Creating the future of health
Marta Cyperling, Kyle Glennie, Krista Goheen, Gen Handley, Teresa Scarlett, Ian Weetman
Carlos Amat, John Gaucher, Charles Hope, Chris Kindratsky, Bruce Perrault, Jonathan Tam
Concept and Design
Kelly Budd, Radius Creative Thank you to all institute and centre staff for their contributions.
Page 2 | 2008-09 Research Report
2008-09 Research Report
Message from the Senior Associate Dean, Research
Hotchkiss Brain Institute
The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation
4 6 8
Institute for Child and Maternal Health
Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta
McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health
Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute
Centre for Health and Policy Studies
Centre for Advanced Technologies
Graduate Science Education
Calgary Centre for Clinical Research
Chairs and Professorships
Financial Statements 2007 - 2008
2008-09 Research Report | Page 3
Dr. Richard Hawkes
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Imagination improving health Planning for the future–while reflecting on the success and changes that have encompassed the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine over the past year– has been one of the most challenging and enjoyable endeavors I’ve undertaken as Senior Associate Dean, Research.
In the last decade, the emergence of our six institutes–whose successes over the last 12 months are outlined in these pages, along with our other core research centres–triggered a shift in our organizational structure which is now coming to fruition. This is best demonstrated by the completion of the Health Research Innovation Centre and the Teaching, Resource & Wellness building. This project represents the most ambitious investment in basic and translational science facilities since the creation of the Faculty. Together, these buildings have almost doubled our research space, and set the stage for the research of the future.
Planning for the future As par t of our continued effor ts to translate biomedical research rapidly from our laboratories to clinics and hospitals, we’ve developed a comprehensive Research Strategic Plan to guide us into the next decade and beyond. Advancing health and wellness is not only a strategic academic priority of the Faculty and the University, but also one of the most prominent social issues in Canada. This priority requires strong, fundamental biomedical research which is then translated from the laborator y to clinical practice and new health policy for the benefit of society as a whole. Our six current institutes–a number that will soon increase to seven as the Centre for Health and Policy Studies transforms into the Calgar y Institute for Population and Public Health (see page 18)–embody the research priorities of the Faculty of Medicine. Our key strategic resources–such as research space, fundraising and recruitment oppor tunities, and access to major funding programs–are focused through them. We believe this strategic commitment to Faculty-based academic institutes will ser ve to differentiate us from other sites for biomedical research.
funding and our research space have all roughly doubled. Right now, we have almost 1800 faculty members, 37 Canada Research Chairs and 46 endowed chairs and professorships. Our total annual research funding exceeded $130 million last year, and we also received over $300 million in philanthropic suppor t through Reach!, the fundraising par tnership between the University of Calgar y and Alber ta Health Ser vices. Thanks to these developments the Faculty of Medicine has gained recognition as a leader in health research globally. None of this is evidenced more clearly than by the presentation of the Gairdner International Award to Dr. Samuel Weiss, one of the most prestigious honours in science. Dr. Weiss, director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the Faculty of Medicine, was the first to discover neural stem cells in the adult brain, a breakthrough that may one day enable scientists to stimulate the growth of new ner ve tissue in the brain and replace dying or damaged cells. His is just one of the many accomplishments of our Faculty, more of which are outlined in this repor t.
Together we make a difference Of course, none of this would be possible without our primar y par tner, Alber ta Health Ser vices, the major funding agencies that suppor t our faculty members and the hundreds of agencies and individuals who generously give to our Faculty. Together they provide the financial suppor t and hard work that drives our research and development. To all those involved in our daily research effor ts, who have par ticipated in one of our clinical trials, or have kindly donated their time or financial suppor t, I sincerely thank you.
Driven by success As we move for ward with our Research Strategic Plan, we sit on top of a wave of achievement. Over the past seven years, our number of faculty members, our peer-reviewed research
Richard Hawkes, Senior Associate Dean, Research Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgar y
2008-09 Research Report | Page 5
The Hotchkiss Brain Institute The Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) brings together more than 120 basic and clinical scientists that are dedicated to advancing neurological and mental health research and education. In 2008, our membership had over 280 papers published in peer reviewed scientific journals, and secured approximately $25 million in competitive funding from external agencies. The Institute success rate securing competitive funding is more than 50%, which is higher than national averages. These facts are a testament to the excellence of our people and programs. In addition to the success of our researchers in 2008, the HBI realized several exciting highlights, all of which have enhanced the Institute’s ability to be a centre of excellence in neuroscience and mental health research and education. In June, the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies was officially opened. Located within the Health Research Innovation Centre at the Foothills Medical Complex, the Boone Pickens Centre provides over 2800 square meters of much needed research space and valuable infrastructure. A total of 11 laboratories moved into this new space and will continue their research in epilepsy, movement disorders and spinal cord injuries. The HBI’s focus on mental health and addictions combined with support from Alberta Health Services resulted in the successful recruitment of top mental health professionals in 2008. Jean Addington, PhD., whose expertise is in the early detection and prevention of psychosis, and Dr. Glenda MacQueen, the new head of Psychiatry, will certainly lend strength to the HBI’s strategic priority in mental health research (see article). The Institute’s commitment to providing exceptional training to the next generation of neuroscience researchers had several HBI members spearheading a new undergraduate specialization in neuroscience at UCalgary. These efforts culminated in the recent approval of the new neuroscience undergraduate degree program. For the first time in Alberta, students will be able to study neuroscience from the undergraduate to post-graduate level at one institution. This unique and innovative training program will remove the barriers that have traditionally existed between the classroom, clinic and laboratory allowing trainees to move seamlessly between basic science labs, medical wards, surgical theatres, and advanced imaging facilities. While the HBI as a whole achieved these and many other successes in the last 12 months, Samuel Weiss, PhD, earned his own incredible honour. The director of the HBI was presented with a Gairdner International award, one of the most prestigious in science, for his discovery of neural stem cells in the adult brain. He is the first scientist to win the award for research conducted at the University of Calgary. None of our research advancements and discoveries would be possible if it weren’t for the generous contributions made by our donors and funding agencies, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research.
New mental health centre taking aim at debilitating illness Mental illness is the most costly illness to society, contributing more to disability than any other disease. It is also devastating to families and our communities, with one in five Canadians personally experiencing a mental illness in their lifetime. Yet even though these staggering mental health statistics exist, it still lags behind other health areas in terms of research, resources and knowledge. These facts are the reason why the UCalgary Faculty of Medicine–in partnership with Alberta Health Services and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI)–has announced the creation of The Mental Health Centre for Research and Education. “We will understand mental illness better when we understand the links between the physiology of the brain and emotions, thoughts and behaviours. Research allows us to increase our understanding of the factors contributing to mental health,” explains Dr. Glenda MacQueen, who will act as the Centre’s interim director. MacQueen is a new recruit to the Faculty of Medicine, and was named head of the Depar tment of Psychiatr y in September 2008. In addition to her leadership skills, she is renowned for her research into mood disorders, studying structural and functional brain changes and the factors that predict outcome in those disorders. Mental health is a key priority for the Faculty of Medicine and with the leadership of the HBI, the recruitment of an outstanding team of researchers represents an oppor tunity to make a significant impact on our understanding of mental health. “The HBI develops and supports research and education programs that focus on neurological and mental health issues,” says Samuel Weiss, PhD, director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. “Along with its partners, the HBI is providing the vehicle for these experts to work together to provide better solutions and treatments for our local and global community.” The centre will specialize in the prevention, detection and early intervention in mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia/psychosis, and addictions. MacQueen will lead a group of distinguished mental health researchers aiming to improve outcomes for those suffering with mental illness. The list includes Jean Addington, PhD, who in November 2008 was named Research Chair in Child and Adolescent Mental Health through the Alberta Centennial Mental Health Research Chair program. “Increased research will help us gain knowledge and understanding about the onset of psychosis and how to best help these young people,” says Addington. “We want to offer them the best opportunity to live full and productive lives.”
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Dr. Peter Stys in his lab, where he uses highly advanced laser systems to understand the molecular structure of nerves.
Engineering new treatments for damaged brain and nerve cells Sometimes the key to solving an old problem is to look at it in a new way. For Naweed Syed, PhD, head of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at UCalgar y Faculty of Medicine, and research director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, that new perspective came at a Calgar y Stampeders’ game. “My cell phone rang and I starting thinking about how remarkable it was that there I am, one of some 20,000 people in a busy stadium and that signal finds its way just to my phone.” It occurred to him that if engineers have figured out how to target and track individual cell phones by using only seven digits, perhaps neuroscientists could apply this principle to communicate with select neurons in the brain. That same idea–using electrical signals to direct ner ve cell fibers to the right place–is at the heart of the Western Canada Regeneration Initiative. The research project, which draws upon a unique multidisciplinar y approach, is working on a technology that represents a major step for ward in understanding how to best heal and re-grow damaged ner ve cells. “This research is so important because we’ve seen very little progress in the field of nerve cell regeneration over the last few decades,” says Syed. “When someone suffers a spinal cord injury, the scar tissue that forms becomes like a cement block. Although cells want to grow, there is nowhere to go for them. Until now, researchers hadn’t found a way to guide the growth of the nerve fibres through that scar tissue, so these are unfortunately permanent injuries.” Now, thanks to a team of neuroscientists, brain surgeons, electrical engineers and neurologists from three different universities, a technology is in the works that offers new hope. Researchers from UCalgary, the University of Alberta, and the University of Saskatchewan are developing a tube-shaped microchip that will send out electrical signals to encourage nerve fibres to grow and reconnect to one another. The electrical signals on the microchip will serve as traffic directors, guiding the nerve cells to grow and connect toward specific pathways. The idea is that scar tissue could be bypassed, putting nerve communication back on track. “Through the use of biomedical engineering, we now have the first glimpse of the very real prospect of being able to repair brain and nerve cells,” explains Syed. “This could mean a new life for people who have suffered spinal cord injuries and other forms of untreatable nerve damage.”
