Celebrating Health Research

Discover how and why health researchers are changing lives, and hear firsthand from the patients whose lives have been affected by health research. 

Passion: The genesis of genius

Following a passion for viruses down the road to discovery

Dr. Jason Kindrachuk
University of Manitoba

As a student at the University of Saskatchewan, I was captivated by media and literary accounts of Ebola virus outbreaks, including “The Hot Zone..  I was able to follow my passion for emerging/re-emerging viruses at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, working within high-containment laboratories.

In 2014, when the devastating Ebola virus epidemic took hold of Western Africa, I felt compelled to offer assistance with outbreak response efforts and participated in diagnostic support efforts in Liberia. Now in Winnipeg, my research focuses on improving our understanding of how molecular events within cells relate to disease severity and poor clinical outcomes for viruses, including Ebola and influenza.

As many of these viruses disproportionally effect developing nations, my research also focuses on building collaborations with researchers and trainees from these nations to increase our preparedness for future viral outbreaks.

Ultimately, our research will provide a better understanding of disease pathogenesis, improve patient care and facilitate the discovery of new therapeutics or treatment strategies.

August 4, 2017

I have a dream

Helping Indigenous communities heal from intergenerational trauma and substance abuse

Dr. Teresa Naseba Marsh
Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Laurentian and Lakehead Universities

During my PhD, I embarked upon a project that would benefit Indigenous communities and help with healing from intergenerational trauma (IGT) and substance use (SUD).

My interest in the field of IGT and SUD came about as a result of my lived experiences in South Africa during colonization, oppression and the apartheid era.

I dreamt about the healing that could come, and realized that it is possible if we all join hands and continue to build healthy communities and familial connections.

The purpose of this study is to explore whether the blending of Aboriginal traditional healing practices and a mainstream treatment model, Seeking Safety, resulted in a reduction of IGT symptoms and SUD. A mixed-methods design was used to evaluate the impact of a 13-week Indigenous Healing and Seeking Safety implementation project with 17 participants completing the study and all demonstrating improvement in the all the symptoms of IGT and SUD.

My hope is to continue to do this work and to teach Indigenous clinicians how to use the new treatment model.

August 4, 2017

My journey as a health researcher: A time for reflection and celebration

Canadian researchers’ contribution to world health is something we can all be proud of!

Ms. Aimée Dubeau
The Hospital for Sick Children

I am excited at the opportunity to reflect on my health research journey for Canada 150.

My research journey started as a Waterloo co-op student when I was placed with Statistics Canada to work on the Residential Care Facilities Survey. From there, my next placement was with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada where I worked in disability research. This sparked my interest in clinical research and the people and stories behind the statistics. I worked for the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute conducting stroke recovery research, followed by a fun summer at Health Canada doing research on the environment and air pollution, as experienced by cyclists. When I graduated, I had a diverse range of research skills and started working as a research assistant with the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study, which I now coordinate.

My story is a great example of the variety of different kinds of research Canada contributes to.

August 4, 2017

The heart sees what is invisible to the eye

Engaging in mental health research to remove the cloak of invisibility and shed light on mental illnesses

Terry-Lee Marttinen
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

I have an invisible disability.

I first became involved in health research after a family member was diagnosed with early psychosis, at a specialized youth psychiatric research program. I participated in caregiver-focused studies and sat on the Early Psychosis Intervention Ontario Network policy task group at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for several years.

Engaging in mental health research and policy development led me to study the social dimensions of schizophrenia, informed by emerging viral genetics. I integrated youth and family perspectives, social research, and human endogenous retrovirus (HERV-W) science to create a gene-environment model of inflammatory schizophrenia while conducting my Honours thesis work at Algoma University in 2012.

In 2014, interdisciplinary medical history research at Oxford Brookes University (OBU) linked malnutrition, associated with gendered racial discrimination, to co-interacting HERV-W and common viruses, implicated in genomic change and schizophrenia. I hope to return to OBU to conduct intersectoral psychiatric genetic PhD research.

August 4, 2017

Food for thought

Exploring under how nutrition can promote healthy brain aging

Dr. Nafisa M. Jadavji
Carleton University

Vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) is the second leading cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. The clinical presentation of VCI varies and there are no treatments for VCI since the actual pathology remains unknown. Nutrition is a risk factor for VCI, specifically high levels of homocysteine, a common amino acid in blood.  B vitamins, such as folic acid, can reduce levels of homocysteine.

