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Custom program developed for Health Science leaders

Health Sciences Leadership Series

A program designed to improve the leadership capabilities and communication skills of Health Sciences faculty members.

Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website to register.

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Health Sciences faculty members spend years training for their roles as educators, researchers and scholars. In many cases, though, there aren'™t the same opportunities to develop specific skills required for their administrative and managerial duties.

The Office of Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences aims to change that by collaborating with the Human Resources Department on a new management development program. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will launch this September with the first cohort of 30 participants completing six full-day sessions throughout 2014-15.

"This program is modelled after one that myself and a number of other faculty had the opportunity to take several years ago," says Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, Faculty of Health Sciences. "In retrospect, the content has proven to be highly relevant and practical. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development."

Human Resources designed the program specifically for Health Sciences faculty members. The material will cover challenges, situations and conflicts they will encounter in their day-to-day work. Dr. Sanfilippo says participants will gain a deeper understanding of their leadership capabilities, expand their communication skills, enhance their project management skills, and improve their ability to build relationships both within and outside their department.

The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development.

Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

With the Health Sciences Leadership Series, Queen's Human Resources Department continues to expand its leadership development programming. The department has offered a similar program for non-academic managers since 2009.

"œWe are excited to partner with the Faculty of Health Sciences to extend this valuable leadership training to their faculty members," says Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources. "We are hopeful that the positive outcomes of this series will result in opportunities to work with other faculties on similar programs in the future."

The series has the added benefit of meeting the accreditation criteria for two professional organizations. It is an accredited group learning activity for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The program also meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Online registration is now open with the first session slated to take place Sept. 16. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences website or by contacting Shannon Hill, Learning Development Specialist, Human Resources, at ext. 74175.
 

Strengthening global health collaboration

The Office of Global Health (OGH) in the Faculty of Health Sciences recently became an institutional member of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), an international body tasked with fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and the sharing of knowledge to address global health challenges.

The Office of Global Health recently became an institutional member of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health. From left, Linda Chan, Health Education Research Associate; Jenn Carpenter, Director of the Office of Global Health; Mikaila De Sousa, Program and Events Coordinator.
The Office of Global Health recently became an institutional member of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health. From left, Linda Chan, Health Education Research Associate; Jenn Carpenter, Director of the Office of Global Health; Mikaila De Sousa, Program and Events Coordinator. (Supplied Photo)

Global health entails study, research, and practice that prioritize improving health and achieving equity in health for all.

Through this membership in the CUGH, all Queen’s global health and equity educators, advocates, and researchers will be able to connect with a network of more than 19,000 individuals and over 145 academic institutions involved in global health worldwide. Membership also provides access to interest groups, educational, and program development materials, as well as conferences aimed at building partnerships and engaging in advocacy across research, education, and service. In joining the consortium, all Queen’s staff, faculty, and students may now enjoy the benefits of membership and have access to CUGH resources.

In light of the university’s commitment to internationalization and new membership in CUGH, the OGH is looking to strengthen Queen’s global health network by gaining a full understanding of the global health community at Queen’s. The OGH is conducting a survey to gather information on global health work being done at the university. The survey will also serve to collect information from the Queen’s community about program information to be shared with the CUGH network.

“There is so much important global health and health equity work being done across the faculties at Queen’s. It seemed like the perfect time to both join the ever-growing CUGH network, and identify potential collaborations here at Queen’s,” says Jenn Carpenter, Director of the Office of Global Health. 

To complete the survey about work being done at Queen’s or to join the CUGH network, visit https://queensu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8tXre9zWgcTkuEt.  Please note that the global health survey will collect information on academic global health programs to be shared on the CUGH Global Health Academic Programs Database. Only faculties and departments that would like to share their program on the CUGH academic programs database should complete that particular part of the survey. For further information about the survey, please contact the Office of Global Health.

You can also register online to subscribe to the OGH newsletter.

