CURAC Program Abstracts



Can we use bugs as drugs?

The human gut microbiota is now recognized to be extremely important in the maintenance of human health, yet there are many aspects of modern living that erode its diversity and function with potential implications in many diseases.  Fecal microbial transplants are quickly gaining attention in the clinical sphere as a way to replace missing microbes and restore functions that may have been lost.  However, it is extremely difficult to regulate stool-based medicine, and the practice is not without risk.  Emma will discuss efforts to create pure microbial ecosystems derived from the gut and to develop these as novel therapeutics, as a potential way to improve the safety and palatability of the approach.





Agri-Foods for Human Health

Alison will give an overview of the continuum between agriculture, food and healthy aging; and she will summarize and explain core concepts, such as functional foods. We’ll learn about research that examines how different agri-foods relate to human health and knowledge translation tools to increase understanding of the agri-food and health continuum will be shared. 




Feeding the Future – Climate Change, Population Growth and Technology

Creating food systems capable of sustainably, equitably, and nutritiously feeding 9 billion people while dealing with climate change is one of the 21st century’s “Grand Challenges”.  Meeting this challenge is about more than just producing enough - indeed, we already produce enough for everyone, but more than a billion are overweight while almost a billion under nourished. To help feed the future we must not only produce the right kinds of food, but must also innovate on food processing and ingredients, make diets more nutritious, cut back on waste/emissions, reduce the amount of water and chemicals we use, and ensure that small scale farmers around the world have access to markets.  To explore these issues, this talk will first present the factors that are driving changes in our food systems.  Second, this talk will explore where some of these trends are heading.




Aging Well & Age-friendly Communities

In 2014, the City of Guelph joined the World Health Organization’s age-friendly cities network. Across the world, as in Canada, older adults are one of the largest growing segments of the population. The key principles of age-friendly communities include safe, inclusive living environments for seniors to stay active, age well and get involved!

In 2018, the City of Guelph received the Ontario Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award, from the Ministry of Seniors Affairs, in recognition of its strong commitment to creating an age-friendly community via Age Friendly Guelph’s action plan. An essential element to foster an age-friendly environment is the collaboration between municipalities and key community organizations that offer programs and services that help seniors live safe, healthy and engaged lives. This includes ensuring that the most socially isolated, under-serviced and vulnerable older adults receive services and support, as well as increasing community awareness about the needs of older adults and addressing ageism in our communities. This panel discussion will highlight innovative community services and programs being delivered by local community players who value the needs of older adults, recognize the benefits of active aging, as well as creating an inclusive, respectful community to help ensure “Guelph is a great place to live and age well”.




Collecting the Past for the Future

This talk will introduce to the rich and varied resources housed in Archival and Special Collections and will attempt to demystify why and how we acquire what we do and how we let people know about our holdings—from the classroom to Twitter to county fairs. While outlining our 7 major collecting areas and providing highlights from each, this talk will offer examples about how our collections have been and are being used by researchers ranging from undergraduates on campus to international researchers visiting us from Asia, Europe, South America, and across North America.




Sexuality and Aging: the Final Frontier

With a rapidly growing population over the age of 65, increases in expected lifespan, and the significant positive relationship between sexual functioning and quality of life, there is a growing need to decrease the stigma surrounding the sexual expression of older adults. Dr. Kukkonen will highlight some of the current research on aging and sexuality, from physiological and psycho-social changes in sexual functioning with age, to the positive health outcomes associated with continued sexual activity, as well as the stigma and barriers faced by older adults when having their sexual needs discussed and validated by health professionals.




“Ten Years After”: not the band you were thinking….

In 1969 Doug Larson was 20 and chose not to go with his girlfriend to Woodstock to see the British band “10 years after”. Too bad. In 1999 Doug Larson permitted his teenage son Nathan Larson to go with his younger brother to Woodstock 30 to see “Rage Against the Machine”.  It was also the year Doug started building guitars, and the year that Doug and Nathan started a band called “Kid Coma”. In 2009 Doug Larson retired from the University of Guelph about the same time that Nathan started working at Laboratory Services there. That year also marked the last show of the band “Kid Coma” at the Horseshoe Tavern.  Now it is 2019 – and Doug and Nathan will present their version of “Ten Years After”, showing us how to mix retirement with work with fun with creativity and with sentiment.




Have your retirement plans gone to the dogs?  Perhaps they should!  

Is there a canine companion in your life?  Have you experienced their ‘pawsitive’ impact on your health and wondered how you could share this comfort with others?  Are you not a dog owner but interested in learning more?  

A representative of the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program will introduce delegates to the benefits of dog ownership on individual health and wellness. She will go on to explore how interacting with therapy dogs can offer similar benefits.  Delegates will learn what a therapy dog (TD) are, the diverse contexts in which TD owners support vulnerable populations, and what is entailed in becoming a member of the TD program.

During the coffee break immediately following this session, conference delegates will have an opportunity to meet and interact with therapy dog owners and their delightful pooches.  Join us for some tongue-lolling, tail-wagging relaxation!

This talk is presented in partnership with OVC Pet Trust, founded in 1986 at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), University of Guelph. OVC Pet Trust is Canada’s first charitable fund dedicated to companion animal health and well-being and supports innovative discoveries to advance veterinary medicine and explore the human-animal bond.  Learn more at




Be the Best You Can Be

David Scott-Thomas is the long-time coach of the award-winning University of Guelph Gryphons Cross-Country Team. As a young man, Dave was a hard-working regular guy who tried to overcome obstacles and figure out what he wanted to do with his life. Figure it out, he did. He became a runner, and a very good one. This led to him becoming the Gryphons cross-country coach who went on to lead his athletes to become award-winning - not just provincially, but also nationally. His humour and passion brought him to become the beloved coach that he is and he shared his passion and love of the sport with his charges, always with grace and a lot of humour! The message coming from his success is to figure out what you want to do with your life no matter your age and what challenges you need to overcome in your life - just try and do it in order to be the best you can be, and do it with humour! Enjoy Dave recounting his journey from a normal kid from small-town Canada to an award-winning coach and his humorous take on his journey.