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01

MEDICINE

SPRING / SUMMER 2014

FACULTY OF MEDICINE

Here are the stories of a bunch of students...

Exchange program welcomes students from China

On the Rhode to greatness

Vol. 5 / Issue 3


UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

CONTENTS

SPRING / SUMMER 2014

F E AT U R E S

VOLUME 5 | ISSUE 3

UCalgary Medicine is published two times a year by the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, providing news and information for and about our faculty, staff, alumni, students, friends and community.

O N T H E COV E R

U Calgary

MEDICINE

S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2014

FACU LT Y O F M E D ICI N E

Here are the stories of a bunch of students…

Here are the stories of a bunch of students ...

For more information contact: M A N AG I N G E D I TO R

Kathryn Kazoleas T 403. 220. 2232 E kjslonio @ ucalgary.ca E D I TO R I A L T E A M

EDUCATION Exchange program welcomes students from China

On the Rhode to greatness

Vol. 5 / Issue 3

Jordanna Heller, Director, Communications and Media Relations Marta Cyperling, Manager, Media Relations Amy Dowd, Manager, Internal Relations Amanda Fisher, Communications Coordinator Aisling Gamble, Communications Advisor, Events and Recognition DEAN

Dr. Jon Meddings V I C E- D E A N

Dr. Glenda MacQueen S E N I O R A S S O C I AT E D E A N S

Dr. Gerald Zamponi, Research Dr. Jocelyn Lockyer, Education Dr. Ronald Bridges, Faculty Affairs

F R E E CO P Y / A L U M N I U P DAT E

To receive a free copy of UCalgary Medicine please call 403. 220. 2819 or email medcomm @ ucalgary.ca The Faculty of Medicine is commited to staying in touch with our alumni. Please update your contact information at our website alumni.ucalgary.ca (CLICK ON “ UPDATE YOUR INFO”)

A S S O C I AT E D E A N S

Dr. Ebba Kurz, Undergraduate Science Education Dr. Bruce Wright, Undergraduate Medical Education Dr. Jennifer Hatfield, Global Health and International Partnerships Dr. Doug L. Myhre, Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives Dr. Maureen Topps, Postgraduate Medical Education Dr. Tara Beattie, Graduate Science Education Dr. Lara Cooke, Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development Dr. Ray Turner, Research Grants Dr. Michael Hill, Clinical Trials Dr. Janet de Groot, Equity and Professionalism Dr. Kamala Patel, Faculty Development Dr. Paul Schnetkamp, Research Infrastructure Dr. Samuel Wiebe, Clinical Research

FAC U LT Y O F M E D I C I N E A L U M N I F E AT U R E D I N T H I S I S S U E :

Donors contribute to lymphedema research Here are the stories of a bunch of students...

D E PA R T M E N T S MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN 2

7

EDUCATION

9

RESEARCH

What is a heart attack? 14 Deep impact 16 It’s in the air 24 ALUMNI

Faculty of Medicine alumni shine at Mount Royal University 18 Alumna dedicated to global health 19 EDUCATION

Look for this icon for more content found exclusively online at medicine.ucalgary.ca/magazine

WANT MORE?

On the Rhode to greatness 20 Resident embraces life changes 26 SERVICE TO SOCIETY

Local media have him on speed dial during flu season 23 NEWS

Combine Design & Communications

Swathi Damarju, Amanda Fisher, Janice Heard, Trudie Lee, Live Love Laugh Photography, Ricky Leong (Foter) James May, Jon Meddings, Don Molyneaux, Bruce Perrault, RCMP, Dan Roycroft, Kathy Youssef, Hude Quan

PHILANTHROPY

Dr. Carolyn Emery, Dr. Cy Frank, Dr. Aravind Ganesh, Dr. Bill Ghali, Dr. Michael Hill, Dr. Vera Krejcik, Dr. Brent Mitchell

DESIGN

P H OTO G R A P H Y A N D I L LU S T R AT I O N S

Exchange program welcomes students from China 3

PM Agreement No. 41 0 9 5 52 8 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, Communications and Media Relations 7th Floor, TRW Building 3280 Hospital Drive NW Calgary, Alberta T2N 4Z6

In the news 27 Awards and recognition 28 In the community 29


UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

CONTENTS

SPRING / SUMMER 2014

F E AT U R E S VOLUME 5 | ISSUE 3

UCalgary Medicine is published two times a year by the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, providing news and information for and about our faculty, staff, alumni, students, friends and community.

O N T H E COV E R

U Calgary

MEDICINE

S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2014

FACU LT Y O F M E D ICI N E

Here are the stories of a bunch of students…

Here are the stories of a bunch of students ...

For more information contact: M A N AG I N G E D I TO R

Kathryn Kazoleas T 403. 220. 2232 E kjslonio @ ucalgary.ca E D I TO R I A L T E A M

EDUCATION Exchange program welcomes students from China

On the Rhode to greatness

Vol. 5 / Issue 3

Jordanna Heller, Director, Communications and Media Relations Marta Cyperling, Manager, Media Relations Amy Dowd, Manager, Internal Relations Amanda Fisher, Communications Coordinator Aisling Gamble, Communications Advisor, Events and Recognition DEAN

Dr. Jon Meddings V I C E- D E A N

Dr. Glenda MacQueen S E N I O R A S S O C I AT E D E A N S

Dr. Gerald Zamponi, Research Dr. Jocelyn Lockyer, Education Dr. Ronald Bridges, Faculty Affairs

F R E E CO P Y / A L U M N I U P DAT E

To receive a free copy of UCalgary Medicine please call 403. 220. 2819 or email medcomm @ ucalgary.ca The Faculty of Medicine is commited to staying in touch with our alumni. Please update your contact information at our website alumni.ucalgary.ca (CLICK ON “ UPDATE YOUR INFO”)

A S S O C I AT E D E A N S

Dr. Ebba Kurz, Undergraduate Science Education Dr. Bruce Wright, Undergraduate Medical Education Dr. Jennifer Hatfield, Global Health and International Partnerships Dr. Doug L. Myhre, Distributed Learning and Rural Initiatives Dr. Maureen Topps, Postgraduate Medical Education Dr. Tara Beattie, Graduate Science Education Dr. Lara Cooke, Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development Dr. Ray Turner, Research Grants Dr. Michael Hill, Clinical Trials Dr. Janet de Groot, Equity and Professionalism Dr. Kamala Patel, Faculty Development Dr. Paul Schnetkamp, Research Infrastructure Dr. Samuel Wiebe, Clinical Research

FAC U LT Y O F M E D I C I N E A L U M N I F E AT U R E D I N T H I S I S S U E :

Donors contribute to lymphedema research

MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN 2

7

EDUCATION

Here are the stories of a bunch of students...

9

RESEARCH

What is a heart attack? 14 Deep impact 16 It’s in the air 24 ALUMNI

Faculty of Medicine alumni shine at Mount Royal University 18 Alumna dedicated to global health 19 EDUCATION

On the Rhode to greatness 20 Resident embraces life changes 26 Look for this icon for more content found exclusively online at medicine.ucalgary.ca/magazine

WANT MORE?

SERVICE TO SOCIETY

Local media have him on speed dial during flu season 23 NEWS

Combine Design & Communications

Swathi Damarju, Amanda Fisher, Janice Heard, Trudie Lee, Live Love Laugh Photography, Ricky Leong (Foter) James May, Jon Meddings, Don Molyneaux, Bruce Perrault, RCMP, Dan Roycroft, Kathy Youssef, Hude Quan

D E PA R T M E N T S

PHILANTHROPY

Dr. Carolyn Emery, Dr. Cy Frank, Dr. Aravind Ganesh, Dr. Bill Ghali, Dr. Michael Hill, Dr. Vera Krejcik, Dr. Brent Mitchell

DESIGN

P H OTO G R A P H Y A N D I L LU S T R AT I O N S

Exchange program welcomes students from China 3

PM Agreement No. 41 0 9 5 52 8 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, Communications and Media Relations 7th Floor, TRW Building 3280 Hospital Drive NW Calgary, Alberta T2N 4Z6

In the news 27 Awards and recognition 28 In the community 29


MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

3

EDUCATION

Message from the Dean

Once again it’s been an exciting winter term here at the Faculty of Medicine, and you may see the word ‘proud’ on more than one occasion in this message. A number of faculty and former faculty members were recently named to the Order of Canada, this country’s highest civilian honour. On behalf of the Faculty of Medicine, I congratulate Drs. Ewan Affl eck, Mortan Doran, and Catherine Hankins, and I would like to extend those congratulations to our friend and long-time supporter Joan Snyder, the namesake of our Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases. The contributions to education, research and service to society made by our members and by our community of donors are a constant source of pride and cannot be understated. You are all part of helping us create the future of health.

I have always marveled at the incredible potential and commitment to excellence demonstrated by our students. In December 2013, that commitment was recognized with one of the most prestigious and competitive awards in the world—and not just once, but twice. The University of Calgary is the only university in Canada that can boast two 2014 Rhodes Scholars, and they’re both from the Faculty of Medicine. Aravind Ganesh, a second-year neurology resident and MD alumni, and Yan Yu, a third-year medical student, were named two of Canada’s 11 recipients. These exceptionally bright and talented young men will both travel to Oxford University in the fall to carry out further studies to advance their medical education. We look forward to hearing all about their experiences and couldn’t be more proud to call them our own. Our new faculty-wide Clinical Research Unit (CRU) has opened its doors, so to speak, extending its services to researchers across the health-care continuum. Capable of supporting data management for a large variety of health research endeavours, the CRU ultimately aims to streamline clinical research within the faculty. As the custodian of a variety of large and complex data resources, the CRU is already being utilized by over 400 researchers within the faculty. In continued support of the state-ofthe-art research underway at the Faculty of Medicine, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced funding for 19 concussion-related research projects across Canada in November, with a focus on improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these injuries in children and youth. Three Calgary projects, led by researchers Carolyn Emery, Karen Barlow and Garnette Sutherland received funding totaling nearly $2.5 million. Their combined contributions to this vital field of research will continue to impact the prevention and treatment of concussion and other brain injuries now and into the future.

Finally, 2014 is a milestone year for two of our seven research institutes. The Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta are celebrating their 10-year anniversaries. These two institutes have worked tirelessly to put Calgary on the map in terms of brain and mental health research and cardiac care and research respectively. As such, these anniversaries are a wonderful opportunity to recognize the remarkable efforts of our researchers, clinicians and trainees. They are also an opportunity to acknowledge the progress made by our research engines—our institutes—uniting our strengths in basic, translational and clinical research to improve patient care here in Calgary and throughout southern Alberta. I’m looking forward to marking these anniversaries with a nostalgic look back and an enthusiastic look ahead. I hope you enjoy this issue of UCalgary Medicine, and through the stories contained within, feel equally proud to be a part of this community. Jon Meddings, MD Dean, Faculty of Medicine University of Calgary

Exchange program welcomes students from China By Kathryn Kazoleas

Originally from Harbin Medical University in China, Dr. Yang Yang is a gynecological surgeon. With a special focus on ovarian cancer, her research at her home institution focuses on the efficacy of new therapeutic drugs and surgery in patients with metastatic ovarian cancer (ovarian cancer that has spread to other parts of the body). Recognizing the value basic research could contribute to her clinical research, Yang successfully applied to the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine’s student exchange program—one of many ongoing initiatives between the faculty and China.


MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

3

EDUCATION

Message from the Dean

Once again it’s been an exciting winter term here at the Faculty of Medicine, and you may see the word ‘proud’ on more than one occasion in this message. A number of faculty and former faculty members were recently named to the Order of Canada, this country’s highest civilian honour. On behalf of the Faculty of Medicine, I congratulate Drs. Ewan Affl eck, Mortan Doran, and Catherine Hankins, and I would like to extend those congratulations to our friend and long-time supporter Joan Snyder, the namesake of our Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases. The contributions to education, research and service to society made by our members and by our community of donors are a constant source of pride and cannot be understated. You are all part of helping us create the future of health.

I have always marveled at the incredible potential and commitment to excellence demonstrated by our students. In December 2013, that commitment was recognized with one of the most prestigious and competitive awards in the world—and not just once, but twice. The University of Calgary is the only university in Canada that can boast two 2014 Rhodes Scholars, and they’re both from the Faculty of Medicine. Aravind Ganesh, a second-year neurology resident and MD alumni, and Yan Yu, a third-year medical student, were named two of Canada’s 11 recipients. These exceptionally bright and talented young men will both travel to Oxford University in the fall to carry out further studies to advance their medical education. We look forward to hearing all about their experiences and couldn’t be more proud to call them our own. Our new faculty-wide Clinical Research Unit (CRU) has opened its doors, so to speak, extending its services to researchers across the health-care continuum. Capable of supporting data management for a large variety of health research endeavours, the CRU ultimately aims to streamline clinical research within the faculty. As the custodian of a variety of large and complex data resources, the CRU is already being utilized by over 400 researchers within the faculty. In continued support of the state-ofthe-art research underway at the Faculty of Medicine, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced funding for 19 concussion-related research projects across Canada in November, with a focus on improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these injuries in children and youth. Three Calgary projects, led by researchers Carolyn Emery, Karen Barlow and Garnette Sutherland received funding totaling nearly $2.5 million. Their combined contributions to this vital field of research will continue to impact the prevention and treatment of concussion and other brain injuries now and into the future.

Finally, 2014 is a milestone year for two of our seven research institutes. The Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta are celebrating their 10-year anniversaries. These two institutes have worked tirelessly to put Calgary on the map in terms of brain and mental health research and cardiac care and research respectively. As such, these anniversaries are a wonderful opportunity to recognize the remarkable efforts of our researchers, clinicians and trainees. They are also an opportunity to acknowledge the progress made by our research engines—our institutes—uniting our strengths in basic, translational and clinical research to improve patient care here in Calgary and throughout southern Alberta. I’m looking forward to marking these anniversaries with a nostalgic look back and an enthusiastic look ahead. I hope you enjoy this issue of UCalgary Medicine, and through the stories contained within, feel equally proud to be a part of this community. Jon Meddings, MD Dean, Faculty of Medicine University of Calgary

Exchange program welcomes students from China By Kathryn Kazoleas

Originally from Harbin Medical University in China, Dr. Yang Yang is a gynecological surgeon. With a special focus on ovarian cancer, her research at her home institution focuses on the efficacy of new therapeutic drugs and surgery in patients with metastatic ovarian cancer (ovarian cancer that has spread to other parts of the body). Recognizing the value basic research could contribute to her clinical research, Yang successfully applied to the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine’s student exchange program—one of many ongoing initiatives between the faculty and China.


4

MEDICINE.UCALGARY.CA/MAGAZINE

C

hina’s wealth of materials and infrastructure, combined with the value it places on higher education, position the country as a strong collaborative partner internationally. With a relationship spanning more than 20 years, and with China being one of the six countries/regions of interest highlighted in the University of Calgary’s international strategy, the partnership between China and the faculty is growing in importance and will continue to do so well into the future. In partnership with Capital Medical University in Beijing and Harbin Medical University in Harbin, the student exchange program, which began formally accepting students in September 2012, is a relatively new concept. Targeting top Chinese clinical investigators interested in pursuing doctoral studies, the program aims to produce highly skilled and knowledgeable clinical researchers, who will then return to China to take on leadership roles within the health research paradigm. Following the cotutelle model of education (an international co-supervised PhD), the program is entirely a joint effort; students are supervised by highly qualified researchers at both institutions, they take course components at both institutions, carry out one collaborative research project and, upon successful completion, receive their degree from both institutions.

“ In China we are used to listening and following the teachers, but here the professors encourage you to ask questions.” Yang arrived with the first cohort of students in September 2012. Working in the lab of Karl Riabowol, PhD, she is investigating the basic science behind cancer metastasis. More specifically, she is investigating a tumour suppressor called inhibitor of growth (ING protein) to see if it is able to regulate the cellular process epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT is a natural process in the body that occurs during the early development of organs and tissues and when the body is repairing a wound. Any time a cell changes, there is a chance it can become invasive, subsequently causing cancer. As EMT has been linked to the development of cancer metastasis, Yang is interested in knowing if the ING protein has the ability to regulate or inhibit the EMT process, thereby influencing tumour metastasis.

