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Queen's earns two Banting Fellowships

Two postdoctoral fellows earn one of Canada’s top honours for young researchers.

Two young researchers at Queen’s University have been awarded Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships to continue their research. Nicolle Domnik (Medicine) and Sarah Yakimowski (Biology) received two of 70 fellowships awarded across Canada this year.

Dr. Domnik is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Dr. Yakimowski is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. The Fellowships are designed to attract and retain top-tier post-doctoral talent, both nationally and internationally. It also positions the winners as leaders of tomorrow.

Nicolle Domnik and Sarah Yakimowski have both earned Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships.

“The Fellowship recognizes our top post-doctoral trainees as future leaders in their respective fields,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “For Queen’s to earn two this year is a testament to Queen’s being a place where early career researchers can refine their research focus and skills, as well as work alongside leading academics.”

Dr. Yakimowski is working with Robert Colautti (Biology) on a new research project focusing on an invasive species. Amaranthus palmeri is reducing the yield of soybean, corn and cotton across the United States. This crop weed is not yet in Canada but has moved north rapidly over the past 25 years and could have a huge impact on agriculture if it makes it north of the border.

“This weed has been fought with herbicides and, as a result, A. palmeri has evolved resistance. One of my primary goals is to understand how this weed’s reproductive strategies contribute to the origin and spread of herbicide resistance. This could provide insight into novel control strategies,” says Dr. Yakimowski.

A long term goal of this research is to understand whether herbicide resistance evolved once and spread, or whether resistance is evolving independently in many locations.

She adds the funding provides an opportunity to form the basis of her research for the next decade.

Dr. Domnik has always had an interest in respiratory physiology and the Banting Fellowship supports her research with Dr. Denis O’Donnell (Respirology). Her project at Queen’s and its affiliated teaching hospitals, Kingston General and Hotel Dieu, is focused on the impact of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD; a debilitating condition primarily caused by smoking) on breathing mechanics, lung function and respiratory symptoms at night.

“The intersection of breathing mechanics and sleep in COPD is a new and important area of research that I’m excited to explore,” she says. “This award allows me to dedicate myself fully to my research for the next two years, alleviating the stresses associated with funding that many postdocs experience. The Fellowships that Sarah and I have received also speak to the high level of research being done at Queen’s. It’s an honour to receive and I am very grateful for this opportunity.”

For more information on the Banting Fellowships, please visit the website.

Honorary Degree: Frank McKenna

  • Frank McKenna, third from left, stands with Rector Cam Yung, Principal Daniel Woolf and Chancellor Jim Leech after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University.
    Frank McKenna, third from left, stands with Rector Cam Yung, Principal Daniel Woolf and Chancellor Jim Leech after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University.
  • Frank McKenna, former premier of New Brunswick and former Canadian ambassador to the United States, smiles at his family before receiving his honorary degree from Chancellor Jim Leech.
    Frank McKenna, former premier of New Brunswick and former Canadian ambassador to the United States, smiles at his family before receiving his honorary degree from Chancellor Jim Leech.
  • Frank McKenna, former premier of New Brunswick and former Canadian ambassador to the United States, speaks at Grant Hall after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University.
    Frank McKenna, former premier of New Brunswick and former Canadian ambassador to the United States, speaks at Grant Hall after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University.
  • Father and son Robert and Andrew Martin are hooded together during Tuesday afternoon's convocation ceremony at Grant Hall.
    Father and son Robert and Andrew Martin are hooded together during Tuesday afternoon's convocation ceremony at Grant Hall.

A leader in the public and private sectors Frank McKenna, the former premier of New Brunswick (1987-1997) and former Canadian ambassador to the United States (2005-2006), was recognized with an honorary degree from Queen’s University on Tuesday, June 6.

Dr. McKenna is currently deputy chair of TD Bank Group, chairman of Brookfield Asset Management, and is on the board of Canadian Natural Resources. He has also previously served as chairman of CanWest Global and served on the boards of Noranda, Shoppers Drug Mart, and General Motors.

He started his post-graduate studies at Queen’s University in Political Studies before attending the University of New Brunswick Law School.

A live feed of each Spring Convocation ceremony will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each event. For a full schedule of the ceremonies, visit the website of the Office of the University Registrar.

