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Mississauga teacher awarded prize for excellence in teaching genomics

Toronto, November 9, 2010 The Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) has announced that Mr. Glen Kim, who teaches science at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School (Mississauga, Ontario), is the recipient of its 2010 Genomics Teaching Prize. The annual prize recognizes the Ontario secondary school teacher whose teaching best exemplifies OGI's commitment to preparing Ontario's students for their future roles: perhaps as scientists, but certainly in making professional and personal decisions that will be benefited by a deeper understanding of genomics research and its many applications, outcomes and impacts.

Mr. Kim's approach to bringing knowledge about genomics research and technology into the classroom has stressed the practical applications of genomics: for example, the impact of the Human Genome Project on both human health and the environment, the use of leading edge technologies, and the development of the artificial bacterial genome through synthetic biology. He has also been inventive both within the classroom he recently set-up a forensic lab in his classroom, where his students learn about methods for DNA analysis in the context of solving crimes and in complementing the resources available in the classroom with external resources, arranging for his students to take advantage of experimental genetics facilities at the Ontario Science Centre and research mentoring opportunities in major research institutions.

Mr. Kim joined St. Joan of Arc school five years ago and is responsible for the delivery of Grade 11 and 12 biology courses. Mr. Kim designed and implemented a new program, the Interdisciplinary Studies in Biotechnology course, for teaching biotechnology in his school; participating students earn a Grade 12 university preparation credit for performing research in a university or hospital lab. This unique opportunity has allowed students to do research in such diverse areas as the genetics of pathogen resistance against fungi or the use of viral vectors in the fight against cancer. Mr. Kim has provided a professional development presentation about this course for other teachers within the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, while also highlighting the benefits for students of participating in the Sanofi Aventis BioTalent Challenge (SABC), working with fellow teachers to broaden the potential impact of these approaches for students in other schools. He is the sole staff advisor for his school's SABC teams, one of which won the 2008 award, Best Project from a School that is New to the Competition. In addition, Mr. Kim, through classroom debate and discussion, has encouraged and promoted examination of the ethical, legal and economic impact of genomics research (a focus of central importance to OGI and the research projects for which it provides funding).

"Engaging tomorrow's scientists as well as creating a broadly informed citizenry is paramount as Ontario further establishes its global leadership in applying genomics research to the many challenges our children will face in providing food, energy, health and a safe and sustainable environment for our society," commented Dr. Christian Burks, President and CEO, OGI. "Mr. Kim and the teachers he exemplifies play a vital role by emphasizing, through their innovative and engaging teaching, how genomics research is done and the enabling and practical impact of the genomics resources created."

The OGI Genomics Teaching Prize -- which was formally presented to Mr. Kim at the St. Joan of Arc Annual Awards evening, for which several hundred students, parents, fellow teachers, school administrators and school board members were on hand -- included a $5000 cash prize and a budget for up to $2000 in new laboratory equipment and/or instructional materials for the classroom. The award also allows Mr. Kim to share his award-winning genomics teaching approach with other life science teachers at a science education conference in the coming year.

"I look forward to using the award to expand the educational opportunities available to my students," commented Mr. Kim. "I also look forward to drawing on and contributing to the genomics teaching resources that previous awardees have provided through the OGI website."

OGI made the inaugural award of the Genomics Teaching Prize in 2008, and three teachers have previously been similarly recognized: Dr. Danielle Gauci (Northern Secondary School, Toronto) in 2007; Mr. Robert Malyk (Ridley College, St. Catherines) in 2008; and Mr. Doug Gajic (Centennial CVI, Guelph) in 2009.

"Mr. Kim's consistent encouragement in scientific research has opened a brand new avenue for me, as I dedicated my final year of high school to conducting a cancer research project at Princess Margaret Hospital, which was later presented at the Sanofi Aventis Bio Talent Challenge," said Ms. May Kamleh, a previous student of Mr. Kim's, who is now attending the University of Toronto. "His promotion of this program and continued support has allowed the aspiring scientists of my class to acquire experience, skills and knowledge that exceed the usual limits of high school."

Candidates for the OGI Genomics Teaching Prize are self-nominated, and their packets are evaluated competitively on the strategy and impact of their classroom approaches to addressing genomics as a new paradigm for life sciences research (the submission deadline for the 2011 award will be May 2011). OGI's 2010 advisory review panel included a former student of last year's prize winner, an OGI-funded genomics researcher and experts in life science education, including representatives from Ontario's Ministry of Education, the Science Teachers' Association of Ontario, Let's Talk Science and Laurentian University.


Contact: Alastair Harris-Cartwright
Ontario Genomics Institute

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