The History Behind the Coast to Coast Seminar Series

2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011- 2012- 2013 - 2014- 2015


The topic of the Spring 2015 C2C seminar series is “The power of linked administrative health data for population health research: robust data and progressive data analytics”.

Data linkage allows information on an individual from one data source to be linked to information on the same individual from another data source. Using linked data makes it possible to gain a more comprehensive understanding than could be obtained from either data source individually. Data linkage is a particularly valuable tool for health research given the vast amount of information collected by public bodies such as governments, hospitals and health authorities. This data may also be linked to researcher collected data from consenting individuals participating in health research.

The use of administrative health data to support better health outcomes exists across many research areas, for example:
• Analyzing patient characteristics, treatment costs and outcomes of care to identify the most cost effective healthcare, thereby influencing provider behaviour,
• Applying advanced analytics to patient profiles (e.g., segmentation and predictive modeling) to identify individuals who would benefit from preventative care or lifestyle changes,
• Disease profiling to identify predictive events and support prevention measures.

Such research is vital, not only to inform and improve healthcare policy, but also to provide leadership in the innovative use of health data and development of analytic tools and related infrastructures.

This upcoming Coast to Coast Seminar Series on Population Health Research focuses on some of the exceptional work that is currently being done in this field using administrative data. It highlights how cross-sectoral, longitudinal studies of health indicators and progressive analytic techniques can produce outstanding contributions to inform health-related policy-making for healthier communities.

The coordinator of the Spring 2015 Coast to Coast Seminar Series is Ann Greenwood, Lead, Education and Training, Population Data BC, University of Victoria. Population Data BC is a multi-university, data and education resource facilitating interdisciplinary research on the determinants of human health, well-being and development.


The topic of the Fall 2014 C2C seminar series was "Deep Sequencing Antibody and T-cell Receptor Repertoires for the Study of Infectious and Autoimmune Disease, and Development of Vaccines and Therapeutics".

The goal of this session of the Coast to Coast Seminar Series was to examine an immediate and pressing "Big Data" problem faced by researchers examining the immune response to infectious and autoimmune diseases, cancer, and those developing vaccines and therapeutic antibodies. The series was partly motivated by a specific middleware prototype that the IRMACS Centre has been developing called iReceptor, supported by a CANARIE contract. More importantly, the series was an important opportunity to help integrate the Canadian and greater international community that has been grappling with this Big Data problem, and who would be participating in a series of "Workshops on Analysis, Storage and Sharing of Next-Generation Sequence Data from B-cell Receptor/Antibody and T-cell Receptor Repertoires," to be held May 29-June 1, 2015 in Vancouver.

Only a few years ago, a researcher attempting to characterize the human immune response would have been able to sequence only a few hundred Antibody/B-cell receptor or T-cell receptor sequences per patient. This sequencing might have been conducted as part of research on infectious (e.g., influenza virus, HIV) or autoimmune diseases (e.g., Multiple Sclerosis, Type-1 Diabetes), lymphoid cancers (e.g., chronic lymphocytic leukemia), or as part of the development of vaccines or therapeutic antibodies. However, with the application of "deep sequencing" or "next-generation sequencing" (NGS) techniques, it is now possible to sequence millions of these sequences per individual, per time point (e.g., early vs. late in infection; before or after vaccination), and from different sets of cells within the body. This is a prime example of the challenge of "Big Data." In order to optimize the utility of these data for biomedical research and patient care, it will be critical to store, share and compare these huge databases. At present there is no integrated system to easily conduct these comparisons. Such a system will have to present a common data format, for both the sequence data and the sample metadata such as ethnicity, genetic background, treatment regime, gene expression, and clinical outcome, to highlight just some of the supporting data. The ability to share and compare such data is critical to using them optimally for biomedical research and patient care, and will involve significant hurdles in terms of ethics and consent, confidentiality, data security, and intellectual property. This is the purpose of the workshops that we are organizing in Vancouver, and a Coast to Coast seminar series addressing this topic will help to integrate the Canadian and greater international community as one step in this initiative.

The coordinator of the Fall 2014 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was Dr. Felix Breden, Executive Director, The IRMACS Centre.

