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Pharmacology News: Spring 2021

Publication Chair's Message

This is an exciting time of year for the Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.  We are days away from our Scientific Meeting “Not on Mute: Let’s Talk Contemporary Pharmacology” (June 8-11). This year we have an exciting virtual program planned with state-of-the-art lectures, educational sessions and more. This newsletter features significant coverage of the scientific meeting including an interview with Scientific Program Committee Chair Thomas Velenosi and further details on the High Cost Drug Summit that will kick off the meeting.

Elsewhere our members-exclusive webinar series has been a tremendous hit. The bimonthly series recently finished its fourth instalment: "Studying Rare Disease Therapeutics in Children." This followed previous webinars for members: “An Update on COVID-19," “Technology in Teaching Pharmacology,” and “Medical Cannabis: The Role in Women's and Children's Health.” If you missed any in the 2021 series, be sure to catch them through the members portal on the CSPT website.

Shortly after the Scientific Meeting, Dr. Bruce Carleton (University of British Columbia) will take the reins as President of the society.

We will get a chance to  welcome Dr. Carleton and the rest of the executive in our next issue but I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Kerry Goralski for his leadership over the past two years.

Dr. Goralski was dealt a challenging hand leading the society during a global pandemic. However his tireless efforts have ensured that the the Canadian pharmacology community remained united and committed to moving forward. In particular, while other societies were cancelling their 2020 Scientific Meetings he led the transition to a virtual meeting that gave our trainees and senior members an opportunity to interact and witness the best in Canadian pharmacology research during a critical period.  On a personal note, I personally re-engaged with the society in these past two years and Dr. Goralski is a big reason why I felt so welcomed. So a sincere thank you to Dr. Goralski for his many hours of service to CSPT and the broader Canadian pharmacology community.

I hope to see you all at the scientific meeting this week. As always, stay safe.

Dylan Burger

Chair, Publications Committee

An Interview with Dr. Thomas Velenosi, CSPT Scientific Program Committee Chair

By Ozgun Varol and Dr. Pierre Thibeault

Dr. Thomas Velenosi

Ozgun Varol

Dr. Pierre Thibeault

In anticipation of this year’s annual CSPT meeting, two Publication Committee members, Ozgun Varol (MSc Candidate, University of Ottawa) and Dr. Pierre Thibeault (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto) interviewed the current Scientific Program Committee chair, Dr. Thomas Velenosi, about his experiences with CSPT and planning this year’s meeting.

How did you first get involved with the CSPT?

I was first introduced to the CSPT by my advisor, Dr. Brad Urquhart, when I began my graduate studies at Western University. The CSPT was the first scientific society I joined and the 2011 meeting in Montreal was the first national meeting I attended. It was a great opportunity to meet other pharmacology researchers from across the country and present my preliminary data. I can’t believe that was 10 years ago!


What is it like to plan the CSPT annual meeting and how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the meeting? 

I’ll start with the easiest thing about planning the CSPT annual meeting, which is that I am working with some amazing people on the Scientific Programming Committee and Board of Directors, who are committed to putting together an excellent meeting for the CSPT. It is because of their commitment that we have been able to get through this year’s challenges due to COVID19. And of course, the most challenging thing this year has been planning a meeting around the limitations of COVID19. This is the first year that we are using a virtual platform that includes talks, posters, and networking for the CSPT meeting all in one place. A virtual meeting comes with many new challenges including new guidelines for presenting and interacting with attendees


What are you looking forward to most at the meeting?

My favourite part of any CSPT meeting is always the trainee oral and poster presentations and I’m really excited about this year’s poster presentation format. Usually, I find that there is never enough time to see all the posters you want to see during the poster session at a meeting. But this year, poster presenters will be able to record a short video presenting the information in their poster prior to the meeting, which means that I can watch all of the videos at any time and save questions for the live poster session. 


What is your biggest goal for the CSPT meeting?

Our meeting theme this year is “contemporary pharmacology” and by the end of the meeting, I want attendees to feel like they have gained insight into the newest pharmacology research being done across the country. We know the science will be excellent, as it always is, so it’s our goal to make sure the virtual experience meets the level of meeting content.


What should our readers expect for this year's CSPT meeting?

This year we have an excellent program lined up. The meeting kicks-off with the High Cost Drug Summit to discuss approaches to ensuring access to therapy in the age of high cost and high value therapies. The second day is focused on membrane protein pharmacology and a timely COVID-19 symposium. Day three is centered around trainees, starting with the top 10 trainee oral presentations followed by the poster sessions and practical pharmacology session, then ending with a career networking event. And finally, on day four we have cancer pharmacology (a personal favourite) and a pharmacology education session. We have limited the number of live programming hours to reduce “Zoom fatigue” and, instead, will be providing award lectures and poster presentations in recorded format for attendees to view at their leisure. Also, coming to the CSPT for the first time, we’ll have Pharmacology Kahoot Trivia, which is a Western University clinical pharmacology favourite.


What do you wish other people knew about the CSPT?

I think the CSPT is well known for its yearly scientific meeting, but I wish people knew more about the other resources it has to offer, especially those that have been developed recently. These include the CSPT webinar series, led by the Education Committee and resources for COVID-19 on the CSPT website (, led by the CSPT Mitacs Fellow, Dr. Antonios Diab.


What kind of audience do you hope to reach? Are there any plans for expanding and reaching a broader audience?

We’re hoping to reach both basic and clinical pharmacology researchers across Canada, but we’re also trying to reach researchers that are mainly in other fields but have an interest in pharmacology. The CSPT has recently become a chapter of ASPET to reach a broader audience and deliver additional benefits to its members including the CSPT-ASPET Conference Travel Award, which provides financial support to CSPT trainees for costs associated with attending an ASPET meeting. In addition, ASPET members are offered the same discounted registration to our annual meeting as CSPT members.

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