She hypothesizes that her research will show the ING factor will be able to inhibit the EMT process, and says that the skills she is learning while testing that hypothesis are invaluable. “This knowledge of basic science will complement the human aspect of my work,” she says. “When I return to China, the processes I use and my research skills will have improved.” As part of the exchange, Yang has also been participating in lectures and seminars related to her field of study, and she says she is happily adapting to the differences in educational delivery she is receiving. “In China we are used to listening and following the teachers, but here the professors encourage you to ask questions,” she says, adding that she believes it’s a cultural fear of making mistakes and asking ‘silly’ questions that prevents the same behaviour at home. “I really like that you can say what you want here and that you don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes.” The program, which takes four to five years to complete, currently has 10 Chinese students enrolled, with the hopes of expanding to 50 in the coming years—a goal that will require the participation of many faculty supervisors as well as increased funding (a fundraising initiative was recently launched). Although the program is administered through the Faculty of Medicine with students researching a diverse spectrum of topics including cancer biology, bioinformatics and developmental biology, the initiative is multidisciplinary and multi-faculty; for example, two students are currently studying with supervisors in the Faculty of Science. Dr. Hallgrimur Benediktsson, assistant dean, global health and capacity building, says the long-term vision for the program is to build a strong network of collaborators between the University of Calgary and China. “China has a wealth of materials, infrastructure and a large patient population, and we have a lot of highly skilled researchers,” he says. “By sharing our knowledge and having access to their resources, we hope that more research opportunities will be generated and more multi-faceted opportunities for collaboration are created. “The expansion of our program can only happen when we have more awareness by our faculty. Supervisors who are already involved in supervising Chinese students not enrolled in the program may find a benefit to both themselves and their students to enter into this exchange program,” he says. As part of a rigorous selection process, Frans van der Hoorn, PhD, professor and former associate dean of graduate science education, travels to China to interview students to determine who is the best fit

5

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

Dr. Yang Yang in her lab.

for the program. Students are first and foremost evaluated based on academic excellence, attitude and leadership potential. They must also have a functional level of English and be able to answer questions about their research in English. Additionally, their admittance to the program is dependent on securing a suitable supervisor in Calgary. van der Hoorn says while the exchange program only formally accepts Chinese students to study in Calgary at this time, they are hoping to send students from Calgary to study in China in the near future. In the meantime, organizers are currently investigating additional ways to share the expertise and knowledge of the Chinese participants with faculty members and students here in Calgary. “China has leading investigators and many are interested in coming to Calgary to talk about their work and develop collaborations,” he says. Going forward, while the faculty hopes to increase enrolment in the student exchange program as is, it also hopes that the program will grow to include additional Chinese post-secondary institutions. “We want to broaden the reach of the program,”

says van der Hoorn. “This will allow us to recruit even more strong students.” In addition to the expansion of the student exchange program, the faculty is investigating additional opportunities in other Chinese locations in hopes of building an even stronger collaborative network. “One of the central roles that we see in the global health enterprise at the faculty is capacity building,” says Benediktsson, “And that’s what we’re doing in China. Combining their infrastructure and resources with our expert know-how…we are creating a very strong collaborative network that will lead to great things for the future of health.”

Did you know? Daqing was twinned with Calgary in 1985. The city even has a street named Calgary Trail.


4

MEDICINE.UCALGARY.CA/MAGAZINE

C

hina’s wealth of materials and infrastructure, combined with the value it places on higher education, position the country as a strong collaborative partner internationally. With a relationship spanning more than 20 years, and with China being one of the six countries/regions of interest highlighted in the University of Calgary’s international strategy, the partnership between China and the faculty is growing in importance and will continue to do so well into the future. In partnership with Capital Medical University in Beijing and Harbin Medical University in Harbin, the student exchange program, which began formally accepting students in September 2012, is a relatively new concept. Targeting top Chinese clinical investigators interested in pursuing doctoral studies, the program aims to produce highly skilled and knowledgeable clinical researchers, who will then return to China to take on leadership roles within the health research paradigm. Following the cotutelle model of education (an international co-supervised PhD), the program is entirely a joint effort; students are supervised by highly qualified researchers at both institutions, they take course components at both institutions, carry out one collaborative research project and, upon successful completion, receive their degree from both institutions.

“ In China we are used to listening and following the teachers, but here the professors encourage you to ask questions.” Yang arrived with the first cohort of students in September 2012. Working in the lab of Karl Riabowol, PhD, she is investigating the basic science behind cancer metastasis. More specifically, she is investigating a tumour suppressor called inhibitor of growth (ING protein) to see if it is able to regulate the cellular process epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT is a natural process in the body that occurs during the early development of organs and tissues and when the body is repairing a wound. Any time a cell changes, there is a chance it can become invasive, subsequently causing cancer. As EMT has been linked to the development of cancer metastasis, Yang is interested in knowing if the ING protein has the ability to regulate or inhibit the EMT process, thereby influencing tumour metastasis.

She hypothesizes that her research will show the ING factor will be able to inhibit the EMT process, and says that the skills she is learning while testing that hypothesis are invaluable. “This knowledge of basic science will complement the human aspect of my work,” she says. “When I return to China, the processes I use and my research skills will have improved.” As part of the exchange, Yang has also been participating in lectures and seminars related to her field of study, and she says she is happily adapting to the differences in educational delivery she is receiving. “In China we are used to listening and following the teachers, but here the professors encourage you to ask questions,” she says, adding that she believes it’s a cultural fear of making mistakes and asking ‘silly’ questions that prevents the same behaviour at home. “I really like that you can say what you want here and that you don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes.” The program, which takes four to five years to complete, currently has 10 Chinese students enrolled, with the hopes of expanding to 50 in the coming years—a goal that will require the participation of many faculty supervisors as well as increased funding (a fundraising initiative was recently launched). Although the program is administered through the Faculty of Medicine with students researching a diverse spectrum of topics including cancer biology, bioinformatics and developmental biology, the initiative is multidisciplinary and multi-faculty; for example, two students are currently studying with supervisors in the Faculty of Science. Dr. Hallgrimur Benediktsson, assistant dean, global health and capacity building, says the long-term vision for the program is to build a strong network of collaborators between the University of Calgary and China. “China has a wealth of materials, infrastructure and a large patient population, and we have a lot of highly skilled researchers,” he says. “By sharing our knowledge and having access to their resources, we hope that more research opportunities will be generated and more multi-faceted opportunities for collaboration are created. “The expansion of our program can only happen when we have more awareness by our faculty. Supervisors who are already involved in supervising Chinese students not enrolled in the program may find a benefit to both themselves and their students to enter into this exchange program,” he says. As part of a rigorous selection process, Frans van der Hoorn, PhD, professor and former associate dean of graduate science education, travels to China to interview students to determine who is the best fit

5

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

Dr. Yang Yang in her lab.

for the program. Students are first and foremost evaluated based on academic excellence, attitude and leadership potential. They must also have a functional level of English and be able to answer questions about their research in English. Additionally, their admittance to the program is dependent on securing a suitable supervisor in Calgary. van der Hoorn says while the exchange program only formally accepts Chinese students to study in Calgary at this time, they are hoping to send students from Calgary to study in China in the near future. In the meantime, organizers are currently investigating additional ways to share the expertise and knowledge of the Chinese participants with faculty members and students here in Calgary. “China has leading investigators and many are interested in coming to Calgary to talk about their work and develop collaborations,” he says. Going forward, while the faculty hopes to increase enrolment in the student exchange program as is, it also hopes that the program will grow to include additional Chinese post-secondary institutions. “We want to broaden the reach of the program,”

says van der Hoorn. “This will allow us to recruit even more strong students.” In addition to the expansion of the student exchange program, the faculty is investigating additional opportunities in other Chinese locations in hopes of building an even stronger collaborative network. “One of the central roles that we see in the global health enterprise at the faculty is capacity building,” says Benediktsson, “And that’s what we’re doing in China. Combining their infrastructure and resources with our expert know-how…we are creating a very strong collaborative network that will lead to great things for the future of health.”

Did you know? Daqing was twinned with Calgary in 1985. The city even has a street named Calgary Trail.


6

MEDICINE.UCALGARY.CA/MAGAZINE

PHILANTHROPY

7

Signing ceremony for the establishment of the Centre for Infection and Genomics in Harbin.

Donors contribute to lymphedema research

Additional involvement Sub-specialty training:

Joint Liver Institute:

Daqing, Calgary’s sister city, has been extremely eager to cultivate relationships with the faculty. Over the years, many faculty members have gone to the teaching hospital there to teach, train and consult. Recently, the faculty has begun accepting Chinese physicians to Calgary for short training periods of approximately four to six months. The visiting physicians are paired up with a faculty mentor for the duration to learn specific skills related to their area of clinical expertise. “Essentially this program is clinical sub-specialty training for physicians, as opposed to research training,” says Dr. Hallgrimur Benediktsson. “They may be learning a specific methodology or surgical technique…this exchange is very individualized and tailored to specific needs.” Much like the student exchange program, physicians accepted into this program are highly skilled. When they return to China, they have the potential to take on leadership roles in their field, training the leaders of tomorrow and thereby broadening the collaborative network.

In collaboration with Capital Medical University (CMU), the Joint Liver Institute is a virtual institute created to engage liver clinicians and researchers in both China and Calgary in hopes of discovering new treatments for liver diseases. Liver diseases such as hepatitis and cancer are widely prevalent in both China and Canada; however, the patient population —and therefore the population to study— is much smaller in Canada. The institute, which officially opened in China in 2010 and in Calgary in 2011, affords Calgary researchers the opportunity to study these diseases in much larger numbers through a joint biobank that houses thousands of tissue samples, and provides China with access to the expertise of our skilled clinician researchers. Representatives from the Faculty of Medicine’s liver group and the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases have travelled to CMU to teach both students and physicians, as well as the broader community.

Did you know? Some of the students studying through the student exchange program are investigating liver disease by utilizing resources created through this institute.

Centre for Infection and Genomics: In collaboration with Harbin Medical University, the joint Centre for Infection and Genomics opened in 2013. Created to address the ongoing need for further understanding and more treatment options for infection, it is hoped this centre will provide additional and necessary insight into the complexity of immunity and genomics, which play a role in patient susceptibility. Much like the Joint Liver Institute, the centre is working in a collaborative manner to benefit from both the high patient population in China and the level of research expertise in Calgary.

By Steve Macfarlane

IMAGINE SURVIVING CANCER then finding yourself afflicted with a resulting condition that leaves your legs twice their normal size, bright red and covered with large, scaly patches. Then imagine struggling to find a diagnosis and treatment options. Dianne Kipnes doesn’t have to imagine. She lived it. So have millions of cancer survivors afflicted with secondary lymphedema—a painful, chronic swelling of the limb close to where cancer-prone lymph nodes were removed—which can lead to debilitation and even death if left untreated. Kipnes hopes her actions in the four years since the onset of her lymphedema diagnoses (five years following her first cancer treatment) will help lead to fewer people in Alberta

and around the world having to live through it as well. With a $5-million donation from Dianne and her husband Irving to the University of Calgary’s Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases in September 2013, a collaborative provincial program has been established with the goal of researching the condition at the cellular level in order to seek prevention, while also providing physicians with additional education on the lymphatic system and how lymphedema develops. “I think one of the most important things is education: to educate people about what can happen, to help them take preventative measures before it gets to be serious,” the philanthropist says from her office in Edmonton.


6

MEDICINE.UCALGARY.CA/MAGAZINE

PHILANTHROPY

7

Signing ceremony for the establishment of the Centre for Infection and Genomics in Harbin.

Donors contribute to lymphedema research

Additional involvement Sub-specialty training:

Joint Liver Institute:

Daqing, Calgary’s sister city, has been extremely eager to cultivate relationships with the faculty. Over the years, many faculty members have gone to the teaching hospital there to teach, train and consult. Recently, the faculty has begun accepting Chinese physicians to Calgary for short training periods of approximately four to six months. The visiting physicians are paired up with a faculty mentor for the duration to learn specific skills related to their area of clinical expertise. “Essentially this program is clinical sub-specialty training for physicians, as opposed to research training,” says Dr. Hallgrimur Benediktsson. “They may be learning a specific methodology or surgical technique…this exchange is very individualized and tailored to specific needs.” Much like the student exchange program, physicians accepted into this program are highly skilled. When they return to China, they have the potential to take on leadership roles in their field, training the leaders of tomorrow and thereby broadening the collaborative network.

In collaboration with Capital Medical University (CMU), the Joint Liver Institute is a virtual institute created to engage liver clinicians and researchers in both China and Calgary in hopes of discovering new treatments for liver diseases. Liver diseases such as hepatitis and cancer are widely prevalent in both China and Canada; however, the patient population —and therefore the population to study— is much smaller in Canada. The institute, which officially opened in China in 2010 and in Calgary in 2011, affords Calgary researchers the opportunity to study these diseases in much larger numbers through a joint biobank that houses thousands of tissue samples, and provides China with access to the expertise of our skilled clinician researchers. Representatives from the Faculty of Medicine’s liver group and the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases have travelled to CMU to teach both students and physicians, as well as the broader community.

Did you know? Some of the students studying through the student exchange program are investigating liver disease by utilizing resources created through this institute.

Centre for Infection and Genomics: In collaboration with Harbin Medical University, the joint Centre for Infection and Genomics opened in 2013. Created to address the ongoing need for further understanding and more treatment options for infection, it is hoped this centre will provide additional and necessary insight into the complexity of immunity and genomics, which play a role in patient susceptibility. Much like the Joint Liver Institute, the centre is working in a collaborative manner to benefit from both the high patient population in China and the level of research expertise in Calgary.

By Steve Macfarlane

IMAGINE SURVIVING CANCER then finding yourself afflicted with a resulting condition that leaves your legs twice their normal size, bright red and covered with large, scaly patches. Then imagine struggling to find a diagnosis and treatment options. Dianne Kipnes doesn’t have to imagine. She lived it. So have millions of cancer survivors afflicted with secondary lymphedema—a painful, chronic swelling of the limb close to where cancer-prone lymph nodes were removed—which can lead to debilitation and even death if left untreated. Kipnes hopes her actions in the four years since the onset of her lymphedema diagnoses (five years following her first cancer treatment) will help lead to fewer people in Alberta

and around the world having to live through it as well. With a $5-million donation from Dianne and her husband Irving to the University of Calgary’s Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases in September 2013, a collaborative provincial program has been established with the goal of researching the condition at the cellular level in order to seek prevention, while also providing physicians with additional education on the lymphatic system and how lymphedema develops. “I think one of the most important things is education: to educate people about what can happen, to help them take preventative measures before it gets to be serious,” the philanthropist says from her office in Edmonton.


8

MEDICINE.UCALGARY.CA/MAGAZINE

9

EDUCATION

Here are the stories of a bunch of students…

Surviving cancer is a major thing. When people have cancer, that’s all they focus on. But I think we have to keep in mind that there are some after effects, and perhaps they can be prevented. – Dianne Kipnes

…and how they found their way to medicine By Kathryn Kazoleas and Caitlyn MacDonald

“Surviving cancer is a major thing. When people have cancer, that’s all they focus on. But I think we have to keep in mind that there are some after effects, and perhaps they can be prevented.” Her personal struggle to discover what was happening to her finally came to an end with her oncologist’s diagnosis of lymphedema, which began a new plight to find treatment. Luck led her to meet a friend’s husband, Ian Soles, a therapist who happened to specialize in manual lymphatic drainage—a gentle type of massage that stimulates lymph flow and drainage, and the treatment of choice for afflicted individuals. Kipnes’ commitment to improving the health-care landscape led to the establishment of a clinic in Edmonton where Soles and three other therapists treat patients with lymphedema. “I get to see quite often how much of a difference this clinic makes in people’s lives,” Kipnes says. “We also get to see some of the difficult things that happen to people who haven’t been able to get treatment or a diagnosis, or who have been searching for a long time.” Seeing so many people suffering, the Kipneses looked into what research was being done in the area of lymphedema and how they may be able to help support that research. “If we don’t really understand what the process is, how are we ever going to figure out what to do about it?” Kipnes says. Pierre-Yves von der Weid, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine,

is attempting to answer that question. Kipnes was pleasantly surprised to find a researcher located right here in Alberta. They spoke, decided to meet, and discussed how they could bring the province to the forefront of a changing landscape in lymphatic system research. “It feels like there are a lot of things that are synchronistically coming together,” Kipnes says. This work could also benefit a much wider base of patients: primary lymphedema is rare (but seen in some infants) with little knowledge available about how to treat it; and the lymphatic system could play a prominent role in other conditions such as diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. The possibilities are encouraging, and positive reaction has been pouring in from all over the world since the donation. Kipnes is quick to deflect credit but is pleased to be a part of the initiative at a time of growth. She is hopeful those who are experiencing what she went through will have positive outcomes and easier access to information and treatment, and that lymphedema can someday be prevented altogether. “I’m getting to a point where I have a normal life, with some restrictions. I can manage,” Kipnes says of her own treatment progression. “When I was first diagnosed, I couldn’t manage at all. This was just something that was very important to me. There are a lot of people who become seriously depressed, and become disabled if they don’t get this condition treated.”

Donation supports collaborative program with university partners Our province will be front and centre in the coming years, with the University of Calgary and University of Alberta working collaboratively to establish a world-class lymphedema program. The future state-of-the-art Kipnes Lymphatic Imaging Suite will help researchers understand how the lymphatic system works and what goes wrong when it doesn’t. Education and knowledge are also a key component, with training elements such as a scholarship and a lymphatic education course all part of the vision. “This community now has the opportunity to grow and put lymphedema and the lymphatic system on the map,” says Pierre-Yves von der Weid, PhD, whose program is taking shape. Researcher Shan Liao, PhD, began her appointment at the University of Calgary in October 2013 and has recruited a lab technician to work alongside her at the future imaging suite. The team is in the process of testing various microscopes in order to determine the best fits for its experimental needs. von der Weid and Liao have also produced their first collaborative review paper on the subject of their research, which has been accepted for publication.