Seminars in this series:

Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "What's in your Blood? Molecular-level Deconvolution of Human Serological and B Cell Responses"
Dr George Georgiou, Department of Chemical Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas, Austin
Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "The Potential for NGS Databases of Antibody Repertoires for the Pharmaceutical Industry"
Dr. Jacob Glanville, Chief Science Officer, Distributed Bio, Seattle
Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "Recombinant Renewable Polyclonal Antibodies"
Dr. Andrew Bradbury, Group Leader, Advanced Measurement Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "VDJServer, An Immune Repertoire Data Management and Analysis Portal"
Dr. Lindsay Cowell, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Science, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

The topic of the Spring 2014 C2C seminar series was "Technology for Aging Well" and was is built around a pan-Canadian project titled AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life.) The focus of the series was a discussion on how to use technology to help support the Canadian aging population and to ensure that all Canadians can grow older with dignity and grace.

One of the goals of AGE-WELL is to address socio-economic, ethical, and regulatory challenges related to the development and commercialization of technologies for aging. This includes generating new knowledge about the technology needs of older adults and their caregivers and creating and producing high-quality and sustainable health care solutions for older Canadians.

Partners in AGE-WELL include the University Health Network, University of Toronto, Simon Fraser University, IBM, Phillips Healthcare, and Fraser Health.

Coordinators of the series were Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, Director of the SFU Gerontology Research Centre and a Deputy Director of the IRMACS Centre, and Dr. Alex Mihailidis, the Barbara G. Stymiest Research Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehab Institute.

The speakers in the series spoke from two perspectives:

  • The perspective of researchers that have successfully built and/or are in the process of building advanced technologies such as communications technologies, robotics, mobile networks, and artificial intelligence with aims to encourage increased independence and safety in the home and to support “aging in place”.
  • The perspective of researchers that have extensive experience within the area of health and quality of life of older people and the role of health and social care services.

This seminar series was of interest to health and social scientists, engineers, and industry who are either carrying out and/or about to embark on development of innovative technology-based solutions that promote independence and healthy aging and optimize health care resource utilization.

Seminars in this series:

Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "Sensor Technologies for Managing Disease and Disability"
Dr. Goubran, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Design, Carleton University
Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "Technologies for ageing well: Research to Innovation"
Dr. Andrew Sixsmith, Professor in the Department of Gerontology, Simon Fraser University
Ms. Rowena Rizzotti, Vice President Operations for Retirement Concepts
Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "Promoting social Connectedness Among Older Adults (CONNECT)"
Dr. Ron Baecker, Emeritus Bell Chair in Human-Computer Interaction and founder and director of the Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab (TAGlab) at the University of Toronto
Dr. Ben Mortenson, University of British Columbia
Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "Aging in a technological world or technology in an aging world?"
Dr. Judith Sixsmith, Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Northhampton
Dr. Scott Lear, Professor, Faculty Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University
Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "Understanding the end-user and their needs"
Dr. Arlene Astell, Community Management of Dementia Chair and Associate Professor, University of Toronto
Dr. Uwe Glaesser, Professor of Computing Science and Associate Dean of Applied Science, Simon Fraser University


The topic of the Fall 2013 C2C seminar series was "The Science and Technology of Interdisciplinary Collaboration" in a big data, big computation world. The focus of the series was a discussion of the barriers (breaking down disciplinary silos, integrating tools and techniques across disciplines, and creating a cross disciplinary dialog) and opportunities (increasing institutional support, increasing number of trained students, and emerging tools and techniques) of interdisciplinary research. The coordinator of the series was Dr. Brian Corrie, the Technical Director of the IRMACS Centre.

The speakers in the series will spoke from two perspectives:

The perspective of researchers that have successfully built and/or are in the process of building interdisciplinary research projects.
The perspective of model and tool builders who are creating the mathematical and statistical models, computational tools, and data access mechanisms that enable interdisciplinary research.
This seminar series was attended by both researchers and tool builders who were either carrying out and/or about to embark on interdisciplinary research projects in our big data and big computation world!

The theme for the Spring 2013 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was "From data to knowledge to action". The coordinators of the series were Dr. Fred Popowich and Dr. Brian Fisher from the Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics (VIVA), a joint initiative of SFU and UBC.

