Past Events

Click on the links below for more details







Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (November 1-10, 2013), Toronto, Ontario

This year, OGIRC took part in the Future of Food & Farming Exhibit in the For the Love of Food feature that helped link farmers and producers, scientists, health professionals and chefs. The display was staffed by various OGIRC staff and students and Mary Alton Mackey, an international consultant in food and nutrition. Throughout the fair these knowledgeable people were available to answer questions and provide information to fairgoers about the health benefits of ginseng and discuss ongoing research. The exhibit featured posters and hand-outs describing health benefits; live ginseng micropropagation samples from embryo to shoot production; preserved ginseng root; samples of sliced ginseng root; and some samples of fruity ginseng tea.

This year, Dr. Ed Lui showed off his cooking skills at the Delicious Made Easy chef station on November 6th. Dr. Lui demonstrated how to make Ginseng Chicken Soup and explained the significance of each ingredient and its role in healthy living.

Click here for photos.


12th Meeting of the Consortium for Globalization of Chinese Medicine (CGCM) (August 27-29, 2013), Graz, Austria

This meeting provided a platform for regulatory-industrial-academic exchanges and potential research collaborations on various frontiers of Traditional Chinese Medicine among our worldwide CGCM members and guests. 

CGCM 2013 website


Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (November 4-11, 2012), Toronto, Ontario

The Ontario Ginseng Innovation & Research Consortium (OGIRC) was an active presence at the prestigious Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto for the week of November 4 to 11, 2012.

The OGIRC exhibited at Journey to Your Good Health under the Research for Your Good Health pavilion which links  food, agriculture and health themes together by focusing on education, health protection, research, healthy meals and farming.   The Journey attracts upwards of 200,000 visitors each year including more than 4,000 youth and is always a good opportunity for OGIRC to bring our research to the general public.

On Sunday, November 4, 2012, Dr Ed Lui represented the OGIRC under the Research for Your Good Health banner.  The OGIRC exhibit featured pickled ginseng root, samples of ginseng root, our Ginseng Fun Facts poster, and other materials giving details on the project and North American ginseng.  Ed provided fairgoers with a delicious ginseng drink combining ginseng powder, citron honey and flavoured black tea.

A large poster prepared for the event offered insights into the health benefits of Ontario-grown North American ginseng, and featured the latest scientific progress in a variety of areas of interest to the public, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer therapies, immune system functioning, athletic performance, muscle injury, etc.

Mary Alton Mackay, a renowned consultant and speaker at our recent Cultivating Natural Bioactives conference, monitored the OGIRC display so fairgoers had an opportunity to access the OGIRC poster and information until the Fair wrapped up on November 11.

Click here for photos.


Korean Ginseng Growers: Lecture & Information Exchange (September 13, 2012), London, Ontario

A delegation of Korean ginseng farmers and academics from Choong-book Provincial Meister College in Korea arranged to visit Western and OGIRC on Thursday, September 13, 2012 for a two-hour lecture and information exchange on the Science of Ontario Ginseng & Other Natural Bioactives.  The session was a post-conference activity of the Cultivating Natural Bioactives for Health & Disease 2012 international conference that was held in early July.

The delegation was interested to hear about the historic background of North American ginseng in Ontario, the uses of Ontario ginseng, cultivation, and pesticides.  The delegates were provided with a lecture outline, material from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and samples of Ontario ginseng tea and root slices provided by Ontario Ginseng Growers Association.

The group heard short lectures from three OGIRC researchers, and engaged in brief question and answer sessions after each presentation.

  • Dr EMK Lui:  The science of Ontario ginseng and other natural bioactives
  • Dr S Zhou:  Application of plant biotechnology to North American ginseng (P. quinquefolius) production
  • Dr D Wu:  Root transcriptome profiling and gene expression during the seasonal development of North American ginseng

After a lunch on campus, the group continued on to visit the ginseng research garden at AAFC’s Delhi Research Station where they met with representatives of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

Click here for photos.


Cultivating Natural Bioactives for Health & Disease - International Conference (July 9-11, 2012), London, Ontario

The OGIRC was pleased to host our first international conference, Cultivating Natural Bioactives for Health & Disease, at the London Convention Centre in downtown London from July 8 – 11, 2012.  The conference focused on two main themes – discovery and strategy – as they relate to the development of functional foods, therapeutics and health supplements from ginseng, Chinese medicines and other medicinal herbs. 