My research program focuses on how nutrition affects the brain. Our results suggest that it is not elevated levels of homocysteine making the brain more vulnerable to VCI, but rather, a deficiency in folic acid. In the cell, folic acid is involved in essential functions that help the cell survival.

Reduced levels of folic acid may be changing the cells in the brain, making them more vulnerable to damage. More research is required to understand how nutrition can be used to promote healthy brain aging.

August 4, 2017

Championing child-friendly health policies: Giving children a voice

Tough TASK masters: Informing decisions on children’s health care services with the best-in-class evidence

Dr. Wendy Ungar
The Hospital for Sick Children

Why do health care costs keep rising? How can we continue to afford it? Is all of the new technology increasingly used in patient care actually making us healthier? With a focus on genomics, these are some of the questions that Dr. Wendy Ungar and her team at Technology Assessment at Sick Kids (TASK) address in her research investigating the cost-effectiveness of technologies, treatments, and services for children.

As important as examining the cost-effectiveness of new technologies is, developing the appropriate tools and methods to ensure that this research can be done well while working with children is an equally important part of TASK’s mandate. 

With funding from CIHR and others, Dr. Ungar and her team are ensuring that the best-quality evidence is used to inform funding decision for children’s health care.

August 4, 2017

New hope for youth coping with depression

Pioneering the use of brain stimulation to fight depression in youth

Dr. Frank P. MacMaster
University of Calgary

One in nine Canadians aged 15 to 24 suffers from depression—this is the highest rate of depression in any age group. Depression has negative impacts at home, at school, with friends and with family, and the impacts can be felt for decades. Unfortunately, front line treatments only work in about half of youth, leaving many ill and vulnerable to suicide—the second leading cause of death in this age group.

Depression threatens their very lives.

Our lab has pioneered the use of brain stimulation to fight depression in youth. This treatment offers new hope for those who are suffering. Our work has also helped to spearhead the effort to bring brain stimulation to Alberta as a clinical service.

From a study participant: “…brain stimulation truly saved my life, it scares me to think of what I may have done if I hadn't had the opportunity to participate.”

August 4, 2017

The role of health research on the pathway to reconciliation

The strength and resiliency of Indigenous people is an inspiration for us all

Ms. Kaela Anne Schill
Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, Kelowna, B.C.

I am working on my Master of Science thesis project with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society. Our project explores the knowledge and experience of mental wellness among Urban Indigenous adults aged 55 and over. 

Through sharing circles and interviews, participants are leading us to an understanding about the barriers to mental wellness, including historical and contemporary colonial policy, social inequity, intergenerational trauma, and systemic and individual racism. They have also emphasized the strength and resiliency of the community as they fight to achieve mental wellness for themselves despite these barriers.

As a non-Indigenous researcher working with an Indigenous population, Canada 150 poses an opportunity to critically reflect on my role in research, and the role of research in reconciliation. It is a reminder to be conscious of the oppression and violence perpetrated against Indigenous peoples in the name of research, to use my research to advocate for the correction of this historical injustice, and to encourage other health researchers and professionals to do the same.

August 4, 2017

Transforming a parent’s heartbreak into action

Devoting a career to giving other parents of seriously ill children the gift of extra time

Dr. Emilio Alarcon
University of Ottawa Heart Institute

For most of his life, my son has faced medical conditions, including cancer. As a parent, this experience made me realize the urgent need for better technologies and devices in the clinic, so I decided to pursue an academic career in Canada, in order to give back to others the gift of extra time that I have had with my son.

My research team is currently developing new materials for treating chronically infected and non-healing wounds, which will improve the quality of life and reduce the amputation rate for the many patients living with diabetic foot ulcers. We are also working on new technologies for the functional and rapid repair of damaged tissue, including the heart, skin, and cornea. My team is also investigating how nanomaterials can be combined with natural polymers to produce new materials with better properties for regenerative medicine.

We always have patients and families in mind; and we continuously aim to provide practical and clinically usable technologies for our country.

August 4, 2017

Patient Navigator

Facilitating the integration of primary care and community services

Dr. Simone Dahrouge
University of Ottawa and Bruyère Research Institute

We are interested in understanding how primary healthcare services can be organized to improve the quality and equity of care delivery.

Our current project, Access to Community Resources (ARC), aims to enhance equitable access to community health and social resources that can help individuals achieve their health goals. These services, such as falls prevention, smoking cessation and health self-management for persons with chronic conditions are under-utilized because many people face barriers to access. These barriers include challenges navigating the system, transportation restrictions, language barriers, or other limitations related to their social context.