Modern society demands that people manage, communicate, and interact with digital information at an ever-increasing pace. Even though most people want to be informed, we are again and again bombarded with information in forms that are often hard to interpret.


The theme for the Fall 2012 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was "Open Communication of Science". The coordinator of the series was Professor Jonathan Moore, Department of Biology, Simon Fraser University.

Science can inform policy and management decisions. For example, environmental science can more fully quantify the trade-offs of different management scenarios. While there is the incredible potential for science to benefit society, best available science is not always incorporated into decision making. In many cases, science may be fully considered by policy makers, but other factors take precedence. Alternatively, science may be distorted before it can considered by policy makers. In this seminar series, speakers from across Canada will discuss their experiences working on important questions and their successes and frustrations with translating their insights into policy and action.

The theme for the Spring 2012 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was "Complex Systems and Networks". The coordinator of the series was Professor Ljiljana Trajkovic, School of Engineering Science, Simon Fraser University.

Topics of the Spring 2012 Coast-to-Coast Seminar series deal with complex networks in science and technology. They encompass data communication networks, transportation networks, biological and gene regulation networks, and social networks. Complex networks appear in analysis of the Internet, social group dynamics, and animal flocking phenomena. A common thread is the massive amount of data emanating from large scale complex networks and the use of computational resources for their analysis.


The theme for the Spring 2011 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was "Economics & Finance: The Global Financial Crisis - The One Constant is Change". The coordinator of the series was Dr. David McCaughan, University of Guelph.

The series was themed around issues of understanding the financial/economic models that would shed light on the recent developments. In particular the series was focused on topics related to changes to financial/economic models that were being made, or might be necessary in light of the ongoing global financial woes.

The theme for the Fall 2011 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was "Modelling of Complex Systems". The coordinator of the series was Dr. Warren Hare, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Science, University of British Columbia.

For Fall 2011 we were using another issue of increasing importance: modelling of complex systems central to social welfare issues. Complex systems exhibit properties that are not obvious from their individual parts such as systems driven by social influences and human behaviour. They arise in many fields such as climate changes, life sciences, criminology research, urban dynamics, disease dynamics, and health services delivery. Many of the most pressing social problems of this century need to be studied as complex systems. In general, modelling of complex systems require interdisciplinary knowledge, sophisticated mathematics (modelling and optimization), computational techniques and a profound understanding of the issues and context of related problems.


2010 C2C poster The theme for the Spring 2010 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was “High Energy Physics”. The Series was coordinated by Dr. Michel C. Vetterli from the SFU Department of Physics and TRIUMF. Talks covered various aspects of High Energy Physics with the aim to introduce the general scientific public to the current state of the field. The topic and the lineup of six excellent speakers have drawn great interest from across Canada. On average, each talk was attended by 20 universities and 100 participants.

The theme for the Fall 2010 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was "The Marine Environment and Climate Change: Problems and Possible Solutions". The coordinator of the series was Dr. Keith R. Thompson, Tier I Canada Research Chair in Marine Prediction and Environmental Statistics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S.

The series reviewed present day changes in the ocean and atmosphere with a focus on the coupled system. It also summarized the projections of the state of the marine system over the next century with a particular focus on quantifying uncertainty (e.g., the known unknowns and recognizing the unknown unknowns). This first set of talks clearly identified some of the challenges and problems faced by humankind under climate change. The second set of talks explored ways of dealing with the problems, highlighting the role for new observing technologies, basic science and complex computer modelling and simulation (and thus the need for Applied Mathematics and Statistics).


The theme for the Spring 2009 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was “Differential Equations and Mathematical Modelling”. Brock University hosted a presentation for the first time. Dr. Thomas Wolf and Dr. Alexander Odesskii jointly gave the presentation entitled “Poisson Structures Investigated with Computer Algebra”.

Coast to Coast Retreat In April 2009, the first Coast to Coast Retreat was held at the IRMACS Centre. This was an opportunity to provide participants with a forum in which to exchange their experiences in delivering remote collaborative events in a scientific context. The retreat included discussion of the scientific, technical, and organizational aspects of such events, and discussed future directions in the development of remote scientific collaboration.

