Award winning UHN researcher Dr. Angela Cheung reveals how she decided to pivot her more than two decades of research on Osteoporosis to the study of long haul Covid. Along with UHN colleague Dr. Margaret Herridge and a team of researchers across Canada Dr. Cheung has discovered over 100 symptoms for long Covid, that it affects women more than men, but men get more acute symptoms. Dr. Cheung foresees the need for clinical practice – particularly primary care physicians and family doctors will be involved for years to come in the monitoring and treatment of long haul patients.
Imagine that we could rescue forgotten memories. With Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) that may be possible. Originally hypothesized as a treatment for obesity, Dr. Lozano discusses how we use electrodes to upregulate or down regulate the electrical activity in the brain to elicit memories. In a way the hope is that we can use electricity to restore normal brain activity.
Dr. Babak Taati on pioneering the use of computer vision to help seniors live safer, healthier lives.
Pain is often under-diagnosed and under-treated among older adults, especially those with dementia, who have trouble communicating their discomfort. Additionally, approximately 60 per cent of older adults with dementia suffer a fall each year. Dr. Babak Taati is among a group of researchers in Canada aiming to tackle these problems using computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI).
In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, we learn how Dr. Taati’s work involves using ambient monitoring systems to assess and analyze the movement and facial expressions of older adults to detect signs of pain and predict the likelihood of future falls, all while they go about their daily lives. He also discusses the ethical considerations of ambient monitoring techniques, from privacy concerns to working to eliminate ageism and ableism in the technology used.
Dr. Joan Wither on searching for the genetic and immune system abnormalities that lead to systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases
Dr. Joan Wither and her team are working on a series of biological tests that will better predict the progression of systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases, such as Lupus and Sjogren’s Disease. She discusses the importance of studying patients at various points throughout the disease, whether in a disease-dormant or flare-up state, which creates somewhat of an immune response timeline and profile.
Dr. Gang Zheng on harnessing the promise of nanotechnology for the detection and treatment of cancer
Nanoscience is the study of the small, the really small. Consider this; a nanoparticle can be as small as one-billionth of a metre. Nanotechnology in medicine is having a moment, with the profile and perception of the approach raised since it played a role in the development of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. But for Dr. Gang Zheng, the science of the very small and how it can be harnessed in cancer care has been a pursuit of passion for years.
In this episode, Dr. Zheng talks us through his development of a unique nontoxic nanoparticle, a porphysome, made by combining lipid or fat particles with a compound derived from pacific algae. This so-called Swiss army knife of nanoparticles has the potential to significantly improve the way cancers are detected and treated, from targeted drug delivery to ablation of the tumour from within using light.
Dr. Zheng also discusses the importance of collegiality and collaboration in science and the pride he takes in mentoring and training the next-gen of doers and thinkers, who in turn have dubbed themselves ‘Gangsters’ in his honour. And how he remains driven by one goal above all others – to make a positive impact on cancer patients' lives.
Dr. Jordan Feld on shifting from discovering a pill that cures Hepatitis C to investigating a treatment for mild COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic shocked everyone around the world - even those who study viruses such as Dr. Jordan Feld. In 2015, Dr. Feld led a groundbreaking international trial that made the breakthrough discovery of a pill that cures Hepatitis C. When the pandemic hit, he shifted gears and led another pioneering investigation into a treatment for the Coronavirus using Interferon Lambda. After a successful phase one and two trial, it is currently in phase three with more patients enrolled.
Compounding the urgency for COVID-19 treatments, Dr. Feld was juggling the approval process for his trial with the birth of his third son. He touches on the impact the pandemic had on research, how his team maintained a safe environment during the trial and what it means to be a mentor.
Dr. Catherine O’Brien on the world-first discovery that colorectal cancer cells hibernate like bears to evade chemotherapy
Chemotherapy works by essentially poisoning cancer cells, which grow more quickly than most normal cells, and thus absorb a lot of the toxic drugs. It has been regarded as a standard treatment in cancer care for decades, and can work wonders, especially early in a person’s treatment. But over time, these drugs may stop working. Dr. Catherine O’Brien and her team at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre were trying to figure out how cancer cells apparently become resistant to chemotherapy when they made the discovery that the cells can enter a state akin to hibernation to avoid the toxic onslaught of the drugs.
In this episode of the Behind the Breakthrough, Dr O’Brien discusses how her team made this groundbreaking discovery and how it may lead to unique therapeutic opportunities for patients in the future. She also discusses the importance of making connections between different scientific disciplines, and how a Grade 10 career day spent with a female surgeon inspired her to pursue a career in surgery herself.
Dr. Deepali Kumar on the world first discovery that 3rd dose of COVID Vaccine significantly boosts protection against the coronavirus for transplant patients
Transplant patients are among the most vulnerable populations when it comes to COVID-19. A world-first discovery at UHN’s Ajmera Transplant Centre found that a third vaccine dose for transplant patients shows substantially improved protection. Dr. Deepali Kumar, joint-Senior Author on the study, recalls the importance of this groundbreaking discovery. Plus, she discusses the importance of work-life balance, overcoming obstacles and mentorship in research. She draws on her experience of moving from Saharanpur, a city 200 kilometers north of New Delhi in India to Winnipeg, Manitoba at the age of nine, and the bravery her parents had to make that big, life-changing decision.
Dr. Beate Sander on the economics of infectious diseases and guiding public health policy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was Canada’s worst fear in March 2020—CoVID-19 reached the great white north. With increasing case counts and hospital burden throughout the country and in Ontario, government officials were looking to lean on healthcare economists to predict the impact of the pandemic. Dr. Beate Sander’s research highlights the importance of epidemiological modelling and how it guided public policy in Ontario. With the ever-changing data from around the world, her team highlighted the importance of certain measures to stop the spread. She discusses how the pandemic affects certain populations disproportionally. Plus, she expresses the need for better public data infrastructures, reporting, tracking and analytics to be well prepared in the future.
BTB Season 3 kicks off with a special Covid-19 edition to discuss UHN’s leading edge Covid research and treatment discoveries, the triumphs of basic science to create the vaccines. and - how and when does this pandemic end?