Celebrating research innovations with inspiring style

Victor Garber’s homecoming to London was one for the books. The award-winning actor and native Londoner was the special guest at Robarts Research Institute’s 2014 Leaders in Innovation Dinner last week.

Garber graciously shared the touching story of his family’s struggle with Alzheimer’s. Both his parents succumbed to the disease.

“Where did he go?” he remembered thinking about his father, Joe, as the devastating disease slowly took its toll. “Anyone who’s familiar with Alzheimer’s knows it’s an emotional roller coaster," he said.

Garber’s speech was also peppered with heartfelt memories of his youth in London. He reminisced about the city as “having a kind of elegance, beauty and charm about it that no other place has,” and credited the Grand Theatre for inspiring a love of acting that changed his life.

Peter Mansbridge, anchor of CBC’s The National, emceed the evening at the Lamplighter Inn and Conference Centre equipped with his well-known baritone voice and calm demeanor.

The two celebrated Canadians shared the stage for an armchair discussion, entertaining guests with frank conversation and humorous memories.

Among the evening’s honorees were the 2014 J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine recipients, Drs. Virginia M.-Y. Lee and John Q. Trojanowski.

Dr. Michael J. Strong, dean, introduced the recipients acknowledging their contributions to the field of neurological disorders research. He also offered a tribute to their contributions to his own lab’s work at Robarts – something emphasized as rare in the competitive business of scientific research.

The family of J. Allyn Taylor attended the event to present the Prize to the world-renowned neuroscientists. Anna Graham, granddaughter of the late J. Allyn Taylor, praised their work, revealing her grandmother, Betty, had suffered from Alzheimer’s.

A collaborative spirit was on full display throughout the evening, as the efforts of Robarts researchers were recognized and celebrated.

The crowd was united in support of their work and a sense of hope for advancements in early detection, treatment and prevention of neurological diseases filled the room.

“I had no idea the magnitude of what was going on here,” Garber said on a tour of Robarts earlier in the day. “Today has been an inspiring day.”

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