Trainee Award

Prediction and prevention of autoimmune diabetes mellitus

Jacqueline Trudeau's research focuses on autoimmune disease - disorders that cause the immune system to destroy normal body tissues. She's specifically interested in how a specific type of immune cell, T-cells, are mistakenly activated in autoimmune disorders. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which T-cells destroy insulin-producing B-cells in the pancreas. This leads to hyperglycemia (high blood glucose), insulin dependence and other complications associated with diabetes.

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2001

Molecular Basis of Mammary Epithelial Cell Polarization

Aruna Somasiri has long been interested in how cells function at the molecular level. Somasiri believes understanding errors in cell regulation will provide the most valuable information in designing treatments for cancer. He's contributing to that knowledge by investigating the process that causes benign cancer tumours to metastasize - travel from their original tissue and form secondary tumours that are difficult to eliminate. Research has revealed that certain disruptions to cellular activity influence this process.

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2001

Characterization of murine macrophage responses to Salmonella typhimurium infection

Carrie Rosenberger's research focuses on Salmonella, the bacteria responsible for an estimated 16 million cases of typhoid fever worldwide each year. Research has shown that Salmonella typhimurium, a strain of the bacteria, causes widespread disease by penetrating the inner membrane of the intestinal wall and residing in macrophages (immune cells that normally help destroy bacteria). Rosenberger is investigating how Salmonella typhimurium avoids destruction by altering macrophage genes.

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2001

The Role of Presenilin Genes in Learning and Memory in C. elegans may Reveal Early Occurring Memory Deficits in Alzheimer's Disease

Jacqueline Rose aims to answer crucial questions about learning and memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease. In the later stages of the disease, patients' memory and cognitive abilities decrease, eventually leading to dementia and death. Early detection of Alzheimer's is difficult because a large amount of brain dysfunction must occur before memory and cognitive disabilities become evident. However, researchers have been able to link mutations in a group of genes, called Presenilins, to the most aggressive form of Alzheimer's, called Familial Alzheimer's Disease.

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2001

Growth and Signaling pathways involved in prostate cancer progression

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in North American men. Treatment of the disease often involves blocking testosterone, an important regulator of cell survival and division in the prostate. But prostate tumours can eventually survive and grow even without testosterone, and once this occurs, there is no alternative therapy. Dr. Sandra Krueckl is investigating changes within cells that lead to testosterone-independence and progression of prostate cancer.

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2001

The role of SHIP in normal and aberrant macrophage and osteoclast development and function

Michael Rauh believes the best approach to health research is to acquire insights from patients, and then to explore those insights in the laboratory. That's why he's enrolled in a combined MD/PhD program at UBC to become a clinician-scientist. Rauh's research focuses on the molecular pathways that lead to the development of cancer cells. His particular interest involves the SHIP gene and its possible use as a therapeutic target in the treatment and prevention of leukemia and other diseases such as osteoporosis.

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2001

Metabolism and Inactivation of Glucagon by Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (DPIV)

John Pospisilik's research centres on glucagon, an important hormone involved in regulating blood sugar levels between meals. Glucagon prevents hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) by releasing sugar stored in liver, fat and muscle. While type 1 and type 2 diabetes both involve excessive release of glucagon, until recently, little was known about how the body inactivates and clears glucagons from the blood stream. Pospisilik contributed to research that showed the DP IV enzyme may inactivate glucagon.

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2001

The Role of the Rap1 GTPase in B Lymphocyte Migration and Adhesion

Sarah McLeod is examining the role of a protein, Rap 1 GTPase, in regulating essential cells in the immune system. In her previous research, McLeod discovered that this protein activates after B cells bind with antigens (substances that stimulate an immune response). Now McLeod is furthering that research by studying whether activation of the protein regulates the B cell activity, which enables the cells to produce antibodies for defense against harmful microbes and other infectious agents.

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2001

Temperature Dependence of the Cardiac Sodium Calcium Exchanger

Mortality associated with open-heart surgery is two to three times higher in newborns than in adults. Christian Marshall believes this is due to a lack of knowledge about heart function in newborns, including how the neonatal heart responds to surgery. He's focusing, in particular, on the inability of newborn heart cells to control calcium levels. When unregulated, calcium can initiate destructive events leading to cell death.

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2001

Transgenic mouse models of congenital malignancies via expression of the ETV6-NTRK3 oncoprotein

During his Master's research Christopher Lannon studied sensitivity to chemotherapy in adult and pediatric leukemias. Now Lannon is focusing on childhood cancers, which are biologically distinct from adult cancers and therefore present unique and interesting research challenges. He's investigating a childhood tumour known as congenital fibrosarcoma (CFS). Several pediatric tumours, including CFS, are characterized by the fusion of two normal genes to form an abnormal fusion gene.

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2001

Anticancer Drug Penetration into Solid Tumors

Solid tumours consist of a complex network of blood vessels surrounded by normal and malignant cells. They pose a particular challenge in the effort to develop anti-cancer drugs because malignant cell growth results in the development of regions in solid tumours that are resistant to radiation therapy. Anti-cancer drugs must overcome the barriers this environment poses, but there are currently no standard techniques for assessing a drug's penetration in tumours. Alastair Kyle is addressing that gap by studying two techniques to examine the penetration of existing and new anti-cancer drugs.

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2001

Structural Determinants of Kvl.5 Inactivation

Harley Kurata wants to contribute to the development of highly specific drugs with low toxicity for treating arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). He's focusing on potassium channels, the proteins that play a critically important role in regulating heartbeat. Because it is difficult to study potassium channels in isolated human heart cells, his research involves cloning genes to create these proteins in the laboratory. Kurata's goal is to reveal how individual parts of the potassium channels are involved in regulating the channels' function.

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2001

The characterization of bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs) from SH2-containing inositol 5'-phosphatase (SHIP) knock-out mice

In 1996, Dr. Gerald Krystal's lab identified and cloned a protein named SHIP. Janet Kalesnikoff, a doctoral student studying with Krystal, is examining how SHIP regulates mast cell function. Mast cells are activated by a number of different antigens/allergens, which bind to IgE antibodies on the surface of mast cells. IgE-induced mast cell activation results in the release of chemicals (eg. histamine) which are responsible for the common symptoms of allergic reactions such as hay fever and asthma. Studies in Dr.

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2001

The Role of Homeobox Transcription Factors in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Function

For her Master's research, Rhonna Gurevich studied the prevention of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cardiac cells. Now she's examining the genes that transform normal blood cells into malignant ones in leukemia patients. Gurevich is focusing on hematopoietic stem cells, which can self-renew to produce more stem cells with non-specific function or divide to create highly specialized cells to replace others that die or are lost. Maintaining the balance between stem cell self-renewal and division is a tightly controlled process.

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2001

Synthesis and Evaluation of a Novel Class of Glycosidase Inhibitors for the Treatment of Type-2 Diabetes

Ahmad Ghavami's PhD research involved a rare South Asian plant containing compounds that could be helpful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The Salacia reticulata climbing plant has been used for centuries in treatment of diabetes in Sri Lanka and India. Researchers have isolated compounds from the plant and demonstrated their effectiveness in inhibiting glycosidases, the enzymes that break down starch into smaller sugars, and finally into glucose.

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2001

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