All you need is a spark!

All you need is a spark!

Sometimes all you need is a spark of creativity or the inspiration to tackle a problem from a different angle and suddenly the question that has plagued your brain all day, all week or even for several years begins to make sense.

Your intellectual gears start turning and, before you know it, you’ve completed research that leads to the initial description of genome-wide copy number variations (CNVs) of genes and DNA, including defining CNV as a highly abundant form of human genetic variation (as Dr. Stephen Scherer did).

To highlight some of the most notable “sparks” of discovery, MaRS produced “The Tao of Discovery,” a documentary series that features eight winners of the Premier’s Summit Award in Medical Research whose creativity and inquisitive nature have led to prolific Canadian discoveries.

The scientists involved are:

Sometimes the best way to tackle a problem is to distract and stimulate your brain with a completely unrelated activity. Practising the violin (as Jeff Wrana does), playing golf (which Tak Mak loves to do) or collecting and studying porcelain (one of Frances Shepherd’s passions) can create the perfect environment for inspiration and discovery.

Led by postgraduate student Rebecca Michaels, a team of University of Toronto postgraduate students took this concept one step further by studying the intertwining of fine arts and scientific discovery. Together they created “Spark! The Heart of Art and Science,” a visual testimonial of science inspired by art.

MaRS played a key role in co-ordinating the collaboration of students and scientists that went into the foundation of this exhibit. “Spark!” is currently on display at the Ontario Science Centre.

As administrators of the Premier’s Summit Award in Medical Research, and as first-hand witnesses to the amazing minds of these scientists, MaRS felt obligated to share their stories of inspiration. And so we developed the Tao of Discovery webpage, which features all eight of the short documentaries and profiles of each scientist.

MaRS will also be sending DVDs of “The Tao of Discovery” series to all Ontario public high schools with the hope of inspiring students and promoting class discussion. Each DVD will be packaged with associated curriculum fulfillments and a series of comprehension questions. They are scheduled to arrive in time for the new school year.

We hope to inspire students to think differently, to use different lenses of analysis and to experience the spark of discovery!