University Killam Professor Lecture Series

Join us for a series of free, engaging public events featuring our newest University Killam Professors.

A University Killam Professorship is the highest honour UBC can confer on a faculty member and recognizes exceptional teachers and researchers who are leaders in their fields.

This series is presented by UBC's Office of the VP Research and Office of the Provost VP Academic in partnership with the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and alumni UBC.

Baby Talk: How language learning begins before birth
Screening of Babies + Discussion

January 23, 2017
Vancity Theatre
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. (Reception to follow)


Explore the secrets of "Babies" with Dr. Janet Werker, a world-leading developmental psychologist.

Dr. Werker will host a special screening and discussion of the acclaimed documentary Babies, directed by award-winning filmmaker Thomas Balmès.

Babies joyfully captures on film the earliest stages of the journey of humanity that are at once unique and universal to us. It explores the differences and similarities in early childhood development through following the first year of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo.

These earliest moments of childhood have also been the focus of Dr. Werker’s award-winning research that has transformed our understanding of language acquisition and has had an enormous influence on child development, parenting, education and clinical practice, both in Canada and around the world.

In conversation with Dr. Krista Byers-Heinlein, Associate Professor of Psychology at Concordia (and a former graduate student of Janet’s), Janet will shed light on how the foundations of language begin in early infancy, and that the acquisition of two or more languages from birth comes as naturally as learning a single mother tongue.

We welcome you to join us for this enlightening evening on the secrets and intricacies of early childhood learning.

Vancity TheatreThis screening is also presented in partnership with Vancity Theatre. 

Big Data, Big Issues: Should We Be Worried?

February 15, 2017
Science World
​6:30 - 8:30 p.m. (Reception to follow) 

Tickets (free of charge) are required

Scientific innovation is accelerating at a breathtaking rate, with big data and related disciplines such as genomics opening up new possibilities in areas including health, sustainability and the environment.

As advances are made though, as a population, are we even aware of the types of moral, ethical and scientific questions that we should be asking?

As part of the UBC University Killam Professor Lecture series, we invite you to join three of our newest Killam professors and world-leading scientists Dr. Sarah Otto, Dr. Loren Rieseberg and Dr. Bob Hancock in a discussion on the impact and implications of big data and genomics within their fields.

What we can do now, what we will be able to do, and what we should do with these technologies? Some of the issues to be considered include those surrounding gene editing, such as the ability to quickly change the prevalence of certain genes in populations enabled by the CRISPR-Cas9 technology, and the potential for reducing disease genes in humans or introducing new traits into other populations. This could prevent the spread of malaria through mosquitoes and make animals resistant to certain types of disease, but what are the bigger implications of such gene manipulation? Also, what is the role of genomics in securing food supply, and should it be seen in conflict or in support of “green” issues? What happens if we’ve already discovered the last antibiotic? And can big data be the savior of or even generate fundamental scientific breakthroughs?

Join us for a thought-provoking series of presentations and panel-discussion.

Moderated by Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, chief scientific officer and vice president, sector development, Genome BC.

This event is presented in partnership with Genome BC.

Genome British Columbia Logo

Save Our Seas: Why is translating good science into good policy so %#*&^ hard?

March 28, 2017
Science World
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. (including reception)

Tickets (free of charge) are required

Scientific evidence has been telling us for years that our oceans are in peril. So why have we not been able to rectify the situation?

We invite you to join Dr. Daniel Pauly, internationally-acclaimed fisheries scientist and principal investigator of the Sea Around Us, in a discussion that will bring to light the perilous state of the world’s oceans today.

Dr. Pauly will touch upon what actions would really need to be taken – by policy makers and citizens alike – in order for the overwhelming evidence of damage to our oceans to be translated into policy and practice to save them from a dire future.

Can we save our oceans from becoming so overfished and polluted that we will be telling our next generation of children, borrowing the title of Dr. Pauly’s book, to “eat your jellyfish.”

Moderated by Dr. Jennifer Gardy


Tackling the killers: has preventing HIV/AIDS provided a key to sustainable healthcare?

Kelowna - April 20, 2017
UBC Okanagan campus
Reichwald Health Sciences Centre (RHS 260)
​6:30 - 8:00 p.m. (Reception to follow) 

Vancouver - April 26, 2017
Science World
​6:30 - 8:30 p.m. (Reception to follow) 

Over the past 30 years, HIV/AIDS has been transformed from a certain death sentence into a manageable disease through sustained, lifelong treatment – thanks in large part to the work of Dr. Julio Montaner and his team at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE).

In 2006, Dr. Montaner built on his development of a new drug combination to prevent HIV from evolving into AIDS by introducing the innovative concept of Treatment as Prevention® or TasP®. This strategy reaches out and engages with individuals living with HIV earlier, to provide sustained treatment and care. While the concept of TasP® was initially regarded as controversial, it has led to a stunning reduction of new HIV and AIDS cases in British Columbia. Could this success in medical innovation be the key to a sustainable healthcare system?

As part of the UBC University Killam Professor Lecture Series, we invite you to join Dr. Montaner in an engaging discussion on how TasP® could be instrumental in creating a more sustainable healthcare system by applying its principles to communicable diseases such as hepatitis C, and even socially communicable diseases like addiction.

The Impact of Dr. Montaner’s Research

Dr. Montaner was the principal investigator of an international 1996 study showing a cocktail combination of drugs known as HAART, or “highly active anti-retroviral therapy”, to be the most effective way to prevent HIV from evolving into AIDS. He followed this work with the forward-thinking TasP® strategy. Based on scientific evidence, Dr. Montaner showed sustained and consistent HIV treatment leads to undetectable viral loads, boosting quality of life and longevity for patients while rendering the chances of HIV transmission negligible. He advocated for expanding access to testing and for providing universal access to anti-retrovirals immediately following an HIV diagnosis.

B.C. is the only province to have implemented TasP®, with support from the Government of British Columbia, and the only one to have seen a consistent decrease in new HIV cases. TasP® forms the foundation of a UNAIDS/United Nations global strategy to achieve an AIDS-free generation by 2030. Many other countries and jurisdictions worldwide have adopted the made-in-BC strategy, recognizing its potential to improve health outcomes and relieve the burden of the disease on affected individuals and the entire social fabric. Not only does TasP® save lives, it also saves money by reducing costly cases of illness.


Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Researchalumni UBC


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