Trainee Award

Severity and Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms in Women Living with HIV

Globally, persons living with HIV are aging, with women constituting over half of this group. Increasingly, women living with HIV (WLWH) are entering menopause, a crucial transition with impacts on overall health and well-being. Regrettably, there is limited research focused on how WLWH experience menopause, leading to a major gap in their quality of care. Preliminary studies suggest that WLWH may experience menopause with heightened symptoms. However, uncovering the true extent of this important relationship awaits detailed clinical analysis.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Characterization of Pathogenic Chromatin States in Synovial Sarcoma

Synovial sarcoma (SS) is the most common soft-tissue cancer among young adults. It is an aggressive tumor type in great need of new treatment options. SS tumors are defined by a specific genetic change that causes two separate genes to fuse into one. This new fusion-gene produces the SS18-SSX protein which is thought to remodel the cells epigenome, resulting in the activation and inactivation of a large number of genes. As SS18-SSX cannot be inhibited by any known drugs, we aim to identify the genes and regulatory elements that are directly affected by the protein.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Redevelopment and Optimization of an Adeno-Associated Virus Gene Therapy Product for the Treatment of Lipoprotein Lipase Deficiency

Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is an enzyme that breaks down fats, specifically triglycerides, in the blood. An individual with LPL deficiency, which is cause by a defective gene, will therefore begin developing high triglyceride levels as a child. In time, they will develop life-threatening pancreatitis, a predisposition to heart disease, and ultimately, an increased risk of mortality. Previously, we developed a gene therapy for LPL deficiency that was shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Artificial Intelligence Based Discovery of Estrogen Receptor Activation Function 2 (AF2) Inhibitors as the First-In-Class Therapies for Drug Resistant Breast Cancers

Breast cancer (BCa) is the most common cancer and the second cause of death from cancer among Canadian women. While antiestrogens are effective initially, BCas eventually reach a state where they no longer respond to conventional treatments. In a first effort to develop new drugs for resistant BCas, we developed inhibitors with a novel mechanism of action, able to suppress the proliferation of BCa cell lines that do not respond to standard therapies. While promising, better compounds are required for effective treatment of resistant BCa.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

B cells: New players in the immune response to cancer

High-grade serous ovarian cancer is an aggressive disease with a low survival rate (~30%). Patients who survive longer mount strong antitumor immune responses as evidenced by the recruitment of immune cells to their tumors. Among those tumor-infiltrating immune cells, B cells that produce antibodies are particularly prognostic, yet poorly studied. We still do not know how B cells help to control tumor growth.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

The Role of Microglia in Chronic Stress-Induced Cognitive Impairment

Chronic stress is associated with cognitive impairment. It is possible that this is due to the brain's immune cells, microglia. Microglia can engulf and chew up neurons, which are the cells in the brain that talk to one another. It is possible that chronic stress makes these immune cells more likely to engulf neurons, which leads to cognitive deficits. To understand this, we will use live imaging to look at how microglia act in the brain of chronically stressed laboratory mice.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Developing novel therapeutic targets to treat arrhythmia-causing ryanodine receptor variants in the heart

Our hearts play a crucial role to distribute blood throughout our bodies. When it beats irregularly, also called an arrhythmia, it can lead to major fatigue, loss of consciousness, or even death in some of the most serious cases. Arrhythmias can either be acquired throughout our lives or have genetic forms. The latter are more rare, but are usually more severe and affect very young people. In this project, we study a genetic form of arrhythmia that is due to mutations in a gene encoding "RyR2".

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Characterization of Gli proteins as a novel therapeutic target in prostate and breast cancer.

Prostate (PCa) and breast cancer (BCa) are leading causes of cancer deaths. These tumours depend on sex hormones that function through receptor proteins for their growth. For this reason, hormone therapies inhibiting these receptors are the first approach for controlling metastatic disease. However, hormone therapies eventually fail. Therefore, understanding how receptor proteins promote cancer growth will affect our approach for designing effective treatments for PCa and BCa. 

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Understanding adaptability in egg-laying behavior in Aedes aegypti

Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are found in many parts of the world. When they bite people to take blood, they can transmit microorganisms that cause disease. One reason that Ae. aegypti is so deadly is that it is closely associated with people and can breed in a wide range of water-filled containers such as dumpsites, construction sites, and discarded plastic containers.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Determinants of sexual and reproductive health care for im/migrant women: a community-based mixed methods study to realize comprehensive primary care in BC

Primary care is key to a working health care system. Good primary care is based on relationships with a provider who knows a patient over time and sees the whole person in context, so they can address social needs that particularly impact the health of marginalized groups. Although im/migrants are a big part of the population in Canada, they have less access to good primary care. We use ‘im/migrant’ including all people that arrive in Canada from another country, including refugees, economic and undocumented im/migrants.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Feeding patterns, nutrient status, and neurocognitive development in toddlers 18-24 months of age: A Randomised Control Trial

Early childhood represents a critical period in which a child’s brain undergoes rapid brain development and is critical to later health and wellbeing. During this time, infants and young children have especially high needs, both for energy and key essential nutrients, when compared to older children and adults. Yet feeding and nutrition guidelines for infants and toddlers during this crucial developmental window remain poorly understood, explained in part by the major changes with regard to infant and toddler feeding practices in the past century.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Using computational modeling to investigate the cognitive processes underlying behaviors related to gambling disorder in rats

Pathological gambling is an addictive disorder characterized by repeated problematic gambling despite severe negative consequences, often linked to poor decision making and impulsivity. Research into gambling disorders has been facilitated by using rodent tasks that are directly translated from tasks used in humans. Traditional analyses for these tasks result in simplistic measures linked to decision making deficits and impulsive behavior.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Understanding counsellor-client interactions in spinal cord injury exercise counselling: a novel method to explain outcomes of randomized controlled trials by assessing intervention fidelity

Behavioural interventions often consist of conversations between counsellors and clients and can be a successful way to promote a healthy lifestyle. However, controlled intervention outcomes are not always successfully translated to real-world settings. A possible reason for this poor translation, is that researchers do not use information on how counsellors and clients interact with each other to explain intervention outcomes. Recently, a new method, called state space grids, has been developed to study and visualize how a counsellor and client interact with each other over time.

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Understanding the challenges and opportunities in communicating vaccine risks and benefits to midwifery clients

Studies have shown that vaccinating pregnant mothers protects both mothers and children. Yet, recent surveys suggest that one third of Canadian parents are unsure about vaccinating. Mothers often decide how they feel about vaccines during pregnancy, and healthcare workers play an important role in helping them make these choices. More and more new parents in Canada choose to give birth with the help of a Registered Midwife (RM).

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

Identifying Complex Associations between Biomedical HIV Treatment and Prevention Strategies, Condom Use Behaviors, and STIs in Gay, Bisexual, and other Men who have Sex with Men

Across Canada, the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) has significantly increased. Public health officials have suggested that the increasing STI rates are a result of decreasing condom use, motivated by the utilization of biomedical HIV treatment and prevention strategies (henceforth: biomedical strategies), like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylais (PEP).

Primary Investigator: 
Award Type: 
Year: 
2020

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