ARC is introducing a Patient Navigator in family practices to facilitate the integration of primary care and community services. The Patient Navigator will assist patients referred to these services by their primary care provider to overcome barriers to access and reach the resources they require. It will also support information continuity across the two sectors.

We anticipate that patient navigation will reduce unmet health needs. 

August 4, 2017

How child maltreatment hurts us all

Why it shouldn’t hurt to be a child: Being mistreated can have lifelong consequences

Dr. Tracie O. Afifi
University of Manitoba

Child maltreatment is a major public health problem associated with mental and physical health impairment in childhood, adolescence, and extending throughout the lifespan. However, preventing child maltreatment remains a difficult task. The effectiveness of many existing prevention programs is largely unknown and prevention programs for some child maltreatment types are not well developed.

Dr. Afifi is currently collecting and analyzing new data to better understand child maltreatment within a Canadian context and how it relates to health and health services. Her work is focused on identifying protective factors associated with a decreased likelihood of child maltreatment and an increased likelihood of improved health outcomes following child maltreatment. She is applying this knowledge to develop and evaluate new evidence-based intervention strategies to determine effectiveness in preventing child maltreatment and its associated effects. Dr. Afifi’s vision is to prevent child maltreatment and thereby change a child’s trajectory, improve health, and strengthen families.

Further reading

July 28, 2017

OASIS: A made-in-Ontario asthma monitoring system with big aspirations

A breath of fresh air: The Ontario Asthma Surveillance Information System (OASIS) studies the impact of air pollution and climate on disease

Dr. Teresa To
The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, University of Toronto

My team, based at The Hospital for Sick Children, pioneered a population-based asthma registry called OASIS (Ontario Asthma Surveillance Information System). Established in 2003, OASIS follows over 2 million Ontarians with physician-diagnosed asthma and reports that 1 in 4 children are affected by asthma and 1 in 3 persons will develop asthma in their lifetime.

Today, OASIS is one of the most promising prototypes for the development of a national asthma monitoring system, providing asthma statistics including incidence, prevalence, mortality and health services use. 

Our team also combines multiple population databases to study the impact of air pollution and climate on disease progression such as asthma to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. With this research, we aim to identify geographical regions and populations at risk (such as immigrants, lower socioeconomic groups) to target community-based interventions designed to reduce disease morbidity and to improve health outcomes and quality of life.

Further Reading

July 28, 2017

And baby makes three: Researchers helping couples with fertility problems to conceive

Defining the stages of human development helps the success rate of fertility clinic physicians working with couples eager to become parents

Dr. Andrew J. Watson
University of Western Ontario

Our research is focused on defining the mechanisms controlling the earliest stages of development, from fertilization, to uterine implantation, and early pregnancy. We use animal models and translate our discoveries to the human context, in order to assist the clinician’s ability to apply more effective ways of helping couples with fertility problems to conceive. Research has demonstrated that the very beginning of a human’s development cycle has a major impact on not only whether pregnancy will occur, but also on the health of the fetus, newborn, child, and even on the susceptibility to disease later on in life. It is vitally important to ensure that safe and efficient methods are applied in fertility clinics to ensure that the assistance provided to couples with fertility challenges not only allows them to start their family, but also ensures that their family will enjoy the best health possible throughout their lifetime.

July 28, 2017

When your heart skips a beat

Atrial Fibrillation is one of the most common forms of abnormal heart rhythm and a major cause of stroke

Dr. William McIntyre
McMaster University

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm problem and is a major risk factor for a disabling stroke. In many patients, AF comes and goes which makes it difficult to catch and diagnose. AF is often detected for the first time after surgery. When this happens, there are two possibilities. AF could be a normal response to stress that will go away when the patient recovers. On the other hand, AF detected after surgery could also mean that the patient is at risk for stroke and might benefit from medication to lower their risk.

Our group is giving portable heart rhythm monitors to patients who have had brief episodes of AF after surgery and comparing them to patients who had surgery but did not have AF. Our goal is to develop a strategy to identify which patients truly have AF and can benefit from stroke prevention medications.

July 28, 2017

Becoming the change we wish to see in the world

One researcher’s personal journey to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes

Dr. Erna Snelgrove-Clarke
Dalhousie University

I chose health research because I want to see change. I want to support a more consistent use of best evidence to improve maternal newborn outcomes. We need to work collaboratively, using best practices to strategize for change. We can create a climate and a context for best practice when we value health, research evidence, patient voice, and clinician expertise.