Honorary Degree: Lord John Alderdice

  • Lord John Alderdice, third from left, stands alongside Rector Cam Yung, Principal Daniel Woolf, and Chancellor Jim Leech, after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University on Monday.
    Lord John Alderdice, third from left, stands alongside Rector Cam Yung, Principal Daniel Woolf, and Chancellor Jim Leech, after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University on Monday.
  • Lord John Alderdice speaks at Grant Hall after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University on Monday for his efforts toward bringing peace to Northern Ireland and around the world.
    Lord John Alderdice speaks at Grant Hall after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University on Monday for his efforts toward bringing peace to Northern Ireland and around the world.
  • Lord John Alderdice speaks at Grant Hall after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University on Monday for his efforts toward bringing peace to Northern Ireland and around the world.
    Lord John Alderdice speaks at Grant Hall after receiving an honorary degree from Queen's University on Monday for his efforts toward bringing peace to Northern Ireland and around the world.
  • Claire Gummo hugs Principal Daniel Woolf after he hooded her at Monday morning's convocation ceremony at Grant Hall. A Rhodes Scholar, Ms. Gummo will continue her studies at University of Oxford.
    Claire Gummo hugs Principal Daniel Woolf after he hooded her at Monday morning's convocation ceremony at Grant Hall. A Rhodes Scholar, Ms. Gummo will continue her studies at University of Oxford.
  • Claire Gummo holds her Tri-Colour Award at Monday morning's convocation ceremony alongside Principal Daniel Woolf, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Rector Cam Yung.
    Claire Gummo holds her Tri-Colour Award at Monday morning's convocation ceremony alongside Principal Daniel Woolf, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Rector Cam Yung.

Queen’s recognized Lord John Alderdice with an honorary degree during Monday morning’s Spring Convocation ceremony at Grant Hall for his peace efforts in Northern Ireland and around the world.

Baron Alderdice of Knock in the City of Belfast played a significant role in the development of the Irish peace process and the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement as leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. He then stepped down as Alliance Leader and accepted an appointment as Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly. He retired as Speaker and Member of the Legislative Assembly in 2004.

For many years, he served as a Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy at Queen’s University Belfast and established the Centre for Psychotherapy in Belfast. He continues as an active member of the House of Lords, but has stepped back from front-line party politics to focus on his academic and practical involvement in situations of violent political conflict.

A live feed of each Spring Convocation ceremony will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each event. For a full schedule of the ceremonies, visit the website of the Office of the University Registrar.

Honorary Degree: Sir David Skegg

  • Interim Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science Gordon Smith hoods Sir David Skegg as Chancellor Jim Leech looks on during Friday's Spring Convocation ceremony at Grant Hall.
    Interim Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science Gordon Smith hoods Sir David Skegg as Chancellor Jim Leech looks on during Friday's Spring Convocation ceremony at Grant Hall.
  • Sir David Skegg holds up his honorary degree during Friday's convocation ceremony. From left are: Rector Cam Yung; Chancellor Jim Leech; and Principal Daniel Woolf.
    Sir David Skegg holds up his honorary degree during Friday's convocation ceremony. From left are: Rector Cam Yung; Chancellor Jim Leech; and Principal Daniel Woolf.
  • Sir David Skegg speaks after receiving an honorary degree for his work as an epidemiologist and for promoting the Matariki Network of Universities.
    Sir David Skegg speaks after receiving an honorary degree for his work as an epidemiologist and for promoting the Matariki Network of Universities.
  • Graduands look for family members and friends as Rector Cam Yung offers a word of appreciation during Friday's convocation ceremony at Grant Hall
    Graduands look for family members and friends as Rector Cam Yung offers a word of appreciation during Friday's convocation ceremony at Grant Hall
  • A PhD recipient is hooded during Friday's Spring Convocation ceremony at Grant Hall. It was the 11th of the 21 ceremonies being held this spring.
    A PhD recipient is hooded during Friday's Spring Convocation ceremony at Grant Hall. It was the 11th of the 21 ceremonies being held this spring.

Queen’s recognized Sir David Skegg with an honorary degree during Friday morning’s Spring Convocation ceremony at Grant hall.

An epidemiologist and public health physician based at the University of Otago in New Zealand, Sir David Skegg’s research focuses mainly on the causes and control of cancers, especially breast and cervical cancer, and the use of epidemiological methods to study benefits and risks of medicines.