 

Go with the flow (or against it)

Queen's researchers use magnetic fields to control bacteria with the potential to deliver drug treatments

Queen’s University researchers are using magnetic fields to influence a specific type of bacteria to swim against strong currents, opening up the potential of using the microscopic organisms for drug delivery in environments with complex microflows – like the human bloodstream.

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Carlos Escobedo and PhD candidate Saeed Rismani Yazdi analyzing MTB behaviour in the laboratory.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Carlos Escobedo and PhD candidate Saeed Rismani Yazdi in the laboratory.

Led by Carlos Escobedo (Chemical Engineering) and PhD candidate Saeed Rismani Yazdi (Chemical Engineering), the research focused on studying and manipulating the mobility of magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) – tiny organisms that contain nanocrystals sensitive to magnetic fields. Their findings were recently published in nano- and micro-science journal Small.

“MTB have tiny (nanoscopic) organelles called magnetosomes, which act like a compass needle that helps them navigate to nutrient-rich locations in aquatic environments – their natural habitats – by using the Earth’s magnetic field,” says Dr. Escobedo. “In nature, MTB play a key role in Earth’s cycles by influencing marine biogeochemistry via transporting minerals and organic matters as nutrients.”

After studying how MTB respond to magnetic fields and currents similar to those found in their natural habitats, the team introduced stronger currents and magnetic fields to see if the bacteria could still navigate successfully.

“When we increased the rate of flow and the strength of the magnetic field, we were astounded by the MTB’s ability to swim strongly and concertedly against the current,” says Mr. Rismani Yazdi. “They were even able to swim across a strong current with ease when we moved the magnet perpendicular to the flow.”

Microscope slide with a channel to circulate flow
This microscope slide features a small channel through which Queen's researchers simulated the flow of a human bloodstream.

The team’s success in directing MTB through a complex and fast-moving environment could be a significant step toward using the bacteria to transport pharmaceuticals through the human bloodstream to treat tumours directly.

“Next, we plan to bind therapeutic drugs to the bacterial bodies for transport,” says Dr. Escobedo.

To do so, the team is collaborating with the group led by Peter Davies (Biochemisty), Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering, who are figuring out how to adhere existing cancer therapeutic drugs to the bacteria, as well as how to have them release the drugs once they reach a chosen destination.

The team has also teamed up with Dr. Madhuri Koti of the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute and plan to refine their ability to direct the MTB toward tumours with a high degree of accuracy. Together, the team will use magnetic fields to guide the bacteria from one end of a microchannel on a tiny microscope slide to samples of biopsied cancer tissue at the other end.

Dr. Escobedo hopes that their multi-disciplinary approach to this research will help unlock MTB’s potential to be a biological, effective, and formidable drug-delivery method.

“We’ve shown that the bacteria’s natural properties can be exploited to guide them in complex and strong flow conditions, much more challenging than those found in nature, which opens up opportunities not only in the drug-delivery field, but in other biomedical applications as well,” concluded Mr. Rismani Yazdi.

One step at a time

Queen’s University research examines the fear of falling in seniors and the damaging impact it can have on their health.

New research out of Queen’s University has shown a fear of falling can lead to function disability in seniors over the age of 65. High fear can lead to less mobility, isolation, a loss of independence, depression, and, eventually, the need to move into a care facility.

“Falling is a serious concern, but the fear of falling can also be serious and can rob seniors of the autonomy that keeps them active longer,” says lead research Mohammad Auais (School of Rehabilitation Therapy). “Once you fall, it tends to increase your fear of falling, and then that fear of falling can be associated with decreased mobility, decreased social participation, and isolation. It is also important to know that at least two out of 10 seniors overestimate their risk of falling so their fear of falling is not justified.”

Mohammad Auais
Mohammad Auais (School of Rehabilitation Therapy) is studying the fear of falling in seniors and how that can lead to functional disability. (University Communications)

Dr. Auais used international data collected over two years focusing on seniors aged 65 and older. The measured data was both self-reported and observed and included day-to-day activities such as walking upstairs or standing from a chair. With this new data, he says he will next present the information to doctors, nurse practitioners, and the general public so people can start recognizing and intervening if someone has an unhealthy fear of falling.