Battling neurological disorders on both fronts For part of his day, Dr. Peter Stys is a medical researcher, appointed as the Dr. Frank LeBlanc Chair in Spinal Cord Research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. A renowned clinical scientist and imaging expert, Stys and his research team use highly advanced laser systems to understand the molecular structure of ner ves and why they fail. But it is the other part of his day that Stys says lends urgency to the research he does in his lab. “I’m a clinical neurologist so I see patients regularly and get a first hand look at the disability and devastation of strokes or diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS),” Stys explains. “So when it comes to treatments and our understanding of the nervous system, I come at it from two different perspectives. On the one hand, as a researcher, I’m continually humbled by the complexity of the human brain and I know it will take time to come up with answers. But then I walk down the hospital wards and see patients and I want it to happen faster.” The clinician and the scientist come together per fectly at UCalgary’s new Rotary Flames Laboratory for Spinal Cord Research. The lab, which opened in fall 2008, is led by Stys and has been designed to support patient focused research. The goal is to move new treatments from the lab into patient care practice more quickly and effectively than before. The focus in the lab is on studying white matter injuries–the way ner ve fibers and their supporting cells die in spinal cord injuries, MS and other common disorders such as strokes. The advanced laser imaging used makes it one of only a handful of labs in the world to use live tissue imaging to study the interactions between living neurons and their coatings, or myelin. Studying how ner ve fibers die brings researchers one step closer to learning how to treat those white matter injuries, and potentially limit or even reverse some of the damage. “Some people say ‘TGIF’ but I star t each week saying ‘TGIM’– Thank God It’s Monday–because with each new week we are making strides in our lab that are getting us closer to having the answers we need,” says Stys. “We know the need is great and our hope is that in the ver y near future we will have knowledge that will translate into new and better treatments for people who have suffered devastating brain and spinal cord injuries.”
Dr. Samuel Weiss, Director | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | www.hbi.ucalgary.ca | firstname.lastname@example.org
2008-09 Research Report | Page 7
The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder
Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Over the last two years, the Institute has grown from 73 full members and 18 associate members, to the current 99 full members and 28 associate members. With its vision of “Scientific Innovation Today for a Healthy Tomorrow,” the Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation (Snyder Institute) has made significant strides over the last two years. Through this vision, the Snyder Institute has brought together members with multi-disciplinary expertise, and resources from a number of individual groups that each have an interest in infection, the immune system, or both. These groups include Gastroenterology, Diabetes, Hepatology, Microbiology, Bacterial Pathogenesis, GI, Inflammation Research Network, Transplantation, Respiratory Medicine, Immunology and Critical Care Medicine, and Infectious Diseases & related projects in the Calgary Laboratory Services. Over the last two years, the Snyder Institute has grown from 73 full members and 18 associate members, to the current 99 full members and 28 associate members. This has led to significant increases in the amount of funding dollars brought to the Institute, while creating new research opportunities. We have also forged partnerships with our new Faculty of Veterinary Medicine colleagues, and a number of them are joining the Snyder Institute. Four new initiatives have also been established by the Institute as it moves forward and continues to grow: • Microbial Communities Centre The Microbial Communities Centre is being established and will provide state-of-the-art equipment (Flow Cytometry, Xenogen), expertise and diagnostic facilities for the study of polymicrobial infections and optimal treatment. • Live Cell Imaging Facility This well established core facility provides training in imaging all aspects of the immune response from single cells in vitro, to in vivo imaging of the immune response and infection in the brain, liver, skin, muscle and other organs. It is funded by the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. • Snyder Laboratory for Translational Research This new facility supports clinical research and clinical trials with fundamental molecular biology and cell biology data. A metabolomics component is also being implemented, and the laboratory will eventually increase its capacity to provide more widespread support for the Snyder Institute. • Experimental Lung Suite The Experimental Lung Suite is a unique centre for translating basic pulmonary research into human research, leading to new approaches for patient care. Equipped with state-of-the-art radiographic and diagnostic technology, this facility will allow researchers to per form studies ranging from investigation into basic disease processes to testing of new drugs. Members can take pride in a number of highlights that have been achieved over the past year. The Snyder Institute was awarded an unprecedented three Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grants, totaling close to $25 million, and three Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Team Grants. The Institute also secured a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Team Grant in novel alternatives to antibiotics, and announced the creation of four chairs. They include the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada Chair, GlaxoSmith Kline Professorship in Inflammatory Lung Disease, Westaim ASRA Chair in Bacterial Biofilm Research, and the Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Chair in Critical Care Medicine. Page 8 | 2008-09 Research Report
High levels of air pollution may increase the risk of appendicitis For years scientists have been warning us about the negative affects pollution has on our environment and general health. Well now, thanks to research by Dr. Gilaad Kaplan, a member of the Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, we may be able to add appendicitis to that list. Kaplan and his team of researchers identified more than 5,000 adults who were hospitalized for appendicitis in Calgary between 1999 and 2006, and studied the relationship between air pollutants and the development of appendicitis. For the study, the researchers used data from Environment Canada that collects hourly levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter of varying sizes. The findings–presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Orlando, Florida–showed higher concentrations of air pollutants were associated with the occurrence of appendicitis in the population. The effect of air pollution was strongest during the summer months when people were more likely to be outside. “In developing countries appendicitis rarely occurs; however, as these nations become industrialized the incidence of appendicitis increases,” says Kaplan. “Our paper provides epidemiologic evidence that some cases of appendicitis may be triggered by exposures to air pollutants. This relationship may explain the drop in the incidence of appendicitis in North America and Europe in the latter part of the twentieth century”. Previous studies have shown air pollution can promote other disease states through inflammation, and this may be the mechanism by which air pollution increases the risk of appendicitis. Adult appendicitis is a common condition whose onset is unclear and almost universally requires surgery. Dr. Elijah Dixon, a Calgary surgeon who has operated on many appendicitis patients, says this new research is extremely important. “It represents a possible paradigm shift in our understanding of disease processes of the GI tract, and in this case appendicitis. It raises very interesting questions about disease pathophysiology, and possibly disease prevention for the future.”
David Proud, PhD, whose research suggests our immune systems are actually to blame for cold symptoms.
Cursing your cold symptoms? Blame your immune system
New research in fight against cystic fibrosis already benefiting patients
We’ve all had the displeasure of battling a cold in our lives. The sniffling, sneezing, runny nose and sore throat that usually accompanies a cold makes you want to stay in bed and let your immune system do its work. But according to new research from David Proud, PhD, a member of the Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, it’s aspects of our immune systems that are to blame for those cold symptoms.
“Typically I used to take a month to get healthy, now I’m out of the hospital in 10 days.”
Proud’s research, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, is the first study to comprehensively review gene changes during infections with rhinovirus, the major cause of the common cold. “The study’s findings are a major step toward more targeted cold prevention and treatment strategies while also serving as a valuable roadmap for the broader respiratory science community,” says Proud, the lead author of the study, and also a professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine. While colds are usually considered to be minor infections of the nose and throat, they can have much more serious health repercussions. “Rhinovirus is also an important pathogen in more serious conditions, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” Proud says. Children who get recurrent rhinovirus-induced wheezing in early life are 10 times more likely to develop asthma. Rhinovirus infections are also a major cause of acute attacks of asthma and COPD and, therefore, exert a huge impact on health care costs. In the past, researchers have measured specific compounds made by the body that may protect against a cold or may be triggered by a cold virus. This is the first time anyone has conducted a comprehensive assessment of what happens when a rhinovirus infects a person. It’s also the first time researchers have established that a recently discovered antiviral protein called viperin plays a role in our body’s defense against rhinovirus. That discovery will lead scientists to targeted study and treatments against the common cold. This assessment of gene changes was conducted using gene chip technology, per formed by scientists at Proctor & Gamble. With this technology, scientists can see every gene in the human genome, and observe how they respond to a stimulus, in this case a cold virus. The results of this study will open new lines of investigation into how rhinovirus impacts asthma and COPD. A new Experimental Lung Research Suite at the University of Calgary will be integral to developing new research strategies to aid patients with asthma and COPD.
That statement from Ian McKay, a 33 year-old patient at the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, is the reason Michael Surette’s research is so important. Surette, PhD, member of the Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation is doing what all UCalgary Faculty of Medicine researchers set out to do; transfer their findings from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside. Surette and his team, led by graduate student Chris Sibley and working with Dr. Harvey Rabin of the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic, have found a new method of fighting severe lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF), reducing the severity of their infections and improving their quality of life. The study was funded by the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the findings have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA. Communities of bacteria grow in the lungs of people with CF. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium found in these communities and is often associated with severe lung infections. P. aeruginosa represents a constant and ever present threat to the health of people with CF. “The more often patients get these acute infections, the more quickly their lungs and health deteriorates,” says Surette. His team’s research has found that a group of previously overlooked and often undetected bacteria, the Streptococcus milleri group (SMG), contribute to hospitalizations and can heighten the danger of P. aeruginosa. Currently, doctors treat P. aeruginosa with antibiotics, but the bacterium is increasingly becoming resistant to treatment. Surette’s research shows that simply targeting SMG disrupts the bacterial community, helping patients heal more quickly and suffer from fewer acute infections. Dr. Rabin has successfully tested this new approach at the Adult CF Clinic with patients admitted to hospital with severe lung infections. People treated with SMG-targeted therapies quickly returned to a stable state. Researchers looked at the 130 people treated at the CF Clinic over the past two years. “This is important new information,” says Surette. “In our patient group, the laboratory findings have been used to guide treatment, with positive results.” Those positive results have definitely had an impact on Ian McKay’s life. “With this treatment I now have peace of mind and confidence. I can have a quick dose of antibiotics and I’m back up to level.”