As vice-chancellor of the University of Otago from 2004 to 2011, he took a strong interest in opportunities for international collaboration. He promoted discussions that led to the establishment of the Matariki Network of Universities, of which Queen’s and the University of Otago are founding members.

Spring Convocation continues next week with ceremonies being held on Monday at 10 am and 2:30 pm.

A live feed of each Spring Convocation ceremony will begin approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled start of each event. For a full schedule of the ceremonies, visit the website of the Office of the University Registrar.

A matter of physics

It started with a bang (the big bang that is) and ended amongst the stars.

Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald delivered the Herzberg Memorial Public Lecture at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Monday, as part of the Canadian Association of Physicists Annual Congress, being hosted at Queen’s May28-June 2.

[Art McDonald]
Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Arthur McDonald delivered the Herzberg Memorial Public Lecture at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Monday. (Photo by Alex Hanes)

The CAP Congress is the most important physics conference in Canada. Every year, hundreds of Canadian and international physicists descend on the host university to communicate, present, exchange ideas, promote new research, and discuss the role of physics in Canada. This science-filled week also includes a public lecture with a speaker chosen for their merit, his or her impact on the physics community and dedication to inspiring the next generation of young innovators.

The lecture was named in honour of Nobel Laureate Gerhard Herzberg, a longstanding member of the CAP, in recognition of Dr. Herzberg’s known desire to increase public science engagement and appreciation of science amongst the public, and, particularly, youth.

Dr. McDonald continued this theme by appealing to the younger members of the audience with jokes, a promise that “science is fun,” and reminding everyone that they are sitting in a room full of “geeks looking for WIMPs” (weakly interacting massive particles). He also gave an overview of SNOLAB’s new neutrino experiment, SNO+, as well as the current dark matter program underway there. 

Dr. McDonald also discussed the history of the now completed SNO experiment, making sure he gave credit to the more than 270 people who made it possible. He made a point to acknowledge that more than 200 of the collaborators were students and post-docs; reinforcing that contributions from all levels are important.

For their work and discoveries on neutrinos Dr. McDonald and his group were awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics along with Takaaki Kajita of Japan.

After the completion of the SNO experiment the facility was expanded into SNOLAB with funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, a programme designed to “welcome the world to Canada”.

Dr. McDonald reiterated the importance of this initial investment and pushed home the message that “we need to be global in our outlook, in our diversity and our collaborations.”

For more information visit the CAP website.

Building the Super Soldier

Kingston Conference on International Security to examine the future of performance enhancement. 

The 12th annual Kingston Conference on International Security, taking place June 12-14, will bring together academics and military leaders to examine future enhancements to the physical, intellectual and social capabilities of soldiers. Panelists will also discuss the challenges in balancing the need for military effectiveness when enhancing individual performance with a commitment to reflect society’s values and norms.

“Different stakeholders bring with them different perspectives,” says Stefanie von Hlatky, Director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy and co-organizer of the conference. “Academics tend to think longer term, so bringing back the implications of their research to the immediate strategic, operational and tactical impacts is made possible through the conference. For the operational community and military leaders, engaging more analytically with concepts, doctrine and strategy is not something that the rigors of the job always permit, yet those lessons can be tremendously useful.”

Dr. Stefanie von Hlatky, Director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy, says the Kingston Conference on International Security creates opportunities to bring together academics and practitioners to exchange knowledge and examine concepts and strategies in ways that aren't always possible in the separate donmains. (Supplied Photo)

By bringing together perspectives from academia, industry and military operators, the conference allows for a more detailed and nuanced examination of military performance enhancement. Panelists will examine the current and future states of leading-edge research in performance enhancement, as well as the social aspects of the military profession, which includes gender and cultural awareness. The final panel will consider the ethical and moral implications of developing super soldiers, who must later transition back to being citizens when the mission is complete.

The conference is a collaboration between the Centre for International and Defence Policy, the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre, the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College, and the NATO Defense College in Rome. The conference program is jointly developed by the partner groups, with an eye on the implications of international security trends for the armed forces of Canada, the U.S, and NATO allies.

“It is our hope that the attendees gain knowledge and awareness on the multiple facets of the soldier and military performance – including spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, cultural and familial components,” says Major-General S.C. Hetherington, Commander of the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre. “More importantly, I hope they fully leverage this unique and diverse forum to contribute ideas and information on current fields of work and research akin to soldier and military performance. The Kingston Conference on International Security, as a world class international conference, bringing NATO and international perspectives, which are always valuable and informative for the attendees.”

