Science at the Movies Presents… Unrest
Feature Documentary + Q&A with Experts & patients:
Panel: Scott Simpson, Patrick McGowan, Larissa Fan, Wilfred de Vega, Kirsten Dahlin Nolan and Sarah Selke
Doors open at 6pm. Screening starts at 6:30pm. Innis Town Hall, UofT.
This is a free event but registration is encouraged to secure your seat. Be green; please don’t print your tickets. You can present your email on your smartphone or simply give your last name at the door. This venue is wheelchair accessible, if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility please contact the organizer below. This event is fragrance free, please refrain from wearing colognes, perfumes or other scented products to the event.
About the documentary:
UNREST, the Sundance award-winning, documentary about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), the most common disease you’ve never seen. Jennifer Brea is about to marry the love of her life when she’s struck down by a fever that leaves her bedridden. When doctors tell her “it’s all in her head,” she turns her camera on herself and her community as she looks for answers and fights for a cure.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvK5s9BNLzA
About the experts:
Panel Moderator: Scott Simpson is co-founder of the ME advocacy group Millions Missing Canada. A three-time member of the national triathlon team, and the first person living with HIV to compete at the triathlon world championships, Scott first became sick with ME in August 2012. It would take another five years to get a diagnosis. As a patient living with ME, he recognizes that the prognosis is bleak and the way ME patients are treated even bleaker, which is why he is advocating for immediate changes to the health care system. Changes that would protect patients from further harm, fund more research, and provide access to treatment. Scott worked with the medical humanitarian organization Dignitas International as an advocate to bring HIV medications to sub-Saharan Africa. Now, in an ironic twist of fate, he’s been forced to become an advocate to bring ME medications to Canada.
Larissa Fan lives in Toronto, Ontario. Larissa developed ME/CFS six years ago following an upper respiratory infection. Previously very active in the local filmmaking community as a filmmaker, writer, and administrator, she can now only work one hour a day from home and her activities are severely restricted. It took her two years to get a diagnosis and she received damaging advice from her doctors in that time. It was only through her own research and efforts that she was referred to an ME specialist.
Dr. Wilfred de Vega is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto Department of Cell & Systems Biology, where he completed his doctorate under the supervision of Dr. Patrick McGowan. His thesis characterizes the epigenomic differences associated with ME/CFS and its downstream consequences on immune signaling using molecular biology, bioinformatics, and machine learning. His work is the first to describe the epigenetic dynamics of this disease, which also identified potential clinical subtypes based on drug sensitivity and symptom profiles. These results are published in three first-author journal articles and an invited editorial. Dr. de Vega has also delivered interviews and webinars through patient advocacy groups, MillionsMissing Canada and Action CIND, in order to promote awareness of ME/CFS research.
Dr. Patrick McGowan is an associate professor of neuroscience and epigenetics at the University of Toronto. His research group is studying genome-wide epigenetic changes associated with Chronic Fatigue/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in order to understand the biological basis of symptom heterogeneity and develop biomarkers. More broadly, his laboratory has been conducting translational studies in animal models and humans on the role of epigenetic mechanisms in complex disease, with a focus on stress hormone signaling. Dr. McGowan published the first studies on epigenetic mechanisms associated with early life adversity in humans. Dr. McGowan’s current research is examining the interaction between environmental exposures, including diet, stress, and toxins, and long-term stress-related outcomes in animal models and human cohorts. A major research interest concerns epigenetic programming in blood and other peripheral tissues selected for biomarker discovery. Dr. McGowan’s research has been funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the US Department of Defense (CDMRP), the Solve ME/CFS Initiative and the Falk medical research foundation.
Dr. Sarah Selke is a Toronto-based family physician with additional training in Environmental Health through the Environmental Health Clinic at Women’s College Hospital. She has also spent some time at Dr. Nancy Klimas’ clinic, the Institute of Neuroimmune Medicine, which treats those with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and Gulf War Illness. She currently sees patients with ME/CFS on an almost daily basis in both her family medicine practice and in her consultant role at the Environmental Health Clinic. She has been involved in caring for those with ME/CFS from 2014.
Kirsten Dahlin Nolan is a multidisciplinary artist who has been living with chronic illness for over a decade. With a lifelong passion for movement, Kirsten grew up a dancer and athlete, later going on to coach others as a personal trainer. After graduating from The Drama Centre at UofT, she worked as an actress, producer, and casting director before pulling back from all pursuits due to complications of her illness. Kirsten now works freelance as a musician, and spends most of her time resting, sifting through medical research, and raising awareness for invisible illnesses. She is currently in post-production on the first season of “Motorcycles and Mast Cells”, a personal documentary webseries about her journey from adrenaline junkie to chronic illness patient. Kirsten hopes that through sharing and connecting with others, she can help create some comfort and change.
Science at the Movies was brought to you by:
Institute of Medical Science. University of Toronto