Did you know? Lymphedema affects up to 60 per cent of Canadian cancer survivors.

Becoming a doctor is a dream Class of Karina Pillay has 2016 had since she was young. When her applications to medical school immediately following her Bachelor of Science degree, were unsuccessful, she set her sights on something a little different—politics, business and education. The combination of the three culminated in her most recent career as mayor of her hometown of Slave Lake. Serving for three terms— approximately nine years— Pillay played an integral role in the growth of Slave Lake as it experienced a boom in industry and transitioned into a large service hub for the entire region. “I really enjoyed being a part of building a healthy community,” she says. She also guided her town through the aftermath of the

Karina Pillay devastating fires of 2011— the second largest natural disaster in Canadian history at the time, resulting in nearly $1 billion in losses. As a community leader, Pillay found that she had frequent opportunities to engage with young people and to encourage them to chase their dreams and accomplish their goals. “You always say the words, ‘follow your dreams, live your life with purpose and passion’ and I just thought, I have to do that. I didn’t want any regrets.” So, Pillay decided to give medical school another try. Studying over a summer as mayor and re-writing the MCAT, one of her applications earned her a spot on a waitlist; however it wasn’t until 2013, the year she decided would be her last attempt, that she was formally accepted into medical school.

“Being accepted is a gift,” she says. “To be given the opportunity to serve the community in this new capacity…it’s an honour.” Throughout her term as mayor, Pillay served on the Health Advisory Council for Lesser Slave Lake and collaborated with higher levels of government to advocate for health issues. She worked with people of all ages and cultures, and feels that her leadership experiences have given her the strong interpersonal skills needed

to relate to diverse communities —skills that will definitely be an asset in her new career. And while stepping down as mayor to pursue her childhood dream was emotional, she is confident in the team she was part of and knows that Slave Lake will continue to recover and thrive. “I don’t think I would have been given this chance if I didn’t serve as mayor,” she says. “The people of Slave Lake really supported me through this and helped to give me the skills I needed to get in.”


8

MEDICINE.UCALGARY.CA/MAGAZINE

9

EDUCATION

Here are the stories of a bunch of students…

Surviving cancer is a major thing. When people have cancer, that’s all they focus on. But I think we have to keep in mind that there are some after effects, and perhaps they can be prevented. – Dianne Kipnes

…and how they found their way to medicine By Kathryn Kazoleas and Caitlyn MacDonald

“Surviving cancer is a major thing. When people have cancer, that’s all they focus on. But I think we have to keep in mind that there are some after effects, and perhaps they can be prevented.” Her personal struggle to discover what was happening to her finally came to an end with her oncologist’s diagnosis of lymphedema, which began a new plight to find treatment. Luck led her to meet a friend’s husband, Ian Soles, a therapist who happened to specialize in manual lymphatic drainage—a gentle type of massage that stimulates lymph flow and drainage, and the treatment of choice for afflicted individuals. Kipnes’ commitment to improving the health-care landscape led to the establishment of a clinic in Edmonton where Soles and three other therapists treat patients with lymphedema. “I get to see quite often how much of a difference this clinic makes in people’s lives,” Kipnes says. “We also get to see some of the difficult things that happen to people who haven’t been able to get treatment or a diagnosis, or who have been searching for a long time.” Seeing so many people suffering, the Kipneses looked into what research was being done in the area of lymphedema and how they may be able to help support that research. “If we don’t really understand what the process is, how are we ever going to figure out what to do about it?” Kipnes says. Pierre-Yves von der Weid, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine,

is attempting to answer that question. Kipnes was pleasantly surprised to find a researcher located right here in Alberta. They spoke, decided to meet, and discussed how they could bring the province to the forefront of a changing landscape in lymphatic system research. “It feels like there are a lot of things that are synchronistically coming together,” Kipnes says. This work could also benefit a much wider base of patients: primary lymphedema is rare (but seen in some infants) with little knowledge available about how to treat it; and the lymphatic system could play a prominent role in other conditions such as diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. The possibilities are encouraging, and positive reaction has been pouring in from all over the world since the donation. Kipnes is quick to deflect credit but is pleased to be a part of the initiative at a time of growth. She is hopeful those who are experiencing what she went through will have positive outcomes and easier access to information and treatment, and that lymphedema can someday be prevented altogether. “I’m getting to a point where I have a normal life, with some restrictions. I can manage,” Kipnes says of her own treatment progression. “When I was first diagnosed, I couldn’t manage at all. This was just something that was very important to me. There are a lot of people who become seriously depressed, and become disabled if they don’t get this condition treated.”

Donation supports collaborative program with university partners Our province will be front and centre in the coming years, with the University of Calgary and University of Alberta working collaboratively to establish a world-class lymphedema program. The future state-of-the-art Kipnes Lymphatic Imaging Suite will help researchers understand how the lymphatic system works and what goes wrong when it doesn’t. Education and knowledge are also a key component, with training elements such as a scholarship and a lymphatic education course all part of the vision. “This community now has the opportunity to grow and put lymphedema and the lymphatic system on the map,” says Pierre-Yves von der Weid, PhD, whose program is taking shape. Researcher Shan Liao, PhD, began her appointment at the University of Calgary in October 2013 and has recruited a lab technician to work alongside her at the future imaging suite. The team is in the process of testing various microscopes in order to determine the best fits for its experimental needs. von der Weid and Liao have also produced their first collaborative review paper on the subject of their research, which has been accepted for publication.

Did you know? Lymphedema affects up to 60 per cent of Canadian cancer survivors.

Becoming a doctor is a dream Class of Karina Pillay has 2016 had since she was young. When her applications to medical school immediately following her Bachelor of Science degree, were unsuccessful, she set her sights on something a little different—politics, business and education. The combination of the three culminated in her most recent career as mayor of her hometown of Slave Lake. Serving for three terms— approximately nine years— Pillay played an integral role in the growth of Slave Lake as it experienced a boom in industry and transitioned into a large service hub for the entire region. “I really enjoyed being a part of building a healthy community,” she says. She also guided her town through the aftermath of the

Karina Pillay devastating fires of 2011— the second largest natural disaster in Canadian history at the time, resulting in nearly $1 billion in losses. As a community leader, Pillay found that she had frequent opportunities to engage with young people and to encourage them to chase their dreams and accomplish their goals. “You always say the words, ‘follow your dreams, live your life with purpose and passion’ and I just thought, I have to do that. I didn’t want any regrets.” So, Pillay decided to give medical school another try. Studying over a summer as mayor and re-writing the MCAT, one of her applications earned her a spot on a waitlist; however it wasn’t until 2013, the year she decided would be her last attempt, that she was formally accepted into medical school.

“Being accepted is a gift,” she says. “To be given the opportunity to serve the community in this new capacity…it’s an honour.” Throughout her term as mayor, Pillay served on the Health Advisory Council for Lesser Slave Lake and collaborated with higher levels of government to advocate for health issues. She worked with people of all ages and cultures, and feels that her leadership experiences have given her the strong interpersonal skills needed

to relate to diverse communities —skills that will definitely be an asset in her new career. And while stepping down as mayor to pursue her childhood dream was emotional, she is confident in the team she was part of and knows that Slave Lake will continue to recover and thrive. “I don’t think I would have been given this chance if I didn’t serve as mayor,” she says. “The people of Slave Lake really supported me through this and helped to give me the skills I needed to get in.”


M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

EDUCATION

11

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

Julia Saar Julia Saar has always had a Class of diverse set of 2014 interests among both the arts and sciences. And while her interest in medicine was always there, she wanted to explore her options before applying and entering into medical school—an undertaking she knew would be time consuming and require a large amount of dedication. Saar began singing in elementary school and was told by her parents that one day she came home and told them she LOVED to sing. She continued to sing in choirs and school plays, and while she had decided it wouldn’t be a career pursuit, she was

offered a contract to sing with the Calgary Opera during the 2010/2011 season. “I love to perform and be on stage,” she says. “During the season it was so exciting to play a character from a different time period, to wear a costume designed for a different century…it’s completely different from day-to-day life.” Prior to joining the Calgary Opera, Saar completed a degree in chemical engineering. “I enrolled in engineering thinking it would be a practical and interesting field that would give me options if I decided not to apply for medicine,” she says. Saar worked in the oil and gas industry and in biomedical engineering research as a summer student, and always

While learning the acting side of opera, you find out that in order to really embrace a character, you have to put yourself in their shoes, so that has really helped me with my capacity for empathy and communication.

Julia Saar in costume for the Calgary Opera.

had various volunteer roles on the go, including one through which she provided prenatal support for new mothers from challenged demographics. Through these experiences, she soon realized that she would bring a unique skill set to medicine, and have plenty of opportunities to adapt her personal strengths. Now in her final year of medical school, she has her sights on anesthesiology— a path she credits to her background in chemical engineering. “I’m constantly seeing ways my training in terms of problem solving and thinking on my toes can be applied to anesthesiology,” she says. “Even some of the knowledge base required comes from

engineering principles, such as pump mechanics and fluid flow.” While shifting to medicine, she hasn’t put aside her love of singing and appreciates the influence it will have on her throughout her career as a physician. “While learning the acting side of opera, you find out that in order to really embrace a character you have to put yourself in their shoes. So that has really helped me with my capacity for empathy and communication,” she says. “It’s also given me an outlet for stress management. When I’m singing I’m not thinking about the stresses of medical school. I know that will carry through as I face the challenges of being a physician.”

Gordon Jewett Prior to entering medical school, Class of Gordon Jewett 2016 was an elite cross-country ski racer. Having started competing seriously at the age of 14, his 15-year career was crowned by competing for Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.“In high school my biggest concern was ski racing and I put little energy into formal academics, but it was sport that initially awakened my interest in the human body,” he says. After high school he moved from Toronto to Canmore to train with the Canadian Ski Team. Years of intense training resulted in a lower back injury that eventually sidelined him

through his first two seasons in the senior ranks. “My career became defined by back problems, including three spine surgeries. In the final two years of my career I finally figured out how to manage my injuries and still be internationally competitive.” Jewett’s career included representing Canada at five world championships and winning 11 Canadian titles. In 2010, just 18 months after undergoing a revision back surgery, he finally punched his ticket to the Olympic Games. “Winning the Olympic selection race was the best day of my skiing career. I will never forget sharing that moment with my teammates, wife and family,” he says.

After fulfilling his childhood Olympic dream, and retiring from elite ski racing in 2010, he went back to school and enrolled in biomedical software engineering at the University of Calgary. There he discovered a passion for reverse engineering complex biological systems and decided to pursue a career in medicine. As a medical student, Jewett finds he is able to apply the skills he developed as an athlete on a daily basis. He long ago adopted the family motto of famed Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, Fortitudine Vincimus, meaning, ‘By endurance we conquer’.

“It is a reminder that success comes from perseverance, regardless of how formidable a challenge seems,” he says. ”It served me well as an athlete and I think it will serve me well as a physician caring for patients.” Nearing the end of his first year of medical school, Jewett is enjoying his new career path. This past December, he and his wife Rhonda celebrated the birth of their first child, Ayesha. Balancing a family with medical school will add a new dynamic to his student life but he is excited for the added challenge.

My career became defined by back problems, including three spine surgeries. In the final two years of my career I finally figured out how to manage my injuries and still be internationally competitive.


M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

EDUCATION

11

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

Julia Saar Julia Saar has always had a Class of diverse set of 2014 interests among both the arts and sciences. And while her interest in medicine was always there, she wanted to explore her options before applying and entering into medical school—an undertaking she knew would be time consuming and require a large amount of dedication. Saar began singing in elementary school and was told by her parents that one day she came home and told them she LOVED to sing. She continued to sing in choirs and school plays, and while she had decided it wouldn’t be a career pursuit, she was

offered a contract to sing with the Calgary Opera during the 2010/2011 season. “I love to perform and be on stage,” she says. “During the season it was so exciting to play a character from a different time period, to wear a costume designed for a different century…it’s completely different from day-to-day life.” Prior to joining the Calgary Opera, Saar completed a degree in chemical engineering. “I enrolled in engineering thinking it would be a practical and interesting field that would give me options if I decided not to apply for medicine,” she says. Saar worked in the oil and gas industry and in biomedical engineering research as a summer student, and always

While learning the acting side of opera, you find out that in order to really embrace a character, you have to put yourself in their shoes, so that has really helped me with my capacity for empathy and communication.

Julia Saar in costume for the Calgary Opera.

had various volunteer roles on the go, including one through which she provided prenatal support for new mothers from challenged demographics. Through these experiences, she soon realized that she would bring a unique skill set to medicine, and have plenty of opportunities to adapt her personal strengths. Now in her final year of medical school, she has her sights on anesthesiology— a path she credits to her background in chemical engineering. “I’m constantly seeing ways my training in terms of problem solving and thinking on my toes can be applied to anesthesiology,” she says. “Even some of the knowledge base required comes from

engineering principles, such as pump mechanics and fluid flow.” While shifting to medicine, she hasn’t put aside her love of singing and appreciates the influence it will have on her throughout her career as a physician. “While learning the acting side of opera, you find out that in order to really embrace a character you have to put yourself in their shoes. So that has really helped me with my capacity for empathy and communication,” she says. “It’s also given me an outlet for stress management. When I’m singing I’m not thinking about the stresses of medical school. I know that will carry through as I face the challenges of being a physician.”

Gordon Jewett Prior to entering medical school, Class of Gordon Jewett 2016 was an elite cross-country ski racer. Having started competing seriously at the age of 14, his 15-year career was crowned by competing for Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.“In high school my biggest concern was ski racing and I put little energy into formal academics, but it was sport that initially awakened my interest in the human body,” he says. After high school he moved from Toronto to Canmore to train with the Canadian Ski Team. Years of intense training resulted in a lower back injury that eventually sidelined him

through his first two seasons in the senior ranks. “My career became defined by back problems, including three spine surgeries. In the final two years of my career I finally figured out how to manage my injuries and still be internationally competitive.” Jewett’s career included representing Canada at five world championships and winning 11 Canadian titles. In 2010, just 18 months after undergoing a revision back surgery, he finally punched his ticket to the Olympic Games. “Winning the Olympic selection race was the best day of my skiing career. I will never forget sharing that moment with my teammates, wife and family,” he says.

After fulfilling his childhood Olympic dream, and retiring from elite ski racing in 2010, he went back to school and enrolled in biomedical software engineering at the University of Calgary. There he discovered a passion for reverse engineering complex biological systems and decided to pursue a career in medicine. As a medical student, Jewett finds he is able to apply the skills he developed as an athlete on a daily basis. He long ago adopted the family motto of famed Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, Fortitudine Vincimus, meaning, ‘By endurance we conquer’.

“It is a reminder that success comes from perseverance, regardless of how formidable a challenge seems,” he says. ”It served me well as an athlete and I think it will serve me well as a physician caring for patients.” Nearing the end of his first year of medical school, Jewett is enjoying his new career path. This past December, he and his wife Rhonda celebrated the birth of their first child, Ayesha. Balancing a family with medical school will add a new dynamic to his student life but he is excited for the added challenge.

My career became defined by back problems, including three spine surgeries. In the final two years of my career I finally figured out how to manage my injuries and still be internationally competitive.


M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

EDUCATION

Sam Montasser While Sam Montasser had Class of intended to apply 2015 to medical school after completing his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, a summer internship and subsequent volunteer work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) peaked his interest in policing. Following graduation, he was accepted into the training academy and became a fulltime member of the RCMP. “I have always had an interest in medicine, I just happened upon another interest that

I needed to explore,” he says. During his four-year career with the RCMP, Montasser served in a number of roles. His first was with highway patrol, where he was a part of a team dedicated to proactively enforcing provincial and federal statutes on the roadways between Athabasca and Cold Lake, Alberta. The remainder of his career was spent in general duty, working within the community responding to dispatch calls. He also served as a media liaison—working with media outlets within print, radio and television—sharing stories

of significant public interest, and was also given the opportunity to pilot-test one of only a handful of prototype vehicles built around a new technology streamlining the operation of police vehicles. During his career with the RCMP, Montasser experienced and witnessed the challenges faced by remote and rural communities regarding the delivery of essential services. Drawing parallels between the fundamentals of policing and health care, he says delivery of both of these services depends largely on the human factor. Thus, he understands the demands of working in rural communities where it is often difficult to staff these services. “This appreciation of the challenges in rural communities is something that can only come from experiencing it first hand,” he says. While retiring his RCMP uniform for medical school was difficult, it’s not a decision that he regrets. While his biggest hesitation in entering the field of medicine was the time commitment required to train to become a physician, Montasser says he has since embraced it. “I’m equally passionate about my new pursuit and excited about the opportunity to once again serve my community in a meaningful way. Life is a journey, not a destination.”

