A night to remember

With Canadian comedian Martin Short on the playbill, expectations were high for the 2015 Leaders in Innovation Dinner. And the evening certainly didn’t disappoint, delivering humour, poignant moments and a true sense of camaraderie among attendees.

A brilliant storyteller, Short graciously shared his personal experience with cancer. Both his mother and wife, Nancy, succumbed to the disease.

But despite these losses, Short’s message was one of hope, outlining how he chosen to be empowered by lives lived. “I am humbled and inspired by the bravery of those whom I loved, who have heroically faced one of life’s greatest challenges with dignity and fortitude,” he said.

Following his speech, Short – along with famous characters Frank Eggelhoffer and Ed Grimley – joined Liza Fromer, host of Global TV’s The Morning Show, onstage for an armchair discussion.

Among the evening’s honorees was the 2015 J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine recipient Dr. Sanjiv S. Gambhir, a clinician-scientist from Stanford University and a globally recognized pioneer in molecular imaging.

“I’m here accepting this award on behalf of the entire field, a field that’s passionate about making your children’s lives and their children’s lives better,” he said. “I want you to have the patience and faith to continue to believe in scientists here and around the world.”

During his eloquent and intimate speech, Dr. Gambhir shared the story of his son Milan’s battle with brain cancer and untimely passing. In memory of Milan, he will be donating the $25,000 Prize money to his son’s high school to “encourage the scientists of the future.” Dr. Gambhir and his wife have also pledged to match this amount with a donation of their own.

Dr. Marlys L. Koschinsky, scientific and executive director of Robarts Research Institute, imparted the significance of recognizing international researchers like Dr. Gambhir through the Taylor Prize. “We need to recognize this work, we need to applaud these superstars,” she said. “Thank you to the supporting families who continue to believe with passion in the research we do at Robarts and the promise it holds for the future.”

A collaborative spirit was on full display throughout the evening, as the efforts of Robarts researchers were recognized and celebrated. Attendees were introduced to the scientists and trainees of the Cancer Imaging Research Program at Robarts, who are changing the way we diagnose, monitor and treat cancer.

Other special guests at the Dinner included London’s Mayor Matt Brown and Brian Galajda, a prostate cancer patient featured in a special video about the cancer imaging research underway at Robarts.

Having toured Robarts earlier in the day, Short acknowledged this work in his speech. “The importance and necessity of this research is beyond words,” he said.

Enjoy a photo gallery highlighting special moments from the event. Can’t see the slideshow below? Click here.