her story of abuse after being kidnapped in Afghanistan, while bringing attention to the stories of so many Afghan women who are victims of violence and sexual abuse just because they are women.

“Everyone wants to know how I’m doing; how I cope,” Fung said. “I’m fine – I’m here. But what about them, all those women I left behind? Without doctors, without therapists, without resources? What happened to me wasn’t good. But it was so small compared to what happens to women every day in some parts of the world.”

Landsberg-Lewis finished the afternoon focusing on the need to combine both treatment and prevention in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

“I have a deep appreciation for how rare and remarkable Women’s College Hospital is,” she said. “The kind of care you provide is so scarce throughout the world.”

Dr. Paula Rochon, vice-president of research, wrapped up the day by thanking speakers, attendees and volunteers for taking the time to be a part of the day’s activities.

“Today we are inspired by our history – growth, development, creating opportunities for women, and a true spirit of innovation and change are at the root of all we do. Thank you for being here today, and celebrating 100 years with us.”


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