13

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

Corinne McDonald Having always been drawn Class of to work with 2015 people, Corinne McDonald spent more than 15 years working in the field of international affairs and human rights prior to entering medical school. To name just a few of her past career experiences—which took her to high-risk and conflict zones—she carried out negotiations at the United Nations on the status of women, worked with the Department of National Defence in the Peacekeeping Directorate, and acted as an advisor to Parliament on military and international affairs. “Eventually I reached a point in that career when I felt that the effects of my efforts weren’t tangible enough,” she says. “I was going in the direction of doing more behind-the-scenes work but I wanted something that would get me back into direct

contact with people, where I would perhaps have a more immediate capacity to make a difference.” Despite a longstanding interest in medicine, McDonald had excluded herself from medical school because of her non-science background —she had previously received a Bachelor of Arts in French (minor in German, Spanish extra-to degree), and in political science (military and strategic studies), as well as a Master of International Affairs (conflict analysis, specializing in human rights)—but with the encouragement of her husband, she decided to apply anyway. She was both relieved and shocked to find out she had been accepted to the first and only medical school she applied to, and along with her husband and three children (then ages nine, seven and five) packed up, left Ottawa and moved back to her hometown of Calgary.

He is so incredibly supportive. I couldn’t do it without him.

– On her husband

With years of experience working in high-stress situations, McDonald says she rarely gets flustered—a highly desirable skill in the field of medicine. Add to that her ability to adapt to varying expectations, as well as her extensive knowledge of languages and acute awareness of body language and facial expressions, McDonald finds it second nature to communicate within a variety of diverse populations.

“In international negotiations, you learn to listen for how things are said and to hear what’s not being said.” So how does this wife and mother of three handle the pressures of medical school? She credits her husband as being a major driving force of her success. “He is so incredibly supportive. I couldn’t do it without him.”


M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

EDUCATION

Sam Montasser While Sam Montasser had Class of intended to apply 2015 to medical school after completing his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, a summer internship and subsequent volunteer work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) peaked his interest in policing. Following graduation, he was accepted into the training academy and became a fulltime member of the RCMP. “I have always had an interest in medicine, I just happened upon another interest that

I needed to explore,” he says. During his four-year career with the RCMP, Montasser served in a number of roles. His first was with highway patrol, where he was a part of a team dedicated to proactively enforcing provincial and federal statutes on the roadways between Athabasca and Cold Lake, Alberta. The remainder of his career was spent in general duty, working within the community responding to dispatch calls. He also served as a media liaison—working with media outlets within print, radio and television—sharing stories

of significant public interest, and was also given the opportunity to pilot-test one of only a handful of prototype vehicles built around a new technology streamlining the operation of police vehicles. During his career with the RCMP, Montasser experienced and witnessed the challenges faced by remote and rural communities regarding the delivery of essential services. Drawing parallels between the fundamentals of policing and health care, he says delivery of both of these services depends largely on the human factor. Thus, he understands the demands of working in rural communities where it is often difficult to staff these services. “This appreciation of the challenges in rural communities is something that can only come from experiencing it first hand,” he says. While retiring his RCMP uniform for medical school was difficult, it’s not a decision that he regrets. While his biggest hesitation in entering the field of medicine was the time commitment required to train to become a physician, Montasser says he has since embraced it. “I’m equally passionate about my new pursuit and excited about the opportunity to once again serve my community in a meaningful way. Life is a journey, not a destination.”

13

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

Corinne McDonald Having always been drawn Class of to work with 2015 people, Corinne McDonald spent more than 15 years working in the field of international affairs and human rights prior to entering medical school. To name just a few of her past career experiences—which took her to high-risk and conflict zones—she carried out negotiations at the United Nations on the status of women, worked with the Department of National Defence in the Peacekeeping Directorate, and acted as an advisor to Parliament on military and international affairs. “Eventually I reached a point in that career when I felt that the effects of my efforts weren’t tangible enough,” she says. “I was going in the direction of doing more behind-the-scenes work but I wanted something that would get me back into direct

contact with people, where I would perhaps have a more immediate capacity to make a difference.” Despite a longstanding interest in medicine, McDonald had excluded herself from medical school because of her non-science background —she had previously received a Bachelor of Arts in French (minor in German, Spanish extra-to degree), and in political science (military and strategic studies), as well as a Master of International Affairs (conflict analysis, specializing in human rights)—but with the encouragement of her husband, she decided to apply anyway. She was both relieved and shocked to find out she had been accepted to the first and only medical school she applied to, and along with her husband and three children (then ages nine, seven and five) packed up, left Ottawa and moved back to her hometown of Calgary.

He is so incredibly supportive. I couldn’t do it without him.

– On her husband

With years of experience working in high-stress situations, McDonald says she rarely gets flustered—a highly desirable skill in the field of medicine. Add to that her ability to adapt to varying expectations, as well as her extensive knowledge of languages and acute awareness of body language and facial expressions, McDonald finds it second nature to communicate within a variety of diverse populations.

“In international negotiations, you learn to listen for how things are said and to hear what’s not being said.” So how does this wife and mother of three handle the pressures of medical school? She credits her husband as being a major driving force of her success. “He is so incredibly supportive. I couldn’t do it without him.”


RESEARCH

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

What is a heart attack?

What is angina? Angina is pain, tightness or a squeezing sensation in the chest caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart. Its onset frequently occurs with physical activity, and it only lasts a few minutes upon rest. Although angina is not a heart attack, it is a sign of partially blocked arteries. If the pain persists, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Text and illustrations by Amanda Fisher

A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle does not receive an adequate blood supply, often due to a blockage.

What is a blockage?

Who is most at risk?

A blockage is a narrowing of an artery. There are different types of blockages, but the most common type results from a fatty build-up inside the artery wall called a plaque. This plaque can rupture, creating a clot over the damaged artery wall, eventually blocking the flow of blood completely.

Many factors can play a role in increasing the risk of a heart attack such as: age, genetics, lifestyle (including diet, activity level and smoking habits), or traumatic injury. Risk typically increases with age, often occurring earlier in men.

Did you know? How severe does a blockage have to be to cause a heart attack? Often, heart attacks occur in individuals who have only a modest degree of narrowing, but because of the vulnerable nature of the plaque, a rupture occurs, resulting in a blood clot that blocks blood flow. In other cases, individuals can have significant narrowing in their arteries without experiencing any symptoms at all—at least until there is increased stress placed on the heart, such that blood flow must increase to keep up with the demand.

Women are typically at less risk until the onset of menopause; this is thought to be a result of the protective effects of estrogen.

Are symptoms different for men and women? Although some reports suggest that symptoms can vary between genders, it’s important that both women and men are aware of all possible symptoms, as any one of them could indicate a possible heart attack.

Can you reverse a blockage? A moderate level of physical activity and lifestyle adaptations can encourage the development of new, smaller blood vessels, bypassing the blockage or diverting blood flow from another part of the heart. This is called collateral flow. A healthy diet and cholesterol-lowering medications can change the characteristics of a plaque, making it more resilient and less prone to rupture.

• • • • •

Symptoms include: Tightness, heaviness, squeezing or burning in the left or right arm, jaw, neck or chest Shortness of breath Sudden, excessive perspiration Lightheadedness Acid reflux, nausea and/or vomiting Abdominal pain

How is a heart attack diagnosed? Diagnostic tools include blood tests that can indicate damage to the heart, and electrocardiograms, which measure the heart’s electrical impulses. Another diagnostic tool is an angiogram, in which

15

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

a dye is injected through a catheter into the arteries of the heart so blockages can be located on an X-ray. 1

How is a heart attack treated? Medications such as blood thinners and clot-busters are often used in the treatment of a heart attack. Other medications can be used to relax the heart muscle, lower blood pressure, and reduce blood cholesterol.

Left coronary artery

2

The most common interventional treatment is angioplasty, or the insertion of a balloon into the affected artery usually in conjunction with the placement of a stent, or a metal scaffold, to prop open the blockage. In other cases, coronary artery bypass surgery is performed, in which healthy segments of either arteries or veins are grafted around the blockage to reroute the flow of blood.

3

Did you know? •

There is an increase in the number of heart attacks during Christmas and New Year’s Day, likely due to the stress of the holidays, over exertion from shoveling snow or winter sports, and a higher consumption of fatty foods and alcohol. Stress increases blood pressure leading to a greater likelihood of a plaque rupture. Sudden strenuous exercise can significantly increase blood pressure. Moderate exercise is a better way to reduce risk.

4

Right coronary artery

Information provided by Dr. Edward R.M. O’Brien, professor and director of research at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, University of Calgary. O’Brien is also chief of cardiology for Alberta Health Services. His specialty is general cardiology, with research interests in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, and the biological mechanisms of vascular repair.

1 Plaque forms as blood cholesterol is deposited in artery wall. 2 Fibrous cap forms, separating the plaque from the artery. 3 Fibrous cap thins as plaque expands. Blood fl ow becomes compromised. 4 Plaque rupture, blood clot forms over the damaged artery wall.


RESEARCH

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

What is a heart attack?

What is angina? Angina is pain, tightness or a squeezing sensation in the chest caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart. Its onset frequently occurs with physical activity, and it only lasts a few minutes upon rest. Although angina is not a heart attack, it is a sign of partially blocked arteries. If the pain persists, medical attention should be sought immediately.

Text and illustrations by Amanda Fisher

A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle does not receive an adequate blood supply, often due to a blockage.

What is a blockage?

Who is most at risk?

A blockage is a narrowing of an artery. There are different types of blockages, but the most common type results from a fatty build-up inside the artery wall called a plaque. This plaque can rupture, creating a clot over the damaged artery wall, eventually blocking the flow of blood completely.

Many factors can play a role in increasing the risk of a heart attack such as: age, genetics, lifestyle (including diet, activity level and smoking habits), or traumatic injury. Risk typically increases with age, often occurring earlier in men.

Did you know? How severe does a blockage have to be to cause a heart attack? Often, heart attacks occur in individuals who have only a modest degree of narrowing, but because of the vulnerable nature of the plaque, a rupture occurs, resulting in a blood clot that blocks blood flow. In other cases, individuals can have significant narrowing in their arteries without experiencing any symptoms at all—at least until there is increased stress placed on the heart, such that blood flow must increase to keep up with the demand.

Women are typically at less risk until the onset of menopause; this is thought to be a result of the protective effects of estrogen.

Are symptoms different for men and women? Although some reports suggest that symptoms can vary between genders, it’s important that both women and men are aware of all possible symptoms, as any one of them could indicate a possible heart attack.

Can you reverse a blockage? A moderate level of physical activity and lifestyle adaptations can encourage the development of new, smaller blood vessels, bypassing the blockage or diverting blood flow from another part of the heart. This is called collateral flow. A healthy diet and cholesterol-lowering medications can change the characteristics of a plaque, making it more resilient and less prone to rupture.

• • • • •

Symptoms include: Tightness, heaviness, squeezing or burning in the left or right arm, jaw, neck or chest Shortness of breath Sudden, excessive perspiration Lightheadedness Acid reflux, nausea and/or vomiting Abdominal pain

How is a heart attack diagnosed? Diagnostic tools include blood tests that can indicate damage to the heart, and electrocardiograms, which measure the heart’s electrical impulses. Another diagnostic tool is an angiogram, in which

15

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

a dye is injected through a catheter into the arteries of the heart so blockages can be located on an X-ray. 1

How is a heart attack treated? Medications such as blood thinners and clot-busters are often used in the treatment of a heart attack. Other medications can be used to relax the heart muscle, lower blood pressure, and reduce blood cholesterol.

Left coronary artery

2

The most common interventional treatment is angioplasty, or the insertion of a balloon into the affected artery usually in conjunction with the placement of a stent, or a metal scaffold, to prop open the blockage. In other cases, coronary artery bypass surgery is performed, in which healthy segments of either arteries or veins are grafted around the blockage to reroute the flow of blood.

3

Did you know? •

There is an increase in the number of heart attacks during Christmas and New Year’s Day, likely due to the stress of the holidays, over exertion from shoveling snow or winter sports, and a higher consumption of fatty foods and alcohol. Stress increases blood pressure leading to a greater likelihood of a plaque rupture. Sudden strenuous exercise can significantly increase blood pressure. Moderate exercise is a better way to reduce risk.

4

Right coronary artery

Information provided by Dr. Edward R.M. O’Brien, professor and director of research at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, University of Calgary. O’Brien is also chief of cardiology for Alberta Health Services. His specialty is general cardiology, with research interests in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, and the biological mechanisms of vascular repair.

1 Plaque forms as blood cholesterol is deposited in artery wall. 2 Fibrous cap forms, separating the plaque from the artery. 3 Fibrous cap thins as plaque expands. Blood fl ow becomes compromised. 4 Plaque rupture, blood clot forms over the damaged artery wall.


04

RESEARCH

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

17

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

DBS has revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and it has the potential to improve quality of life for depression too.

–Dr. Zelma Kiss

A pacemaker for the brain

Looking at DBS in a new way

DBS is a surgical procedure that involves implanting a pair of tiny electrodes into targeted areas deep inside the brain. The electrodes are connected to a thin, insulated extension wire passed under the skin from the head to a pulse generator placed beneath the skin on the chest. Working like a pacemaker for the brain, the pulse generator delivers continuous electrical pulses to the electrodes, which alter the faulty electrical signals that are implicated in different neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Building on previous studies in the field, Kiss and Ramasubbu are examining the role of stimulation parameters in DBS for TRD—something that has never been done before. “There are several variables that can be adjusted with DBS: you can increase the amplitude, the frequency or the duration of the pulses applied,” says Ramasubbu. “Which of these parameters will lead to the best outcomes for the patient? It’s a lot like finding the right dose of medication.” In a pilot study recently published in The Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Kiss and Ramasubbu found that 50 per cent of depressed patients improved with chronic stimulation and three of four patients showed a positive effect with long duration pulse/low intensity stimulation. These results suggest that increasing pulse duration may improve the clinical outcomes of patients with TRD.

Targeting the pathways of depression Dr. Zelma Kiss (left) and Dr. Rajamannar Ramasubbu (right).

Deep impact By Janice Lee

ONE IN 10 CANADIANS experience

New research from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute could lead to better treatment—and quality of life—for patients suffering from severe depression.

depression at some point in their lives. For many people, symptoms can be effectively managed with medication and psychotherapy. But for approximately one per cent of depressed patients, standard treatments are not enough. “If you translate that statistic to the Calgary population, about 10,000 depressed patients fail to respond to available treatments and experience treatment-resistant depression, or TRD,” says Dr. Rajamannar Ramasubbu, a psychiatrist and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute

(HBI) and the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education. Without viable treatment options, individuals with TRD are often isolated from family and friends and unable to attend work. They have frequent relapses and hospitalizations and are at a greater risk for suicide. Innovative research from the HBI could provide hope for patients suffering with TRD. Ramasubbu and fellow HBI member Dr. Zelma Kiss are investigating the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS)— a therapy currently used for Parkinson’s disease, tremors, and other movement disorders—to treat TRD.

After years of investigating the pathways of the brain through medical imaging, neurologist Dr. Helen Mayberg (formerly at the University of Toronto and now at Emory University in Atlanta) identified a region in the brain called the subcallosal cingulate, located in the cerebral cortex, as an important area for emotional regulation. “Her research found this area of the brain was always hyperactive in patients who were depressed,” says Kiss, a neurosurgeon and associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. In 2005, Mayberg and colleagues at the University of Toronto led the first pilot study using DBS to target the subcallosal cingulate area. The results of the study were promising: improvement in four of six depressed patients. Findings from subsequent studies have also been encouraging. “Published studies to date suggest about 50 to 60 per cent of depressed patients will respond to DBS treatment,” says Kiss.

Collaborating for better treatment Based on these findings, Kiss and Ramasubbu were awarded a Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities (CRIO) grant from Alberta Innovates Health Solutions to treat 25 patients with TRD using DBS over a three-year period. A collaboration between the departments of clinical neurosciences and psychiatry, the study also involves 13 interdisciplinary researchers from Calgary and the United States, including Kartikeya Murari, PhD, from the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, and DBS pioneer Dr. Helen Mayberg,

who is the study consultant and scientific advisor. Kiss and Ramasubbu’s team will investigate two types of stimulation parameters—short duration pulse/high intensity stimulation and long duration pulse/low intensity stimulation—in a randomized and blinded clinical trial. Another important question the team will aim to answer is how to best predict which patients will benefit from DBS. “Previous studies have not addressed why only half of depressed patients improve with DBS,” says Kiss. The team will try to understand whether there are biomarkers that can be measured with a blood test or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to indicate who might respond best to treatment. Results from the study could have life-changing implications for patients who do not respond to available treatment for depression. “DBS has revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and it has the potential to improve quality of life for depression too,” says Kiss.

The case for more research Kiss notes that the research in this field is still in an investigational stage. “Researchers in this area probably need another 10 years of studying patients and reporting and understanding findings. We still do not understand how DBS works at the cellular and circuit level so DBS must be applied cautiously. It is an invasive surgery, and we want to make sure that we are applying the right kind of stimulation and operating on the patients who will respond best.”


