Trainee Award

Mechanisms of reflexive social attention

In her recent research, Jelena Ristic has shown that young children and adults will automatically shift attention to the direction of another person's gaze. Gaze following behavior emerges shortly after birth, when babies start to follow their parents' faces and eyes as a cue to interesting events in their surroundings. Consequently, gaze following has been tied to developmental milestones such as language acquisition and social cognitive development.

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2002

Effect of a training program on postural reflexes in individuals with chronic stroke: A randomized controlled study

Stroke is the number one cause of neurological disability in Canada. Following a stroke, people may experience paralysis, or loss of motor function, in the muscles controlling one side of the body. As a result, people with stroke can have difficulty maintaining balance when standing or walking. In fact, the incidence of falls among people who have had a stroke has been reported as high as 73 per cent within a six-month period following the stroke.

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2002

Pharmacogenetics of codeine metabolism to morphine in pediatric dental patients

Pharmacogenetics-the study of how genetic makeup affects an individual's response to drugs-fascinates Evan Kwong. The field addresses the underlying causes of why drugs may affect people differently, bringing the study of genetics into a practical, clinical setting. In the future, having access to a patient's genetic profile could help clinicians more quickly and accurately select the right therapy. Evan's research focuses on the common painkiller codeine, which produces pain relief as it is metabolized into morphine by a liver enzyme.

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2002

Identification and characterization of proteins that interact with the androgen receptor to modulate its activity

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. Advanced prostate cancer is often treated with androgen withdrawal therapy, which blocks the growth-promoting effects of androgens (such as testosterone). Unfortunately, while this treatment is initially effective in reducing prostate growth, the usual outcome is an untreatable, androgen-independent form of cancer, where the prostate gland grows without androgens. Latif Wafa is investigating how this change to androgen-independent growth occurs.

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2002

The role of the integrin-linked kinase in intestinal inflammation

Affecting roughly one in 1,000 people in western populations, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions cause chronic inflammation of the large and small bowel and ultimately lead to severe tissue damage. Current therapies can relieve and treat symptoms, but neither a cause nor a cure has been established for these disorders. It is believed that integrin-linked kinase, an enzyme that is known to be responsible for a number of different cellular functions, may play a key role in IBD.

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2002

Insights into the molecular interaction within the Hepatitis C virus heterodimeric serine protease: A prime target for therapeutic intervention

An estimated quarter million Canadians are infected with the hepatitis C virus, a chronic disease that inflames and damages the liver and, in some people, can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. There is currently no effective therapy to treat hepatitis C, nor any vaccine to prevent its transmission. Morgan Martin is studying the function of the HCV NS3 protease, an enzyme required for the hepatitis C virus to make copies of itself inside a cell. Morgan hopes to better understand how this interaction works, so she can identify potential ways to interfere with its functioning.

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2002

The influence of Lipid Transfer Protein I on the binding and transfer of Cyclosporine A between lipoproteins

Mona Kwong's research focuses on gaining a better understanding of how the body responds to drugs whose molecular structure is similar to that of lipids (fatty, waxy or oily compounds that are major structural components of living cells). Mona is studying cyclosporine, a drug with a lipid-like structure that is used primarily to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients. One of the major potential complications of cyclosporine is that it can behave differently from one patient to the next. For example, a dosage that works for one person may cause toxicity in another.

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2002

RNA expression profiles of ABC transporters in fetal liver and acute myeloid leukemia side population stem cells

Stem cells have the unique ability to develop into different types of tissue cells in the human body, and are often involved in the onset of cancer, especially leukemia. Like other cells in the body, stem cells activate a diverse family of proteins that pump different substances in and out of cells, called ABC transporters. In normal cells, these proteins pump toxic substances out and useful ones in. But some of these proteins also pump anti-cancer drugs out of cancer cells, causing the treatment to fail.

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2002

The neuromuscular and sensorimotor basis of balance recovery

Falls and related injuries cause loss of independence, reduce quality of life, and increase mortality among elderly people. Fall-related injuries cost Canadians $3.6 billion in 1995. Consequently, reducing the incidence and severity of falls is an important health priority. Dawn Mackey is comparing young and elderly study participants to measure the variables that govern our ability to recover balance following unexpected movements. Maintaining a stable upright posture is essential to daily activities such as walking, turning and rising. However, postural stability declines as we age.

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2002

A finite element model of the spinal cord

The way spinal cord tissue responds to different forces is not well understood. Carolyn Greaves is designing a specialized computer model of the spinal cord and its surrounding structures to measure the impact of different types of injury. This type of model of the spinal cord, called a finite element model, has never been developed before. The model will provide detailed measurements of spinal cord response to internal stresses, strains, and pressure changes in spinal fluid, as well as the impact on blood vessels, grey matter (nerve cell bodies) and white matter (nerve fibres).

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2002

The Perception and Utilization of Herbals and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAMs) Among Older Adults with Arthritis

Research has shown that a growing number of older adults with chronic illness are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to manage their pain and chronic illness. But little is known about why people choose these approaches, or how use of complementary and alternative medicine is associated with changes in health status over time. Kristine Votova will address these questions by using powerful and cutting edge statistical tools to analyze data from the Longitudinal Panel of the National Population Health Survey.

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2001

Domestic violence victims' appraisals of future risk: The Impact of trauma symptoms on the accuracy of risk appraisals and safety planning

Research suggests spouse abuse victims, particularly those experiencing severe psychological trauma, may underestimate their risk for future violence from their partners and, therefore, be less likely to engage in safety planning. Dr. Tonia Nicholls is advancing that research by examining how psychological, social and environmental factors impact women's appraisals of risk of future abuse and ultimately, their willingness to seek help. Nicholls will contrast the subjective risk appraisals of battered women with objective risk appraisals made with structured risk assessment measures.

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2001

First Nations Metaphors of Health and Trauma

Drawing from decade-long work experience as a pediatric nurse with children and adolescents in crisis, and academic work in developmental psychology, comparative literature and analysis of narratives, Dr. Ulrich Teucher is studying cross-cultural differences in young people's sense of identity and concepts of health. Teucher hopes the research, which involves visiting remote First Nations communities, will improve understanding of these differences and provide a clearer view of what good health means to First Nations youth.

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2001

The effects of Sexualized Images and Stress on Body Image and Dieting: An Evolutionary Perspective

Why are so many women preoccupied with being thin? And why does this pre-occupation lead to eating disorders in certain women? Dr. Catherine Salmon is addressing these questions in her research by exploring the theory that pre-occupation for thinness and dieting could be part of an ancestral practice of exercising control over reproduction. Research has shown that females facing social or ecological conditions that are unfavourable for childbearing can sometimes delay reproduction until the situation improves. One way of doing this has been by reducing body fat to suppress ovulation.

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2001

Developing an effective and efficient health care delivery system for Canadians at the end-of-life

In the mid-eighties, while working as a palliative care nurse, Dr. Kelli Stajduhar cared for a young man dying from AIDS. A few years later, her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and died. Both received less than optimal care at the end of their lives. Stajduhar was profoundly affected by those experiences, which gave her a strong desire to examine ways to improve care and support for people at the end-of-life. Stajduhar's PhD research focused on the provision of home-based care for people who are dying, and its impact on family caregivers.

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2001

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