Behind the Breakthrough
Dr. John Dick on his famous discovery of cancer stem cells, and the puzzle of research

Dr. John Dick on his famous discovery of cancer stem cells, and the puzzle of research

November 26, 2020

Dr. John Dick is known internationally for his discovery of blood stem cells. His work has broadened understanding of where and why leukemia starts, and what we could do to prevent it. In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, Dr. John Dick takes us behind the scenes on his career, building on the pioneering work of Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch—the first to define the properties of stem cells. He delves into the pivotal moments that led to discoveries that have changed the face of cancer research, and why science doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Read more at www.behindthebreakthrough.ca. 

Dr. Mansoor Husain on breakthrough drug for diabetes and heart disease

Dr. Mansoor Husain on breakthrough drug for diabetes and heart disease

November 24, 2020

Almost 20 years ago, a hallway conversatiokickstarted Dr. Mansoor Husain’s journey in helping create and test a new diabetes drug that reduces the risk of heart diseaseIn 2019, the award-winning physician-scientist at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and Peter Munk Cardiac Centre published the findings of a landmark trial proving the drug’s safety and reduction in cardiovascular-related mortalitybringing a new therapy into the fold for patients with diabetes – who are two to four times more likely to die from cardiovascular problems than those without it. 

In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, Dr. Husain brings the listener into his lab, where he aims to understand more about the molecular mechanisms behind heart disease. He shares how a Nylon experiment in a high school chemistry class sparked his love for science and ultimately led him to medical school, and what keeps him motivated after 25 years as a scientist. 

“I believe that being in the clinic makes a better scientist, and being in the lab makes me a better doctor.” 

Dr. Alex Mihailidis on helping us live at home longer

Dr. Alex Mihailidis on helping us live at home longer

November 19, 2020

The stories patients and caregivers tell of the difficulties managing day-to-day tasks stay top of mind for Dr. Alex Mihailidis, an award-winning scientist developing smart home systems tcare for and promote the wellbeing of older adults. From robots who support common household activities, floor tiles that monitor blood pressure and sensors that can send a reminder to turn off the stove, Dr. Mihailidis is alleviating the responsibility of care from the patient and caregiver and putting it into the home. 

On this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, Dr. Mihailidis journeys through his years of research into smart home technology, with early innovations such as ‘Ed the Robot’ and his current role as Scientific Director of the AGE-WELL Network of Centres of ExcellenceDr. Mihailidis also tells the story of how he became a patient at the Toronto Rehab Institute, the hospital where he works, after surviving a 30 foot fall down a cliff. Having to regain his ability to walk and perform daily functions, the tragic event taught him the importance of integrating his research with clinical practice. 

“If we can come up with a solution through technology that can help ease the issues older people face, even just a little bit, and make it better not just for the person but the family that supportthem...then that’s why I continue to do this.” 

Dr. Ralph DaCosta on a better way to visualize cancer and his serendipitous invention

Dr. Ralph DaCosta on a better way to visualize cancer and his serendipitous invention

November 17, 2020

In 2007, Dr. Ralph DaCosta was in the Princess Margaret Optics Lab researching molecular imaging to better visualize cancer when he made a serendipitous discovery that could revolutionize wound care. Hear about his groundbreaking work in visualizing cancer, his serendipitous discovery that has turned him into an inventor and entrepreneur, and how Terry Fox was the inspiration for his drive to enter cancer research.  

In his early career he was awarded the Terry Fox Research Foundation’s New Innovator Grant. “I immediately went back to 1980 watching Terry Fox…to come full circle with that is very personally meaningful to me,” he says.

Listen to hear about his career path, what it was like to immigrate to Canada at the age of 6, and more.

Dr. Sonya MacParland on developing the world’s first map of the liver

Dr. Sonya MacParland on developing the world’s first map of the liver

November 12, 2020

What attracted Dr. Sonya MacParland to the world of science was the possibility of making a discovery no one else has ever made. It’s exactly what she went on to do – the award-winning scientist at UHN’s Toronto General Hospital Research Institute developed the world’s first transcriptomic map of the liver, triggering a paradigm shift in liver research and therapy.  