Dr. Paul Kubes, Director | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | www.iii.ucalgary.ca | email@example.com
2008-09 Research Report | Page 9
Institute for Child and Maternal Health The Institute for Child and Maternal Health (ICMH)–a partnership between the University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation –is dedicated to the study of human development from embryo into adulthood. Our institute brings together basic scientists, academic clinicians and clinician scientists scattered among different departments within the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services, particularly at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The ICMH’s vision of “healthy babies, healthy children and youth, healthy lives,” relates directly to our mission as an institute “to excel by international standards in the creation of knowledge and training of scientists and health professionals for the development of state of the art health care of mothers, children and communities.” Researchers in ICMH are organized into six theme groups: • Molecular and Genetic Basis of Development and Child Health • Reproductive, Maternal, Fetal and Newborn Health • Behavior and the Developing Brain • Pediatric Oncology • Innovations in Child Health Research • Healthy Living and Injury Prevention With this goal in mind, the Institute aspires to build on its reputation as a centre of excellence in maternal, newborn, child and youth health research and education. The ICMH also hopes to continue translating discoveries into better maternal, newborn, child and youth health for Albertans and others. We will strive to accomplish these goals through our desire to: • Facilitate the integration of research with care to ensure that discoveries in basic, translational and clinical research quickly lead to advances in maternal, newborn, child and youth health; • Foster provincial networks that facilitate population health and health services research, prevent injury, evaluate new therapies, and advocate for advancement of policy promoting healthy, productive lives for newborns, children, youth and families; • Recruit and train the next generation of basic, clinical, health service and population health researchers in disease and societal factors adversely affecting newborns, children, youth and families; • Create research and training opportunities in the pediatric sciences through interactions with academia, government, industry and other partners; • Be an authoritative source of information on maternal, newborn, child and youth health for Albertans and others. The Institute for Child and Maternal Health would like extend a special thank you to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, which is our benefactor and partner. Without their continued support, the vision and mission of which the ICMH endeavours to achieve would not be possible.
Exploring the relationship between motor coordination and health A lack of coordination might make it difficult to play a lot of sports, but one UCalgary Faculty of Medicine researcher is looking at how it affects your overall health. As someone who is physically active herself, Marja Cantell, PhD, is determined to find out why a certain portion of the population isn’t as coordinated as others, and how this influences their physical and psychological well-being. “There’s so much attention on health and body weight right now that I wonder if this is one of the unknown at-risk groups that should be looked at more carefully,” says Cantell, a member of the Institute for Child and Maternal Health. Cantell studied three groups–children, adolescents and adults– and established that those with low motor competence engaged in less vigorous physical activity and were at risk of unhealthy body weight. She discovered that in adults especially, poor coordination compromised their fitness. “Those with lower motor competence don’t get the full benefit of physical activity and it’s tough for these individuals to find activities they can enjoy and participate in,” Cantell explains. The prevalence of poor motor skills or Developmental Coordination Disorder, as officially defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ranges from five to 15% of the population. Not only can certain everyday activities, such as cycling, feel awkward for these individuals, but they also can become fatigued easily because of their inefficient movement patterns.
“It is not very well-known that having motor problems can be hard on your physical and psychological well-being.” The cause of the problem is still unknown, making it challenging to diagnose and prescribe specific interventions. It is thought that children with atypical or slow motor development will catch up with their peers, but follow-up studies show half of those with childhood motor problems will continue experiencing them into adulthood. Cantell hopes her exercise and health psychology research will attract more interest to this relatively unknown area of developmental disorders. “Because many fitness tests require good motor skills, there is a risk the testing might not measure the person’s actual fitness level,” says Cantell. “There needs to be more awareness of coordination problems as a barrier to physically active lifestyle. Only by making sure individuals feel comfortable in participating in physical activity can we create an active adult population, and prevent the development of unhealthy body weight and other chronic conditions related to it.”
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Dr. Shabih Hasan studies the effects of smoking on infants.
Smoking out SIDS As a pediatrician in London, England, Dr. Shabih Hasan noticed a consistent symptom in babies who had tragically died from sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. “They were all extremely warm when they came in, their bodies were almost hot,” explains Hasan, a member of the Institute for Child and Maternal Health. These first-hand experiences planted a seed of curiosity in Hasan, who is now a professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine. After coming to southern Alberta in 1988, he began a series of studies that looked at possible factors in SIDS deaths. The results he and his research team found in tests with baby rat pups were startling, and explained why so many of these babies were warm when they came to emergency. “We discovered that high temperatures and low oxygen can seriously jeopardize normal breathing patterns in babies.”
“If you smoke, it has further adverse affects on the ability of babies to recover from breathing pauses and low blood oxygen values.” Hasan says babies are particularly vulnerable in the winter months when furnaces are turned up and babies are overdressed as protections against the cold. In addition to high temperatures, an obstruction of breathing increases the risk to the baby. The causes of the decrease in oxygen can range from putting the baby down on its stomach, to having stuffed animals around the baby’s mouth. They also established those exposed to cigarette smoke have a much more difficult time breathing in warm environments with low levels of oxygen compared to the control group. “In both groups, the pups struggled when we lowered the oxygen,” says Hasan. “But the pups exposed to cigarette smoke struggled much more and took longer to recover their breathing patterns.” In a second study, Hasan and his team looked at premature babies–half who had mothers who smoked and half who did not. When they lowered the oxygen content around these babies from the normal 21% down to 15%, the babies whose mothers smoked contained less oxygen in their blood, and their pauses in breathing were longer than their smoke-free counterparts.
Mapping the metabolism of vitamins, one gene at a time For his entire professional life, Dr. Roy Gravel, member of the Institute for Child and Maternal Health, has been looking at how vitamins are processed in the human body. From his early years as a post-doctoral fellow at Yale University in the 1970s, to his current post in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Medical Genetics at UCalgary Faculty of Medicine, Gravel has become a leading expert on the vitamins B12 and biotin. It was during his time at Yale that discoveries were being made about vitamin disorders that prevent some people from metabolizing them properly. Now, Gravel and his research team are looking very closely at the genes and enzymes that process the vitamins to find out how mutations disrupt their metabolism. “These are rare diseases but the symptoms are very severe and potentially fatal,” Gravel says of vitamin disorders that can be diagnosed in babies. “If you catch them early enough, the wonder ful aspect of some of the vitamin B12 or biotin disorders is that they can be treated with megadoses of the vitamin. A healthy life can be the outcome.” Gravel’s lab and those of collaborators, especially Dr. David Rosenblatt at McGill University, have identified five of the eight genes known to be involved in the processing of vitamin B12 in cells. All eight genes and the biochemical pathway that is unfolding are the legacy of the hundreds of children who have been studied with these diseases. “All eight genes were revealed by the genetic diseases in children,” Gravel explains. This year, one of Gravel’s PhD students, Shannon Healy, made a trip to the Structural Genomic Consortium at Oxford University where she studied a protein that metabolizes biotin, or vitamin B7, in great detail. Healy looked at the atomic structure of a protein to see how biotin becomes attached to it. Again, genetic diseases revealed the genes coding for these proteins. Like vitamin B12, potentially fatal symptoms can result from not being able to use biotin effectively, which is needed in cellular metabolism. “I had a really good time,” Healy says. “It was a great opportunity to work with people and conduct experiments that were impossible in our own lab.” Gravel believes genetic diseases of metabolism have the best chance for treatment. Sometimes, high dose vitamins or special diets are effective, and in more complicated diseases, replacing missing enzymes or potentially missing genes can lead to treatment. For Gravel and his students, they will continue to unlock these mysteries on the molecular level.
“Our studies provide the first direct evidence that smoking definitely increases the risk of respiratory failure, and high environmental temperatures further destabilize normal breathing patterns.”
Dr. R. Brent Scott, Director | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | www.imch.ucalgary.ca
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Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta The vision of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta is to provide a superb, efficient, integrated program of cardiovascular wellness, health care, research and education. On March 6, 2003 the Alvin and Mona Libin Foundation presented the largest one-time donation to the Calgary Health Region and the University of Calgary. The gift was $15 million, and the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta was born, giving Calgary a world-class institute for heart health research, education, and patient care. The Memorandum of Understanding formally establishing the Institute was signed by the University of Calgary, Calgary Health Region (now Alberta Health Services), and the Alvin and Mona Libin Foundation on January 27, 2004. The Libin Institute is not a building. It is a ‘virtual institute’ in that it coordinates and integrates cardiovascular care delivery, training and research across southern Alberta. The vision of the Institute is to provide a superb, efficient, integrated program of cardiovascular wellness, health care, research and education. The Institute’s strengths include: • Providing exceptional education and training of tomorrow’s health care professionals including physicians, surgeons, researchers, nursing and technological staff. • Development of an outstanding cardiovascular health promotion and disease prevention program which will educate and serve the population of southern Alberta. • Increased access to cardiac services through innovative use of technology such as telehealth. • Providing world class treatment, using state-of-the-art technology and equipment for patients from southern Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. • Increasing personnel and capacity of facilities to better meet the needs of the patient population. • Fortifying cardiovascular basic science, clinical science, population health research, and the relationships among them. • Making resources and leadership available to achieve these goals, and to foster the integration of cardiovascular wellness, health care, research and education.