04

RESEARCH

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

17

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

DBS has revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and it has the potential to improve quality of life for depression too.

–Dr. Zelma Kiss

A pacemaker for the brain

Looking at DBS in a new way

DBS is a surgical procedure that involves implanting a pair of tiny electrodes into targeted areas deep inside the brain. The electrodes are connected to a thin, insulated extension wire passed under the skin from the head to a pulse generator placed beneath the skin on the chest. Working like a pacemaker for the brain, the pulse generator delivers continuous electrical pulses to the electrodes, which alter the faulty electrical signals that are implicated in different neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Building on previous studies in the field, Kiss and Ramasubbu are examining the role of stimulation parameters in DBS for TRD—something that has never been done before. “There are several variables that can be adjusted with DBS: you can increase the amplitude, the frequency or the duration of the pulses applied,” says Ramasubbu. “Which of these parameters will lead to the best outcomes for the patient? It’s a lot like finding the right dose of medication.” In a pilot study recently published in The Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Kiss and Ramasubbu found that 50 per cent of depressed patients improved with chronic stimulation and three of four patients showed a positive effect with long duration pulse/low intensity stimulation. These results suggest that increasing pulse duration may improve the clinical outcomes of patients with TRD.

Targeting the pathways of depression Dr. Zelma Kiss (left) and Dr. Rajamannar Ramasubbu (right).

Deep impact By Janice Lee

ONE IN 10 CANADIANS experience

New research from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute could lead to better treatment—and quality of life—for patients suffering from severe depression.

depression at some point in their lives. For many people, symptoms can be effectively managed with medication and psychotherapy. But for approximately one per cent of depressed patients, standard treatments are not enough. “If you translate that statistic to the Calgary population, about 10,000 depressed patients fail to respond to available treatments and experience treatment-resistant depression, or TRD,” says Dr. Rajamannar Ramasubbu, a psychiatrist and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute

(HBI) and the Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education. Without viable treatment options, individuals with TRD are often isolated from family and friends and unable to attend work. They have frequent relapses and hospitalizations and are at a greater risk for suicide. Innovative research from the HBI could provide hope for patients suffering with TRD. Ramasubbu and fellow HBI member Dr. Zelma Kiss are investigating the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS)— a therapy currently used for Parkinson’s disease, tremors, and other movement disorders—to treat TRD.

After years of investigating the pathways of the brain through medical imaging, neurologist Dr. Helen Mayberg (formerly at the University of Toronto and now at Emory University in Atlanta) identified a region in the brain called the subcallosal cingulate, located in the cerebral cortex, as an important area for emotional regulation. “Her research found this area of the brain was always hyperactive in patients who were depressed,” says Kiss, a neurosurgeon and associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. In 2005, Mayberg and colleagues at the University of Toronto led the first pilot study using DBS to target the subcallosal cingulate area. The results of the study were promising: improvement in four of six depressed patients. Findings from subsequent studies have also been encouraging. “Published studies to date suggest about 50 to 60 per cent of depressed patients will respond to DBS treatment,” says Kiss.

Collaborating for better treatment Based on these findings, Kiss and Ramasubbu were awarded a Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunities (CRIO) grant from Alberta Innovates Health Solutions to treat 25 patients with TRD using DBS over a three-year period. A collaboration between the departments of clinical neurosciences and psychiatry, the study also involves 13 interdisciplinary researchers from Calgary and the United States, including Kartikeya Murari, PhD, from the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, and DBS pioneer Dr. Helen Mayberg,

who is the study consultant and scientific advisor. Kiss and Ramasubbu’s team will investigate two types of stimulation parameters—short duration pulse/high intensity stimulation and long duration pulse/low intensity stimulation—in a randomized and blinded clinical trial. Another important question the team will aim to answer is how to best predict which patients will benefit from DBS. “Previous studies have not addressed why only half of depressed patients improve with DBS,” says Kiss. The team will try to understand whether there are biomarkers that can be measured with a blood test or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to indicate who might respond best to treatment. Results from the study could have life-changing implications for patients who do not respond to available treatment for depression. “DBS has revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and it has the potential to improve quality of life for depression too,” says Kiss.

The case for more research Kiss notes that the research in this field is still in an investigational stage. “Researchers in this area probably need another 10 years of studying patients and reporting and understanding findings. We still do not understand how DBS works at the cellular and circuit level so DBS must be applied cautiously. It is an invasive surgery, and we want to make sure that we are applying the right kind of stimulation and operating on the patients who will respond best.”


ALUMNI

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

Faculty of Medicine alumni shine at Mount Royal University By Leigh Hurst

FACULTY OF MEDICINE graduate science education alumni are having a huge impact in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Mount Royal University (MRU). Since gaining university status in 2009, the faculty has grown and changed — now hosting several UCalgary medicine alumni, including the current dean, Jeff Goldberg, PhD. Goldberg completed his PhD in 1983 under the guidance of Ken Lukowiak, PhD. Eleven of his MRU faculty members, comprising a large proportion of the biology department, completed training at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine, ranging from the Bachelor of Health Sciences program to post-doctoral fellowships. “Since health science, and cellular and molecular biology are two of the first four majors that we developed in anticipation of gaining university status, great opportunities opened up for individuals from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine who were looking for teaching focused positions,” says Goldberg. “Because of the excellent training they received at UCalgary in a research-intensive environment, this talented group of people has had a huge impact on our undergraduates in both classroom teaching and hands-on research.” The training these MRU faculty members received at the University of Calgary was instrumental in preparing them for their current positions. Many aspects of their research-intensive education and teaching experience helped to give them the tools they needed to succeed as faculty members. Tracy O’Connor, PhD, received her BSc and PhD (under the supervision of

Don Fujita, PhD) from the University of Calgary. “Preparing for the candidacy exam and doing research in my field equipped me well for what I am doing. I felt well prepared for the academic side of teaching.” A common thread that connects most of these alumni, one to which they attribute their success at MRU, is the exposure to teaching experiences during their time as graduate students in the

It’s important to get teaching experience and to be diverse and flexible enough to reinvent yourself along the way. –Trevor Day, PhD Faculty of Medicine. Many took advantage of the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) at the University of Calgary to enhance their skills and understanding of teaching, learning and the technology used in higher education. John Chik, PhD, took advantage of the TLC while he did his post-doctoral training in the lab of David Schriemer, PhD and James McGhee, PhD. “It was a great experience and it became an important part of my CV,” says Chik, adding that the transition from teaching large classes at the University of Calgary to small classes at MRU has presented a different dynamic to teaching. “I was surprised by the different challenges of teaching small classes versus large classes.” Dr. Katja Hoehn echoed Chik’s sentiments on teaching experience. “When I arrived at the University of Calgary, I already had an MD from another institution. I have always loved teaching,

so while I was working on my postdoctoral research with Brian MacVicar, PhD, I was able to teach in the Undergraduate Medical Education program. This turned out to be an important part of my training and experience that eventually led to my position at MRU.” While reflecting on their own successes, members of the MRU Faculty of Science and Technology offered some valuable advice to graduate students about to enter the workforce. “It’s important to get teaching experience and to be diverse and flexible enough to reinvent yourself along the way,” says Trevor Day, PhD, a past trainee in the lab of Richard Wilson, PhD. “In addition to a great training opportunity, what the Faculty of Medicine gave me was exposure to other trainees who have now become my collaborators and mentors. I look back on my training at the University of Calgary as community building for the future.” Adrienne Benediktsson, PhD, who trained as a post-doctoral fellow under Jaideep Bains, PhD, agrees. “It’s important to seek out as many diverse opportunities as possible. The ability to broaden your experience is key. I did my research and training in neuroscience and now I’m teaching cell biology.“ Looking to the future, our UCalgary alumni at the MRU Faculty of Science and Technology see opportunities to reconnect with their alma mater, both to broaden the experiences of their students and to remain connected to the research community in the Faculty of Medicine. While several individual connections have been made, it’s clear there is capacity to increase the collaborative opportunities. There seems to be a natural synergy to be able to join forces around summer research opportunities for undergraduate students, opportunities to co-supervise graduate students, and to create teaching experiences for graduate students where such experiences are not readily available in some programs. The fact that so many of the faculty members at MRU are University of Calgary alumni is a strong foundation on which to build such collaborations.

ALUMNI

19

Alumna dedicated to global health By Leigh Hurst

practice in Vulcan, Alberta, to become involved with the Laos project and to become a mentor with the global health concentration in the Faculty of Medicine. The Helping Babies Breathe project teaches traditional birth attendants and medical professionals how to perform neonatal resuscitation maneuvers, and the evidence behind their use. Often these basic maneuvers are needed to help babies take their first breath.

DR. AMY GAUSVIK, MD ’04

(Taphozous), is a family physician specializing in low risk obstetrics and a master teacher in Undergraduate Medical Education at the University of Calgary. She has made significant contributions to global health initiatives around the world, including Tanzania, Laos, Guyana, and in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. When were you first drawn to global health? I was first drawn to global health in medical school when I went to Trinidad for my first elective. From there, I took every opportunity to engage in global health. In Guyana, I was involved with an initiative that screened remote populations for cervical cancer. When we found a case, we transferred the patients to the volunteer surgeons for treatment. In 2009, I volunteered with my husband in refugee camps and internally-displacedpersons villages on the Thai-Burma border. That experience instilled in me a passion for medical teaching in the developing world. I find it interesting that people who love global health are also drawn to rural medicine and working with underserved populations. It makes a person question

how you define global health. I believe it involves helping challenged and underserved communities here at home—not just overseas. How did the University of Calgary’s MD curriculum allow you to advance your work internationally? The program gave me the opportunity to do an international elective but it also allowed me to participate in rural and remote medicine during my clerkship. While my clerkship was located in the city, I also worked in remote areas like Hay River, Northwest Territories. Even then, I knew that I would eventually practice global health, so in 2011 I completed a diploma in tropical medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This three-month course is designed for Western-trained physicians who want intensive exposure to health care in low-income countries. Recently, you travelled to Laos to teach doctors and residents about the Helping Babies Breathe initiative. How did you become involved with this project? After completing my diploma in tropical medicine, I wanted to be more involved in global health. I gave up my

How does the training that you have been involved with benefit physicians in Laos, and ultimately the patients that they interact with? In Laos, we are teaching a basic but effective course and it’s becoming infectious. The physicians, nurses and traditional birth attendants we train go on to teach all of their colleagues and other midwife attendants. Having a child die affects not only the family, but also the broader community.

What is a taphozous? A taphozous is a sac-winged bat found in Indonesia. The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine began formally naming its MD classes after animals in 1975 when a professor became frustrated with his class and called them “a bunch of turkeys”. The name stuck and so did the tradition, with each medical class naming the class behind them.

! Taphozous Unite! 10 year reunion—Class of 2004 Sept 26 – 28, 2014 Contact medalum@ucalgary.ca for more information.


ALUMNI

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

Faculty of Medicine alumni shine at Mount Royal University By Leigh Hurst

FACULTY OF MEDICINE graduate science education alumni are having a huge impact in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Mount Royal University (MRU). Since gaining university status in 2009, the faculty has grown and changed — now hosting several UCalgary medicine alumni, including the current dean, Jeff Goldberg, PhD. Goldberg completed his PhD in 1983 under the guidance of Ken Lukowiak, PhD. Eleven of his MRU faculty members, comprising a large proportion of the biology department, completed training at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine, ranging from the Bachelor of Health Sciences program to post-doctoral fellowships. “Since health science, and cellular and molecular biology are two of the first four majors that we developed in anticipation of gaining university status, great opportunities opened up for individuals from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine who were looking for teaching focused positions,” says Goldberg. “Because of the excellent training they received at UCalgary in a research-intensive environment, this talented group of people has had a huge impact on our undergraduates in both classroom teaching and hands-on research.” The training these MRU faculty members received at the University of Calgary was instrumental in preparing them for their current positions. Many aspects of their research-intensive education and teaching experience helped to give them the tools they needed to succeed as faculty members. Tracy O’Connor, PhD, received her BSc and PhD (under the supervision of

Don Fujita, PhD) from the University of Calgary. “Preparing for the candidacy exam and doing research in my field equipped me well for what I am doing. I felt well prepared for the academic side of teaching.” A common thread that connects most of these alumni, one to which they attribute their success at MRU, is the exposure to teaching experiences during their time as graduate students in the

It’s important to get teaching experience and to be diverse and flexible enough to reinvent yourself along the way. –Trevor Day, PhD Faculty of Medicine. Many took advantage of the Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) at the University of Calgary to enhance their skills and understanding of teaching, learning and the technology used in higher education. John Chik, PhD, took advantage of the TLC while he did his post-doctoral training in the lab of David Schriemer, PhD and James McGhee, PhD. “It was a great experience and it became an important part of my CV,” says Chik, adding that the transition from teaching large classes at the University of Calgary to small classes at MRU has presented a different dynamic to teaching. “I was surprised by the different challenges of teaching small classes versus large classes.” Dr. Katja Hoehn echoed Chik’s sentiments on teaching experience. “When I arrived at the University of Calgary, I already had an MD from another institution. I have always loved teaching,

so while I was working on my postdoctoral research with Brian MacVicar, PhD, I was able to teach in the Undergraduate Medical Education program. This turned out to be an important part of my training and experience that eventually led to my position at MRU.” While reflecting on their own successes, members of the MRU Faculty of Science and Technology offered some valuable advice to graduate students about to enter the workforce. “It’s important to get teaching experience and to be diverse and flexible enough to reinvent yourself along the way,” says Trevor Day, PhD, a past trainee in the lab of Richard Wilson, PhD. “In addition to a great training opportunity, what the Faculty of Medicine gave me was exposure to other trainees who have now become my collaborators and mentors. I look back on my training at the University of Calgary as community building for the future.” Adrienne Benediktsson, PhD, who trained as a post-doctoral fellow under Jaideep Bains, PhD, agrees. “It’s important to seek out as many diverse opportunities as possible. The ability to broaden your experience is key. I did my research and training in neuroscience and now I’m teaching cell biology.“ Looking to the future, our UCalgary alumni at the MRU Faculty of Science and Technology see opportunities to reconnect with their alma mater, both to broaden the experiences of their students and to remain connected to the research community in the Faculty of Medicine. While several individual connections have been made, it’s clear there is capacity to increase the collaborative opportunities. There seems to be a natural synergy to be able to join forces around summer research opportunities for undergraduate students, opportunities to co-supervise graduate students, and to create teaching experiences for graduate students where such experiences are not readily available in some programs. The fact that so many of the faculty members at MRU are University of Calgary alumni is a strong foundation on which to build such collaborations.

ALUMNI

19

Alumna dedicated to global health By Leigh Hurst

practice in Vulcan, Alberta, to become involved with the Laos project and to become a mentor with the global health concentration in the Faculty of Medicine. The Helping Babies Breathe project teaches traditional birth attendants and medical professionals how to perform neonatal resuscitation maneuvers, and the evidence behind their use. Often these basic maneuvers are needed to help babies take their first breath.

DR. AMY GAUSVIK, MD ’04

(Taphozous), is a family physician specializing in low risk obstetrics and a master teacher in Undergraduate Medical Education at the University of Calgary. She has made significant contributions to global health initiatives around the world, including Tanzania, Laos, Guyana, and in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. When were you first drawn to global health? I was first drawn to global health in medical school when I went to Trinidad for my first elective. From there, I took every opportunity to engage in global health. In Guyana, I was involved with an initiative that screened remote populations for cervical cancer. When we found a case, we transferred the patients to the volunteer surgeons for treatment. In 2009, I volunteered with my husband in refugee camps and internally-displacedpersons villages on the Thai-Burma border. That experience instilled in me a passion for medical teaching in the developing world. I find it interesting that people who love global health are also drawn to rural medicine and working with underserved populations. It makes a person question

how you define global health. I believe it involves helping challenged and underserved communities here at home—not just overseas. How did the University of Calgary’s MD curriculum allow you to advance your work internationally? The program gave me the opportunity to do an international elective but it also allowed me to participate in rural and remote medicine during my clerkship. While my clerkship was located in the city, I also worked in remote areas like Hay River, Northwest Territories. Even then, I knew that I would eventually practice global health, so in 2011 I completed a diploma in tropical medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This three-month course is designed for Western-trained physicians who want intensive exposure to health care in low-income countries. Recently, you travelled to Laos to teach doctors and residents about the Helping Babies Breathe initiative. How did you become involved with this project? After completing my diploma in tropical medicine, I wanted to be more involved in global health. I gave up my

How does the training that you have been involved with benefit physicians in Laos, and ultimately the patients that they interact with? In Laos, we are teaching a basic but effective course and it’s becoming infectious. The physicians, nurses and traditional birth attendants we train go on to teach all of their colleagues and other midwife attendants. Having a child die affects not only the family, but also the broader community.