Despite the availability of research evidence, a variety of health practices are inconsistent. Patients see differences in provider practices such as listening to the baby’s heartbeat during labour, managing the second stage of labour when a mom is ready or getting ready to push, and breastfeeding support.

Why do patients see these differences? Many factors influence the use of best evidence; the evidence itself, clinicians, context, and the inclusion of the patient in decision-making. Bringing these factors together for consistent application of evidence is challenging, exciting, and essential for improving health outcomes.

July 28, 2017

Men’s health: Out of the shadows into the spotlight

Creating safe spaces and gender-sensitized programs to advance the health of men and their families

Dr. John Oliffe
University of British Columbia

In 2003, Dr. John Oliffe founded the Men’s Health Research program with the goal of emphasizing the positive elements of multi-faceted, culturally diverse masculinities, such as helping others, leadership, empathy and accountability. Along with his dedicated research team, which is based out of the University of British Columbia’s School of Nursing, the program has grown to include a suite of empirically informed, innovative interventions, and has championed knowledge translation activities that focus on a variety of men’s health issues. This includes health promotion and e-health interventions around men’s depression and suicide, psychosocial prostate cancer care, and smoking cessation.

By applying strength-based approaches to affirm and leverage positive masculinities, the Men’s Health Research program offers safe spaces and gender-sensitized programs to advance the health of men and their families.

July 21, 2017

A career devoted to understanding the placenta: A key element in the fetal life-support system

Over the course of a career spanning four decades, Dr. Peeyush Lala has shed light on “The Fascinating Story of the Placenta”

Dr. Peeyush K. Lala
University of Western Ontario

My research during the last four decades has led to a fascinating story about “placenta,” the organ that nourishes a fetus by exchanging oxygen and nutrients from the maternal arterial blood. This research has helped to resolve the dual paradox of “placenta as an alien graft in the mother’s uterus, which remains protected from maternal immune attack” and “placenta as a highly invasive tumour-like structure, which unlike tumours, does not destroy the uterus.”

The culmination of forty years of research led to the discovery of mechanisms that allow for the development of placental cancers, a novel immunotherapy of certain cancers, and the discovery of a novel predictive blood biomarker of “preeclampsia,” a serious pregnancy-associated maternal disease of placental origin.

July 21, 2017

Advocating for “hands on” approaches to cancer prevention

Researchers working to make the possibility of preventing cancer a reality

Dr. Carolyn Gotay
University of British Columbia

Cancer is one of the greatest health threats faced by our country today. About one in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime. This year, more than 80,000 Canadians will lose their lives to cancer.  We know that about half of cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes – that is to say; not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, keeping physically active, eating better, drinking within guidelines (if at all), and getting enough sleep. Our research at the Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention has shown that a variety of strategies can lead to positive changes to reduce cancer risk: “new technologies” incorporating computer-generated, tailored messages; “hands on” approaches such as cooking classes for prostate cancer patients and their spouses; and a personal touch, like an individual sleep coach. Much of cancer is preventable, and our research works toward making that possibility a reality.

July 21, 2017

Protecting the mind and body against cancer with yoga and meditation

Improving the physical and emotional well-being of cancer patients and survivors

Dr. Linda E. Carlson
University of Calgary

I began working in supportive cancer care 20 years ago. As a clinical psychologist working in the area of psychosocial oncology I wanted to help people cope with debilitating symptoms and side-effects that so often linger well beyond treatment, like fatigue, pain, sleep problems, anxiety, stress, depression and fears of cancer recurrence.

My team and I developed a program combining training in mindfulness meditation and yoga, and conducted a series of nationally funded studies showing benefit for patients, including improved mood, stress reduction, better quality of life, improved sleep, and even changes to their stress hormones, immune function and DNA structure. We were the first in the world to report the scientific benefits of meditation in cancer care, and since that time, programs offering similar services have sprung up all around the world.

Mindfulness: A key for personal and collective evolution, a Tedx Talk with Linda E. Carlson

July 21, 2017

Free to be me, unconditionally

Working with dogs and horses to help people struggling with addiction on their road to recovery

Dr. Colleen Anne Dell
University of Saskatchewan

Our team is working alongside canine companions and helpful horses to better understand the human-animal bond and its impact on wellness within the addictions field. It is well established that connection is important for healing from addictions, but this can be very difficult for people who have been judged and stigmatized because of their disease. In an attempt to overcome this, our team works with clients, individuals in residential treatment programs, prisons and methadone clinics, along with their animal helpers.