He adds that due to a lack of awareness, a fear of falling is not a common target in rehabilitation programs despite the fact that behavior is modifiable.

“Fear of falling is prevalent among senior Canadians and – with the aging population – it is expected to be even more prevalent in the near future,” says Dr. Auais. “According to Statistics Canada, one out of three seniors aged 65 and older were concerned that they might fall in the future and this percentage increases with age.”

Close to half of seniors aged 85 years and older report fear of falling. Moving forward, Dr. Auais says the next steps in his research include developing a screening process for those at risk and developing intervention strategies.

“Seniors need to address any true risk of falling (e.g. balance problem) and start to venture out before they become isolated and lose their independence," he says. "And the good news is that balance can improve with training. If weather permits and sidewalks are safe, head outside; otherwise find an indoor spot that works for you (e.g. shopping mall).”

The findings are part of the International Mobility in Aging Study. It’s an international collaboration featuring researchers from Albania, Brazil, Colombia, Quebec, and Kingston and led by Dr. Maria-Victoria Zunzunegui, from the University of Montreal.

The research was published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

A degree of inspiration

If you’ve ever wanted to meet a hero, or share a world-changing leader’s insights with the Queen’s community, you may want to consider nominating someone for an honorary degree at Queen’s.

Honorary degrees are one of the most prestigious awards given by a university. Recipients are nominated by the university community based on their contribution to the university, the local community, Canadian society, and to the world.

Bill Flanagan, Dean of Law, recounts his recent experience nominating Douglas Cardinal, a prominent Indigenous architect, Order of Canada inductee, and leader in the Indigenous community.

Douglas Cardinal lectures in front of a packed room in Macdonald Hall during his visit to Queen's to receive his honorary degree in March, 2017.
Douglas Cardinal lectures in front of a packed room in Macdonald Hall during his visit to Queen's to receive his honorary degree in March, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Van Overbeke)

“Douglas has had a long and distinguished career, and he’s been a great friend of the school. He’s come to speak to our students about Indigenous legal matters, and gave two lectures while he was in Kingston for the convocation about Indigenous peoples and law in Canada. He has created award-winning and world-renowned buildings, such as the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and a church in Red Deer, Alberta – a famous building which I attended as a kid, and I was always terribly impressed by its beauty,” he says.

“Nominating honorary degree recipients is of great value, both to recognize their contributions and also as an opportunity to provide inspiration to our graduates,” says Dean Flanagan. “It’s important that these nominees are considered carefully, and be of a certain caliber, like Douglas Cardinal, who has been a tremendous leader in his field.”

The Senate Honorary Degree Committee approves nominees from the applications, and may award a Doctor of Divinity, Laws, or Science to the successful recipients.

Richard Reznick, Dean of Health Sciences, has nominated many honorary degree recipients over the years, and recounts one of his most memorable.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, honorary degree recipient, delivers a moving speech at the School of Medicine Class of 2011 convocation. (Photo: Jackie Duffin)
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, honorary degree recipient, delivers a moving speech at the School of Medicine Class of 2011 convocation. (Photo: Jackie Duffin)

“The very first recipient that I nominated was Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish. He is a Canadian-Palestinian doctor who lived in Palestine but trained in Israel as an obstetrician, and had a lot of connections in the Israeli community. During one of the severe conflicts, where there were a lot of bombings, he had a tragedy that killed three of his children, his niece, and injured another child. He became world-famous for writing a book, I Shall Not Hate, which promoted using conflict and tragedy to foster understanding between sides on serious – in this case, thousands of years long – conflicts,” says Dr. Reznick. “When he gave his convocation speech, not only did he get a standing ovation, but he had everyone in tears.”

Both Deans would recommend the experience to anyone in the Queen’s community.

“I’ve made it a habit to nominate someone every year,” says Dr. Reznick. “It’s really about honouring the nominee, and inspiring our students, but it also gives Queen’s a chance to affiliate with these world-famous people, and create a connection.”