The conference brought together over 150 local, national and international registrants, including 30 delegates from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Uganda, Puerto Rico and mainland US, to hear from experts on the latest research and developments in multiple disciplines relating to natural bioactives.  The conference boasted more than 40 invited speakers, 20 oral presentations and 28 posters.  Student travel awards were made available to 10 young researchers, as well as 10 prizes for excellence in student oral or poster presentation. 

The event was unique in the diversity of topics and sessions offered, and the full program is available here.  The conference attracted participation from industry (AB Sciex, Jamieson Labs, Neurodyn, Naturex, Nutrasource Diagnostics, SignPath Pharma), not-for-profit (Ontario Ginseng Growers Association), government (AAFC- Research and Marketing, OMAFRA, Forestry, Health Canada-Food Directorate, National Institutes of Health-Office of Dietary Supplements), and academia from universities in Australia, China, US and Canada. 

Exhibits by industry, government, agriculture and publishing journals provided delegates with expert information in the area of natural bioactives.   And our expert panel provided community members with an opportunity to pose questions about the safe and proper use of herbal products and health supplements in a lively Public Forum.

Our sincere thanks go out to our sponsors and supporters whose assistance and encouragement made the conference such a great success. 

We appreciate the involvement and participation of all concerned – our partners, the organizing committee, the conference secretariat, the speakers, the delegates, the public and our students and volunteers.  We hope the conference has inspired real thought and will lead to future research into natural bioactives, and the collaborative conversations begun at the conference will carry on. 

Click here for photos.



Plant Biotechnology Workshop (April 16-17, 2012), London, Ontario

The OGIRC was pleased to welcome members of the Department of Plant Biology from Michigan State University to Western on April 16 and 17, 2012.  Dr Robin Buell, Blair Harlan and Brieanne Vaillancourt visited the facilities at Western, were introduced to representatives of our partners from AAFC, the OGGA and OMAFRA, and participated in an afternoon workshop.  The event was well attended and resulted in many thoughtful questions and interesting discussions relating to the workshop presentations.

Dr. Dan Brown, OGIRC / Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada  (via Skype)
Germplasm evaluation and improvement of NA ginseng

Dr. Di Wu, OGIRC / Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
The transcriptome of NA ginseng root

Dr. Robin Buell, Michigan State University
Use of transcriptomics to access recalcitrant genomes of  medicinal plant species

Blair Harlan (presenting for Dr Mary Hausbeck), Michigan State University
Pathogens that impact ginseng quality and yield


2011 OGIRC Autumn Retreat (November 27-28, 2011), London, Ontario

The OGIRC 2011 Autumn Retreat was held on 27 and 28 November at Windermere Manor in London, Ontario.  The Retreat was well attended with all Platform Technology Groups represented by researchers, trainees and technicians.  We were pleased to have many undergraduate and exchange students with us, as well as several proud parents.

As the project is in its fourth year, the Retreat focused on up-dates from the Platform Technology Groups giving a real sense of what has been accomplished, and what will be achieved by the end of Year 5. 

Sunday’s session consisted of presentations from researchers in the Pre-Clinical, Plant Biotechnology and Agriculture groups.  A poster session featuring ten trainees wrapped up the afternoon and took attendees into the evening’s reception.

Safety, Phytochemistry and Advanced Processing presentations started off Monday’s sessions.  The Annual General Meeting was held just prior to lunch and provided participants with an overview and highlights of Year 3.  Outreach, education, financials and governance were all covered in the AGM.

Monday afternoon offered an opportunity to hear presentations from three of our private-sector partners:  OMAFRA, Jamieson Laboratories and A&L Laboratories.  

A second poster session featuring nine students followed our private-sector partner presentations, and led into an informal Question & Answer session ably facilitated by Dr Marica Bakovic.  Trainees gave short summaries of their research, and the group engaged in lively debate following the summaries.


Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (November 4-13, 2011), Toronto, Ontario

With the assistance of the Ontario Ginseng Growers’ Association (OGGA), the OGIRC exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for the third year in a row for the full week of the fair, November 4 – 13, 2011.  The 2011 display was located in the Emerging Science booth in the Journey to Your Good Health section and was staffed by students from University of Guelph.  The ginseng exhibit featured a number of posters, pictures and hand-outs to provide fairgoers with an overview of the interdisciplinary nature of the project and ginseng agriculture in Ontario.  Dr Ed Lui was on hand at the booth on Sunday, November 13 to provide interested fairgoers with additional insights and information.


