Trainee Award

New strategies for unclogging microcirculatory obstructions in the healthy and diabetic brain

Recent work from our laboratory has shown that the brain capillaries routinely get 'stuck,' clogged by cells and debris even under healthy conditions. Most of these clogged capillaries clear within seconds to minutes, however, some can remain stuck for much longer. We also reported that about one third of these clogged capillaries were eliminated from the blood vessel network and never get replaced. Importantly, there are certain conditions which can increase the risk of clogged blood vessels in the brain such as diabetes.

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2019

Making Healthy Connections: A Critical Anti-Racist and Decolonizing Geography of Immigrant and Indigenous Relations in Northern British Columbia

While resources support immigrant well-being in urban settings in southern Canada, little research exists on recent immigrants in northern communities. Moreover, while new research is emerging about the health disparities of Indigenous communities in remote and rural settings, there is very little research that brings the question of immigrant and Indigenous relations together.

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2019

Disease-modifying Drug Safety and Effectiveness in Multiple Sclerosis [DRUMS]

British Columbia (BC) and Canada have some of the world's highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS). The goal of this research is to find out how safe and effective the drugs used to treat MS are when used in the everyday, real world in BC and Canada.

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2019

Structural basis of novel strategies for the inhibition of AmpC-mediated beta-lactam antibiotic resistance in the opportunistic, nosocomial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative opportunistic pathogen often responsible for hospital-acquired infections, which can be very difficult to treat due to antibiotic resistance. A common mechanism of resistance is the expression of beta-lactamase enzymes, which break down and disarm classical beta-lactam antibiotics, such as penicillins. Beta-lactam antibiotics act by breaking down the bacterial cell wall, producing cell wall fragments that induce expression of the beta-lactamase, AmpC.

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2019

Impact of Hypertension on Lung-Heart Interaction in Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Over 2.5 million Canadians have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a progressive lung condition that blocks the airways and makes it difficult to breathe. These patients experience worsening shortness of breath, increasing exercise limitation, and reduced quality of life. Patients must work harder to breathe, and the lungs can over-inflate, which can squeeze the heart and affect how it functions. Further, more than 1-in-4 patients also have high blood pressure, which might amplify the negative effects of lung over-inflation on the heart.

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2019

Can Blending Western and Traditional Knowledge Improve Diabetes and Obesity Health in Urban Indigenous Communities?

Indigenous peoples in Canada suffer from significantly higher rates of diabetes and obesity, resulting in reduced quality of life. There is often a lack of Traditional knowledge and community leadership within health, government, and community organizations. The impact of Western care services on improving health are often limited, whereas inclusion of Indigenous community-led care services has shown to improve health. Our current study will co-develop, co-implement, and co-evaluate locally-informed, culturally relevant diabetes and obesity programs in six urban/rural Indigenous Centres.

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2019

Investigating components of a Campylobacter jejuni iron uptake system to inform antimicrobial strategies.

Campylobacteriosis is an infectious diarrheal disease and one of the largest contributors to hospitalizations and deaths from food poisoning in Canada and worldwide. It is usually caused by consumption of food or water contaminated by the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni, resulting in watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, and serious post-infectious illnesses. This illness is especially dangerous for very young or old people, made worse by lack of a vaccine and increasing frequency of infections that are resistant to treatment by current antibiotics. A recent WHO report identified C.

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2019

Engineering stem cells to improve adaptive immune function

Thousands of Canadians receive bone marrow transplants each year to treat cancer and immune disease. Unfortunately, not only is this treatment dangerous, it is only effective for a small subset of cancers and immune disorders. Our goal is to provide a safer alternative to marrow transplantation that can be applied to a broad set of indications.

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2019

Generation of fully mature, functional islet-like organoids from human pluripotent stem cells in vitro

Insulin is a hormone that is crucial for maintaining normal blood sugar levels and is produced by beta-cells in the pancreas. If the amount of beta-cells is insufficient, or beta-cells stop making insulin, blood sugar levels start to rise which can lead to diabetes. Islet transplantation can supply the necessary amount of beta-cells and achieve superior glucose control over exogenous insulin injection, but is extremely limited by its reliance on organ donations. As a result, only a small fraction of people afflicted with diabetes currently benefit from these cell replacement therapies.

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2019

A Lifespan Approach Towards Understanding the Importance of Movement Skills for Health-Enhancing Physical Activity Participation

Participation in regular physical activity is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, numerous cancers, mental and reproductive health problems, and osteoporosis. Yet, only 9% of Canadian children and adolescents and 20% of Canadian adults meet physical activity guidelines. An essential component of being active involves having the skills needed to successfully participate in an activity.

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2019

Small molecules for bad bacteria: Novel peptidomimetics to battle resilient clinical infections

The lack of effective antibiotics in cases such as surgeries, transplantations, early-term and complicated births, sepsis etc. could merely lead to death as antibiotics are crucially needed for treatment. Sepsis for instance, annually kills ~8 million people worldwide with almost 40% of all deaths are linked to antibiotic failure. Likewise, infections caused by bacterial biofilms represent ~65% of all clinical diseases, and there are no antibiotics to treat bacterial biofilms, specifically.

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2019

Studying motion processing with eye movements in healthy older adults and patients with ophthalmic diseases

As our population ages, an increasing number of Canadians experience difficulties with their vision. Although it is well known that both normal aging and age-related eye disease can affect a person's ability to see fine detail (such as in reading), tests of visual acuity used in regular eye examinations do not provide a complete picture of a person's ability to see in everyday situations, such as exercising and driving, where moving objects are often involved.

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2019

When poor construction leads to destruction: How do structural defects in the light-sensing cells of the eye cause blindness?

Retinal degenerative disorders are inherited diseases that affect tens of thousands of Canadians. The effects are devastating; severe vision loss or complete blindness occurs early in life, resulting in the loss of livelihood, mobility, and independence. There is no cure, and present treatments focus on easing the symptoms of blindness instead of preventing vision loss in the first place.

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2019

Role of TAK1 in resident fibro/adipogenic progenitors. A Key modulator of the inflammatory milieu and a therapeuthic target in chronic diseases

In our aging society, degenerative complications of chronic diseases are on the rise and account for a significant percentage of deaths. Among these, fibrosis is the most common, and yet no therapy capable of mitigating its effects is available. Investigating and understanding the signaling pathways that influence fibrogenic progenitor (FAP) fate will not only elucidate a key component of the regenerative process but may reveal pathways that could be targeted therapeutically to prevent inflammation, fibrosis, and enhance regeneration or maintain muscle homeostasis.

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2019

Generating tissue capable of forming blood-progenitor cells at clinical scales

Chronic diseases consume 67% of direct healthcare costs in Canada. Regenerative medicine (RM) is a powerful strategy to address chronic diseases. The next generation of RM therapeutics targets development of living cells and tissues to treat specific indications. Availability of stable progenitor stem cell bio-banks that can be differentiated to desired phenotypes is a crucial pre-requisite.

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2019

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