What is a taphozous? A taphozous is a sac-winged bat found in Indonesia. The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine began formally naming its MD classes after animals in 1975 when a professor became frustrated with his class and called them “a bunch of turkeys”. The name stuck and so did the tradition, with each medical class naming the class behind them.

! Taphozous Unite! 10 year reunion—Class of 2004 Sept 26 – 28, 2014 Contact medalum@ucalgary.ca for more information.


M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

EDUCATION

21

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

Y

I found the mock interview sessions and many chats with friends and professors very helpful. Some members of the mock interview panel took extra time to speak with us on certain topics which definitely helped with the final interview.

On the Rhode

I am currently doing as a neurology resident-physician in Calgary, and I hope to build my skills in the areas of clinical trials design, clinical epidemiology, and health-care delivery. With respect to the latter, Oxford is also home to cuttingedge basic neuroscience research, so I also plan to cultivate a better appreciation for this during my years there. The most innovative solutions in medicine and neurology will come from such laboratory research, and I hope to appreciate how to take insights from such work and bring them to the forefront in clinics and health-care systems.

Why do you think your application and interview were successful?

G By Aisling Gamble

to greatness The Rhodes Scholarship is widely considered the world’s most prestigious scholarship. The 2013 round of awards honoured 83 international recipients, with the University of Calgary’s Yan Yu and Dr. Aravind Ganesh among the 11 Canadians named as Rhodes Scholars.

A MEDICAL STUDENT and resident physician respectively, Yu and Ganesh will travel to Oxford this fall with aspirations of discovering great things to bring back and implement here in Calgary. The scholars talk about their reactions when they found out, expectations for their time at Oxford and what advice they would give to future Rhodes applicants.

The obvious first question–what was your reaction when you were notified you were a Rhodes Scholarship recipient?

Ganesh

It was a humbling moment, and I really felt honoured to be joining the Rhodes community. I was with my parents when I found out, and it made the moment that much more special.

I have the ability to recognize key challenges in my field and community, and build multidisciplinary teams and solutions to address them directly—be it leading Canada’s first psychiatric screening study for the homeless right here in Calgary or identifying unique risk factors for stroke in women (hypertension in pregnancy— a combined internal medicine, neurology, and obstetrics/gynecology project). The great support and mentorship I received from the University of Calgary was instrumental in building my confidence and really helped smooth the process. Attending the interviews with my friend Yan also meant that I was quite relaxed through this high-stakes process, which helped immensely.

Y

I was with my dad driving home after arriving back from my interview when I got the call. I’m glad I was sitting down. I was so excited, so relieved, and so humbled.

I went into the interview wanting to have fun with it and really enjoy the process and experience. With all the support, and with Aravind also at the interview, I felt very well prepared and very comfortable.

How did you prepare for the application and interview process?

When do you plan to attend Oxford? What do you plan to study?

G

G

Yu

I think the most important preparation that I did was refl ecting on my life, values and goals to develop a confi dent vision of where I wanted to be in the next five years, and how my studies at Oxford would fit into that. To help with this, I had frank discussions about this opportunity and about my career with my current supervisors and mentors in the neurology department, and also with potential supervisors at the University of Oxford.

I will start at Oxford in October 2014. I will pursue a clinical research fellowship in stroke and dementia through the Nuffi eld Department of Clinical Neurosciences. This means that I will combine DPhil (PhD) research work examining the public health challenges of preventing and treating stroke and dementia—the two leading neurological causes of disability worldwide—with clinical work in these areas. This will be a great extension of the work that

Yan Yu

Thirteen students at the University of Calgary, including Yu and Ganesh, have received the Rhodes Scholarship. They join the likes of former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner and former U.S. President Bill Clinton as Rhodes Scholars.

Y

I will be attending Oxford from September 2014 and will study for an MBA and a master’s degree in public policy. It will be a great opportunity to learn as much as I can about issues and challenges that are health care related, but outside the field of medicine. I’m also looking forward to meeting the people at Oxford. I’m sure the work and ideas of my professors and fellow students will be inspiring, to say the least.

Will you return to the University of Calgary following your time at Oxford?

G

The University of Calgary is where I see my future. On returning from Oxford, I will spend a couple of years wrapping up my specialization in neurology here in Calgary and then hope to work as a clinician-scientist and medical educator within the university. I am hoping to apply the skills that I build at Oxford to bring us to the forefront of health-care quality and medical education, and in turn help us lead progress in the quality of care for patients worldwide.

Y

Dr. Aravind Ganesh

Definitely. I want to teach medicine and health policy at the University of Calgary. I want to bring the knowledge and experience of Oxford back home and see if we can work with like-minded people to make a difference in our health-care system here at home.


M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

EDUCATION

21

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

Y

I found the mock interview sessions and many chats with friends and professors very helpful. Some members of the mock interview panel took extra time to speak with us on certain topics which definitely helped with the final interview.

On the Rhode

I am currently doing as a neurology resident-physician in Calgary, and I hope to build my skills in the areas of clinical trials design, clinical epidemiology, and health-care delivery. With respect to the latter, Oxford is also home to cuttingedge basic neuroscience research, so I also plan to cultivate a better appreciation for this during my years there. The most innovative solutions in medicine and neurology will come from such laboratory research, and I hope to appreciate how to take insights from such work and bring them to the forefront in clinics and health-care systems.

Why do you think your application and interview were successful?

G By Aisling Gamble

to greatness The Rhodes Scholarship is widely considered the world’s most prestigious scholarship. The 2013 round of awards honoured 83 international recipients, with the University of Calgary’s Yan Yu and Dr. Aravind Ganesh among the 11 Canadians named as Rhodes Scholars.

A MEDICAL STUDENT and resident physician respectively, Yu and Ganesh will travel to Oxford this fall with aspirations of discovering great things to bring back and implement here in Calgary. The scholars talk about their reactions when they found out, expectations for their time at Oxford and what advice they would give to future Rhodes applicants.

The obvious first question–what was your reaction when you were notified you were a Rhodes Scholarship recipient?

Ganesh

It was a humbling moment, and I really felt honoured to be joining the Rhodes community. I was with my parents when I found out, and it made the moment that much more special.

I have the ability to recognize key challenges in my field and community, and build multidisciplinary teams and solutions to address them directly—be it leading Canada’s first psychiatric screening study for the homeless right here in Calgary or identifying unique risk factors for stroke in women (hypertension in pregnancy— a combined internal medicine, neurology, and obstetrics/gynecology project). The great support and mentorship I received from the University of Calgary was instrumental in building my confidence and really helped smooth the process. Attending the interviews with my friend Yan also meant that I was quite relaxed through this high-stakes process, which helped immensely.

Y

I was with my dad driving home after arriving back from my interview when I got the call. I’m glad I was sitting down. I was so excited, so relieved, and so humbled.

I went into the interview wanting to have fun with it and really enjoy the process and experience. With all the support, and with Aravind also at the interview, I felt very well prepared and very comfortable.

How did you prepare for the application and interview process?

When do you plan to attend Oxford? What do you plan to study?

G

G

Yu

I think the most important preparation that I did was refl ecting on my life, values and goals to develop a confi dent vision of where I wanted to be in the next five years, and how my studies at Oxford would fit into that. To help with this, I had frank discussions about this opportunity and about my career with my current supervisors and mentors in the neurology department, and also with potential supervisors at the University of Oxford.

I will start at Oxford in October 2014. I will pursue a clinical research fellowship in stroke and dementia through the Nuffi eld Department of Clinical Neurosciences. This means that I will combine DPhil (PhD) research work examining the public health challenges of preventing and treating stroke and dementia—the two leading neurological causes of disability worldwide—with clinical work in these areas. This will be a great extension of the work that

Yan Yu

Thirteen students at the University of Calgary, including Yu and Ganesh, have received the Rhodes Scholarship. They join the likes of former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner and former U.S. President Bill Clinton as Rhodes Scholars.

Y

I will be attending Oxford from September 2014 and will study for an MBA and a master’s degree in public policy. It will be a great opportunity to learn as much as I can about issues and challenges that are health care related, but outside the field of medicine. I’m also looking forward to meeting the people at Oxford. I’m sure the work and ideas of my professors and fellow students will be inspiring, to say the least.

Will you return to the University of Calgary following your time at Oxford?

G

The University of Calgary is where I see my future. On returning from Oxford, I will spend a couple of years wrapping up my specialization in neurology here in Calgary and then hope to work as a clinician-scientist and medical educator within the university. I am hoping to apply the skills that I build at Oxford to bring us to the forefront of health-care quality and medical education, and in turn help us lead progress in the quality of care for patients worldwide.

Y

Dr. Aravind Ganesh

Definitely. I want to teach medicine and health policy at the University of Calgary. I want to bring the knowledge and experience of Oxford back home and see if we can work with like-minded people to make a difference in our health-care system here at home.


22

Yan and Aravind are outstanding representatives of the faculty and of the University of Calgary and we are incredibly proud of them. The Rhodes Scholarship is both an exclusive and prestigious award, and what an honour for these two scholars and for our university. Congratulations and I wish them both the best of luck at Oxford.

– Dr. Jon Meddings, Dean, Faculty of Medicine

Do you have any advice for future applicants?

G

The Rhodes application and interview process is rigorous and time-consuming, so it’s key to be sure that this is something one wants to pursue. Take time to think about your goals for the future and figure out how this fits into your vision. Don’t hesitate to seek advice. And once you’ve set your mind on it, go for it with confidence and hope for the best.

Y

SERVICE TO SOCIETY

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

I agree with Aravind…especially the “hope for the best” part. The Rhodes Scholarship should not be an end-goal, but simply a means to an end, of which there are many. The end goal should always be to improve the state of the world, in one way or another. There are always needs to be met today. So look around, find a societal challenge that you are passionate about and commit to it. Be the go-to person for addressing that issue. Along the way, be open to opportunities that come up, do what you love, connect with like-minded people and find great mentors to learn from. Little by little, beneficial change will happen. And that is the true reward.

Is there a particular mentor who you feel played a role in your successful application?

G

My parents have been my biggest role models in life and have been a constant source of advice. I also had amazing referees who supported my application with their letters, which I am sure went a long way: Dr. Tom Feasby, Dr. Scott Patten, Joanne Cuthbertson, Dr. Dawn Pearson, Dr. Eric Smith, Dr. Bruce Wright and Dr. Steve Simpson have played a huge role in my career so far. Juliet Guichon, Charlie Fischer, Dr. Bob Schultz, and Jessica Cohen with the Scholars Academy were key advisors through the process. I wouldn’t have been able to enter into a career in neurology without the advice and support of Dr. Bill Fletcher, Dr. Farnaz Amoozegar, and Dr. Doug Zochodne. Given that I was applying for this opportunity in the middle of a busy residency, it also helped that I had the full support and encouragement of my program director in the Department of Neurology, Dr. Michael Yeung, as well as my department mentors Dr. Lawrence Korngut, Dr. Gregory Cairncross and Dr. Robert Bell. There are so many people I look to as mentors, including Dr. Lara Cooke, Dr. Kevin Busche, and Dr. Dave Patry, and my biology professor Dr. Heather Addy, who inspired me to pursue my work in medical education; Dr. Andrew Demchuk, Dr. Michael Hill and Dr. Bijoy Menon have been key in helping foster my interest in stroke; Dr. Luanne Metz, Dr. Sam Wiebe and Dr. Raj Midha, who have been amazing leaders of our Clinical Neurosciences Division.

Y

Absolutely. There were many, many people who supported me in this application and in my medical school life. They have all been amazing, but some key mentors of mine at the University of Calgary are Dr. Bruce Wright, Dr. David Keegan, Juliet Guichon and Dr. Bill Ghali here in the Faculty of Medicine, and Dr. Bob Schultz at the Haskayne School of Business. In the community, I have been fortunate enough to work closely with Dr. Glenn Gould, a practicing family physician in Calgary, as well as Dr. Janet McCulloch, a psychiatrist in Kingston, Ontario. And of course my rural medicine community in Canmore, with Dr. Andrew Reed and Dr. Alina Constantin being my primary preceptors there. Without their help, I would not be where I am today. Special thanks to Dr. Sam Weiss and Dr. Jeff Goldberg, for believing in me even when I was a keen but clueless undergrad student, and also to my high school teachers (i.e. my biology teacher Ted Pike), who believed in me when I was an even more clueless high school student. Lastly, my friends and peers who are involved in student governance, sustainability initiatives, and health-care innovation —they were the ones who showed me that student activism can make a difference.

23

Local media have him on speed dial during flu season

What has been a career highlight?

By Marta Cyperling

H

e may look familiar—but you’re just not quite sure where you have seen him. It could have been on television, in the newspaper or on the web. Glen Armstrong, PhD, participates in up to 15 media interviews per week at certain times of the year, so it’s easy for his face to grow familiar. He’s a vaccine expert at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine, and when flu season starts, his calendar fills with requests from reporters at radio stations, newspapers and TV outlets, both locally and nationally. As a professor and researcher he is used to communicating and breaking down scientific concepts.

What is your background? I am a microbiologist specializing in microbes, specifically food and waterborne bacteria. Most of my research is on E. coli 0157 and finding effective ways to treat it.

What do the media interview you about? I usually speak to the media on the topics of food-borne illnesses and vaccines. I started doing a lot of media interviews on the flu

right information out there. We need to show the public what the university is doing with their tax dollars—we need to show the community what research we are doing and the expertise we have. We need to answer questions on how to protect ourselves.

vaccine during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. I also did a lot of media interviews in 2012 during the E. coli outbreak at the Brooks beef-processing facility. Each flu season, media are interested in exploring flu vaccines and how they work. Part of my research involves looking at the possibility of developing an E. coli vaccine, so vaccines is an area I’m familiar with. This winter we have also had cases of measles emerge in Alberta, and the media have been phoning me to answer questions about measles vaccinations.

What’s your most memorable interview? The most interesting request I’ve had so far wasn’t from a

media outlet—it was from a science fiction author writing a novel on a deadly virus outbreak. He wanted to talk to me to learn about how a virus spreads, and the process of isolating a virus to make a vaccine.

You get a lot of requests to talk with the media and unless you’re out of town, you rarely turn them down. Why is that? I feel a responsibility to do them. The media asks pretty simple questions about vaccines. This is vaccine 101. We need to help the public determine if something is a concern; we need to get the

In 2011 I was awarded the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering. I never anticipated I would go to Rideau Hall and have the Governor General put a medal around my neck. I am part of the Alberta Carbohydrate Group, which includes researchers at UCalgary and the University of Alberta. The group is looking at micro-organisms that are drug resistant and is trying to develop vaccines as well as therapeutics for a range of infections. One of the infections we are focusing on is Clostridium (C.) difficile —which can affect one in 10 hospital patients. I love discovering how things work and translating it into something practical to makes our lives better. Armstrong also served as the Head of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary, from 2003–2013. He is also a member of the university’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases.


22

Yan and Aravind are outstanding representatives of the faculty and of the University of Calgary and we are incredibly proud of them. The Rhodes Scholarship is both an exclusive and prestigious award, and what an honour for these two scholars and for our university. Congratulations and I wish them both the best of luck at Oxford.

– Dr. Jon Meddings, Dean, Faculty of Medicine

Do you have any advice for future applicants?

G

The Rhodes application and interview process is rigorous and time-consuming, so it’s key to be sure that this is something one wants to pursue. Take time to think about your goals for the future and figure out how this fits into your vision. Don’t hesitate to seek advice. And once you’ve set your mind on it, go for it with confidence and hope for the best.

Y

SERVICE TO SOCIETY

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

I agree with Aravind…especially the “hope for the best” part. The Rhodes Scholarship should not be an end-goal, but simply a means to an end, of which there are many. The end goal should always be to improve the state of the world, in one way or another. There are always needs to be met today. So look around, find a societal challenge that you are passionate about and commit to it. Be the go-to person for addressing that issue. Along the way, be open to opportunities that come up, do what you love, connect with like-minded people and find great mentors to learn from. Little by little, beneficial change will happen. And that is the true reward.

Is there a particular mentor who you feel played a role in your successful application?

G

My parents have been my biggest role models in life and have been a constant source of advice. I also had amazing referees who supported my application with their letters, which I am sure went a long way: Dr. Tom Feasby, Dr. Scott Patten, Joanne Cuthbertson, Dr. Dawn Pearson, Dr. Eric Smith, Dr. Bruce Wright and Dr. Steve Simpson have played a huge role in my career so far. Juliet Guichon, Charlie Fischer, Dr. Bob Schultz, and Jessica Cohen with the Scholars Academy were key advisors through the process. I wouldn’t have been able to enter into a career in neurology without the advice and support of Dr. Bill Fletcher, Dr. Farnaz Amoozegar, and Dr. Doug Zochodne. Given that I was applying for this opportunity in the middle of a busy residency, it also helped that I had the full support and encouragement of my program director in the Department of Neurology, Dr. Michael Yeung, as well as my department mentors Dr. Lawrence Korngut, Dr. Gregory Cairncross and Dr. Robert Bell. There are so many people I look to as mentors, including Dr. Lara Cooke, Dr. Kevin Busche, and Dr. Dave Patry, and my biology professor Dr. Heather Addy, who inspired me to pursue my work in medical education; Dr. Andrew Demchuk, Dr. Michael Hill and Dr. Bijoy Menon have been key in helping foster my interest in stroke; Dr. Luanne Metz, Dr. Sam Wiebe and Dr. Raj Midha, who have been amazing leaders of our Clinical Neurosciences Division.