Mapping out a long-term heart health plan for Canadians Investing in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in Canada today could save the Canadian federal government over $20 billion in the next decade. It’s hard figures like that–and the knowledge that cardiovascular disease kills 70,000 Canadians annually–that make the release of Canada’s first ever Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan (CHHS-AP) so important. It’s also a plan the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine played an integral role in developing. “Canada is heart sick, and we urgently need to do something about it,” says Dr. Eldon R. Smith, Chair of the CHHS-AP Steering Committee, as well as Chair of the Strategic Advisory Board of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta. “As a nation we already have a strategy for cancer, diabetes, and lung disease, but until now did not have a comprehensive strategy for the number one killer and public health threat in the country–heart disease and stroke.” A cardiologist by training, Smith has also held numerous positions over his career including Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Dr. Norm Campbell of the Libin Institute and a professor in the Faculty also served on the steering committee, and as a Co-Chair of the Expert Theme Working Group on preventing, detecting and managing risk factors . Other Theme Working Group members included Dr. William Ghali, Dr. Merril Knudtson, Dr. Peter Sargious and Dr. Jonathan Howlett from the Faculty of Medicine. Ghali served as Co-Chair of the Theme Working Group on health care reform, while Sargious served on the Integration and Partnership Committee. Nine out of 10 Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease–and the likelihood that members of our Aboriginal and indigenous communities will develop heart disease or stroke is nearly double that of other Canadians. In announcing the proposed plan, the committee said an investment of $700 million now would result in economic savings of $22.2 billion over the next decade–including $7.6-billion less in direct health costs and $14.6-billion in productivity that would not be lost. The strategy calls for such measures as creating heart-healthy environments, better health education, more preventive health programs, streamlined cardiac care and more research. With a concerted effort in several areas simultaneously, the committee believes the number of deaths could be cut 25% by the year 2020. It also predicts the number of Canadians with high blood pressure would drop 32%, and the number of hospitalizations for treatment of heart disease would fall 25%–all of which would add up to massive cost savings. “The Canadian Heart Health Strategy and Action Plan is a road map for improving the heart health of Canadians from prevention to patient care,” says Smith. “Our recommendations are relevant to all sectors of society, individuals, governments and the private sector. We have developed a whole-of-Canada approach to engage Canadians where they learn, live, work, and play. It’s time to act.”
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VAD patient Scott Ouellette, with Dr. Paul Fedak, Dr. Debra Isaac, and Anita Hadley, BN.
Honouring UCalgary professor a Wyse move
Pumping life into heart transplant patients
A wise man once said, “There’s never a better time to do things. It gets more complicated the longer you wait, so it’s best to just get it done right away.”
Scott Ouellette was 28 years old when he experienced a massive heart attack following a game of ice hockey. After he was rushed to the Foothills Medical Centre, a team of doctors and his family made the decision to install a ventricular assist device (VAD), a mechanical pump that helps a heart that is too weak to pump blood through the body.
That wise man is Dr. George Wyse, a member of the Strategic Advisory Board of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and the recipient of the 2008 Canadian Cardiovascular Society (CCS) Annual Achievement Award. Heeding his own advice, Wyse doesn’t wait to get things done. While he was the principal investigator for a study on atrial fibrillation–an irregular and often rapid heart rhythm and the most common cardiac arrhythmia requiring treatment–he was also leading in two other overlapping trials to change the way that condition and other cardiac arrhythmia problems are treated. The award recognizes a lifetime of achievement of Canadians who have made outstanding contributions in their career to aid the growth of the cardiovascular field. “What do you do after you get an award like this? It’s like they’re telling you to get out, but I’m on the work-‘til-you-die plan,” he says. After taking the time to think about what the award means, Wyse says recognition is important and plays a big role in the lives of those that strive to achieve. “It’s important to inspire, so young people can aspire. Recognition is always good.” A few of Wyse’s other awards include a 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal, an Alberta Centennial Medal and the Heart Rhythm Society’s 2007 Distinguished Scientist Award. He is also a Serving Member of the Order of St. John. A graduate of the Faculty of Medicine Class of 1974, Wyse joined the Faculty of Medicine at UCalgary in 1978. His research has resulted in over 200 peer reviewed publications, along with book chapters and invited publications. In 2005 he was named U of C Alumnus of the Year, and is one of UCalgary’s Top 40 Alumni. He has served on numerous boards and committees, was president of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta and director of the Cardiology Training Program at the University of Calgary. “I’ve been at the U of C for a long time and it’s gratifying to see how things have progressed,” he says. “We need good people to keep it going.”
The decision was easily the best one Scott’s family and his doctors could have made. It not only saved his life that day, but also improved it in the months to come. The VAD heart pump program came to the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta at the Foothills Medical Centre in 2006. The device consists of a pump, a power supply and tubes/cannulae that channel the blood from a patient’s heart to the mechanical heart pump. Anita Hadley, BN, was the VAD coordinator who worked with Ouellette. After spending a month in the hospital, he was discharged into the community to await his heart transplant. “It’s a lot of work to get a VAD patient into the community, but it’s worth it,” says Hadley. “It allows them to focus on living and the prospect of their life after a transplant, instead of just worrying about whether or not they’ll be alive to receive the transplant.” Once at home, the VAD patient gets the opportunity to improve their nutritional status, which enables them to become more physically active. This allows for increased muscle strength, endurance and overall fitness that makes them stronger and better able to undergo the heart transplant surgery. Hadley spent numerous hours training Ouellette and his family on how to work with the VAD and troubleshoot in case of problems. The coordinator is also responsible for educating other professionals in the community, such as EMS on how to deal with VAD patients. In 2007, Calgary became the first city in Alberta to discharge a VAD patient. Ouellette is grateful the Calgary program has a coordinator like Hadley to help. “Anita was fabulous and couldn’t be a better person. She never held me back from trying anything.” With the help of Hadley and his own hard work, Ouellette went bowling, horseshoeing and golfing all while on a VAD. “I got to enjoy my summer, get outside and get stronger for my surgery. It was as normal as can be.” After spending four months on the VAD, Ouellette went to Edmonton for his transplant surgery, and returned to work shortly after that. He is now training for the 2011 World Transplant Games in Sweden where he plans to compete in badminton, volleyball, floorball and golf.
Dr. L.B. Mitchell | C822A 1403 29 St NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 2T9 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.libininstitute.org
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The McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health The primary focus of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health is basic and clinical research, with the goal of understanding the basis for loss of bone and joint health and development of these debilitating chronic diseases and conditions, which affect 15% of Albertans. The McCaig Institute for Bone & Joint Health maintains the commitment of Mr. J.R. “Bud” McCaig to finding the underlying basis for the development of chronic joint conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and related diseases. With the knowledge gained, the McCaig Institute strives to find treatments for these diseases to improve the quality of life for Albertans, and to prevent the development of these conditions in future generations. While primarily located in the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, The McCaig Institute is comprised of researchers from five faculties who have come together to take multi- or trans-disciplinary approaches to achieve the Institute’s goals. The consortium of investigators includes basic scientists, orthopaedic surgeons, rheumatologists, kinesiologists, and biomedical engineers who bring diverse technologies and perspectives to bear on these complex chronic conditions, and have an integrated focus on achieving the goals in a timely manner. The primary focus of the McCaig Institute is basic and clinical research, with the goal of understanding the basis for loss of bone and joint health and development of these debilitating chronic diseases and conditions, which affect 15% of Albertans. In the last year, the McCaig Institute has expanded its activities in health services research through the appointment of Dr. Deborah Marshall. This appointment improves the connectivity between the McCaig Institute and the provincial Alberta Bone & Joint Health Institute with its focus on improving health services delivery to make our system sustainable and efficient. The McCaig Institute is also a focal point for interactions with other independent entities such as the Calgary Bone & Joint Health Program of Alberta Health Services. The objective of these interactions is to implement the McCaig Institute’s successful research to patient populations effectively. “The three independent components (McCaig Institute for Bone & Joint Health, The Calgary Bone & Joint Health Program, and the Alberta Bone & Joint Health Institute) and their associated partners come together to form a truly world class and unique Knowledge Translation Network. This enhances the return on the research investment to the benefit of patients and those at risk of becoming patients,” says Dr. Nigel Shrive, interim director, McCaig Institute for Bone & Joint Health. With the new space becoming available in the Health Research and Innovation Centre, the McCaig Institute will focus on recruiting up to 15 new researchers to complement current activities and expand capacity.
Robotic simulation clearing the way for new discoveries Patients in need of a new joint may soon receive tissue replacements that will last a lifetime, thanks in part to the first-ever biomechanical robotics conference held earlier this year in Banff. According to two of the event’s co-organizers, Josh Rosvold and Shon Darcy−PhD candidates in biomedical engineering at UCalgary−bringing together both students and leading experts in the field proved to be an invaluable experience. “Because of its unique size (around 30 people), the conference allowed for a lot of interaction between students and faculty from each of the institutions that were represented, which translated into a definite atmosphere of collaboration,” says Rosvold. “Everyone was interested in what others were doing and how they solved their problems. People were more than happy to help each other out if they saw a weakness or opportunity for improvement in what another lab was doing.” So how might this atmosphere of collaboration result in one-ofa-kind orthopedic implants? Through the sharing of information gleaned from a robotic testing system now in use at the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, known as Rotobot. “If you have the ability to simulate real motion of a joint, as we do with Rotobot, we can estimate forces in the joint and its structures providing the design parameters for tissue engineered implants,” says Darcy. This would significantly lessen the pain and complications associated with repeated joint replacements and allow for improved patient outcomes. This information could also be used in many other ways, from the development of more refined prosthetic limbs to mobilizing patients with spinal cord injuries. Robotic simulation may also aid in the delicate task of ligament surgery.
“With robotics, we can test different surgical techniques in the lab to see which works best before they’re applied on patients.” “This could save doctors not only time, but also spare the Canadian medical system millions of dollars in follow-up surgeries,” explains Rosvold. Although a follow-up event to the Banff conference has yet to be announced, both Darcy and Rosvold hope it’s the first of many more to come. Some positive feedback has already been received; the go-ahead has been given for those at the meeting to create a formal robotics group within the International Society of Biomechanics.
