Scholar Award

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in reproductive biology and medicine

The long-term goal of my research is to understand the multi-faceted role of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), the primary regulator of the reproductive process. Our brains release GnRH to the pituitary gland, where it stimulates the synthesis and release of the gonadotropin hormones that regulate gonads (ovaries and testes). My research has shown that GnRH also affects cell function in the ovaries and placenta and the hormone may play a role in controlling estrogen and progesterone production. GnRH has a role in both normal ovarian physiology and in the development of ovarian cancer.

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Year: 
2001

Hepatitis A virus infections among children in British Columbia: Is routine vaccination needed?

Hepatitis A is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver. Once contracted, there is no treatment. Adults and older children with the disease usually suffer for four to ten weeks, and the symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain and fever. Young children usually have mild, symptom-free cases that go unrecognized, but can transmit the virus to people of all ages. The BC infection rates for hepatitis A virus have exceeded the national average for more than a decade. Yet a safe, effective vaccine has been available since 1994.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2001

Dietary lipids in growth, development and health

My research focuses on the role of dietary fat in providing essential fatty acids to support growth and development, including long-term effects on children's physical, cognitive and behavioural health. I am investigating how specific fatty acids influence brain development and nerve function, the dietary intakes needed to ensure optimal development, and the role of altered fatty acids in disorders such as liver disease and cystic fibrosis.

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Year: 
2001

Analysis of prostate cancer progression using functional genomic approaches

In the early stages of prostate cancer, tumour growth is regulated by male sex hormones, called androgens. In treatment, androgens are removed to shrink the prostate tumour. However, the results of this therapy are usually temporary as surviving tumour cells become independent of androgens for growth and survival. I am investigating the genes responsible for this transition. To analyze these genes in a high throughput manner, I have created a Microarray Facility, the second of its kind in Canada.

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Award Type: 
Year: 
2001

Neurobiological and treatment studies in mood disorders

The treatments currently available for bipolar disorder and major depression are effective in relieving symptoms in only about 70 per cent of the patients. Furthermore, some patients have difficulty tolerating the side effects of these medications. In my lab, we are using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans to examine the levels of brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine in people with these mood disorders. Serotonin and dopamine control our emotions, sleep, appetite and energy, all of which are altered in patients with mood disorders.

Primary Investigator: 
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Year: 
2001

Role for postsynaptic protein complex assembly in synapse development

Neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and central nervous system transmit signals to each other across connections called synapses. Glutamate is the primary neurotransmitter (messenger) that nerve cells use to send signals across these synapses to induce action in the brain. Glutamate enables the brain to develop and language to be learned. Without synapses that allow the chemical signal's transmission from one nerve cell to the next, nerve cells will not be able to communicate with each other. Other neurotransmitters carry inhibitory signals to reduce activity in the brain.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2001

Suicide and self-injury as a response to radical developmental and cultural change in First Nations youth

Young people kill themselves in heartbreaking numbers, and intended and unintended self-injuries are the leading causes of death among our youth. However tragic this is when viewed in the large, the rates of suicide in certain First Nations communities are even higher - in some cases hundreds of times higher - and arguably the highest in the world. I am working to identify both individual and cultural factors that might help reduce the horrendous toll.

Primary Investigator: 
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Year: 
2001

Family influence in pediatric chronic pain and disability

Up to 15 per cent of school-aged children and adolescents suffer from chronic pain conditions such as recurrent headaches and abdominal pain. Children with chronic pain frequently miss considerable amounts of school, do not participate in athletic and social activities, and suffer depression or anxiety. The family plays an important role in influencing how children learn to deal with pain, but little is known about how this learning occurs. My research will identify how families influence children's responses to pain.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2001

Brain and behaviour: mechanisms of human attention in patient and healthy populations

Attention problems are a major source of disability associated with a wide range of disorders, including autism, stroke and schizophrenia. In British Columbia alone, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year by the health system for the treatment and rehabilitation of people with disorders of attention. And this does not take into account the additional costs for the education system or the toll on patients and families.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2001

Prevention of falls and hip fractures in the elderly through biomechanics

Falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths and hospitalizations in Canada. Among the elderly, falls account for 84 per cent of all injuries and about 23,000 hip fractures annually. Reducing the frequency and severity of these injuries is a critical national health priority, and one that my research team is approaching from several angles. In one approach, we are using laboratory experiments and mathematical modeling to study age-related changes in posture and balance along with strategies for avoiding injury in the event of a fall.

Primary Investigator: 
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Year: 
2001

Mechanisms and functions of activin/nodal signaling in early embryogenesis

We all start as a single cell, which divides and eventually forms the body. A great deal of cell communication goes into making decisions about this body plan. My research examines how cells communicate with one another during embryonic development. The body plan is set up by organizing centres, or groups of cells that dictate signals to other parts of the early embryo. Two centres have been identified in mammals: the anterior visceral endoderm (AVE) coordinates the development of the head, and the node arranges the trunk into front, back, left and right.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2001

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