Y

Absolutely. There were many, many people who supported me in this application and in my medical school life. They have all been amazing, but some key mentors of mine at the University of Calgary are Dr. Bruce Wright, Dr. David Keegan, Juliet Guichon and Dr. Bill Ghali here in the Faculty of Medicine, and Dr. Bob Schultz at the Haskayne School of Business. In the community, I have been fortunate enough to work closely with Dr. Glenn Gould, a practicing family physician in Calgary, as well as Dr. Janet McCulloch, a psychiatrist in Kingston, Ontario. And of course my rural medicine community in Canmore, with Dr. Andrew Reed and Dr. Alina Constantin being my primary preceptors there. Without their help, I would not be where I am today. Special thanks to Dr. Sam Weiss and Dr. Jeff Goldberg, for believing in me even when I was a keen but clueless undergrad student, and also to my high school teachers (i.e. my biology teacher Ted Pike), who believed in me when I was an even more clueless high school student. Lastly, my friends and peers who are involved in student governance, sustainability initiatives, and health-care innovation —they were the ones who showed me that student activism can make a difference.

23

Local media have him on speed dial during flu season

What has been a career highlight?

By Marta Cyperling

H

e may look familiar—but you’re just not quite sure where you have seen him. It could have been on television, in the newspaper or on the web. Glen Armstrong, PhD, participates in up to 15 media interviews per week at certain times of the year, so it’s easy for his face to grow familiar. He’s a vaccine expert at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine, and when flu season starts, his calendar fills with requests from reporters at radio stations, newspapers and TV outlets, both locally and nationally. As a professor and researcher he is used to communicating and breaking down scientific concepts.

What is your background? I am a microbiologist specializing in microbes, specifically food and waterborne bacteria. Most of my research is on E. coli 0157 and finding effective ways to treat it.

What do the media interview you about? I usually speak to the media on the topics of food-borne illnesses and vaccines. I started doing a lot of media interviews on the flu

right information out there. We need to show the public what the university is doing with their tax dollars—we need to show the community what research we are doing and the expertise we have. We need to answer questions on how to protect ourselves.

vaccine during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. I also did a lot of media interviews in 2012 during the E. coli outbreak at the Brooks beef-processing facility. Each flu season, media are interested in exploring flu vaccines and how they work. Part of my research involves looking at the possibility of developing an E. coli vaccine, so vaccines is an area I’m familiar with. This winter we have also had cases of measles emerge in Alberta, and the media have been phoning me to answer questions about measles vaccinations.

What’s your most memorable interview? The most interesting request I’ve had so far wasn’t from a

media outlet—it was from a science fiction author writing a novel on a deadly virus outbreak. He wanted to talk to me to learn about how a virus spreads, and the process of isolating a virus to make a vaccine.

You get a lot of requests to talk with the media and unless you’re out of town, you rarely turn them down. Why is that? I feel a responsibility to do them. The media asks pretty simple questions about vaccines. This is vaccine 101. We need to help the public determine if something is a concern; we need to get the

In 2011 I was awarded the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering. I never anticipated I would go to Rideau Hall and have the Governor General put a medal around my neck. I am part of the Alberta Carbohydrate Group, which includes researchers at UCalgary and the University of Alberta. The group is looking at micro-organisms that are drug resistant and is trying to develop vaccines as well as therapeutics for a range of infections. One of the infections we are focusing on is Clostridium (C.) difficile —which can affect one in 10 hospital patients. I love discovering how things work and translating it into something practical to makes our lives better. Armstrong also served as the Head of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary, from 2003–2013. He is also a member of the university’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases.


RESEARCH

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

25

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

It’s in the air by Alison Myers

For people the world over, coming to Calgary can be a real headache. Let’s just say it’s something in the air.

“It’s nice to get into a field where you understand enough about the disorder that you can design treatments specifically for it.”

“It’s the weather patterns and altitude,” says Dr. Werner Becker, professor of clinical neuroscience at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine and member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. Becker has been researching and treating headache, especially migraine, for more than 20 years. When Becker first came to Calgary in 1978, he was doing clinical tests in patients with multiple sclerosis and studying motor control physiology—the reflexes that help control our movements. His turn to migraine and tension headache research was somewhat serendipitous, as is often the case in the world of science. In the early 90s, Becker had an opportunity to participate in the research surrounding a new strain of migraine medication called triptans. It was the first time a drug had been developed to specifically treat migraine, a condition he was seeing more often in his practice. “It’s nice to get into a field where you understand enough about the disorder that you can design treatments specifically for it,” he says. Through his research and caring for patients at the Calgary Chronic Pain Centre’s Headache Clinic, Becker soon realized migraine sufferers were lacking more than just designer drugs. “There wasn’t a good system in place to treat them effectively,” he explains. “As a consultant, you could make recommendations to the family doctor, but you’d see the patient a year later and realize nothing much had changed.” Using a three-year grant from the provincial government in 2003, Becker launched a multidisciplinary program to help patients and physicians better understand what causes migraines and tension headaches, how to treat them and, most importantly, how to keep them at bay. Eleven years later, the Calgary Headache Assessment and Management Program, or CHAMP, is helping thousands

of Calgarians better manage their pain. CHAMP gives patients access to an occupational therapist, a psychologist and a nurse, as well as a headache specialist. Before they’re seen, patients need to participate in a two-hour information session to learn how stress management, relaxation and avoiding triggers will help reduce the number of attacks. “The demand for headache services is huge,” says Becker. CHAMP gets more than 100 referrals a month, mostly from family doctors whose patients have significant problems with headaches. In fact, a third of the patients referred to CHAMP have more than 14 days of headache a month. “But those patients aren’t all seen. We want them to work with us. So if the patient doesn’t come to the education session, we send the referral back.” CHAMP is just one of Becker’s contributions to headache care. His CHORD study, or Canadian Headache Outpatient Registry and Database, characterized the kind of patient referred to five Canadian headache specialists. It showed that three-quarters of the patients had some kind of migraine diagnosis and that many of them were severely disabled by their attacks. He also arranged the Canadian Migraine Forum and developed a Canadian Migraine Strategy, an attempt to roadmap how headache care can be improved in Canada. His latest project is looking into the possibility of implanting nerve stimulators to help patients who get little to no relief from medication. Perhaps surprisingly, the man who has dedicated much of his career to helping people find relief from these debilitating attacks has rarely suffered one himself. “I am a little headachey before some of the Chinooks,” Becker says, “and once had a typical migraine aura while working in the headache clinic, but no headache followed it.”

A chinook arch over Calgary.

Migraine 101 Migraines are genetic, but the number of attacks someone has in their lifetime —if any, depends largely on environmental factors and personal triggers. Those can include red wine, processed foods, stress and insomnia. Chinooks are a migraine curse disguised as a winter blessing. According to Becker’s research, half of the patients who are sensitive to Mother Nature’s reprieve react to the drop in air pressure. The others get migraines from chinook winds, but only if they go over 38 km/h.

Migraine medications called triptans only work on 85 per cent of patients. In 2001, Becker conducted a study to see if it was possible to predetermine whether a patient would react to the drugs. The research didn’t reveal anything clinically relevant, but did suggest those who don’t benefit from triptans have a higher prevalence of anxiety, shyness and perfectionism. The World Health Organization ranks migraine the eighth most disabling condition in the world. It bases this

assessment on the notion that the average migraine patient has an attack at least once every 20 days and that the attack leaves them unable to fully function. Migraine is one of society’s more expensive diseases. A European study found headache costs society more than stroke and double what Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis do in terms of lost productivity.


RESEARCH

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

25

UCALGARY MEDICINE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

It’s in the air by Alison Myers

For people the world over, coming to Calgary can be a real headache. Let’s just say it’s something in the air.

“It’s nice to get into a field where you understand enough about the disorder that you can design treatments specifically for it.”

“It’s the weather patterns and altitude,” says Dr. Werner Becker, professor of clinical neuroscience at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine and member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. Becker has been researching and treating headache, especially migraine, for more than 20 years. When Becker first came to Calgary in 1978, he was doing clinical tests in patients with multiple sclerosis and studying motor control physiology—the reflexes that help control our movements. His turn to migraine and tension headache research was somewhat serendipitous, as is often the case in the world of science. In the early 90s, Becker had an opportunity to participate in the research surrounding a new strain of migraine medication called triptans. It was the first time a drug had been developed to specifically treat migraine, a condition he was seeing more often in his practice. “It’s nice to get into a field where you understand enough about the disorder that you can design treatments specifically for it,” he says. Through his research and caring for patients at the Calgary Chronic Pain Centre’s Headache Clinic, Becker soon realized migraine sufferers were lacking more than just designer drugs. “There wasn’t a good system in place to treat them effectively,” he explains. “As a consultant, you could make recommendations to the family doctor, but you’d see the patient a year later and realize nothing much had changed.” Using a three-year grant from the provincial government in 2003, Becker launched a multidisciplinary program to help patients and physicians better understand what causes migraines and tension headaches, how to treat them and, most importantly, how to keep them at bay. Eleven years later, the Calgary Headache Assessment and Management Program, or CHAMP, is helping thousands

of Calgarians better manage their pain. CHAMP gives patients access to an occupational therapist, a psychologist and a nurse, as well as a headache specialist. Before they’re seen, patients need to participate in a two-hour information session to learn how stress management, relaxation and avoiding triggers will help reduce the number of attacks. “The demand for headache services is huge,” says Becker. CHAMP gets more than 100 referrals a month, mostly from family doctors whose patients have significant problems with headaches. In fact, a third of the patients referred to CHAMP have more than 14 days of headache a month. “But those patients aren’t all seen. We want them to work with us. So if the patient doesn’t come to the education session, we send the referral back.” CHAMP is just one of Becker’s contributions to headache care. His CHORD study, or Canadian Headache Outpatient Registry and Database, characterized the kind of patient referred to five Canadian headache specialists. It showed that three-quarters of the patients had some kind of migraine diagnosis and that many of them were severely disabled by their attacks. He also arranged the Canadian Migraine Forum and developed a Canadian Migraine Strategy, an attempt to roadmap how headache care can be improved in Canada. His latest project is looking into the possibility of implanting nerve stimulators to help patients who get little to no relief from medication. Perhaps surprisingly, the man who has dedicated much of his career to helping people find relief from these debilitating attacks has rarely suffered one himself. “I am a little headachey before some of the Chinooks,” Becker says, “and once had a typical migraine aura while working in the headache clinic, but no headache followed it.”

A chinook arch over Calgary.

Migraine 101 Migraines are genetic, but the number of attacks someone has in their lifetime —if any, depends largely on environmental factors and personal triggers. Those can include red wine, processed foods, stress and insomnia. Chinooks are a migraine curse disguised as a winter blessing. According to Becker’s research, half of the patients who are sensitive to Mother Nature’s reprieve react to the drop in air pressure. The others get migraines from chinook winds, but only if they go over 38 km/h.

Migraine medications called triptans only work on 85 per cent of patients. In 2001, Becker conducted a study to see if it was possible to predetermine whether a patient would react to the drugs. The research didn’t reveal anything clinically relevant, but did suggest those who don’t benefit from triptans have a higher prevalence of anxiety, shyness and perfectionism. The World Health Organization ranks migraine the eighth most disabling condition in the world. It bases this

assessment on the notion that the average migraine patient has an attack at least once every 20 days and that the attack leaves them unable to fully function. Migraine is one of society’s more expensive diseases. A European study found headache costs society more than stroke and double what Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis do in terms of lost productivity.


M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

EDUCATION

Resident embraces life changes By Kathryn Kazoleas

In the news BRUCE PIKE: NEW CAIP CHAIR IN HEALTHY BRAIN AGING

From a young age, Dr. Vera Krejcik knew she wanted to be a doctor. Finding herself drawn to the field of rheumatology—a specialty focusing on diseases of the joints and connective tissue—life threw her a curveball. Working with her circumstances, her medical career has since taken her in another direction. Through several months of intensive physiotherapy, she was able to regain movement in her left leg; however, her hand and arm remained paralyzed. Coming to terms with her new disability, she says her former concept of self was shattered. “I was an active person, I was into running and skiing and that all went out the window very quickly.” A career in rheumatology would require precise and extensive use of both of her hands, and she quickly realized it would no longer be an option for her. “I was so fragile and had been sick for so long that I had begun to ask myself if there would be a place for me in medicine at all.”

A

fter years of severe headaches and periodic bouts of numbness, weakness and tingling in her left arm and hand, Krejcik was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) near the end of medical school. A condition of abnormal connection between arteries and veins, AVMs are usually present since birth and become more intricate and complex as time goes on. If they rupture, which approximately four per cent do annually, there is a 50 per cent chance of complete paralysis or death. After graduating from medical school and writing her licensing exam, Krejcik elected to undergo a high-risk surgery to remove the AVM. Following the 12-hour procedure and discharge from the ICU one week later, she suffered a massive bleed in her brain, resulting in significant paralysis on the left side of her body.

I was an active person, I was into running and skiing and that all went out the window very quickly. After spending some time reflecting on her career goals, Krejcik realized that one of the main reasons she was drawn to rheumatology was because of the opportunity to spend a lot of time with patients over many years. It was the people aspect of medicine she enjoyed most, and knowing this, her mentors encouraged her to consider a different specialty—psychiatry. She was able to enter into a probationary program within the

Department of Psychiatry, which allowed both the program and Krejcik to decide if the specialty would be a good fit. It was, and Krejcik was officially accepted into the psychiatry residency program in the fall of 2013. Having been a patient herself and someone who is now living with a permanent disability, the young resident says her experience has changed the way she interacts with her patients, and the challenges she faces allow her to truly connect with their experiences. “The physical presence of my disability shows patients that I know what it means to be vulnerable, and that I’m respectful of their experience,” she says, “I walk into the room with a limp and it’s very clear that I can’t use my arm or hand, so it tells patients that I’m human and that I understand what it means to be sick.” Having accepted her disability and the necessary adaptations to her life, Krejcik asserts that her ability to remain open to possibilities has shown her how resilient she can be. “No matter what happens in my life… I realize that despite losing my ability to run, ski or walk around with the same confidence, the aspect of medicine that I cherish most, using my mind to care for patients, is alive and well. Psychiatry has been so supportive and it has been wonderful to be welcomed with open arms after such a difficult couple of years. The program has been open-minded and has treated me as though my experience brings something unique to the program and to patient care; perhaps not a weakness, but a strength.”

27

NEWS

BRUCE PIKE , PHD, was recruited to the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Department of Radiology as part of the Campus Alberta Innovation Program (CAIP), and now holds the CAIP Chair in Healthy Brain Aging. Pike’s primary research focus is applying quantitative methods to medical imaging. He was at the forefront of

brain imaging research at a time when functional MRI (fMRI)—real-time imaging— was just being developed. “The limitation at the time was that we could see where the brain activity was, but it was very difficult to interpret exactly what the brain scans actually meant,” says Pike. Functional MRI has revolutionized neuroscience, and Pike’s pioneering contributions to quantitative fMRI have implications for studying normal brain development, as well as for diagnosing and evaluating treatments for conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

CALGARY CANCER RESEARCHERS TEST THEIR HOMES FOR RADON

2

and clinicians are testing their homes for radon gas in an effort to bring awareness to the cancer-causing radioactive gas that could be lurking in the homes of Canadians. University of Calgary researcher Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, is exploring several initiatives to help understand and eradicate radon-induced cancer in Alberta and brain-

CANCER RESEARCHERS

stormed the idea to have Calgary cancer doctors and researchers test their homes, especially their basements, for radon gas levels. More than 40 cancer researchers and physicians signed up. Because long-term exposure kits provide the most accurate readings, the testing will take about a month. Goodarzi hopes the preliminary data from this initiative will help secure funding for a largerscale study to map household radon levels in major Alberta population centres to determine communities most at risk. 2 Aaron Goodarzi, PhD.

CONCUSSION RESEARCH AT UNIVERSITY GETS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING BOOST

1

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced funding for new national research on concussions, with a focus on improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these injuries in children and youth. The announcement means funding for 19 new research

IN NOVE M B E R ,

projects across the country. Three projects at the University of Calgary received a total of almost $2.5 million. Researchers Carolyn Emery, PhD, Dr. Karen Barlow and Dr. Garnette Sutherland are leading the projects on concussion research. Ambrose said the federal government is commited to building new partnerships with researchers to raise awareness about injury prevention and make life safer for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. 1 Young hockey players with former Calgary Flames player Jamie Macoun.