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New transplant procedure may be the answer to an old problem For young patients facing decades of pain and mobility restrictions from deteriorating joints, the prospect of receiving a live tissue transplant from a suitable donor is becoming a distinct possibility.
Dr. Scott Timmermann per formed the first transplant using live bone and cartilage culled from a new storage technique.
Unravelling the multiple sclerosis mystery Results of a study looking into the effects prion proteins have on mice may yet unlock a long-awaited cure for multiple sclerosis (MS). That’s the conclusion one of the study authors has drawn following the publication of the research results in the October 2008 edition of the American Journal of Pathology. “The cellular prion protein PrPC is a normal form of prion protein that exists on many types of cells in the central nervous system and immune system,” explains Dr. Shigeki Tsutsui, a research associate with the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health. “In the hypothesis, animals who do not have normal prion proteins like PrPC, never get prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) because they don’t have the ‘fuels’ needed to be converted to its toxic infectious form, PrPSC.” In fact, Tsutsui says mice without the ability to produce PrPC show no symptoms of disease, even when exposed to its misfolded cousin, PrPSC. However, the previous studies also found that mice with PrPC are more susceptible to dozens of other neurological disorders including strokes and epilepsy, which means the protein must also have a neuroprotective function. “Our study revealed that PrPC has a role to reduce inflammation and protect the ner ve in the model of an autoimmune disease, like multiple sclerosis. In addition, our results also suggest that the mutation of normal PrPC might be one of the important factors that decides the severity and type of disease progression in multiple sclerosis,” adds Dr. Tsutsui. While he estimates that a cure or preventative treatment for MS or rare prion diseases like CJD may still be decades away, he says the study is still an important first step towards that goal, good news for the estimated 55,000 plus Canadians afflicted with MS. Currently there is no cure for the disease, which operates by attacking the protective myelin covering of the central ner vous system. The next step for Tsutsui and his team is to find out precisely how PrPC works as an anti-inflammator y and neuroprotective protein. Results on this aspect are expected within two to three years.
Doctors in Calgary now have the ability to prevent or at least delay the development of osteoarthritis, thanks to a groundbreaking new transplant procedure. Chronic bone and joint pain and loss of mobility affects over three million Canadians, but this early intervention to repair joint damage may help to reduce the burden on society. Dr. Scott Timmermann, the orthopaedic surgeon who per formed the first transplant using live bone and cartilage culled from a new storage technique, explains how research turned science fiction into science fact for one 27 year-old. “When the patient−who is a teacher−came into my office, he told me he injured his right knee playing sports at 13. As a result, the joint lacked cartilage and even with four surgical attempts to treat his pain, his condition had not improved.” Based on the patient’s age, a total knee replacement was out of the question due to high activity levels and the limited option for multiple knee replacements over his lifetime. Although it’s too early to tell if the transplant was a complete success, Timmermann says early indications are promising. “During a consultation six weeks post surgery, the patient had already seen a full range of motion restored to the joint. And even though we are being extremely cautious to ensure the graft heals well and incorporates into his body, he was able to support over 100 pounds of weight on it.” According to Sue Hunter, Joint Transplantation Program coordinator, this new type of procedure will open up a wide range of possibilities for patients whose options were previously limited. “Until now, there have been no treatment options for patients under the age of 60 with this type of joint damage. Artificial (titanium) joint replacements are a well established treatment option for patients with advanced osteoarthritis, but these isolated biological transplants may prevent or at least delay the progression of degenerative arthritis throughout the entire joint. The best way to repair damaged bone and cartilage in a joint is to replace it with natural bone and cartilage.” An earlier transplant performed in Calgary was also successful, but the tissue had to be transplanted within 72 hours. With a new preservation technique developed by researchers at the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, this window has been extended to 30 days. This allows more time to schedule surgeries and ensure microbiology results are known, making transplants safer for patients. That’s great news as the program is set to expand to encompass shoulder tissue transplants later this year.
Dr. Nigel Shrive, Interim Director | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | www.albertaboneandjoint.com | email@example.com
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Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute Encouraging and facilitating integrated transdisciplinary cancer research–and training future researchers–is the primary role of the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute (SACRI), a partnership institute between UCalgary Faculty of Medicine and Alberta Health Services. The fight against cancer is one that is being fought on many fronts and continues to achieve many victories. Increased life expectancies through improved treatments are a result of ongoing clinical trials and laborator y-based medical research activities. Calgar y is recognized around the world as one of the centres of excellence in patient care, clinical trial activity and medical research advances. Activities at the University of Calgar y, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the Alberta Children’s Hospital ensure that not only do cancer patients in southern Alberta continue to receive the best cancer treatments, but also that these treatments continue to improve, based on the innovative science and knowledge of the physicians and scientists working in the field. We continue to maintain one of the highest accrual rates to cancer clinical trials in the world. Progressive and provincial integration of cancer clinical trials is designed to further increase these accrual roles, while continuing to provide a high level of cancer care to all Albertans. SACRI has a series of both established and emerging strategic research programs. The four established programs are: • Experimental Therapeutics, which includes Genomic Instability and Cellular Aging, and New Targets / Treatments for Brain Tumours. • Molecular Cancer Epidemiology • ACRI Clinical Cancer Research Unit (ACCRU) • Integrated Symptom Relief Program Along with these established programs are three emerging programs: • Developing a Platform for Metabolomics • Non-invasive Imaging in Cancer – the “Virtual Biopsy” • New targets and Novel Treatments for Pediatric Cancers Several Chairs have played an important role in the success that SACRI has had, and will continue to do so in the future. They include the Alberta Cancer Foundation Chair in Brain Tumour Research, Engineered Air Chair in Cancer Research, Chair in Molecular Epidemiology, Kids Cancer Foundation Chair in Pediatric Oncology, and the Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology Although the landscape of health care is changing in Alberta, SACRI continues to work closely with Alberta Health Ser vices and UCalgar y Faculty of Medicine. Building on community partnerships remains a key initiative at SACRI, something that is achieved through our Strategic Advisor y Board which includes several members of the community.
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New Discovery in Aging Process could lead to extended life spans and improved quality of life New research from the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute (SACRI) and the University of Calgar y is providing a better understanding of the aging process of cells, which could one-day slow down aging and delay many health problems, including the onset the cancer. Lead researcher and SACRI member Karl Riabowol, PhD, made the discovery in collaboration with J.B. Rattner, PhD, of UCalgary, and Brian Burke, PhD, of the University of Florida. The study has been published in the journal Nature - Cell Biology. The researchers looked at Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), a rare condition in which physical aspects of aging are greatly accelerated. Few children with this premature aging syndrome live past the age of 16, and they die from diseases usually associated with the elderly. The Riabowol lab’s discovery is the first evidence that INGs–a family of tumour suppressors called the inhibitors of growth that their lab previously identified in 1996–interact with the protein Lamin A. Loss of this interaction between Lamin A and the ING proteins in children prematurely aging due to HGPS may explain how the syndrome is caused at the molecular level. Not only could this research lead to improved treatment for those suffering from HGPS, it may also reveal clues about the process of normal aging that affects us all. “As humans age, so do the cells in our bodies. If we can slow down cell aging we may be able to keep people healthy longer, improving the quality of life for the elderly, and possibly even extend the average lifespan in the general population,” says Riabowol. As part of the natural aging process, cells divide in our body a limited number of times, slowly growing old themselves at which point they become genetically unstable and stop replicating. When this point is reached–usually in old age–the frequency of infections and death due to infections increases dramatically in the elderly. This has multiple causes, such as the inability to efficiently heal wounds as a consequence of a lack of skin cell division, and the inability to mount an effective immune response as a consequence of lack of blood cell division to eliminate pathogens. Cell aging is increasingly being linked to another common disease that results from genetic instability–cancer. The idea of cancer as primarily a disease of aging hits home with just one statistic: the incidence of cancer is nearly 1,000 times higher for people in their eighties who have accumulated many cells that cannot replicate, compared to people in their twenties. Riabowol and his colleagues at SACRI and the UCalgar y Aging and Immortalization Laborator y hope this new discover y will yield clues to how aging relates to cancer formation, and provide additional clues about how to target and selectively eliminate cancer cells based on their unstable genetic nature.
Stephen Robbins, PhD, Dr. Peter Forsyth, and Donna Senger, PhD, have discovered a drug designed for Alzheimer’s patients also stops aggressive brain tumours from spreading.
Alzheimer’s drug may provide breakthrough in fight against aggressive brain tumours It seems almost too good to be true. A drug being tested for Alzheimer’s patients may hold the key to stopping aggressive brain tumours from spreading. Well, according to research by Dr. Peter Forsyth, director, Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute (SACRI) and his colleagues at Alberta Health Ser vices, that could be a reality. In August 2007, Forsyth and fellow SACRI member Donna Senger, PhD, identified a “switch” or mechanism that enables brain cancer cells to journey outwards from the primar y tumour. Their research focused on malignant gliomas–highly invasive tumours that are extremely resistant to conventional treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. Forsyth and Senger found the switch is activated by a protein that is already present in the brain. Now, with Stephen Robbins, PhD, a member of the Alberta Cancer Research Institute and Samuel Weiss, PhD, director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at UCalgar y Faculty of Medicine, they’ve found a way to stop this protein from activating the switch. “We’ve basically found this switch is turned on when it is cut by ‘a pair of scissors’ found in our brains. What’s exciting is that we’ve discovered there is a family of drugs that block these scissors from cutting the protein and it’s already being tested in Alzheimer’s patients,” says Forsyth. “We’ve also found this process is present in cancer stem cells which many believe accounts for failures of our treatments in many patients.” With these drugs already in clinical testing, Forsyth and Senger are optimistic they will be able to further their effectiveness on malignant gliomas in their own clinical trials much faster. “A lot of background work has been done with these drugs already in terms of understanding their dose and side effects, so we’re hopeful that we can move this rapidly into the clinic,” says Forsyth. The next step for the researchers is two-fold: to find a specific drug within the drug family to test in a clinical setting and to make the drug as effective and as safe as possible. They also have another funding grant in place that allows them to tr y and redesign these drugs to better suit their purpose, something they are also investigating. “It’s an interesting idea that you can use a drug to block the invasion of cancer cells into normal human tissue,” Forsyth says. “But to have that drug already being used in clinical trials is a dream come true.”
