People we've funded

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Development and regulation of individual mammalian CNS synapses

A single central neuron can receive signals from up to 50,000 other neurons, which each connect to the central neuron across a synaptic junction. Dr. Timothy Murphy studies individual synapses in the mammalian central nervous system to determine how each contact develops and is regulated. The development and functioning of these individual connections are believed to be building blocks in creating and strengthening the neuronal networks for learning and memory. Dr. Murphy and his colleagues are investigating a number of aspects related to individual synapses.

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2002

Postsynaptic regulation of neurotransmission

In studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow our brains to learn and remember, Dr. Yu Tian Wang is changing researchers' understanding of how signals are transmitted throughout the nervous system. Dr. Wang recently came to BC - bringing 12 members of his lab with him - to set up a new laboratory at UBC's Brain Research Centre and continue his studies on how neurons (brain cells) communicate with one another. Neurons transmit information through a process known as synaptic transmission.

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2002

Functional interactions between basolateral amygdala and mesocortical dopamine inputs to the medical prefrontal cortex: Electrophysiological and behavioral analyses

As part of a complex, interconnected neural network, the brain's prefrontal cortex plays an important role in integrating emotional information for complex forms of cognition, such as planning, behavioural flexibility, decision-making and working memory (e.g. remembering a phone number just long enough to write it down). The amygdala — a brain structure residing in the temporal lobe — provides emotional information to the prefrontal cortex. Mesocortical dopamine transmission in the frontal lobes is also important in higher order cognitive processes.

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2002

Molecular pathology of familial gastric cancer

Dr. David Huntsman is one of a growing number of health researchers who are equally interested in answering research questions and translating their findings into better clinical care. As a clinician scientist, Dr. Huntsman identifies and studies susceptibility genes for cancer - specific genes that increase a person's risk for getting a certain type of cancer. Previously, he and his research team detected mutations in a gene called E-cadherin in one-third of families with extreme histories of early onset stomach cancer.

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2002

Investigations of Parkinson's Disease with quantitative high resolution PET imaging

Affecting approximately 80,000 Canadians, Parkinson's disease is characterized by the lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Symptoms include progressive impairment of motor function and a significant impact on quality of life. Dr. Vesna Sossi is a medical physicist who brings her expertise in the physics of nuclear imaging to advance understanding of the pathogenesis, progression and specific manifestations of Parkinson's disease, as well as the biochemical results of therapeutic interventions.

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2002

Statistical techniques for genomic research

Genomics is the study of how the information contained in a genome gives rise to organisms and their functioning. This relatively new field of research analyzes vast amounts of data to uncover biological trends that help scientists understand how genes function in living systems. Dr. Jenny Bryan is working to develop new quantitative methods and statistical frameworks required for analysis of large functional genomics data sets. Her work addresses how researchers can find patterns and themes in complex, multidimensional genomic data. With colleagues, Dr.

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2002

Children's mental health: Linking research evidence and policy making

How can we ensure that public policies in children's mental health reflect the best available research evidence about what works to help children. This is the research focus for Dr. Charlotte Waddell, who is exploring ways to strengthen the links between new research knowledge and policy making. At any given time, up to 20 per cent of children experience mental health problems that affect their emotions, learning and behaviour, and interfere with their development. This creates a large burden of suffering for these children, their families and their communities.

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2002

Studying the health care workers: A program of research on the relationships between work and health

The face of health care and the working environment for health care workers in Canada is changing, bringing increasing job complexity, an aging work force, changes in the delivery of patient care, and concerns for employee recruitment and retention. These changes have been coupled with cost containment strategies - such as restructuring - that alter the resources that staff have available to do their work. Dr. Mieke Koehoorn's research focuses on how the work environment affects the health and well-being of health care workers in BC.

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2002

The impact of changing work and community conditions on the health of workers and their children in BC resource dependent communities

Health research has established a strong link between socio-economic status and health outcomes. However, in BC's resource-dependent communities, the income and social status situations for many workers vary throughout their working lives as a result of changing technologies and labour market conditions. Downsizing and restructuring in the labour market often results in greater frequency and duration of unemployment.

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2002

Ecological approaches to understanding health behavior and outcomes among youth

In spite of prevention programs that target risky sexual behaviours in youth, many BC teens continue to experience serious health and social problems related to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancies. However, there are significant variations in the incidence of teen pregnancy and STDs among rural and remote BC communities. Terrace, for example, has relatively high rates, while 100 Mile House has lower rates than the provincial norm. Dr. Jean Shoveller is studying the factors that contribute to this variation in sexual health outcomes among youth.