RESEARCHERS DISCOVER HOW HEART ARRHYTHMIA OCCURS

3

discovered the fundamental biology of calcium waves in relation to heart arrhythmias. The findings, published in the Jan. 19, 2014 edition of Nature Medicine, outline the discovery of this fundamental physiological process that researchers hope will one day help design molecularly tailored medications that correct the pathophysiology. While many factors, including genetics, contribute to the development of arrhythmias,

RESEARCHERS HAVE

scientists know that a common mechanism of cardiac arrhythmias is calcium overload in the heart, i.e. calcium-triggered arrhythmias. Using a combination of molecular biology, electrophysiology, and genetically engineering mice, scientists have discovered that a calcium-sensing-gate in the cardiac calcium release channel (ryanodine receptor) is responsible for the initiation of calcium waves and calciumtriggered arrhythmias. Utilizing a genetically modified mouse model, they were able to manipulate the sensor and completely prevented calciumtriggered arrhythmias. 3 Wayne Cheng, PhD, senior author on the study.


M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

EDUCATION

Resident embraces life changes By Kathryn Kazoleas

In the news BRUCE PIKE: NEW CAIP CHAIR IN HEALTHY BRAIN AGING

From a young age, Dr. Vera Krejcik knew she wanted to be a doctor. Finding herself drawn to the field of rheumatology—a specialty focusing on diseases of the joints and connective tissue—life threw her a curveball. Working with her circumstances, her medical career has since taken her in another direction. Through several months of intensive physiotherapy, she was able to regain movement in her left leg; however, her hand and arm remained paralyzed. Coming to terms with her new disability, she says her former concept of self was shattered. “I was an active person, I was into running and skiing and that all went out the window very quickly.” A career in rheumatology would require precise and extensive use of both of her hands, and she quickly realized it would no longer be an option for her. “I was so fragile and had been sick for so long that I had begun to ask myself if there would be a place for me in medicine at all.”

A

fter years of severe headaches and periodic bouts of numbness, weakness and tingling in her left arm and hand, Krejcik was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) near the end of medical school. A condition of abnormal connection between arteries and veins, AVMs are usually present since birth and become more intricate and complex as time goes on. If they rupture, which approximately four per cent do annually, there is a 50 per cent chance of complete paralysis or death. After graduating from medical school and writing her licensing exam, Krejcik elected to undergo a high-risk surgery to remove the AVM. Following the 12-hour procedure and discharge from the ICU one week later, she suffered a massive bleed in her brain, resulting in significant paralysis on the left side of her body.

I was an active person, I was into running and skiing and that all went out the window very quickly. After spending some time reflecting on her career goals, Krejcik realized that one of the main reasons she was drawn to rheumatology was because of the opportunity to spend a lot of time with patients over many years. It was the people aspect of medicine she enjoyed most, and knowing this, her mentors encouraged her to consider a different specialty—psychiatry. She was able to enter into a probationary program within the

Department of Psychiatry, which allowed both the program and Krejcik to decide if the specialty would be a good fit. It was, and Krejcik was officially accepted into the psychiatry residency program in the fall of 2013. Having been a patient herself and someone who is now living with a permanent disability, the young resident says her experience has changed the way she interacts with her patients, and the challenges she faces allow her to truly connect with their experiences. “The physical presence of my disability shows patients that I know what it means to be vulnerable, and that I’m respectful of their experience,” she says, “I walk into the room with a limp and it’s very clear that I can’t use my arm or hand, so it tells patients that I’m human and that I understand what it means to be sick.” Having accepted her disability and the necessary adaptations to her life, Krejcik asserts that her ability to remain open to possibilities has shown her how resilient she can be. “No matter what happens in my life… I realize that despite losing my ability to run, ski or walk around with the same confidence, the aspect of medicine that I cherish most, using my mind to care for patients, is alive and well. Psychiatry has been so supportive and it has been wonderful to be welcomed with open arms after such a difficult couple of years. The program has been open-minded and has treated me as though my experience brings something unique to the program and to patient care; perhaps not a weakness, but a strength.”

27

NEWS

BRUCE PIKE , PHD, was recruited to the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Department of Radiology as part of the Campus Alberta Innovation Program (CAIP), and now holds the CAIP Chair in Healthy Brain Aging. Pike’s primary research focus is applying quantitative methods to medical imaging. He was at the forefront of

brain imaging research at a time when functional MRI (fMRI)—real-time imaging— was just being developed. “The limitation at the time was that we could see where the brain activity was, but it was very difficult to interpret exactly what the brain scans actually meant,” says Pike. Functional MRI has revolutionized neuroscience, and Pike’s pioneering contributions to quantitative fMRI have implications for studying normal brain development, as well as for diagnosing and evaluating treatments for conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

CALGARY CANCER RESEARCHERS TEST THEIR HOMES FOR RADON

2

and clinicians are testing their homes for radon gas in an effort to bring awareness to the cancer-causing radioactive gas that could be lurking in the homes of Canadians. University of Calgary researcher Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, is exploring several initiatives to help understand and eradicate radon-induced cancer in Alberta and brain-

CANCER RESEARCHERS

stormed the idea to have Calgary cancer doctors and researchers test their homes, especially their basements, for radon gas levels. More than 40 cancer researchers and physicians signed up. Because long-term exposure kits provide the most accurate readings, the testing will take about a month. Goodarzi hopes the preliminary data from this initiative will help secure funding for a largerscale study to map household radon levels in major Alberta population centres to determine communities most at risk. 2 Aaron Goodarzi, PhD.

CONCUSSION RESEARCH AT UNIVERSITY GETS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FUNDING BOOST

1

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced funding for new national research on concussions, with a focus on improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these injuries in children and youth. The announcement means funding for 19 new research

IN NOVE M B E R ,

projects across the country. Three projects at the University of Calgary received a total of almost $2.5 million. Researchers Carolyn Emery, PhD, Dr. Karen Barlow and Dr. Garnette Sutherland are leading the projects on concussion research. Ambrose said the federal government is commited to building new partnerships with researchers to raise awareness about injury prevention and make life safer for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. 1 Young hockey players with former Calgary Flames player Jamie Macoun.

RESEARCHERS DISCOVER HOW HEART ARRHYTHMIA OCCURS

3

discovered the fundamental biology of calcium waves in relation to heart arrhythmias. The findings, published in the Jan. 19, 2014 edition of Nature Medicine, outline the discovery of this fundamental physiological process that researchers hope will one day help design molecularly tailored medications that correct the pathophysiology. While many factors, including genetics, contribute to the development of arrhythmias,

RESEARCHERS HAVE

scientists know that a common mechanism of cardiac arrhythmias is calcium overload in the heart, i.e. calcium-triggered arrhythmias. Using a combination of molecular biology, electrophysiology, and genetically engineering mice, scientists have discovered that a calcium-sensing-gate in the cardiac calcium release channel (ryanodine receptor) is responsible for the initiation of calcium waves and calciumtriggered arrhythmias. Utilizing a genetically modified mouse model, they were able to manipulate the sensor and completely prevented calciumtriggered arrhythmias. 3 S.R. Wayne Chen, PhD, senior author on the study.


NEWS

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

Awards and recognition

In the community

Dr. Werner Becker and Dr. Cy Frank were awarded the Alberta Medical Association medal for their distinguished service, outstanding personal contributions to the medical profession and to the people of Alberta, and for raising the standards of medical practice. Dr. Ewan Affleck was recognized with the Order of Canada for his commitment to improving health-care services in northern communities. Dr. Morton Doran was awarded the Order of Canada for his efforts to raise awareness of Tourette syndrome, particularly as a surgeon living with the condition, and for his commitment to medical education.

Dr. Michael Hill and Dr. Brent Mitchell were among the 54 Fellows inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) in 2013. The CAHS recognizes individuals of great accomplishment and achievement in the academic health sciences in Canada.

Five University of Calgary initiatives were awarded prestigious ASTech Awards for their remarkable innovations in Alberta science and technology. Winners from the Faculty of Medicine included Dr. Pere Santamaria, Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology, and Dr. Bill Ghali and the Ward of the 21 Century, Societal Impact Award.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada awarded Dr. Roger Thomas a Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes Thomas as a trailblazer and leader in family medicine research, and honours his contributions to family medicine research throughout his career.

Keith Sharkey, PhD, was named a Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Fellow in recognition of his service to the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology and to Canadian gastroenterology.

Gregor Wolbring, PhD, was presented a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his tireless and impactful work in the areas of ability and ableism ethics and governance, the history of thalidomide and thalidomiders and disability studies.

29

NEWS

The Canadian Association of Internes and Residents (CAIR) recognized Dr. Joanne Todesco as the 2013 staff recipient of the Dr. Derek Puddester CAIR Award for Resident Well-Being. The award honours those who have contributed to improving resident well-being in Canada.

Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 is an annual selection of Calgary’s brightest and most active leaders under the age of 40. The Faculty of Medicine extends congratulations to honourees Drs. Chand Ball, Vika Kuriachan, Susan Samuel and Robin Yates.

Dr. Janet de Groot and Dr. David Topps received Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) awards for outstanding contributions to medical education in Canada. de Groot is the 2014 recipient of the May Cohen Equity, Diversity and Gender Award. The award is presented to a female physician who has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to mentoring others. Topps is the co-recipient, with his colleague Rachel Ellaway, of the AFMC-Infoway, e-Health Award. The award is given to a faculty member from a Canadian faculty of medicine who demonstrates exceptional leadership and commitment to e-health and informatics in medical education curriculum.

Dr. Tom Feasby, neurologist and former dean of medicine, received an honorary degree from Western University. The degree recognizes Feasby’s outstanding contributions to shaping and improving health-care delivery and policy in Canada throughout his academic career.

Libin celebrates 10 years of heart excellence in 2014 THE LIBIN CARDIOVASCULAR INSTITUTE

of Alberta is celebrating its 10–year anniversary with a variety of community events and initiatives throughout 2014. Since it’s also an Olympic year, the institute is proudly sponsoring former Olympian Justin Warsylewicz, a speedskater who was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Warsylewicz underwent two procedures at the Libin Institute a decade ago and took home a silver medal at the 2006 Turin Olympic Games. Stop by Inglewood’s Gravity Café on April 29 for a CIHR Café Scientifique, and the Health and Wellness Expo at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon May 29 and 30. Stay tuned for details on a gala celebration in the fall and plenty more events yet to be announced at libin10.ca. Over the last decade, the integration of the University of Calgary’s cardiovascular research enterprise with the region’s care delivery mechanisms has contributed to Calgary having the highest 30-day post-heart attack survival rate in the country. Happy anniversary to the Libin Institute!

Graduate students host stem cell symposium UNIVERSIT Y OF CALGARY graduate students teamed up with StemCellTalks, a national outreach group affiliated with the organization Let’s Talk Science, to give high school students the opportunity to see first-hand how stem cells play an integral role in medical research. Thirty-five students from eight schools across Calgary attended the symposium on Nov. 15, 2013 hosted at the university’s Foothills Campus. The day consisted of a series of

discussions, led by University of Calgary researchers, on topics such as the basic biology of stem cells, retinal stem cells, bioengineering with stem cells, how they’re currently being used and ethical concerns. Students had the opportunity to see what goes on inside the labs where stem cell research takes place, to participate in case studies, apply what they learned to discuss various scenarios, and even witnessed a debate between two stem cell researchers.

The second annual Wood Forum on Hip Osteoarthritis

Wood Forum took place in both Calgary and Edmonton. Event attendees had the opportunity to hear from experts in the field on improvements to health-care access and to ask questions concerning their personal hip and knee health.

THE 2013

Dr. Jim Powell (left), an orthopaedic surgeon and member of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, doing a live demo of a hip replacement, and Jordan Wood (right), an orthopaedic sales rep from Smith and Nephew—the company that donated the materials for the demonstration.


NEWS

M E D I C I N E . U C A LG A RY.C A / M AG A ZI N E

Awards and recognition

In the community

Dr. Werner Becker and Dr. Cy Frank were awarded the Alberta Medical Association medal for their distinguished service, outstanding personal contributions to the medical profession and to the people of Alberta, and for raising the standards of medical practice. Dr. Ewan Affleck was recognized with the Order of Canada for his commitment to improving health-care services in northern communities. Dr. Morton Doran was awarded the Order of Canada for his efforts to raise awareness of Tourette syndrome, particularly as a surgeon living with the condition, and for his commitment to medical education.

Dr. Michael Hill and Dr. Brent Mitchell were among the 54 Fellows inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) in 2013. The CAHS recognizes individuals of great accomplishment and achievement in the academic health sciences in Canada.

Five University of Calgary initiatives were awarded prestigious ASTech Awards for their remarkable innovations in Alberta science and technology. Winners from the Faculty of Medicine included Dr. Pere Santamaria, Outstanding Leadership in Alberta Technology, and Dr. Bill Ghali and the Ward of the 21 Century, Societal Impact Award.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada awarded Dr. Roger Thomas a Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes Thomas as a trailblazer and leader in family medicine research, and honours his contributions to family medicine research throughout his career.

Keith Sharkey, PhD, was named a Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Fellow in recognition of his service to the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology and to Canadian gastroenterology.

Gregor Wolbring, PhD, was presented a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his tireless and impactful work in the areas of ability and ableism ethics and governance, the history of thalidomide and thalidomiders and disability studies.

29

NEWS

The Canadian Association of Internes and Residents (CAIR) recognized Dr. Joanne Todesco as the 2013 staff recipient of the Dr. Derek Puddester CAIR Award for Resident Well-Being. The award honours those who have contributed to improving resident well-being in Canada.

Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 is an annual selection of Calgary’s brightest and most active leaders under the age of 40. The Faculty of Medicine extends congratulations to honourees Drs. Chand Ball, Vika Kuriachan, Susan Samuel and Robin Yates.

Dr. Janet de Groot and Dr. David Topps received Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) awards for outstanding contributions to medical education in Canada. de Groot is the 2014 recipient of the May Cohen Equity, Diversity and Gender Award. The award is presented to a female physician who has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to mentoring others. Topps is the co-recipient, with his colleague Rachel Ellaway, of the AFMC-Infoway, e-Health Award. The award is given to a faculty member from a Canadian faculty of medicine who demonstrates exceptional leadership and commitment to e-health and informatics in medical education curriculum.

Dr. Tom Feasby, neurologist and former dean of medicine, received an honorary degree from Western University. The degree recognizes Feasby’s outstanding contributions to shaping and improving health-care delivery and policy in Canada throughout his academic career.

Libin celebrates 10 years of heart excellence in 2014 THE LIBIN CARDIOVASCULAR INSTITUTE

of Alberta is celebrating its 10–year anniversary with a variety of community events and initiatives throughout 2014. Since it’s also an Olympic year, the institute is proudly sponsoring former Olympian Justin Warsylewicz, a speedskater who was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Warsylewicz underwent two procedures at the Libin Institute a decade ago and took home a silver medal at the 2006 Turin Olympic Games. Stop by Inglewood’s Gravity Café on April 29 for a CIHR Café Scientifique, and the Health and Wellness Expo at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon May 29 and 30. Stay tuned for details on a gala celebration in the fall and plenty more events yet to be announced at libin10.ca. Over the last decade, the integration of the University of Calgary’s cardiovascular research enterprise with the region’s care delivery mechanisms has contributed to Calgary having the highest 30-day post-heart attack survival rate in the country. Happy anniversary to the Libin Institute!

Graduate students host stem cell symposium UNIVERSIT Y OF CALGARY graduate students teamed up with StemCellTalks, a national outreach group affiliated with the organization Let’s Talk Science, to give high school students the opportunity to see first-hand how stem cells play an integral role in medical research. Thirty-five students from eight schools across Calgary attended the symposium on Nov. 15, 2013 hosted at the university’s Foothills Campus. The day consisted of a series of

discussions, led by University of Calgary researchers, on topics such as the basic biology of stem cells, retinal stem cells, bioengineering with stem cells, how they’re currently being used and ethical concerns. Students had the opportunity to see what goes on inside the labs where stem cell research takes place, to participate in case studies, apply what they learned to discuss various scenarios, and even witnessed a debate between two stem cell researchers.

The second annual Wood Forum on Hip Osteoarthritis

Wood Forum took place in both Calgary and Edmonton. Event attendees had the opportunity to hear from experts in the field on improvements to health-care access and to ask questions concerning their personal hip and knee health.

THE 2013

Dr. Jim Powell (left), an orthopaedic surgeon and member of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, doing a live demo of a hip replacement, and Jordan Wood (right), an orthopaedic sales rep from Smith and Nephew—the company that donated the materials for the demonstration.


Faculty of Medicine Alumni Affairs Call for nominations:

Alumnus of Distinction Award for Mentorship “ In recognition of outstanding commitment to mentorship of students and trainees, in an educational or community setting.” DEADLINE: JUNE 6, 2014

medicine.ucalgary.ca/alumni/awards

PM AG R EEM ENT N O. 41 0 9 5 528

Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: FACULTY OF MEDICINE Communications and Media Relations 7th Floor, TRW Building 3280 Hospital Drive NW Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6 CANADA

41095528


Ucalgary Medicine Magazine Spring / Summer 2014