Indigenous Camp (July 5, 2011), London, Ontario

On July 5, 2011, the OGIRC hosted an afternoon session at Western’s “Mini University Summer Camp” for Ontario First Nations youth.  The program offers an exploration of Western’s Health Science and Science programs, participation in interactive activities and an overview of University life.

Sixteen campers in grades 8 and 9 were introduced to research on Traditional Medicines in an interdisciplinary environment by OGIRC Director Dr Ed Lui, and representatives of the Pre-Clinical, Advanced Processing and Plant Biotechnology groups.  Dr Greg Thorn of Western’s Biology Department led campers on a “Medicine Walk” along the Alumni Trail to point out traditionally used plants found on campus.

A game of “Capture the Flag” set a team of campers acting as “disease/health conditions” such as cancer, diabetes and cold/flu against a team of campers acting as “ginseng health effects” to “invade the body” and capture the flag.  We are happy to report that ginseng won the day!


Summer 2011 Field Trip (June 16, 2011), Windsor, Ontario

On June 16, 2011 a large contingent of students, investigators and staff from the OGIRC travelled to Windsor, Ontario, for an extensive and informative tour of the Jamieson Laboratories facilities.  The London group was joined by members of Dr Siyaram Pandey’s lab from the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Windsor, as well as five students from the lab of Dr Robert Kakos, Director, College of Engineering, at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Gary Leong, Vice-President, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, at Jamieson Laboratories greeted the group upon their arrival at the Jamieson offices on Twin Oaks Drive.  Before and after the lunch break, group members were given a tour of both the tablet/liquid manufacturing operation and the soft gel facility.  A mid-afternoon Research Presentation session offered trainees an excellent opportunity to share information on their current research.   Following the lab presentations, Gary Leong was joined by Megan Thomas, Jamieson Research Manager, for a career panel session including discussion and questions from audience members.

We thank Jamieson Laboratories whose hospitality and generosity made the Summer 2011 OGIRC Field Trip such a resounding success.


Advanced Processing Workshop (March 10, 2011), London, Ontario

The workshop was held at the Spencer Engineering Building at Western University. The purpose of this workshop was to:

  1. Enhance collaboration among Platform Technology Groups (PTGs), particularly between the Pre-Clinical and Advanced Processing groups.
  2. Facilitate the planning of an "exit point" for the entire OGIRC project: creation of new, value-added Ontario ginseng products shown to be safe & effective.

    Click here to download the Workshop Summary (PDF)


Pre-Clinical PTG Workshop (December 1, 2010), London, Ontario

The workshop was held in the 'Physiology and Pharmacology Boardroom' in the Medical Sciences Building at Western University. The objective of this workshop, "Moving from pre-clinical research to clinical trials" was to prepare and formulate clinical (and basic) research projects to extend the current OGIRC funded preclinical studies.

Click here to download the Agenda & Participant Research Summaries (PDF)


Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (November 5-14, 2010), Toronto, Ontario

The Ontario Ginseng Innovation & Research Consortium (OGIRC) exhibited in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair’s "Health Professionals' Salon in the “Journey to Your Good Health” exhibit.

The objective of the exhibit was to introduce our research project to the Health Professionals’ Community and provide information on the traditional/cultural uses of North American ginseng, cutting-edge research on the effects of ginseng on health and future research directions. Another priority was to launch our survey “Health Care Providers’ Perspectives on Standards of Evidence in TCM and Ginseng Use”. This survey (expected to be conducted in early 2011) will explore in depth the knowledge base, attitudes and experiences of diverse health care providers in integrating ginseng alone or in combination with other medicinal products in their therapeutic activities.

We were especially pleased to participate in the “Functional Foods & Natural Health Products: Staying Ahead of the Curve” themed Health Professionals Day on November 10. Dr. Lui participated in the event along with more than 100 dieticians, naturopaths and other health professionals, and we contributed ginseng tea to the Functional Foods Lunch. Dr. Lui also gave a 30-minute presentation on the Be Healthy Stage on Health Professionals’ Day titled “What every health care provider should know about ginseng the miracle herb!”