New software brings 3D medical images to your doctor’s iPhone Medical technology–and particularly medical imaging–has come a long way in the last few decades. These days, doctors can make a diagnosis by looking at an image of a patient’s brain or internal organs, all without ever having to pick up a scalpel. But when it comes to patient care, few would argue that technology must continue to advance to ensure the best possible treatment is given to those in need. Enter Ross Mitchell, PhD, a member of the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute and the iCORE/ Calgar y Scientific Inc. Industr y Chair in Medical Imaging Informatics at the University of Calgar y. Mitchell and his colleagues have developed a software application for the new Apple iPhone 3G, allowing doctors to remotely receive medical images on their iPhones and to manipulate the images in three dimensions. While MRIs and CT scans are important diagnostic tools, it can often take some time before a doctor is able to view the images. That’s where the iPhone comes in. “The patient could come in and get scanned. While I am outside the hospital they can phone me on the iPhone and I could bring up that patient and start looking at their scans right away,” says Mitchell. Being able to deliver a 3D image on the iPhone could mean life-saving treatment for things like strokes, traumas and hear t attacks.
“The visual quality of this device is good enough that I believe you could actually diagnose a stroke on the iPhone,” Mitchell says. Besides developing the iPhone software, Mitchell and his colleagues are helping physicians make more accurate diagnoses through their continued digital imaging research. A $2.1 million investment from the Government of Alberta through iCORE (Informatics Circle of Research Excellence), Calgary Scientific Inc. and the University of Calgary will help greatly. “This funding will help us rapidly and reliably identify brain regions at risk during acute stroke, find new methods to predict how a brain tumor will respond to therapy, and better gauge the effectiveness of new multiple sclerosis treatments.”
Dr. Peter Forsyth, Director | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | www.sacri.ucalgary.ca
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Centre for Health and Policy Studies The Centre for Health and Policy Studies is preparing for transformation organizationally and physically. Approval has been given to develop the Calgary Institute for Population and Public Health (CIPPH), and soon the newly formed Institute will move to the Teaching, Research, and Wellness building The creation of the CIPPH–of which CHAPS will form a foundation and members will come from across the University of Calgary and the Alberta Health Services Board–will offer the opportunity to activate the components and laboratories in the Canada Foundation for Innovation grant, as originally envisioned in 2001. As these developments occur, investigators within CHAPS have been making a difference not only in Canada, but around the world. A prime example is the research and hard work of the Population Health Intervention Research Centre (PHIRC), which arose out of the Health and Society Program in CHAPS and the Bachelor of Health Science Program. Founded in 2004 as a $2.4M centre for research development in population health–and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)–PHIRC’s mission is to provide the evidence that policy makers need to put more resources into population-level prevention. PHIRC is led by Dr. Penny Hawe, the Centre’s first director, and by the PHIRC Advisory Committee chaired by Dr. Nick Bayliss, former Medical Officer of Health for the province of Alberta. Research within PHIRC is aimed at such issues as mental health promotion, chronic disease prevention, and the continued investigation into the social determinants of population health. The Centre is also carrying out a wide range of innovative projects in Canada from whole school interventions and improving walkability of physical environments, to examining the link between animal and human health in an effort to develop community-based disease prevention in East Africa. “The work being done by Dr. Hawe and many other researchers within CHAPS demonstrates the nature and spectrum of heath services and population health research that exists here at the Centre,” says Dr. Tom Noseworthy, director of CHAPS. “Promising opportunities now exist to transform the foundation that CHAPS has established to create the Calgary Institute for Population and Public Health.”
Improving communication between family physicians and specialists a top priority A collaboration of medical experts from around Canada have developed a new tool that could dramatically improve the way patients are referred to specialists from their family physicians. As part of the Western Canada Waiting List Project, Dr. Tom Noseworthy, director, Centre for Health and Policy Studies, along with Carolyn De Coster, PhD, Alberta Health Services and several assembled panels of primary care providers and specialists, have created new tools called Priority Referral Scores (PRS). The tools are designed for use in the medical specialties of Rheumatology, Nephrology, Geriatric medicine, and Gastroenterology, and involve a short questionnaire for family physicians to fill out when referring a patient to a specialist in one of these fields. “In our discussions with physicians, we were hearing there were a lot of forms for people to fill out, and different physicians required different things,” explains De Coster. “We wanted to make it more streamlined and more standardized to improve the entire referral process.” The idea is to have a family physician fill out the questionnaire and then pass that form on to the specialist who scores the patient based on the information provided. These point count scores assess the relative urgency for referrals and will be used to improve the exchange of necessary referral information, while expediting referrals based on the degree of urgency as assessed by the PRS. While PRS’ likely won’t reduce wait times overall–the process would not lessen the volume of patient referrals–they will ensure patients get the care they need in the proper timeframe. They’ll also improve communication between family physicians and specialists–something that can be lacking. “Sometimes now a physician will send out a referral and they won’t really know what’s happening with it, or how long their patient may have to wait. This should help that,” De Coster says. The PRS tool designed for Rheumatology has already been tested by a clinical panel, and is now ready for pilot testing by family physicians. The PRS tool designed for the other three medical specialties–Nephrology, Geriatric medicine and Gastroenterology– will be tested by a clinical panel in the near future. “One of the things the family physicians reminded us was the tool has to be quick, no more than one page to fill out,” says De Coster. With that in mind, the Rheumatology tool that’s been tested contains only eight questions for family physicians to answer. All of the tools they’ve designed ask questions that cover the same three areas; the current state of the patient, the expected rate of progression, and what the expected benefit of seeing a specialist would be. The project was funded by the UCalgary Department of Medicine through a grant from Alberta Health and Wellness.
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Giving Canada’s health system a check-up University of Calgary researcher Hude Quan, PhD, has a big job ahead of him, but fortunately he’s up to the task. “Yes it’s a major challenge,” says a chuckling Quan, associate professor in the Department of Community Health Services and a member of the Centre for Health and Policy Studies. “But it is very important work.” The work that Quan speaks of is a comprehensive analysis of Canada’s administrative health care information, which is the largest body of collected data in the country. Canada collects and stores a wealth of health information from multiple sectors including health insurance registries, inpatient care, day surger y, emergency departments, physician ser vices, homecare, long-term care, vital statistics and prescription medication. This health data is widely and routinely used to produce knowledge that informs decision making to improve quality of care, patient safety and overall health system per formance. When researchers and decision-makers get information from the large volumes of data their organizations take in, there’s great potential for them to become frustrated with the system’s lack of “intelligence”. Quan’s mission is to sift through this massive amount of data to see how it can be used for assessment of our health care facilities, and then use his research to improve the Canadian health care system. While the task may sound daunting and complicated, Quan sees his research in very simple terms.
“It’s like giving a report card to the hospital. First you give them a grade, then you look at ways of improving.” Once assessed, Canada’s information will be compared to other countries’ health care data in the hopes of comparing per formance between our health care system and other countries. However, Quan believes it will be a major challenge to establish comparable health information as the health care systems among countries vary so much. “We need to compare oranges with oranges, not apples with oranges.” Quan’s passion for better health care is rooted in his medical background and experience conducting epidemiology research– funded by UNICEF and the United Nations Fund for Population
Hude Quan, PhD, is analyzing all of Canada’s administrative health care data to improve our country’s health system.
Activities–in his native country of China. It was there that he first looked at factors affecting the health of a population, and realized he wanted to do more when he decided to come to UCalgary to earn his PhD. “I wanted to learn more,” he says. “I still had so many questions.” Quan is currently in the massive process of looking at the quality of the information in Canada’s health databases. He says another major challenge is to address the inconsistencies of how hospitals collect and define their patient information. It’s his job analyze the facts and convert them into “oranges.”
Dr. Tom Noseworthy, Director | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | www.chaps.ucalgary.ca
2008-09 Research Report | Page 19
Centre for Advanced Technologies The Centre for Advanced Technologies (CAT) is the technological cornerstone of biomedical research at the Faculty of Medicine, and provides a wide array of technological facilities to serve the research programs of the Faculty. At CAT, researchers not only investigate and develop new biomedical technologies, they also provide advanced technological support to scientists investigating the basic building blocks of the human body–the science of genomes, proteins and metabolites. CAT brings together a wide array of technological facilities whose primary focus is to serve the research programs of the Faculty of Medicine. These facilities currently include: • Clara Christie Centre for Mouse Genomics: Transgenics Core Facility • Clara Christie Centre for Mouse Genomics: Embryonic Stem Cell and Targeted Mutagenesis Core Facility • Micro-CT/3D Morphometrics Labratory • Health Sciences Animal Resources Centre (HSARC) • Libin Gene/Cell Therapy Unit • University Core DNA Services (UCDNA) • Peptide Synthesis Laboratories • SACRI Antibody Services • Southern Alberta Mass Spectrometry Facility • Southern Alberta Microarray Facility • Flow Cytometry Facility • Microscopy and Imaging Facility • Sun Center of Excellence for Visual Genomics • Biotechnology Training Centre • Biomedical Technical Support Centre (BTSC) • Central Sanitation and Sterilization (CSS) “The technologies and services we provide are essentially the engines that support innovation in biomedical research. We’re focused on emerging technologies in the health services. Without our infrastructure, many of the research programs currently underway at the Faculty would be impossible,” says Christoph Sensen, PhD, former director of CAT.