The theme for the Fall 2009 Coast to Coast Seminar Series was “Artificial Intelligence”. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the study of the design of intelligent agents. An intelligent agent is something that acts in an environment—such as a mobile robot, a web crawler, a computational program that investigates mathematical objects and identifies properties and patterns, an automated medical diagnosis system, a molecular switch that deliberately triggers molecules to undergo structural and functional changes, or an autonomous character in a video game. The agent must perceive its environment, decide what action to perform, and then carry out the action.

The C2C Seminar Series on Artificial Intelligence hosted speakers from various fields who deal with the theoretical, practical, and philosophical sides of AI. The Series on IT proved to be an extremely successful topic. The series hosted some of the top scientists from across the country in the field of AI. A record setting total of 25 universities participated in these talks with more than 500 attendees.


During the Spring 2008, the first C2C Seminar from the University of Manitoba was held. The presenter was Dr. David Gunderson talking on the topic of “Ramsey Theory and the Infinite”.

A new concept for the Coast to Coast Seminar Series was introduced in the Fall 2008. All six talks were given on the topic of “Computer Visualization and Image Processing”. For the first time, a presentation was given from McMaster University. The presenter was Dr. Jim Britten and the title of his talk was “Visualization of Reciprocal Space - 3D X-ray Diffraction”. The University of Chile attended a couple of presentations.


The Spring 2007 C2C Series started on January 16 by the first seminar from the University of Lethbridge. The presenter was Dr. Hadi Kharaghani and the title of his talk was “Symmetrically Decomposable Symmetric Designs”. Five other talks from five universities followed. For the first time, presentations were given from Memorial University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of New Brunswick.

In the Fall 2007, SHARCNET joined the Coast to Coast Seminar Series. There were six presentations from five Canadian universities.


C2C Seminar The Spring 2006 session of the C2C Seminar Series started on January 17 by a presentation from the University of Alberta. The presenter was Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer, Canada Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence, and the title of his talk was “Solving Checkers”. During the Spring 2006 series, eight Coast to Coast talks were given from five universities: Simon Fraser University, the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University, and Acadia University.

Following the success of the C2C Seminar Series over the 2005-2006 academic year, we hosted a more intensive distributed event, the Coast to Coast Miniconference on the Mathematics of Computation. This day-long event consisted of a series of six speakers, alternating between the IRMACS Centre, the University of Calgary, and D-Drive. The event was attended by audiences in each of these locations as well as in some of the other remote sites, according to interest and availability.

During the Fall 2006 series, WestGrid and ACENet joined the IRMACS Centre and D-Drive as organizers of the series. Five talks from five Canadian universities were given during this period. For the first time, St. Francis Xavier University hosted a presentation. The presenter was Dr. Laurence Yang and the title of his talk was "Scalable Integer Factorization for Public Key Cryptosystems".


First C2C Drs. Peter and Jonathan Borwein initiated the Coast to Coast (C2C) Seminar Series in April 2005. During the summer of 2005, two test sessions were held. The first test session consisted of several short presentations that ran from both the IRMACS Centre and D-Drive and were given by graduate and undergraduate students. The presenters were asked to use various methods and tools in delivering their talks including: power point presentations, PDF slides, pre-prepared transparencies, writing on a white board, writing on paper, and using a docucamera and Maple applications. After summarizing the experiences from the first test session, a format for future C2C presentations emerged. This format was tried during the second test session when Colin Percival from Simon Fraser University gave the presentation with the title “Hyperthreading Considered Vulnerable”.

The first official Coast to Coast Seminar was held on Tuesday, September 13, 2005. The speaker was Dr. Jonathan Borwein and the title of his talk was “Mathematical Visualization and other Learning Tools”. During the Fall of 2005, all talks were given at D-Drive or the IRMACS Centre. Universities that attended those presentations were Dalhousie University, Acadia University, St. Francis Xavier University, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, and Simon Fraser University.

Past Schedule Listing

For dates, titles, speakers, and abstracts of past Coast to Coast seminars, click here.

For listing of past Coast to Coast Seminar Abstracts, click here.

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