OGIRC/CICMR Second Joint Conference: "Production, Pharmacology and Health Benefits of Traditional Medicines" (October 23-25, 2010), Ottawa, Ontario

Conference Synopsis

The Second Joint Conference of the Ontario Ginseng Innovation & Research Consortium (OGIRC) and Canadian Institute of Chinese Medicinal Research (CICMR) was held in Lamoureux Hall at the University of Ottawa in late October. The joint conference was sponsored by the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario and the University of Ottawa; and co-sponsored by Research Western, Consortium for Globalization of Chinese Medicine, Ontario Ginseng Growers Association, Jamieson Laboratories, Afexa Life Sciences Inc, and the University of Manitoba.

This year’s three-day conference focused on the production, pharmacology and health benefits of traditional medicines gathering more than a hundred participants from Canadian universities, government research and regulatory agencies, the private sector involved in natural health products as well as participants from the United States and China.

Opening remarks for the conference were presented by Dr. Roman Szumski, MD, Vice President, Life Sciences Division of the National Research Council of Canada and Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng, PhD., Henry Bronson Professor of Pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine and the Chairman of the Consortium for the Globalization of Chinese Medicine. This conference drew in scholarly speakers from universities across Canada, including senior scientists from  McGill University, University of Ottawa, University of Manitoba, University of Windsor, University of Guelph, Dalhousie University, University of Montreal, University of Western Ontario and Loyalist College, as well as Chinese scholars Dr. Li Ping, MD, PhD, Professor and Director for the Department of Pharmacology and Associate Dean of the Institute of Clinical Medical Science at China-Japan Friendship Hospital; Dr. Ming Zhu, MD and Deputy Director at Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Also presenting were researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Institute for Nutrisciences and Health, National Research Council and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The industrial perspective of the R&D of traditional medicines was covered by Dr. Kan He, PhD, Director of Research & Development at Naturex Pureworld and Dr. Sharla Sutherland, PhD.,VP Scientific & Regulatory Affairs of Afexa Inc (ColdFX).

Over the course of the conference topics covered included plant biotechnology, agricultural, ethano-botanical and pharmacological aspects of ginseng and other traditional medicines, clinical trials, development of Chinese medicine, education, and regulatory framework. Scholars exchanged research data on the effect of ginseng in varying medical conditions such as cardiovascular health, immune function, diabetes, cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

In his plenary lecture, Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng spoke to the potential, bottlenecks and approaches of developing future medicine based on traditional Chinese medicine noting, “Medicines [needed] today are no longer just for therapeutic purposes but also for prevention of diseases and improvement for quality of life. Traditional Chinese medicine has many of those characteristics and could provide for today’s unmet medical needs and [as] the basis for development of future medicine”. In order to facilitate the successful development of this new paradigm, Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng stressed the important collaboration that must occur among academia, government and industry around the world.

Closing remarks for the three-day conference were given by Dr. Ed Lui, Professor at the University of Western Ontario, Scientific Director of OGIRC and President of CICMR. Dr. Lui extended his gratitude to conference participants for making the second joint Conference a success, highlighting the importance of Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng's heed for collaboration among academic and government institutions as well as the private sector in pursuing successful development of future medicines based on traditional Chinese medicine.

Binh H. Tran, Today Daily News (translation of article published October 31, 2010)

Conference Program

Download the Program Overview (pdf file)

Download the Program Booklet (pdf file)

Presentation Award Winners

Oral Presentations

Post-doctoral Fellow Award:

Dr. Cory Harris (McGill University), "Non-specific effect in Traditional Medicine: the power of 'placebo'"

Graduate Student Awards:

Marha Mullally (University of Ottawa), "Pharmacology of Souroubea sympetala: evidence for interaction with the GABAa benzodiazepine receptor"

Melissa Moey (Western University), "Ginsenosides from Panax quinquefolius (North American ginseng) attenuate leptin-induced neonatal ventricular cardiac hypertrophy through inhibition of the RhoA/ROCK and associated MAPK pathways"

Poster Presentations

Post-doctoral Fellow Award:

Dr. Esther Uchendu (University of Guelph), "In vitro propagation and cryopreservation method of North American ginseng"

Graduate Student Awards:

Chieu Anh Ta (University of Ottawa), "Inhibition of bacterial quorum sensing (Qs) by tropical and anti-infective plants"

Brendan Walshe-Roussel (University of Ottawa), "Ethnobotany and pharmacology of anti-inflammatory botanicals used by the Q'eqchi' Maya of Belize"

Despina Harbilas (Universite de Montreal), "Treatment of obesity and diabetes by a Canadian Aboriginal medicinal plant in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity"

Undergraduate Student Award:

Cheryl Lui (Western University/McMaster University), "Ginseng and in vitro inhibition of cyp3a4-mediated drug metabolism"

Click here for photos.