As one client simply stated “The therapy dog makes me feel comfortable, so I can just be me.” When this happens, it opens up a unique opportunity for a therapeutic connection within a health care system that has been designed to help, but is known to also isolate. Our CIHR-funded team is honoured to be able to contribute to this unique understanding, alongside our various community and academic partners.

You can follow our adventures on Facebook at Anna-Belle & Subie's Adventures.

July 21, 2017

Demystifying health, empowering patients

Dr. Holly Witteman
Laval University

Our group designs, builds, and tests ways to help people make decisions about their health. We want to help people make health decisions that are informed by the best available medical evidence and align with what matters to the person or people affected by the decision. This can be hard to do for lots of reasons, including complicated statistics, decisions that are emotionally difficult, and short clinical visits. Electronic decision support tools can help if they are well-designed and easy to access and use. To build such tools, we work with patients, doctors, nurses, and others to refine ideas. We do iterative design and usability testing in our lab, then user experience testing in clinics and people’s homes, and online randomized controlled trials to make sure tools are helpful. We will make these tools available to people across Canada in different ways, including in patient portals to electronic health records.

June 27, 2017

The protective power of breast milk

Dr. Meghan Azad
University of Manitoba

My lab studies the early-life determinants of lifelong health. Our current research is focused on the role of maternal nutrition and infant feeding in the development and prevention of chronic disease. Our results from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study show that breastfeeding is associated with reduced risks of asthma and obesity in early childhood. To understand how this works, we are analyzing breast milk to measure nutrients, immune factors, microbes, and hormones – and studying their impact on the developing infant gut microbiome (the community of microorganisms living in infants' intestines). This research will guide new strategies for health promotion and disease prevention, help optimize nutrition guidelines for mothers and babies, and inform related policies to support maternal-child health.

Further reading

June 26, 2017

When our DNA mutates, cancer can be the result

Dr. Mani Larijani
Memorial University of Newfoundland

Dr. Larijani researches processes that mutate the DNA of our genes. In health, these processes change specific genes in immune cells to make them better at fighting infections. Unfortunately, these processes often mutate bystander genes. When this happens, it causes and exacerbates cancer by mutating cancer cells so they become aggressive and resistant to treatment. Dr. Larijani's work has several aims: first, to visualize what these DNA-mutating processes look like at the very instant of causing cancer; second, to distinguish how they operate in healthy versus cancer cells; third, to determine how they impact immune response. Dr. Larijani's lab recently made a paradigm-changing discovery that has attracted international attention. They found that DNA-mutating processes constantly transition between two different forms: a dangerous cancer-causing version, and an inactive harmless state. Based on this, Dr. Larijani is designing a new type of cancer drug, and improving how the immune system recognizes cancer.

June 26, 2017

A window on the circuitry of the brain

Dr. Kurt Haas
University of British Columbia

My lab in the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia is highly innovative in our approach to science. We develop techniques for controlling gene expression in individual brain cells, and we design and build super-fast microscopes capable of capturing the dynamic 3D activity and growth of neurons in the developing brains of animals when they are awake. We use these techniques to answer fundamental questions of how functional brain circuits form and encode information, as well as to understand how these events go wrong to produce disease. I am particularly interested in the origins of autism and epilepsy. For autism, my lab is identifying underlying gene mutations and determining precisely how they alter brain circuit structure and function. We expect our findings will be the basis for efforts to develop therapeutics to prevent or treat this disorder.

June 26, 2017

Helping young brains recover from concussion

Dr. Roger Zemek
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute

Visits for pediatric concussion have quadrupled over the past decade. While most children recover within a few weeks, 30% of children experience ongoing symptoms that can affect quality of life. Dr. Roger Zemek and his research team at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) led a study across nine emergency departments of the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada (PERC) Network that studied over 3000 children with concussion. We can now better predict which children have higher risk for persistent post-concussive symptoms. We also learned that children who return to physical activity sooner have a lower risk of ongoing symptoms than those who rested more. Both of these studies were published in the highly-esteemed Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2016. His team is now studying when is the best timing and type of physical activity following concussion to improve recovery. Ultimately, this evidence will help physicians design individualized, evidence-informed treatment plans for this common brain injury.