Improving the quality of research by eliminating mycoplasma The University of Calgary’s Clara Christie Centre for Mouse Genomics supports researchers by fostering the use of mouse models to understand human health and disease. The Transgenic Mouse Facility (TMF) generates, breeds, preserves and imports genetically modified mice used in research that ranges from the study of brain injuries to cancer. The TMF, a core facility that is part of the Centre for Advanced Technologies, plays an important role in ensuring that researchers have the cell lines they need to study human diseases and their treatments. The Centre garnered national interest last year when, in collaboration with the Cross Lab at UCalgary, it found a way to eliminate a common bacterium that contaminates cell lines and compromises the quality of many research studies. “It’s estimated that between 30 and 85% of cell lines are infected with a bacterium called mycoplasma,” explains Colleen Geary-Joo, Project Manager, TMF. “When the infection is present, this can jeopardize the reliability of the research but unfortunately, like most mouse facilities, we’ve never before been able to figure out a way to eliminate this infection and still attain germline transmission.” The challenge in eliminating mycoplasma comes from the fact it is different from other bacteria in that it has no cell wall, which makes it antibiotic resistant. The treatment process developed by the Centre for Mouse Genomics breaks new ground and was presented at the International Society for Transgenic Technologies meeting in Toronto in late 2008. According to David Natale, PhD, an assistant professor of genetics and a researcher with the Cross Lab, the ability to eliminate mycoplasma infection will help move research forward at UCalgary. “Before, having a cell line with that infection could mean that we’d have to go back to the drawing board,” explains Natale, whose research focuses on stem cell biology and its relationship to development of the placenta and establishment of a healthy pregnancy in humans and animals.
“This will potentially save tens of thousands of dollars as well as increasing the effectiveness of our research.”
AT Page 20 | 2008-09 Research Report
CENTRE FOR ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES
Christoph Sensen, PhD, and Robert Church, PhD at Church’s Lochend Luing Ranch near Airdrie, Alberta
BSE test for live animals may be near Researchers at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine are constantly studying ways to fight diseases and conditions that affect the health of people all over the world. These scientific challenges are usually focused toward human illnesses; but with a broad goal of unlocking medical mysteries in general, UCalgary scientists are making breakthroughs in a variety of areas. Christoph Sensen, PhD, may have done just that. Together with collaborators in Germany, Sensen has found a new way to test for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cows that could revolutionize the cattle industry and eventually change beef inspection protocol worldwide. The researchers have discovered that a simple and inexpensive blood test done on live animals should be able to detect the presence of BSE infection (also known as mad cow disease) in cattle, and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in elk months before clinical signs of the disease become evident. This is viewed as a major breakthrough because until now the disease could only be diagnosed using brain samples from dead animals.
“The next steps are to analyze a time course series for BSEinfected cattle, to screen different cattle breeds for variances in the sequence patterns and also to look at cattle with brain tumors, brain trauma and other brain infections to make sure we are really picking up BSE,” says Sensen, a member of UCalgary Faculty of Medicine. “Once that is done, our team sees the possibility for the production of a low-cost, high-output standard test kit for use by industry in the next few years.” It is expected that a future test kit would be cheaper than currently used post-mortem BSE tests and available at a price that would be affordable for most farmers. Scientists from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) collaborated on the study, and say the test would benefit the cattle industry both in Alberta and worldwide. “It would be possible to certify live animals and beef to be ‘BSE-tested’ and to keep the export channels open at all times,” says study co-author Stefanie Czub, DVM/PhD, head of the CFIA BSE laboratory and a member of the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
The team of scientists studied 16 BSE-infected and noninfected cattle and 19 CWD-infected and non-infected elk, and were able to identify specific DNA sequences in blood samples of live animals infected with BSE (cattle) or CWD (elk).
Dr. John Reynolds, Director | P. Macklon, Business Manager | 5E23, Teaching, Resource and Wellness Building | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | http://cat.ucalgary.ca | firstname.lastname@example.org
2008-09 Research Report | Page 21
Graduate Science Education In the research-intensive environment at the Faculty of Medicine, 435 graduate students in the masters (MSc, MBT) and doctoral (PhD) programs carry out innovative research with some of the best researchers in their fields. Graduate students are an integral part of the research enterprise at the Faculty of Medicine. They are our future scientists who will play leadership roles in academia, business and society. Through the Faculty of Medicine’s interdisciplinary graduate training environment, students are registered in one of the following graduate programs, which cut across academic departments and institutes: • • • • • • • •
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Biomedical Technology (MBT) Cardiovascular & Respiratory Sciences Community Health Sciences Gastrointestinal Sciences Immunology Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Medical Science, with specializations in: - Biomedical Engineering - Cancer Biology - Critical Care Medicine - Joint Injury & Arthritis - Medical Education - Molecular & Medical Genetics - Mountain Medicine & High Altitude Physiology • Neuroscience The Office of Graduate Science Education supports and administers student recruitment, admission, applications for funding, student career support, course coordination and timetabling, and monitors the quality of all programs to ensure optimal student education and experience. In 2008, our graduate programs convocated 109 students. “Graduate education depends critically on the personal mentoring of the student by a faculty member, which ensures a high quality education. The one-on-one instruction is supplemented by over 120 intensive graduate courses in the Faculty of Medicine,” says Frans van der Hoorn, associate dean, Graduate Science Education. In addition, more than 35 graduate students are registered in the Leaders in Medicine combined program, where they earn a joint degree such as MD/MBA, MD/MSc or MD/PhD. The objective of this program–one of the largest of its kind in North America–is to train clinician-scientists for academic medical research careers, and for careers in the design, management and implementation of health care delivery programs. The combined MBT/MBA program graduates students who are fully versed in all aspects of biotechnology from the lab bench to the board room, and who will contribute to the growing biotech business and economy in Alberta and beyond. Close to 40% of our graduate students are supported through competitive awards from external agencies including the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Alberta Cancer Board (ACB) and the Heart & Stroke Foundation. This has brought in over $2.8 million to the Faculty of Medicine in support of research. Students also receive competitive stipends from supervisors’ operating grants, Faculty of Graduate Studies Graduate Scholarships and graduate teaching assistantships.
Page 22 | 2008-09 Research Report
Setting a Gold standard for immunology research Much like one of his most significant research findings as an immunology PhD student, Bryan Heit’s research career has not followed one single, solitary path. Instead, this UCalgary graduate has maintained an open mind about his studies, trusting the ever-changing scope and breadth of his research to lead the way. And Heit’s research has lead him to one of the highest accomplishments for a medical science student; the Governor General’s Gold Medal Award for academic achievement. “The award came as a surprise,” Heit says. “It was a bit of a shock and I didn’t know it was coming, but it was obviously very exciting. It’s a big award.” Heit’s innovative research–completed under the supervision of Dr. Paul Kubes, director, Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation–concentrates on understanding how immune cells find infections. When an infection occurs in the body, a call for help is sent to the immune system’s white blood cells. These white blood cells leave the blood and enter the infected tissue, where they track down and destroy bacteria. Complications can occur when these cells have trouble sorting through different signals, as not all signals lead directly to the infection. Heit’s research uncovered the process used by immune cells to determine what signals to pay attention to and what to ignore; a significant discovery that may one day help make the immune system more effective in clearing infections. His research has further revealed how the immune system sorts through these signals. “Traditionally, it was assumed that cells had only one pathway they could use to migrate, but we showed that there’s at least two pathways they can use, although how the second pathway allows cells to migrate is not well understood,” Heit explains. “This is an extraordinary finding because discovering a second pathway answered many outstanding questions.” Having finished his PhD, Heit has since moved on to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where he is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship. His success has not been without its trials but he maintains an upbeat attitude, quickly erasing any doubts by remembering what ignited his passion in the first place. “There certainly are times when you go for months without anything happening and you ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’” he says. “But when it’s working well it’s really interesting, really rewarding and a lot of fun.”
Learning from personal tragedy, and helping others in the process Lawyer Anna Zadunayski has a significant impact on the ethics education of the medical students passing through UCalgary. As a Faculty of Medicine preceptor, she teaches medical law and ethics to both first and second year medical students, as well as medical residents. “Every new medical resident that comes through Calgary has to see our team for one full day of teaching in hopes that they will be ethical decision makers,” Zadunayski says. “It’s a very fulfilling role.” Zadunayski’s unique background as a litigation and research lawyer, coupled with her role as a research associate in the Office of Medical Bioethics, make her an asset to the Faculty of Medicine. Her choice to leave commercial litigation three years ago to focus solely on health law and research was not an easy one, coming partly as the result of a personal tragedy. Her second daughter, Natalie, passed away shortly after she was born. Although the decision involved a significant career change and sacrifice, Zadunayski believed it was a great chance to give back and work in health care.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to take something so painful, and turn it into something positive that could benefit so many others.” Zadunayski was honoured this year with the Women’s Resource Centre Distinguished Student Award, recognizing her contribution to the advancement of women’s issues and her commitment to personal and professional excellence. “One of the things that was so special about receiving the award was that a number of Natalie’s physicians from the Children’s Hospital came to hear me speak,” she says. “It was really like honoring her and all of the people who she touched in her short life. I wouldn’t have done any of this without Natalie. She shines through in all of it.” In addition to her role as a Faculty of Medicine preceptor, Zadunayski is also pursing her Master of Science degree in health research in the Department of Community Health Sciences. Her graduate thesis concerns legal and ethical implications of new screening technology that allows clinicians to determine whether a mother has used drugs or alcohol in pregnancy. She is examining the ethical decision making involved in using this technology, and hopes to one day pursue a clinical career in women’s health.
