Beyond the Lancet: Conference on Surgical Technology and Applications to Disease

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Michelle Lee and Armin Farahvash
Michelle Lee and Armin Farahvash

On Saturday January 28, the Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology Student Union (LMPSU) hosted Beyond the Lancet: Conference on Surgical Technology and Applications to Disease.  Over 200 scientists, students, and guests gathered at the University of Toronto to hear from world-renowned researchers and the fascinating new technologies being utilized in today’s operating rooms.  

Surgical technology research is advancing at a remarkable rate, opening doors to more effective and less invasive procedures across numerous subfields of medical science. Interest in the newest surgical discoveries is high among clinicians, research students and medical trainees, who strive to build upon these cutting-edge findings. Beyond the Lancet provided an ideal platform for the exchange of these ideas.

“200 years ago, a patient pushed to the brink of death due to infected lungs would almost certainly have succumbed to their illness…today’s technological and medical advances give us the ability to treat a similarly afflicted patient,” said Sudarshan Bala, Co-President of LMPSU. “I hope this conference has opened the attendees’ eyes to the fact that death and disease are products of their time.”

In the morning session Drs. Christopher Forrest and Kazuhiro Yasufuku spoke about 3D printing in cleft surgery and the use of surgical robots in thoracic oncology. The audience also learned about imaging used in neurosurgery and aortic diseases, through lectures by Drs. Mojgan Hodaie and Thomas Forbes.

“It’s often a challenge to find a direct link between observations in the laboratory and the application of these findings in the clinic,” remarked Dr. Forrest. “But the innovativeness of surgeons leaves me hopeful that, despite these challenges, we have great opportunities ahead of us in the field of surgery.”

LMPSU Co-President Kevin Liu added, “When you hear from pioneers in surgery about technology you never imagine existed, what is possible and treatable becomes subjective. Dr. Forrest’s lecture on 3D printing and robotics was particularly inspiring. You begin to understand that these technologies are indispensable to modern-day craniofacial surgery.”

During lunch, attendees had the opportunity to connect with speakers and to discuss their own perspectives about surgical technology with fellow scholars.

Afternoon presentations by Drs. Tirone David and Rita Kandel revealed the potential for reconstructive medicine to successfully treat aortic root aneurysms and joint injury. The day closed with Drs. Michael Laflamme and Shaf Keshavjee who spoke about current stem cell research and the ex vivo repair method in organ transplantation.

“I was amazed by the diverse ways in which technology allows us to circumvent significant difficulties in surgery,” said Armin Farahvash, a Pathobiology Specialist student in his fourth year. “It’s so powerful when students have the chance see a direct impact of science on patients, and this is exactly what this conference has done for me.” --Michelle Lee

Click here to see photos (courtesy of Alan Huynh, Negin Khosraviani, and Tian Nie)

Conference Organizers: Kevin Liu, Sudarshan Bala, Michelle Lee, Stefan Jevtic, Khalid Fahoum, Alan Huynh, Hilary Pang, Christian Krustev, Tsz-Ying So, Yuhui Xie, Negar Khosraviani, Ramana Trivedi, Stephanie Lau