Over 100 youth attended Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie’s Youth Speaker Series last Wednesday in IB 120, which also featured a keynote address by Patrick Gunning, the Canadian Research Chair in the Centre of Medicinal Chemistry, and a professor for the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

The series is part of a larger plan to help empower young people who are aiming to embark on careers, build professional networks, and pursue their aspirations.

The event was the second part of the mayor’s youth speaker series that began in December of last year. Crombie hopes to decrease the unemployment rate of young people in Mississauga, which is currently at 17 per cent.

“I really wanted to do something about that,” said Crombie. “We brainstormed and we came up with the idea of having the Mayor’s youth employment expo, and having opportunities like this one where we have mentors come and speak to our youth to help inspire you and to build a greater network around you, as well. I hope that it will work to do that and you can build connections with our mentors.”

Gunning came to Mississauga in 2007, following a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University. He has been recognized as one of Canada’s top 40 under 40.

During his address, Gunning spoke about the new Centre for Medicinal Chemistry that will be built on the UTM campus. “We have a one-stop shop to develop drugs here at UTM and be the center of medicinal chemistry in Canada,” he stated. “It will be 300,000 square feet of research laboratory space. What we want to do is put ourselves on the map of being the place to do drug discovery in academia in the world.”

Gunning recently gained prominence after receiving $22 million due to his research with cancer treatments. He and his team at UTM are working to develop certain proteins meant to target uncontrolled cell division.

Crombie then led Gunning through a question-and-answer period where he was asked how to strengthen leadership skills.

“I’ve led this research group for a while, I don’t think I’m perfect by any means, I’ve made lots of mistakes along the road but I think you have to nurture your talent, you have to engage them and spend time with them.”

Gunning also talked about his family life, being a professor, hobbies, and life in Mississauga.