Québec City event ambassador strikes gold in life sciences research

GOLD fioles rouges

As a material, gold has been experiencing somewhat of a renaissance—but not necessarily just for jewellery or fine art. In fact, did you know that gold has become a booming research sector for a wide array of fields, including material sciences, biotechnology, nanotechnology and therapeutics?

And Québec City ambassador, Dr. Élodie Boisselier, knows that scientists’ inroads into gold’s benefits have only reached the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Boisselier herself trailblazing the way for understanding gold’s tremendous potential in ophthalmology.

As researcher on regenerative medicine and an Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery of the Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval, she, along with Dr. Marc-André Fortin, a researcher on regenerative medicine and an Associate Professor at the university’s Department of Mining, Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, are organizing GOLD 2022, an internationally renowned conference to be held at the Québec City Convention Centre from July 17 to 20, 2022.

What is GOLD 2022

GOLD 2022 is the 9th edition of a series of international conferences that are held every 3 years. The first conference took place in 1996 in Hanau, Germany and the last event took place in Paris in 2018. “It was just prior to the Paris convention that the organization committee asked us if we would like to host the 2021 edition in Québec City,” Dr. Boisselier explained.

“We thought it was a fantastic idea. For one, it was a great opportunity that the event came back to the Americas. Also, Canada is the fifth largest producer of gold in the world, with Ontario and Québec making up for more than 75% of mined gold production.

Québec City is home to a vibrant life sciences ecosystem that brings together educational institutions as well as the public and private sector.

The city is also known for very cutting-edge studies with gold thanks to research being conducted at Université Laval and Corem.” Corem is non-profit innovation centre that carries out specialized research in mineral processing.

Dr. Boisselier and Dr. Fortin got right to work, along with event experts at Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club and Québec City Business Destination, to create a winning bid. In the end, Québec City won out against São Paulo, Brazil, for the 2021 conference. “We were so excited at the thought of welcoming our peers,” Dr. Boisselier enthused.

Preserving the liquid-gold value of in-person events


Since GOLD 2021 was postponed due to the global pandemic, the 2022 edition promises to be an exceptional event, with up to 500 researchers from the US, Europe and Asia attending in person. “We decided not to hold a virtual event in 2021 because of the unsurpassable value of in-person events for networking, exchanging ideas, and fostering new collaborations. We are very happy we waited to be able to host the event so that we can, albeit safely, meet face to face with experts from around the world!”

The 2022 program reflects just how much the science of gold has become a highly multidisciplinary field. Pre-conference webinars, conference sessions, lab visits, and special events will cover a wide range of topics, such as catalysis, electronics, optics and photonics, biomedical applications, energy, the environment, and much more.

“Every year, over 3,000 articles on gold nanoparticles are submitted internationally, Dr. Boisselier exclaimed, allowing us to anticipate an exceptional event.”

Why Québec City for GOLD 2022

Dr. Boisselier points out that Québec City is such an easy “sell” when it comes to attracting major conferences and conventions. According to the energetic and dynamic researcher, Québec City has a lot appeal.

The city’s friendly atmosphere, beauty in any season, and event infrastructure are simply incomparable, she said.

Because of its size, great tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants and venues are just steps away from each other. You can explore Québec’s unique natural landscapes with only a 20-minute ride from the downtown core. This accessibility, matched only by its cultural charm, really wooed the decision-makers for the ninth edition.

Dr. Boisselier also commended the support she and Dr. Fortin received from the Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club, Québec City Business Destination and local suppliers. “For scientists like myself who are organizing international events for the first time, it was reassuring to rely on partners who have been there and done that with respect to event logistics. Team members cooperate as though it is their very own convention!”

Gold: A precious mineral for the good of human health

While Dr. Boisselier may be at her first in organizing an international convention, she definitely has an impressive track record. She has a PhD from the University of Bordeaux, France, where she synthesized and functionalized gold nanoparticles for biomedical applications. She also completed her post-doctoral training at Université Laval. She is the recipient of several scholarships and awards, including the prestigious Banting Fellowship, an elite federal program in Canada. Dr. Boisselier holds three patents and has over 40 publications to her credit, which have been cited more than 4,000 times.

Her team is currently pursuing several research topics related to the field of ophthalmology. One of her projects is to understand how gold nanoparticles can be used as to help treat eye diseases with mucoadhesive delivery of ocular drugs.

The reason? Eye diseases are often treated with eye drop formulations that contain high drug concentrations. However, due to how the human eye is constructed, ocular surface retention is very poor, which means patients have to reapply these formulations.

The team is exploring a means of leveraging the advanced physiochemical properties of gold nanoparticles, which are non-toxic carriers for drugs, along with sulfur, to create better way to treat eye diseases faster—and with less dosages.

“Our work is just one of the many exciting areas of biomedical research with gold nanoparticles,” Dr. Boisselier mentioned. “From bio-imaging to diagnostics to gene delivery and even treating cancer, we are on the cusp of a new frontier in harnessing gold’s potential for improving human health. I am looking forward to GOLD 2022 to discover the advancement of research in other sectors!”

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