Earlier today, Chris successfully delivered a presentation intended for a general (lay) audience at the Moncton Public Library. The presentation was called “Natural Answers – Defences against human disease in the simplest of places.” In this presentation, Chris described highlights of his past, present, and intended future work on animals that adapt to environmental stress, and the lessons we can learn from them and henceforth apply to modern medical science and technology. One particular highlight was his work with the freeze-tolerant wood frog, Rana sylvatica. Audience members were wowed by an animal that deliberately raises its blood glucose to 50 times above normal- a measure that would certainly be lethal for any human being- in order to survive freezing during the harsh Canadian winter, and then within 2 weeks or less of spring thawing, has returned its glucose levels to normal. With an understanding of the exact phenomena orchestrating that seamlessly-reversible ability, audience members saw the potential applications for defences against human diseases, such as diabetes.

The Lunch and Learn series is organized as a cooperative effort between the Moncton Public Library and the Mount Allison Faculty Association (MAFA), and allows current and retired faculty members to present work they are passionate about to a general audience, free of charge, during lunchtime at the Library. The series was spearheaded by Mrs. Heather Patterson, who was once head of Continuous Learning at Mount Allison. A newspaper article in the Times & Transcript, a local Moncton paper, focused on the Lunch and Learn series a short time ago.

Amongst the feedback and comments of which Chris is most proud, is that he made his presentation and the science behind it so “accessible” to audience members, allowing them to fully understand and enjoy what he was talking about. Chris’ presentation itself was roughly 20-25 minutes but the subsequent questions and discussion easily filled the rest of the allotted hour, and even spilled well over-time. The Lunch and Learn series is typically attended by mostly (but not entirely) retirees living in the Moncton Area.

Chris’ slides for the presentation are available here: Dieni CA MAFA Lunch and Learn 2012 presentation. A copy of the description for Chris’ presentation, which was distributed to the general public, is below. Questions regarding Chris’ presentation or the Lunch and Learn series in general may be directed to Chris, Mrs. Heather Patterson via MAFA, or the Moncton Public Library.

October 23: Christopher Anthony Dieni, Margaret and Wallace McCain Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry – “Natural Answers – Defences against human disease in the simplest of places”

This year, 173,000 Canadians will be attacked by cancer, a merciless illness that begins with a single, otherwise-normal cell, and eventually ravages the entire body. Meanwhile, over 9 million people across the country are currently living with diabetes. Yet, for all our impressive knowledge and technology, the human species is ultimately powerless against these diseases, which can significantly shorten lifespans and, eventually, prove lethal. However, certain animals encounter similar situations as part of their normal life cycle, and prevail for years at a time. Join Chris Dieni as he examines a wondrous species which may hold a clue to eradicating our most destructive diseases.


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