Further reading

June 26, 2017

The far-reaching effects of bullying

Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt
University of Ottawa

Violence destroys individuals, communities, religions, and national economies. It creates physical and mental health problems and impacts productivity. Dr. Vaillancourt’s program of research documents the causes, developmental course, and consequences of violence, with a focus on bullying. For far too long, bullying has been considered by many to be a normal part of childhood; but research on the long-term effects of bullying discredits this myth, documenting that the negative impact of bullying is enduring and far-reaching. Dr. Vaillancourt is currently examining the influence of bullying on mental health by following a large cohort of Canadians from childhood to adulthood. Her research is showing that, for many, poor outcomes are the result of being abused by peers and not a precipitator of poor treatment. These results highlight an urgent need to prioritize the reduction of bullying as a way of improving mental health.

Further reading

June 26, 2017

Why some kids get asthma and others don’t

Dr. Stuart Turvey
University of British Columbia

Lungs are for life, and we don't think about them much. Yet even small babies and children can have serious lung diseases, like asthma. In Canada, about 1 in 3 people has asthma and it often starts in childhood. Asthma has no cure. Even if they feel fine, people with asthma still have the disease and it can flare up at any time. It isn't clear why only some people get asthma, but we think it is probably due to a combination of environmental and genetic (inherited) factors. Dr. Stuart Turvey, in partnership with many clinicians and researchers across Canada, co-leads the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study. The CHILD Study−a nationwide birth cohort study involving almost 3,500 Canadian infants and their families−explores how genetics and early childhood environmental exposures impact the development of asthma, allergies and other chronic diseases. Through this research we are creating better tools to predict who will get asthma and we are finding new ways to prevent asthma from developing in the first place.

Further reading

June 26, 2017

Developing a molecule to help people with allergies breathe easier

Dr. Christine McCusker
Montreal Children’s Hospital

With the start of pollen season, 20 per cent of Canadians are reminded that with spring comes allergies. Eight per cent of people have potentially fatal food allergies and 15-20 per cent of the population has asthma and needs medication to be able to breath without difficulty. Yet treatment of these diseases has not changed a lot in at least 20 years and we have no cures. My research has looked at how allergies develop and how to effectively and safely change our body’s immune response to allergens. We have progressed the development of a novel therapeutic molecule, STAT6-IP, that effectively blocks asthma symptoms, such as airway tightening and swelling, in animal models. Using STAT6-IP as a vaccine in animals we have also prevented hay-fever and seasonal asthma caused by ragweed. STAT6-IP treatment of blood cells from peanut allergic donors also shows promise as a therapy for food allergy as STAT6-IP appears to stop the activity of the allergic cells and promote non-allergic responses in human cells. This work has made great strides in developing a human therapy that would alleviate some of the most debilitating allergic diseases known to man and, for the first time, shows the promise of a “cure” for asthma, nasal and food allergies.

Further reading

June 26, 2017

Extending the lives of people with cystic fibrosis

Dr. Christine Bear
Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)

Our lab is focused on the study of cystic fibrosis (CF). Collaborating with clinical and basic science groups across SickKids and the University Health Network of Toronto, we are working to better understand the mutations in CFTR (the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator, a protein that serves as a passageway that allows for the movement of salt and water in and out of organs, including the lungs) and the mechanism of action behind CF therapeutics. We are currently developing platforms for personalized medicine in CF. From CFTR protein in isolation to stem-cell derived cultures, our assays allow us to further enhance our understanding of the disease at the molecular level. We are also interested in examining secondary therapeutic targets, such as genetic modifiers that may affect CF disease. Using these tools, we can move closer towards the development of patient-specific therapeutics that may one day be employed as viable CF treatments.

Further reading

June 26, 2017


Dr. Christine Chambers
Dalhousie University

All children have pain and parents are generally unaware of how they can help. Despite the fact that Canada is a world leader in children’s pain research, many children do not receive the pain care they deserve. Dr. Christine Chambers and her research team are working with parents to improve pain management for Canadian children and their families. They have developed an innovative science-media partnership with Erica Ehm’s YummyMummyClub.ca (YMC) that allows them to reach and engage with over 6 million Canadian parents per month about research on children’s pain management in a social media initiative called #ItDoesntHaveToHurt. Capitalizing on YMC’s expertise in creating compelling, integrated, multi-platform digital content and their network of parent influencers, #ItDoesntHaveToHurt engages parents and shares content about children's pain through blog posts, YouTube videos, Twitter parties, Facebook polls, and Instagram images. Over the last year, #ItDoesntHaveToHurt generated >130 million content views worldwide and, on several occasions, became a trending topic on social media.

Further reading

June 26, 2017

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