Why Research Matters and How It Is Changing Us: Life in 2030


TORONTO, May 2, 2013 – Life in 2030 will be very different from today, according to five top Ontario university researchers, who will speak in Toronto on May 9 about how their research touches every stage of our lives, from cradle to grave.

Babies born this year will be 17 years old in 2030. As they reach the cusp of adulthood, the world will be a place where solutions to problems are found at the intersection of fields of research, and entertainment is as much about the technology-assisted stories we make rather than those we watch. Research underway now will have changed almost every aspect of life, the researchers say, including our perspectives on disability and disease, and even our view of teenagers.

Life in 2030 is one in a series of Research Matters events designed to offer members of the public a look into how research affects their daily lives. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the future with five researchers who are creating it:

Francis LeBouthillier, OCAD University sculptor and professor – A sculptor who works with surgeons, LeBouthillier has built detailed, medically accurate models of fetuses that have allowed surgeons to train for live-saving, in-utero procedures.  Well aware of both the possibilities of these models and their limitations, LeBouthillier predicts researchers in the arts will develop technologies that make this type of achievement more effortless.

Stephen Scherer
, University of Toronto genetics professor – Dedicated to understanding the genetic basis of autism, Scherer believes that by 2030, and probably sooner, parents will have more answers to the most common questions when their child is diagnosed with autism. Research could identify a genetic basis for between 50 and 90 per cent of diagnoses, giving more families early diagnosis and in the longer term, treatment for autism, he says.

Andrea Davis, York University humanities professor – Devoting her days to understanding the complex causes of youth violence, Andrea Davis works with community partners to help black youth in Canada and Jamaica find new paths toward social and civic engagement, using the arts, social history and literature. Rather than viewing youth violence from a preventative perspective, she is challenging members of society to see youth as tremendous assets, and empower them.

Richard Lachman, Ryerson University digital media professor – Social media, mobile devices, and a wide array of digital tools have made it possible for many people to create and distribute movies, songs, electronic games and more. The challenge for 2030 is to ensure that this “participatory culture” does not leave anyone creative behind, says Lachman, and collaboration between academia, industry and the creative community will be a priority.  So what does Lachman predict the world will look like in 2030? We will perceive entertainment as equal parts what we make and what we consume, he says.

Steffany Bennett, University of Ottawa professor of neurolipidomics − In 2030, memory will be our most valuable commodity. Devastating neurodegenerative disorders threaten to rob us of our life experiences, says Bennett, who studies Alzheimer’s Disease. But hope may lie in shape-shifting shells of fat that coat cellular boundaries in our brains. Understanding these and other treatable contributors to Alzheimer’s may one day help turn the disease itself into a bad memory.

WHAT:             Research Matters event: Life in 2030
WHEN:             Thursday May 9, presentations 7pm, Q and A, 8:30pm
         Bronfman Hall, Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park
WEBSITE:       http://yourontarioresearch.ca/

Media Contact: Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100, ext. 22101 / wallsj@yorku.ca.