Behind the Breakthrough
Beating back Alzheimer’s, one poem at a time, with Dr. Donald Weaver

Beating back Alzheimer’s, one poem at a time, with Dr. Donald Weaver

December 17, 2019

In the final episode of Season One of Behind the Breakthrough we hear from Dr. Donald Weaver, director of the Krembil Research Institute. Dr. Weaver talks about his groundbreaking research into Alzheimer’s disease, and explains how drug research works and the challenges of getting to a clinical trial. He also talks about why his response to questions about “What next?” is a cheery “More failure!,” the purpose of his weekly story-telling in team meetings, and talks about his poetry career.

Using computers to understand cancer, with Dr. Michael Hoffman

Using computers to understand cancer, with Dr. Michael Hoffman

December 10, 2019

In this episode of ‘Behind the Breakthrough’ Princess Margaret Cancer Centre scientist Dr. Michael Hoffman explains how he leverages the power and speed of computers to understand the origins of cancer. He says cancer is a disease of the DNA –the genetic code that determines our individual characteristics. Essentially, our DNA acts as a program telling our cells what to do. In the case of cancer the wrong program gets run and cells divide in an unrestricted manner. The goal of Dr. Hoffman’s lab is to determine if there is a way of predicting when the wrong program gets run –before it ever happens.

We also learn that from age 4 Dr. Hoffman was in awe of the magic of computers, and how he turned his love for computers into a career in the emerging field of computational biology. He also speaks to the critical importance of training the next generation of cancer researchers, and how he views Twitter as a virtual meeting place for scientific exchange

Pioneering treatments to get spinal cord injured patients mobile, with Dr. Kristin Musselman

Pioneering treatments to get spinal cord injured patients mobile, with Dr. Kristin Musselman

December 3, 2019

Dr. Kristin Musselman is a pioneer in research designed to get patients with partial spinal cord injury up and walking again. She joins UHN’s ‘Behind the Breakthrough’ podcast to talk about her latest research, how it relies heavily on patient input, and the satisfaction of seeing those same patients try new strategies to regain mobility and maintain their balance.

Reversing blindness and the serendipity of science, with Dr. Valerie Wallace

Reversing blindness and the serendipity of science, with Dr. Valerie Wallace

November 26, 2019

 Dr. Valerie Wallace is on a mission to reverse blindness. The award-winning senior scientist and co-director of the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute at UHN’s Krembil Research Institute sits down with Behind the Breakthrough to discuss the serendipity of science, the curiosity that drives her and the changing landscape of women in STEM.

“If you don’t ask the hard questions, you won’t get amazing answers,” she says. Hear more from Dr. Valerie Wallace about her career, inspirations and why she calls herself an explorer.

Repairing broken hearts with stem cells, with Dr. Michael Laflamme

Repairing broken hearts with stem cells, with Dr. Michael Laflamme

November 19, 2019

In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, we hear from cardiac pathologist and award-winning principal investigator at the McEwen Stem Cell Institute Dr. Michael Laflamme. His mission: to restore the function of injured hearts by replacing scar tissue with healthy heart muscle cells made from stem cells.

He shares why it’s important to put your career aspirations to paper early on, what it’s like to co-found a company that’s been acquired for $1US billion, and why researchers should try to be scientifically fearless.

Overcoming ‘impostor syndrome’ and helping the elderly live well, with Dr. Jennifer Campos

Overcoming ‘impostor syndrome’ and helping the elderly live well, with Dr. Jennifer Campos

November 12, 2019

Growing up, the death of Dr. Jenny Campos’ grandfather from a preventable fall while carrying groceries up a flight of stairs shook her family to the core. Today, it is the driving force behind her research in falls and driving collision prevention in the elderly. By simulating real life challenges in Toronto Rehabilitation Institute’s renowned Challenging Environment Assessment Lab (CEAL), Dr. Campos is finding ways to help older adults live well. In this episode, Dr. Campos delves into her pioneering work with virtual reality and motion simulation technologies, how she has learned to find a work-life balance in academia, and why it’s so important to mentor the next generation of young scientists in STEM.

Meet the cancer code breaker, Dr. Mathieu Lupien

Meet the cancer code breaker, Dr. Mathieu Lupien

November 5, 2019

In the battle to defeat cancer, award-winning UHN researcher Dr. Mathieu Lupien is a modern-day version of the Bletchley Park World War Two codebreakers. Dr. Lupien searches the human genome, trying to crack the origin of how and why cancer starts. He knows deciphering that enigmatic code is one of the keys that will lead to a cure for cancer. He explains how the human genome is like a road map to the inner workings of what makes us, well, us—and the many ways cancer disrupts that journey, and why researchers are now looking at so-called “junk DNA” for the source to cancer’s origins.

Dr. Lupien also talks about the Terry Fox loonie he carries in his pocket at all times as a reminder of the commitment and importance of the work done in his lab, how a line in a TV show he watched as a child in Quebec has fuelled his research career,” and his advice for kids who want to go into science.

Robotics, rehabilitation therapy and learning from failure, with Dr. Milos Popovic

Robotics, rehabilitation therapy and learning from failure, with Dr. Milos Popovic

October 29, 2019

In this episode, we sit down with award-winning scientist Dr. Milos Popovic to hear about his transformational shift from aerospace engineering to rehabilitation research, and how it led to his invention of a medical device that restores upper limb mobility to people with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury or stroke.

Challenging the meaning of palliative care, with Dr. Camilla Zimmermann

Challenging the meaning of palliative care, with Dr. Camilla Zimmermann

October 22, 2019

In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, Dr. Camilla Zimmermann talks about how her research has helped change the practice of palliative care from end-of-life care to a more wholistic approach that answers the question, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” Dr. Zimmermann refers to herself and her team as “an extra layer of support” to those living with a terminal illness. We hear about how the practice has evolved and the vast potential of a research field that’s still largely in its infancy. Dr. Zimmermann also reveals how the death of her parents when she was a teenager shaped her career, her initial reluctance to admit to colleagues her desire to be a palliative care specialist, and how stigma still hangs on the concept of what is palliative care.

Chronic pain and scientific baseball, with Dr. Karen Davis

Chronic pain and scientific baseball, with Dr. Karen Davis

October 11, 2019

In this episode, neuroscientist Dr. Karen Davis talks to us about pain. What is it? Can we predict it? What does personality-type have to do with it? She touches on her advancements in pain research, and why her and her team are really scientific baseball players. Play ball!  

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