Andrew Ah Seng, winner of the President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership.
Making a difference one award at a time Andrew Ah Seng is not one to rest on his laurels. Considering all he’s accomplished during his time at UCalgary Faculty of Medicine thus far, he couldn’t be blamed if he did. Ah Seng began his post-secondary studies at UCalgary on a Chancellor’s Club scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships awarded to a high school student entering his undergraduate studies. Having completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree with a double-major in Bioinformatics and Biomedical Science, Ah Seng is also a recent graduate of the Masters of Biomedical Technology program. Although his educational pursuits are impressive indeed, it is Ah Seng’s significant accomplishments outside the classroom that have left an indelible impression on his peers and faculty members. Ah Seng’s dedication to improving student life has earned him the President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership, the highest honour a graduating student can receive. “It culminates my years in university and it signifies that I’ve made a change and people have recognized that accomplishment,” Ah Seng says. “I really enjoy getting involved in student life activities and student development. That, in itself, is gratifying and rewarding.” Ah Seng has also been instrumental in the development and success of programs intended to empower high school students through science: Let’s Talk Science – Partnership Program, an outreach program that brings students together with scientists and university students, and the All Science Challenge, a Calgary-wide competition where teams compete in different science-based tasks. Currently a first-year med student, Ah Seng is grateful to have been exposed to a diverse range of research opportunities during his undergraduate and master programs, from genomics, to microCT imaging, to pharmaceutical design. Ah Seng aspires to one day merge his passion for technology with his medical practice. He cites the neuroArm–the world’s first MRI-compatible surgical robot developed by Dr. Garnette Sutherland and his team in the Hotchkiss Brain Institute–as an example of revolutionary medical technology he would one day hope to be at the forefront of developing. “Looking at what others before me have accomplished and knowing that technology can change the field of medicine in that kind of extraordinary way, that’s what motivates me.”
Dr. Frans van der Hoorn, Associate Dean | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | www.medicine.ucalgary.ca/grad | email@example.com
2008-09 Research Report | Page 23
Calgary Centre for Clinical Research Designed to lead and conduct large clinical trials by Calgary investigators and their colleagues from around the world, the Calgary Centre for Clinical Research also provides support to health investigators within Alberta Health Services, the UCalgary Faculty of Medicine’s research institutes, and other faculties at UCalgary.
The Calgar y Centre for Clinical Research (CCCR) is on the cusp of becoming a state-of-the-ar t clinical trial and epidemiology coordination facility, and the first completely integrated clinical trial centre in Calgar y. The Centre is founded upon the Faculty of Medicine’s philosophy of flowing research discoveries from the laborator y bench to the bedside of patients and beyond. It is set up to enable clinicians and scientists to collaborate more efficiently on clinical research by working directly with patients, rapidly applying their findings in the laborator y, and finally, developing new medical solutions for patients. Many changes have occurred this past year within the Calgar y Centre for Clinical Research. The most visible of which has been a rethinking of the scope of the CCCR, and the appointment of Dr. Michael D. Hill as Director of Clinical Research in Januar y 2009. Thanks are due to Dr. Samuel Wiebe, who ser ved impressively as interim director of the Centre in the six months prior to this appointment. Once the TRW is fully completed, it will ser ve as the hub for clinical trials at the Faculty of Medicine, will house the Heritage Medical Research Centre (HMRC), and will provide space for research coordinators to conduct research and meet with patients. Last year, the HMRC saw an average of 355 research patients per month, and is providing ser vices to approximately 81 studies, with another 30 studies pending. Additionally, strides have been made in many areas of clinical research to streamline communication among peers to clearly identify concerns and issues. Most specifically, a registr y of principal investigators has been created to assist in providing timely communication to those involved in clinical research. The CCCR continues to be involved with the advancement and suppor t of clinical research in southern Alber ta, and ultimately assisting in the clinical care of Alber tans. The CCCR will fur ther suppor t Alber ta Health Ser vices’ infrastructure, programs and ser vices going for ward, and will continue to play a vital role in the ongoing success of those involved in clinical research.
Dr. Michael D. Hill, director, Calgary Centre for Clinical Research
Dr. Michael D. Hill, Director | 3330 Hospital Drive NW | Calgary, AB | T2N 4N1 | www.ucalgary.ca/cccr
Page 24 | 2008-09 Research Report
Chairs and Professorships Chairs and professorships are a means of selectively developing, promoting, and recognizing excellence in research and scholarship at the University of Calgary. The annual budget associated with a chair can be used to recruit a candidate of international stature to lead a research program, or to strengthen research in a specific area. Our endowment funds have matched pace with the rest of our growth. Valued at around $40 million eight years ago, our total endowment today is over $100 million. Ten years ago we had one Research Chair, today we have 46. Alberta Cancer Foundation Chair in Brain Tumor Research
Dr. J. Gregory Cairncross
Alberta Cancer Foundation Chair in Molecular Cancer Epidemiology
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Barb Ibbotson Chair in Pediatric Hematology
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Pediatric Genetics
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Pediatric Immunology
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Pediatric Research
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Cuthbertson and Fischer Chair in Pediatric Mental Health
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Professorship in Child Health and Wellness
Dr. Brent Hagel
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Professorship in Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Dr. Robert Haslam Chair in Child Neurology
Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Professorship in Pediatric Surgery
Dr. David Sigalet
AMF / Hannah Professorship in the History of Medicine
Dr. Frank Stahnisch
Andrew Family Professorship in Cardiovascular Research
Dr. William Cole
Arthritis Society Chair in Rheumatic Disease/Rheumatology
Dr. Marvin Fritzler
Arthur J.E. Child Chair in Rheumatology Research
Filled starting February ‘09
Brenda Strafford Foundation Chair in Alzheimer Research
Dr. Minh Dang Nguyen
Brenda Strafford Foundation Chair in Geriatric Medicine
Dr. David Hogan
Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Chair in Critical Care Research
Dr. Paul Kubes
Calgary Foundation - Grace Glaum Professorship in Arthritis Research
Dr. David Hart
Campbell McLaurin Chair for Hearing Deficiencies
Dr. Jos Eggermont
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research
Dr. Keith Sharkey
Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology
Dr. Linda Carlson
Engineered Air Chair in Cancer Research
Dr. Susan Lees-Miller
Dr. Frank Leblanc Chair in Spinal Cord Research
Dr. Peter Stys
Fraser Mustard Chair in Childhood Development
Dr. Margaret Clarke
GSK Professorship in Inflammatory Lung Disease
Dr. Richard Leigh
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT & Nunavut Chair of Cardiovascular Research
Dr. Henry Duff
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT & Nunavut Chair in Stroke Research
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT & Nunavut Professorship in Stroke Research
Dr. Michael Hill
Hopewell Professorship in Brain Imaging
Hopewell Professorship in Movement Disorders
Husky Energy Chair in Child and Maternal Health
Jessie Boden Lloyd Professorship in Immunology Research
Dr. Christopher Mody
John A. Buchanan Chair in General Internal Medicine
Dr. William Ghali
Julia McFarlane Chair in Diabetes Research
Dr. Pere Santamaria
Kids Cancer Care Foundation Chair in Pediatric Oncology
Kinsmen Chair in Pediatric Neurosciences
Dr. Samuel Wiebe
Markin Chair in Health and Society
Dr. Penelope Hawe
McCaig Professorship in Joint Injury and Arthritis
Dr. Cyril Frank
Merck Frosst Chair / Professorship in Cardiovascular Research
Novartis Chair in Schizophrenia Research
Dr. Jean Addington
Parkinson’s Society of Southern Alberta/Suter Professorship in Parkinson’s Research
Dr. Bin Hu
Roy and Joan Allen Professorship in Sight Research
Dr. Torben Bech-Hansen
Roy and Vi Baay Chair in Kidney Research
Svare Professorship in Health Economics
Dr. J.C. Herbert Emery
Westaim – ASRA Chair in Bacterial Biofilm Research
Dr. Shawn Lewenza 2008-09 Research Report | Page 25
Financial Statements 2007-08
REVENUE FOR BIOMEDICAL AND HEALTH CARE RESEARCH BY SOURCE OF FUNDS Provincial Government Sources
Federal Government Sources
Private, For-Profit Canada
USA Sources Other Foreign Sources Hospital/University Total Revenue for Biomedical and Health Care Research:
Page 26 | 2008-09 Research Report
$8,797,648.96 $752,269.98 $4,535,942.03 $127,083,307.92
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT SOURCES
(includes departments, and affiliated agencies)
Alberta Advanced Learning
Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (Aadac) Alberta Cancer Board
Alberta Gaming Research Institute
Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Alberta Innovation and Science
Alberta International Medical Graduate Program
Alberta Occupational Health and Safety
Alberta Science and Research Investments Program
Calgary Health Region
Cross Cancer Institute
Government of British Columbia
Rural Physician Action Plan
Workerâ€™s Compensation Boardâ€“Alberta
Provincial Government Sources Total:
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SOURCES
(includes departments, crown corporations, and agencies)
Canada Foundation for Innovation
Canada Research Chair Award
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health Canadian Cochrane Centre Canadian Institutes of Health Research Environment Canada
$69,459.00 $1,000.00 $30,121,010.03 $120,627.09
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
International Development Research Centre
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
Network Centres of Excellence
Public Health Agency of Canada
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Western Economic Diversification
Federal Government Sources Total:
$35,209,281.21 2008-09 Research Report | Page 27
Published on May 7, 2009
The University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine annual research report, detailing the research activities and achievements of the Faculty and...