For more information on the Kingston Conference on International Security, or to register to attend this year’s session, visit the website.

A good night's sleep

New research from Judith Davidson shows behavioural therapy helps fight chronic insomnia.

The battle against chronic insomnia is one that 12 per cent of Canadians fight every night. New research from Queen’s University’s Judith Davidson (Psychology) has shown group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) in a primary care setting is effective in treating insomnia. This is the first study of group CBT-I offered as part of routine care in a North American primary care setting.

New research from Judith Davidson could help fight chronic insomnia.

“These results have important implications for health care across the country,” says Dr. Davidson. “Insomnia, if left untreated, can lead to major depression, Type 2 diabetes, more sick days and car accidents. Medication works in the short term and drugs do help with occasional sleepless nights but we need to properly treat chronic insomnia or it’s never really cured.”

Multicomponent CBT-I typically includes sleep restriction therapy, stimulus control therapy, cognitive therapy and relaxation training provided in five or six sessions. In her study of the first 81 patients who received group CBT-I as part of routine care, 88 per cent reported no clinical insomnia after five weeks of treatment.

While the positive effects of CBT-I are obvious, bringing that therapy to chronic insomnia sufferers across Canada is a challenge, according to Dr. Davidson. The treatment is not covered by provincial health plans and primary care physicians do not have the time to deliver CBT-I therapy in a group setting – despite them often being the first point of contact for people looking for help with chronic insomnia.

“I have been working with the Kingston Family Health Team to provide this treatment right in primary care, but this is rare,” says Dr. Davidson. “Outside of primary care teams, the treatment has a cost which makes it unattainable for many people. This research shows how the treatment can be integrated into primary care and is a starting point for determining how best to bring CBT-I to more patients across the country.”

The research was published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and co-authored by Samantha Dawson and Adrijana Krsmanovic, both doctoral students in Queen’s clinical psychology graduate program.

Queen’s invests in 20 faculty researchers

Queen’s University will be funding the research of 20 faculty members following their successful applications to the Queen’s Research Opportunities Fund (QROF). Launched in 2015, QROF represents a strategic internal investment in areas of institutional research strength that provides researchers and scholars with the opportunity to accelerate their programs and research goals.

“Research is a core component of the mission of Queen’s University, and a key driver of our Strategic Framework,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Through the QROF program, we are making important internal investments that present new opportunities to build on research excellence and to enhance success of our faculty with external agencies and non-governmental organizations. I look forward to seeing the project outcomes for this year’s recipients.”

See the full list of funded projects, and learn more about one of the funded projects, below.


[Dr. Karine Bertrand]
Karine Bertrand, one of this year's recipients of QROF funding. Dr. Bertrand is an associate professor within the department of Film and Media, and teaches a course in Indigenous Women's Film and Media. (University Communications)

Film can be used to educate, to document, and to tell stories. Video works can also spark conversations about topics both inspiring and difficult. In doing so, film can build culture and understanding among different peoples – and, sometimes, we discover we are not so different after all.

This has been one early finding of Assistant Professor Karine Bertrand’s work through her project, “From Arnait Video Productions (Nunavut) to Video in the Villages (Brazil): developing a network of the Americas for Indigenous women filmmakers”. Dr. Bertrand, who teaches in the Department of Film and Media, is working to establish a film database for Indigenous women filmmakers to help them leverage what some call the modern ‘talking stick’ – a way for Indigenous women to make their voice heard on important subjects.

Dr. Bertrand is one of the recipients of funding through QROF 2017 under the category of “Research Leaders.” With this funding, one of her goals is to build a network that will allow Indigenous women filmmakers across North and South America to communicate with, support, and learn from each other. She is partnering with Indigenous filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau, as well as Indigenous elders and Indigenous students at Queen’s, to help bring her vision to life.

“I have been teaching a course on Indigenous women’s film and media for the last few years and looking at a lot of different video works from the Americas and Oceania, and I realized that it is really hard to get a hold of these films,” Dr. Bertrand explains. “And, despite the fact many of these female Indigenous filmmakers are thousands of miles away from each other, they are living the same realities. If they could share and communicate about their experiences, it might be able to help them in the healing process. It is so inspiring to think that maybe we can make a difference for these women.”