2010 Summer Retreat (June 15, 2010), London, Ontario

The 2010 OGIRC Summer Retreat was held on June 15 in the St. James Auditorium of Brescia University College, UWO. The majority of investigators and trainees attended, and we were joined by two representatives from AAFC. 

The Retreat was themed “Fostering a Multi-disciplinary Research Environment”, and had the following objectives:

  • Enhance understanding of how the Platform Technology Group (PTG) work together synergistically and explore their interdependence
    • Research updates from each lab
  • Inform the membership of recent outreach and communications initiatives
    • Summary of the 2009 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair experience
    • Introduction of the Members-Only area on the OGIRC website
  • Solicit ideas for trainee learning enrichment and preparation for the workplace
    • Discussion of the types of training we can offer to our students and post-docs to facilitate the transition from academia to industry/government
    • Identify the types of skills employers are looking for and provide opportunities for skill development
  • Describe the process of moving from pre-clinical experiments to clinical studies
    • Guest speaker Dr. Simon Chiu, psychiatrist at St. Joseph’s Regional Mental Health Care, St. Thomas “Translational Research: From Bench to Bedside”
  • Increase awareness of intellectual property issues and the commercialization process
    • Guest speaker Paul Paolatto, Executive Director of WORLDiscoveries “Intellectual Property: Co-authorship, Co-inventorship and Patents”

The completed feedback forms indicated that the majority of attendants found the Retreat to be constructive, with the Education, Training & Outreach and IP &Commercialization sessions being rated most highly. Most respondents thought that trainees had an opportunity to be heard, and that they came away with a greater appreciation for the inter-disciplinary nature of the project.


2010 WORLDiscoveries Research Showcase (February 5, 2010), London, Ontario

"WORLDiscoveries is the Business Development arm of London's extensive research network and the bridge between local invention and global industry".

The OGIRC participated in this year's WORLDiscoveries Reseach Showcase at the London Convention Centre, and made some valuable contacts with potential research collaborators, industry representatives and the general public.


Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (November 6-15, 2009), Toronto, Ontario

The Ontario Ginseng Innovation & Research Consortium (OGIRC) participated in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair’s “Journey to Your Good Health” exhibit on November 10, 11 and 12, 2009, where OGIRC staff, researchers, trainees and associates interacted with about three hundred people every day.

The objective of our exhibit was to promote the practice of science to the general public with a focus on youth; highlight Ontario’s significant contribution to the global ginseng market; and provide information to the general public about the OGIRC. We described our research to improve ginseng agricultural methods, elucidate the health effects of ginseng, and to develop new dosage forms. Visitors to the OGIRC display included agriculturalists, health professionals (dieticians, naturopathic doctors), school-age children with their teachers and parents/guardians, and members of the general public.

We were especially pleased to participate in the “Food for Healthy Aging” themed Health Professionals Day on November 11. Dr. Lui interacted with over 80 dieticians, naturopaths and other health professionals, and we contributed ginseng tea to the Functional Foods Lunch. On November 12, Dr. Lui gave a 30-minute presentation on the Be Healthy Stage titled “Ginseng: Facts and Myths”, and took questions from the Royal visitors for the subsequent hour at the “Ask an Expert” booth.


OGIRC 2nd Annual Conference (November 6-7, 2009), London, Ontario

The OGIRC 2nd Annual Conference was held on November 6 & 7 at London Hall on the University of Western Ontario campus. The conference was highly successful with over 75 attendees from academia, other research institutions and industry. Click here to view the announcement poster.

Highlights included:

  • Research updates from our Platform Technology Groups
  • Poster sessions displaying student work
  • Trainee-led session "Breeding program to improve Ontario ginseng products"
  • Discussion of NHP commercialization, regulations and intellectual property issues
  • Click here for the full conference program

Click here for photos.