CIHR Rewards Four Mentors Who Have Helped Create Tomorrow's Researchers

    Three different Synapse awards recognize mentors who have helped young
    Canadians understand the value of health research and the potential of

    OTTAWA, June 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research (CIHR) proudly recognizes the efforts of four mentors who stimulate
the scientific minds of Canada's youth.
    Through its Synapse - Youth Connection initiative, the following people
receive 2008 Synapse Awards: Mr. Anteneh Argaw (Graduate/Postdoctoral Fellow),
(tie) Dr. Lisa Robinson and Dr. Jane Roskams (Individual Researcher) and the
Toronto Teen Survey research team (Group).
    CIHR's Synapse initiative acts as a scientific junction that brings
together health researchers and young students across Canada. More than 4,000
CIHR-funded health researchers have already signed up to become CIHR Synapse
mentors - and the number increases on a daily basis. Synapse, in collaborative
partnership with national science outreach organizations, connects these
mentors with high school students through hands-on training experience that
will help create the next generation of Canadian health researchers.
    This represents the second year that all three of these awards have been
presented. One award, in the Graduate/Postdoctoral Fellow category, is worth
$5,000, another award in the Individual Researcher category is also worth
$5,000, and another award, in the Research Group category, is worth $10,000.
They all recognize the exceptional efforts of each recipient to promote health
research among Canada's high school students. Through mentorship, each
recipient regularly motivates young Canadians to consider both the value of
health research as well career opportunities that exist within various
scientific fields. The recipient is nominated by someone who understands its
direct scientific contributions to young people, and is ultimately chosen by
the members of the CIHR Youth Outreach Advisory Board.
    "It is important for health researchers to motivate youth to appreciate
the values of both science and health research," says Dr. Pierre Chartrand,
Acting President of CIHR. "These mentors being honored today deserve the
Synapse award commendation for their efforts. The junction of scientific
one-on-one collaboration they are voluntarily creating with high school
students will lead to positive outcomes for the health and well-being of all
citizens. Today's students could become tomorrow's scientific leaders and
collaborators, which could also mean better treatments and cures for various

    Synapse Award - Graduate/Postdoctoral Fellow

    Mr. Anteneh Argaw, a PhD candidate at Université de Montréal (U de M),
passes on his knowledge of science to elementary and high school students in a
variety of ways. He is one of the primary organizers of the Montreal chapter
of the Brain Awareness Week (BAW), which teaches Canadian youth about the
value of the brain, its role and its function. He also delivers accessible
lectures regarding celebrated scientific African-Americans at McGill's Black
Student Network's Children's Day. He has provided homework assistance for
students at a Montreal community center called Maison d'Haiti, and has tutored
student-athletes in the U de M football program for science/math.

    Synapse Award - Individual Researcher (tie)

    Dr. Lisa Robinson, a staff physician and scientist at The Hospital for
Sick Children (SickKids), an associate professor at University of Toronto and
a Canada Research Chair, co-created the Kids Science program as a way to make
science an understandable, entertaining and hands-on educational subject for
'at risk' young Canadians who do not have equal exposure to science and
technology awareness experiences. This youth, which include patients with
chronic illness at SickKids and elementary/high school students from Toronto
and Northeastern Ontario regions, experience accessible one-to-one scientific
conferences with graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and established
researchers and also have the chance to visit different laboratories around
the SickKids Research Institute.

    Dr. Jane Roskams, an associate professor in the department of zoology at
the University of British Columbia (UBC) and member of the Brain Research
Centre, encourages youth to both develop an appreciation of science and excel
with their creativity. She is founder of the UBC Mentor Centre that encourages
the BC-based research community to speak in elementary/high school classrooms,
organizer of conferences that demonstrate how people of different backgrounds
can become established researchers, keynote speaker for conferences that offer
teaching advice for elementary/high school teachers, and facilitator for high
school students to both visit and help in various research laboratories.

    Synapse Award - Research Group

    Drs. Sarah Flicker, an assistant professor at York University's Faculty
of Environmental Studies, and June Larkin, principal investigator of Gendering
Adolescent AIDS Prevention (GAAP) at the University of Toronto (U of T),
created the Toronto Teen Survey (TTS) research team, made up of professionals
who trained members of Toronto's youth community to collectively develop a
survey tool that evaluates the assets, gaps and barriers that exist in sexual
health education among Toronto's youth. The team has since developed the
survey, gathered information from 1,200 participants and hopes to turn it into
a strategy that will increase positive sexual health outcomes among the
affected youth.

    About the Canadian Institutes of Health Research

    The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of
Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new
scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health,
more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian
health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and
support to more than 11,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

    About the Brain Research Centre

    The Brain Research Centre is a unique partnership between Vancouver
Coastal Health and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British
Columbia. The Brain Research Centre, located at UBC Hospital, has combined
forces with broad, multi-disciplinary research expertise at the University of
British Columbia to advance our knowledge of the brain and to explore new
discoveries and technologies which have the potential to reduce the suffering
and cost associated with disease and injuries of the

    About The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children

    The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University
of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest
centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. As innovators
in child health, SickKids improves the health of children by integrating care,
research and teaching. Our mission is to provide the best in complex and
specialized care by creating scientific and clinical advancements, sharing our
knowledge and expertise and championing the development of an accessible,
comprehensive and sustainable child health system. For more information,
please visit SickKids is committed to healthier children for
a better world.

    About the Université de Montréal

    Deeply rooted in Montreal and dedicated to its international mission, the
Université de Montréal is one of the top universities in the French-speaking
world. Founded in 1878, the Université de Montréal today has 13 faculties and
together with its two affiliated schools, HEC Montréal and Ecole
Polytechnique, constitutes the largest centre of higher education and research
in Québec, the second largest in Canada, and one of the major centres in North
America. It brings together 2,500 professors and researchers, accommodates
more than 56,000 students, offers some 650 programs at all academic levels,
and awards about 3,000 masters and doctorate diplomas each year.

    About York University

    York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching
university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the
undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada's most international city.
The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic
academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as
190,000 alumni worldwide. York's 11 faculties and 24 research centres conduct
ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across
traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach
is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions
to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit

    <a href="">Attached Biographies</a>

For further information:

For further information: David Coulombe, CIHR Media Specialist, (613)
941-4563, (Mobile): (613) 808-7526,; Julie
Gazaille, Attachée de presse, Relations avec les médias, Université de
Montréal, (514) 343-6796,; Catherine Loiacono, Senior
Communications Coordinator, UBC Public Affairs, (604) 822-2644,; Janice Nicholson, Manager, Research & Strategic
Communications, Public Affairs, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids),
(416) 813-6684,; Janice Walls, Media Relations
Coordinator, York University, (416) 736-2100 ext. 22101, fax: (416) 736-5681,

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