Dr. Bertrand hopes to launch the database within two years, and is currently consulting with the filmmakers about the best approach and seeking tech-savvy students who could assist. In the meantime, she has successfully reached out to the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, whose elders are from Tyendinaga, and local Indigenous communities, including her community in Kitigan Zibi and the Outaouais region, to seek their blessing on the project.

With the support from the QROF, Dr. Bertrand also aims to establish a Minority Women’s Film and Media Production Centre here at Queen’s, and host a biennial conference showcasing minority women’s cinema with the first conference taking place in 2018. She believes there would be significant interest in the topic – 99 per cent of students enrolled in her Indigenous Women’s Film and Media course are non-Indigenous, and many of her fellow faculty have expressed their support for such a centre.

Below, please find the full list of this year’s QROF recipients. Thank you to all researchers who applied, and congratulations to all recipients.


Research Leaders’ Fund

Crudden, Cathleen

Chemistry

Carbon-based ligands for metal surfaces: a revolution in biosensing

$50,000

Jessop, Philip

Chemistry

Application of green chemistry concepts to CMF derived biofuels

$50,000

Lai, Yongjun

Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Novel wearable technology for better vision

$49,112

Renwick, Neil

Pathology and Molecular Medicine

Accelerating RNA-guided diagnostics through accurate RNA detection in neuroendocrine tumor liquid samples and cell lines

$50,000

Bertrand, Karine

Film and Media

From Arnait Video Productions (Nunavut) to Video in the Villages (Brazil): developing a network of the Americas for Indigenous women filmmakers

$50,000

International Fund

Cramm, Heidi

Rehabilitation Therapy/CIMVHR

Military & veteran family health research: a global alliance

$20,000

Aldersey, Heather

School of Rehabilitation Therapy

Setting priorities for sex and relationship education for women with intellectual disabilities (ID) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and their families

$20,000

Mousavi, Parvin

School of Computing

Improved diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer using deep learning and multi-parametric medical imaging

$15,000

Cunningham, Michael

Chemical Engineering

Sustainable materials derived from natural polymers as substitutes for petroleum-based synthetic polymers

$20,000

Ross, Robert

Kinesiology and Health Studies

Exercise and metabolomics – a novel approach to understanding the mechanisms by which exercise improves cardiometabolic health

$16,750

Fichtinger, Gabor

School of Computing

The integration of the Dartmouth electrical impedance imaging technology with the Queen's NaviKnife real-time electromagnetic breast surgery navigation system

$4,100

Post-Doctoral Fellow Fund

Mousavi, Parvin - Anas, Emran Mohammad Abu

School of Computing

No Title

$45,000

Mulligan, Lois - Moodley, Serisha

Cancer Biology & Genetics

Evaluating RET-inhibitors in lung cancer growth and metastasis

$45,000

French, Simon - Auais, Mohammad

Rehabilitation Therapy

No Title

$45,000

Arts Fund

Artistic Production

Renders, Kim

Dan School of Drama and Music

Rhinoceros or What's Different About Me

$5,000

Rogalsky, Matthew

Dan School of Drama and Music

Purchase of specialized loudspeakers for investigation and experimentation on an Indigenous language sound installation project

$2,742

Anweiler, Rebecca

Fine Art (Visual Art) Program

Animal/Séance: exhibition at Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre's State of Flux Gallery, Kingston, Ontario

$4,900

Wanless, Gregory

Dan School of Drama and Music

Support for The Eliza Show

$5,000

Visiting Artist Residency

McKegney, Sam

English

“Conversation over co-existence: The limitless possibilities of poetic practice”
A Writer’s Residency featuring Karen Solie

$13,000

Kibbins, Garry

Film and Media

Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens: The golden USB

$9,401

 

To learn more about the QROF program, click here.