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2002

Community partnership research in population health promotion: The development of tools and measures for planning and evaluation

Strong evidence suggests that the health system is not the primary factor determining the health of Canadians. Non-medical factors - such as income, social support, education, employment, housing, health practices, child development, gender and culture - are crucial determinants of health and quality of life. Regional health authorities across BC are increasingly taking a population health approach, which addresses these non-medical factors, in community-based initiatives.

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2002

Paracrine processes in prostate cancer progression

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, the cancer eventually progresses to an androgen-independent state, allowing for tumour growth without androgens. Dr. Michael Cox is studying how prostate tumour cells with neuroendocrine characteristics contribute to the disease's progression to androgen independence.

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2002

Molecular basis of toxoplasma pathogenesis

While there has been significant research conducted about how bacteria and viruses cause disease, in comparison, relatively little is known about eukaryotic pathogenic processes - specifically, the disease-causing mechanisms of parasitic protozoans, which are single-celled, nucleated organisms. Dr. Michael Grigg is investigating the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, a common eukaryotic pathogen capable of infecting essentially any nucleated cell in most warm-blooded species. This highly successful parasite currently infects close to one-third of the human population.

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2002

Molecular study of interaction between mycobacterium tuberculosis and the macrophage endosomal compartment: An approach to identify mycobacterial virulence factors

Much of the resurgence of tuberculosis during the past decade can be attributed to the fast spread of new bacterial strains that are resistant to the conventional anti-tuberculosis drugs. New therapeutic strategies are urgently needed, requiring a better understanding of the interaction of the causal agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, with the host cells. Monocyte/macrophages are the principal targets for mycobacterium. These cells possess a powerful intracellular killing mechanism and play an essential role in the clearance of bacteria.

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2002

Improving patient safety: Costs and effects count

Health economist Dr. Rebecca Warburton is analyzing the costs and effects of interventions to reduce the accidental harm caused by health care. Her research aims to provide a rational basis for establishing priorities among policies and programs for reducing errors. The US Institute of Medicine’s estimate that 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of preventable hospital mistakes has raised public awareness of errors in health care and focused attention on reducing risks and harm to patients.

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2002

Literacy and health research

Low levels of literacy have been associated with poor health, poor understanding of treatment, greater use of health services, low adherence to treatment regimens, and poverty and unemployment. Considering that more than 40 per cent of Canadians fell into the two lowest categories of literacy in the 1994 International Literacy Survey, this is cause for concern. Recruited to BC from the University of Toronto, Dr. Irving Rootman is developing and implementing a research program on literacy and health in British Columbia.

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2002

The effects of two training regimens on body balance, reaction time, muscle strength and bone strength in postmenopausal women with Osteoporosis: A six-month RCT

Because they have low bone mass, women with osteoporosis are at increased risk of fractures caused by falls. Reducing both bone loss and the risk of falling are essential in helping women prevent fractures. While previous research has shown that regular physical activity can optimize bone health and reduce the risk of falling by improving muscle strength, reaction time, and balance, little is known about what types of exercises are most effective.

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2002

Culture, self-concept, and the presentation of distress: Implication for depression

A wide range of behaviours and physical symptoms can accompany depression. Cultural background may also influence how a person expresses depression symptoms. In China, where a low depression rate has long been reported, depressed patients are thought to be more likely to describe physical symptoms while de-emphasizing psychological problems; the reverse is true with non-Chinese in Canada. This raises the possibility that clinicians have misdiagnosed depressed Chinese patients.

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2002

Epidemiology, genetics and molecular biology of a virulence-associated bacteriophage of Chalamydia pneumoniae

Dr. Karuna P. Karunakaran is exploring a mystery around how Chlamydia pneumoniae (an infectious bacteria) is implicated in atherosclerosis (hardening of the inside of the arteries). While a strong link has been established between C. pneumoniae and atherosclerosis, 60 to 80 per cent of the adult population is infected with the bacteria with no apparent ill effects. One explanation may be that some strains of the bacteria are more capable of causing vascular disease than others, due to genetic variation. In fact, one strain of C.

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2002

Endocrine mechanisms of bone mass and structural changes in prepubertal, over-and normal weight Asian and Caucasian boys: Associations with increased exercise and body composition

Based on her previous research on pediatric bone health, Dr. Kerry MacKelvie believes that perhaps the greatest hope for preventing osteoporosis in later life is to intervene during childhood. Kerry has studied how high impact exercise affects bone mass and structural changes during growth, and she has investigated the effects of ethnic background on bone health. Now Kerry is bringing together in one study an investigation of all the factors that may contribute to bone strength during childhood: exercise, hormones, body mass and composition, and ethnicity.

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2002

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