On this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, Dr. MacParland takes the listener through the intricacies of the only organ in the human body with the ability to regenerate itself - the liverShe explains how she and her team mapped the thousands of cells within it, and why they felt it was integral to keep the research open-access for scientists around the world to use as a guide. Dr. MacParland also dives into the personal side of her success as a scientist, sharing how she deals with the failures and pressures of her work and the role mentorship plays in a successful career. 

Being able to do science and discover together on a daily basis is a gift,” says Dr. MacParland. “The fact that I'm able to do this and work with brilliant studentsbrilliant scientists and wonderful patients is just so fulfilling.” 

Dr. Heather Baltzer on pioneering hand trauma treatment.

Dr. Heather Baltzer on pioneering hand trauma treatment.

November 10, 2020

Hand trauma sends more Canadians to the emergency room each year than any other injury, something this episode’s guest refers to as an “unrecognized public health issue.’ Dr. Heather Baltzer joins us to discuss her pioneering research to improve both the treatment and outcomes for people suffering hand trauma, as well as the effect such traumas can have on both the patient and the healthcare system at large. Dr. Baltzer also discusses the importance of mentorship, the role of serendipity in research and recreating The New Yorker Magazine cover depicting an all-female surgical team that turned into a rallying cry for women surgeons around the world.

Read more at www.behindthebreakthrough.ca. 

Dr. Pamela Ohashi on revolutionizing cancer treatment with immunotherapy

Dr. Pamela Ohashi on revolutionizing cancer treatment with immunotherapy

November 5, 2020

In this episode, Dr. Pamela Ohashi takes listeners on a journey through groundbreaking advances in immunotherapy, a treatment that activates or triggers your body’s own immune cells to seek out and kill cancer. Dr. Ohashi has witnessed the field blossom into the next frontier in cancer treatment, in part thanks to some of her own discoveries. Listen in to find out what barriers her lab is tackling next, her approach to mentorship, and what she thinks about patients that decide to take part in immunotherapy clinical trials.

Read more at www.behindthebreakthrough.ca. 

Dr. Taufik Valiante invents implantable computer chip designed to stop epileptic seizures

Dr. Taufik Valiante invents implantable computer chip designed to stop epileptic seizures

November 2, 2020

Dr. Taufik Valiante joins the podcast to talk about his amazing invention of an implantable computer chip designed to monitor brain waves and stop epileptic seizures before they ever occur. In this compelling and wide ranging interview the award winning UHN neurosurgeon and scientist also talks about burnout in healthcare workers, revealing his struggle with depression and journey to achieve mental wellness.

https://www.uhn.ca/corporate/News/UHN_PodCast/Behind_the_Breakthrough/

 

 

Dr. Stephanie Protze on turning stem cells into pacemaker cells

Dr. Stephanie Protze on turning stem cells into pacemaker cells

October 29, 2020

In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough, we sit down with Dr. Stephanie Protze, Scientist at UHN’s McEwen Stem Cell Institute, to hear the story of how a high school class field trip to Dresden, Germany, led her to become an award-winning scientist pioneering the creation of new heart cells to restore the heart's pacemaker function. The ultimate goal — to develop biological pacemakers that one day work better than the electronic devices that are the current standard of care.

Dr. Brad Wouters on UHN’s COVID-19 research, leadership during the pandemic, and anti-vaxxers

Dr. Brad Wouters on UHN’s COVID-19 research, leadership during the pandemic, and anti-vaxxers

October 26, 2020

EVP of Science and Research and award winning cancer researcher Dr. Brad Wouters on UHN's COVID-19 research, leadership during the pandemic, and anti-vaxxers.

https://www.uhn.ca/corporate/News/UHN_PodCast/Behind_the_Breakthrough/

 

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