Jay Keystone Memorial Award

Jay Keystone

Dr. Jay Keystone, an expert in Tropical Medicine and long-time faculty member in the Institute of Medical Science (IMS), is fondly remembered for his skill at communicating complex scientific material. Dr. Keystone taught students about the importance of excellence in scientific communication through the IMS core Seminar Series in Translational Research course, bringing his keen sense of humor to the classroom. His lectures were also cherished by the students in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program, which were also given as part of their seminar series.

In recognition of Dr. Keystone’s contribution to the education of graduate and medical students at the University of Toronto, IMS created the Jay Keystone Memorial Award for Innovation in Scientific Communication. This annual award provides a grant of up to $4,000 to an IMS student(s), supported by a faculty member, to create a new initiative that demonstrates innovation and excellence in the communication of medical science to diverse audiences.

The award is administered through the Student, Staff, Alumni and Faculty Engagement (SAFE) Committee. 

Award Criteria:

  • Must be a new initiative that clearly shows innovation and excellence in communicating medical science to diverse audiences.
  • Application should be well grounded in the values, interests and skills of the applicant(s).  
  • Short-listed applicants will be required to give a virtual 7-minute pitch of their proposal to the adjudication committee on January 25, 2024 between 10:00 - 11:00 am.
  • The recipient will be chosen based on both the quality of the application and the award pitch.  
  • The initiative must be completed within one year of receiving the funding in March 2024.
  • A report on the success and impact of the initiative is required within one year of the award being provided. 


​Submission Deadline:

  • December 18, 2023 by 11:59 PM
  • The application package should be emailed to Sarah Topa, SAFE Committee Co-Chair


Do all of the applicants on a team need to be IMS students?

No, you may collaborate with alumni, other students from the University of Toronto, other Universities or community partners. However, the main applicant must be an IMS student(s). Please make sure to list the names and affiliations of everyone on the team in your application form.

Does the support letter have to be from an IMS faculty member?

Yes, the letter of support must come from an IMS faculty member (with any appointment status). You can browse all IMS faculty members on the database here.

What level of involvement does the faculty member need to have in the initiative?

The faculty member's main role in the application is to serve as an endorsement for you and/or your team, and the proposed initiative. They do not need to be heavily involved in the initiative itself. The faculty member could serve as an advisor, for example.

What should the faculty support letter include?

The faculty support letter should include the following:

  • Their relationship to you and/or the initiative
  • The benefits/impact they believe the initiative will have
  • The skills and experience you (and your team, if applicable) have to successfully complete the initiative

Does the proposal have to be for a new initiative?

Yes, it has to be a new initiative. However, it could be a new component of an existing program or event, for example.

How is the award adjudicated?

The award is adjudicated by the faculty, alumni and staff members of the SAFE Committee. The written applications are first assessed and then the short-listed applicants will give a 7-minute pitch to the adjudicators on January 25, 2024. The results will be announced in February 2024.

Can unsuccessful applicants apply again?

Yes, if you previously applied and were unsuccessful you are welcome to apply again for the same idea with a revised application.

Award Winners

2024: IMS MedDash

The 2024 recipient of the award is IMS MedDash, led by upper-year PhD Candidates Shaghayegh (Feri) Foroozan Boroojeni, Addison Pacheco and Archita Srinath. At this novel event, inspired by the popular TV show "The Amazing Race", senior high school students will embark on an exciting journey across UofT's St. George campus to solve innovative, hands-on science based challenges. Competing in small teams, participants will work collaboratively to solve the problems as quickly and accurately as possible to receive their next clue. The stations will be staffed and judged by IMS graduate and summer undergraduate research program students. After all teams have crossed the finish line, participants will enjoy a catered lunch, faculty keynote address and the awards ceremony.

2023: REACHing with Survivors

The IMS is pleased to announce that the recipients of the 2023 Jay Keystone Memorial Award for Innovation in Scientific Communication are Priya Brahmbhatt​, Maggie Chen and Christian Lopez for their initiative REACHing with Survivors. This virtual Twitter event aims to bridge the gap between cancer survivorship researchers and public audiences.

REACHing with Survivors will take place on National Cancer Survivors Day, June 4, 2023, in partnership with Cancer Survivor Social Media. With support from the organizing committee, researchers will be invited to create short and engaging educational videos about their work. The videos will be shared throughout the day on Twitter, with researchers available for a virtual live Q&A following its release. More details here.

2022: Healthcare Innovation Challenge 

The 2022 recipient of the Jay Keystone Memorial Award is the Healthcare Innovation Challenge, led by Kayvan Aflaki and Serena Peck. Kayvan and Serena are both MSc students and the 2021-2022 IMS Students' Association (IMSSA) Co-Presidents. In this unique initiative, teams of IMS students utilized their creativity and critical thinking skills to solve a real-world healthcare challenge question developed by clinicians and faculty. In the first stage of the challenge, students competed through a written proposal. The top 5 scoring teams advanced to the final competition in June 2022 where they gave an oral presentation of their solution to an esteemed panel of judges and an audience of IMS community members.

Congratulations to Kayvan and Serena! Find out more about the Healthcare Innovation Challenge here.

2021: Youth-of-T Talks

The inaugural winner of the award was the new initiative Youth-of-T Talks. IMS students from U of T Talks and Raw Talk Podcast jointly hosted a Climate Change and Health Symposium on June 2, 2021 where experts discussed the far-reaching impact climate change has on science, communities, physical and mental health, as well as future perspectives on climate-related policy and healthcare.

By engaging community youth groups as partners, Youth-of-T Talks is working with young people to translate scientific information from the Symposium into accessible multimedia educational materials for younger audiences. Given the complexity of the subject matter, they plan to distill the information into infographics and short, interactive videos designed for three grade groups: juniors (grades 4-6), intermediates (grades 7-9), and seniors (grades 10-12). The Youth-of-T Talks materials will also include at-home activities for understanding individual carbon footprint for juniors, climate anxiety for intermediates, and climate activism for seniors.

The group includes Laura Best, Muzaffar Bhatti, Rachel Dadouch, Kimia Gannad-Zadeh, Jesse Knight, Swapna Mylabathula, Hannah Shuster-Hyman, Isis So, Sajeevan Sujanthan and Claire Wunker. The goal of this new initiative is to expose a young audience to the multifaceted science of climate change in an age-appropriate way and use education to empower them to partake in discussions of solutions for climate issues. Congratulations to the entire Youth-of-T Talks team!