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Pharmacology News: Winter 2020

Publication Chair's Message

I think that many of us were happy to finally put 2020 in our hindsight and look forward to the promise of 2021. The Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics is certainly no different.

Following the experience of hosting a virtual meeting this past June our members will note the significant increase in our online activities. Notably, a new free to members webinar series has been established. We have been delighted with the success of our first three webinars:  "An Update on COVID-19: Basic and Clinical Perspectives"; "Medical Cannabis: The Role in Women's and Children's Health"; and our most recent offering "Use of Technology to Teach Pharmacology in Professional Programs."

Held on March 22, the webinar featured CSPT President Kerry Goralski and Dr. Laurel Gorman from the University of Central Florida outlined leading edge approaches to pharmacology education. Recordings of previous webinars are available to members on the CSPT website.

Given the uncertainty on vaccine availability, the Scientific Program Committee made the decision to hold our annual meeting virtually again this year. “Not on Mute: Let’s Talk Contemporary Pharmacology” will be held from June 8-11 and feature the latest in membrane protein and cancer pharmacology, a COVID symposium, and our first “High Cost – High Value Drugs Summit” (highlighted below). Registration and abstract submission is now open and we look forward to welcoming you to the 2021 scientific meeting.  Stay tuned for more information in the next newsletter.

Best wishes to all of you,

Dylan Burger, PhD

CSPT Publications Committee Chair



Starting an MSc During the Pandemic

At the beginning of 2020, I was finishing up my last semester of a bachelor’s in Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa. Then the pandemic hit. I don’t think anybody was prepared for what was to come next because those first few months all classes either got switched online or cancelled altogether. Luckily, I was still able to graduate. I had originally planned on working in the lab I was doing my honours project in over the summer and start my master’s there in September, however, my summer did not go quite as planned. 

Unfortunately, my lab was closed and so I ended up taking two online summer classes towards my master’s allowing me to get a head start to graduate studies. I was also able to experience my first few scientific conferences – virtual of course - in which I had the opportunity to present my research for the first time. It was not easy adjusting to virtual life which included staying at home, not seeing friends or colleagues, and very limited outdoor activities. However, I believe in making the best of any situation and so, although I was stuck in my house during the day, I tried to discover more of my neighbourhood. I went on more long hikes this past summer than all my previous summers combined and was able to save time from commuting which allowed me to rediscover some old hobbies. 


Working from home sounded great to me for the first few months: snacking whenever I want, working in pyjamas, and blasting my music. However, being the extroverted person I am, by the 4th month I desperately needed some social interaction. Luckily, my friends and I came up with a solution to this and we often webcammed each other while working which not only helped us focus better on our work but it also made working from home a little less lonely. Although, this might be quite distracting for some, I found it almost made up for a regular work environment surrounded by colleagues. 

Luckily, as September rolled along, my lab reopened, and we were allowed back inside (with restrictions of course). I was very excited to be back in my lab coat performing experiments and still am today. Looking back on it, this experience has taught me to be grateful for what I have and face each hardship as a new challenge to overcome.

Ozgun Varol

Masters candidate at the Kidney Research Centre

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada


First Postdoctoral Fellow for CSPT

The CSPT Board of Directors is pleased to introduce MITACs Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Antonios Diab. From July 2020 to July 2021, Antonios will be working on the project “Drug Safety and Effectiveness During Viral Pandemics.” During this time, Antonios will research and assess COVID-19 drug therapy clinical trial results as they are published. This research will allow the CSPT to respond to external requests for expert advice on COVID-19 drug safety and effectiveness, prepare evidence-based position statements for COVID-19 drug therapies, create and maintain an up-to-date web-based resource on COVID-19 drug therapies for our members, and provide a cutting-edge research forum to share the latest information on COVID-19 drug therapies. By providing timely and reliable information to members, clinicians and health agencies, the CSPT can help achieve optimal therapeutic choices for patients affected by COVID-19 disease. Canadians may benefit through improved drug treatments and management of COVID-19 disease. The CSPT benefits by delivering on our mission. 

Brief bio: Antonios Diab is a postdoctoral fellow with the CSPT and in the College of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University. He has trained in the fields of neuroscience and pharmacology with a specific focus on how gene mutations alter neuronal structure and function to influence behaviour. He has a passion for scientific communication, education and outreach, especially around genetics, mental health, and drug mechanisms, safety, efficacy, tolerability and adherence. His current research is focused on analyzing and communicating the drug and vaccine pre-clinical and clinical response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular interest in the Canadian response. Antonios is also interested in drug and public health policy and decision making, and the role of the scientific community in those processes.


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Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CSPT)

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Email: info@pharmacologycanada.org


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