Looking at the universe with 'New Eyes'

  • Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Art McDonald helps open the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit on Friday, May 26. The exhibit is open to the public at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre from May 27-July 7.
    Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus Art McDonald helps open the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit on Friday, May 26. The exhibit is open to the public at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre from May 27-July 7.
  • One of the most popular features of the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit is a life-size virtual display of Art McDonald, presenting information about the work of SNO and SNOLAB.
    One of the most popular features of the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit is a life-size virtual display of Art McDonald, presenting information about the work of SNO and SNOLAB.
  • Art McDonald acknowledges the contributions of Gordon and Patricia Gray, the sponsors of the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics, a position he once held at Queen's University.
    Art McDonald acknowledges the contributions of Gordon and Patricia Gray, the sponsors of the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics, a position he once held at Queen's University.
  • Members of the Queen's and Kingston communities tour through the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit during a special opening event at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Friday, May 26.
    Members of the Queen's and Kingston communities tour through the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit during a special opening event at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Friday, May 26.
  • Art McDonald cuts the ribbon to officially open the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit alongside, from left, Principal Daniel Woolf, student Elizabeth Fletcher, MPP for Kingston and the Islands Sophie Kiwala and David Walker, Chair, Executive Committee for Queen’s 175th Anniversary.
    Art McDonald cuts the ribbon to officially open the New Eyes on the Universe exhibit alongside, from left, Principal Daniel Woolf, student Elizabeth Fletcher, MPP for Kingston and the Islands Sophie Kiwala and David Walker, Chair, Executive Committee for Queen’s 175th Anniversary.

Nobel Laureate Arthur McDonald helped kick off an interactive exhibit highlighting the discoveries of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) project and the ongoing experiments by Queen’s researchers at the SNOLAB underground facility.

[Queen's 175th anniversary]
Queen's 175th anniversary

A special event was held Friday at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre where the exhibit will be on display from May 27-July 7. Queen’s is hosting the exhibit as part of its 175th anniversary celebrations, which will conclude later this summer.

Dr. McDonald shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for proving that solar neutrinos change their flavour en route to Earth, an important discovery for explaining the structure of the universe and the nature of matter.

The exhibit, which debuted July 1, 2016 at Canada House in London before touring across Canada, features 40 panels presenting the history and development of SNO and SNOLAB, located two kilometres below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury. Video kiosks allow visitors to explore themes and offer a virtual tour of SNOLAB, while, through a life-size virtual display, Dr. McDonald presents information about the work of SNO and SNOLAB and his perspective on the future.

Exhibit artifacts include unique detector components developed especially for SNO, as well as a scale model of the SNO detector.

Admission to the exhibit and the Agnes is free for everyone.

The SNOLAB Institute is operated under a trust agreement between Queen’s University, Carleton University, University of Alberta, Laurentian University, Université de Montréal, and Vale, and includes external and international membership from both academic and industrial sectors. 

New hope for cancer patients

Queen’s University researchers successfully synthesize cancer agent thapsigargin.

Queen’s University researchers have successfully synthesized the anticancer agent thapsigargin, which could now open the door to the creation of new cancer drugs.

The team of P. Andrew Evans (Chemistry) and his graduate student Dezhi Chen developed an efficient route to thapsigargin in only 12 steps.

P. Andrew Evans (l) and Dezhi Chen have successfully synthesized the anticancer agent thapsigargin.

“The first successful synthesis of thapsigargin required 42 steps, which was accomplished by at least 10 co-workers over a 10 year period,” says Dr. Evans. “What Dezhi did is impressive by any measure. He devised a new route to this important agent and successfully implemented his idea to complete a 12 step synthesis in only nine months.”

Thapsigargin was isolated from a wild poisonous plant, which is commonly known as the deadly carrot, in 1978. Despite numerous attempts to synthesize, the complexity of the molecule made it very challenging.

A key feature with thapsigargin is that it kills both slow and fast-growth cancer cells by inhibiting an enzyme that controls essential calcium balance inside cells.

With the anticancer drug Mipsagargin entering late-stage clinical trials, Dr. Evans says “it’s estimated that more than one metric ton of thapsigargin will be required per year.”

The prodrug Mipsagargin is being tested for the treatment of some of most challenging cancers, for example liver, brain, kidney and prostate cancer, thereby making it an exciting prospect.

“The efficient synthesis of this molecule is critical as relying on the isolation from a plant growing in the wild is not a sound strategy,” says Dr. Evans.

“The plant is resistant to cultivation in natural or greenhouse conditions, which coupled to the low yielding and tedious isolation makes our approach a timely development.  With our process we can make thapsigargin much more readily available with a more efficient process. We have also opened up this area for the preparation of simplified analogues.”

Dr. Evans confirmed the synthesis of thapsigargin was patented through PARTEQ, the Queen’s University technology transfer office.

The research was recently published in Journal of the American Chemical Society and highlighted in Chemical and Engineering News.

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