“Of course,” says Dean Flanagan. “For my nomination of Douglas, I wanted to both recognize and thank him for his contribution to our school, speaking to our students, participating in our Indigenous art project, and providing a voice for Indigenous people in the law school.”

You don’t have to be a Dean to nominate someone for an honorary degree. Anyone from the Kingston or Queen’s community may nominate a person they believe has made remarkable contributions to the lives of others throughout the world, in academia, business, politics, scientific research, and the arts.

The committee invites nominations for honorary degrees to all who qualify, including women, Aboriginal persons, visible minorities/racialized persons, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ persons.

The selection process begins after all nominations are submitted, when the committee meets to review the nominations and make recommendations. The Senate then approves the recommendations in April, and invitations to candidates for both the fall and winter convocations are sent over the summer. In fall, the list of honorees are made public.

Applications are open through the University Secretariat to nominate an individual or group for an honorary degree for fall and winter of 2019. The deadline is March 1, 2018 to submit nomination forms.

A cut above

Public lecture will highlight cutting-edge surgical tool that will change the way tumours are removed.

Researchers from Queen’s University, Kingston Health Sciences Centre, and Imperial College in London, England are breaking new ground with a cutting-edge technology that could transform the way tumour removal surgery is performed.

Zoltan Takats (r) discusses the benefits of the iKnife, an innovative surgical tool that can detect cancer by analyzing or ‘smelling’ smoke created during surgery. (Photo by Matthew Manor)

The Intelligent Knife or ‘iKnife,’ developed by researchers at Imperial College London, is an innovative tool that can detect cancer by analyzing or ‘smelling’ smoke created during surgery. With a global reputation for work in developing image-guided surgical interventions that could enhance use of the iKnife technology, Queen’s has been asked to join a consortium to advance the tool’s capabilities.

“Surgeons and researchers from Queen’s University have joined a consortium of three academic partners and a corporate sponsor to investigate the possible uses of the iKnife,” says Dr. John Rudan (Head, Department of Surgery). “The iKnife has the potential to revolutionize the surgical treatment of cancer. Queen’s expertise in image-guided surgery and cancer research provides unique expertise important to the further development of the iKnife.”

At this time, the iKnife is an investigative research and surgical tool. Kingston will become the first city in North America to have access to the technology, joining a small number of centres in Europe. Intensive research will be done over the next several years at Queen’s with the iKnife being used in the operating rooms.

The iKnife was invented by Zoltan Takats, a member of the Department of Cancer and Surgery at Imperial College London, who is visiting Queen’s from Nov. 6 to 10 as the Dr. Andrew Bruce and Margaret Bruce Visiting Scholar in Surgical Innovation. Established by Dr. Andrew and Margaret Bruce, the endowment will be used to support the hosting of prominent scholars at Queen’s. These visiting scholars will bring special expertise in the area of surgical scholarship, introduce new research and ideas, teach new methodologies to Queen’s medical scientists and clinicians, and provide new concepts to Queen’s students.

The public is invited to hear Dr. Takats present a talk entitled, What Do the Molecules Tell Us? - The quiet revolution of chemical information, on the importance of molecular imaging in surgery, at a public lecture on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 4:30 pm at the Britton Smith Lecture Theatre in the Queen’s Medical Education Building on Arch Street.

The Conversation: Science in Canada needs funding, not photo-ops

Fresh off an election win in 2015, the Trudeau government won the support of the Canadian research community with a declaration that science and evidence-based decision making was back.

"Andrew Craig"
Andrew Craig, an associate professor in biomedical and molecular sciences at Queen's University, would like to see the government implement all recommendations from the Naylor report. (University Communications) 

Early action included the appointment of Canada’s first minister of science, and a modest increase in funding to the federal agencies that administer federal research funds in their first budget. While disappointed with the magnitude of investment, the research community rationalized that much more substantive changes to science funding would require more time, and hoped for an evidence-based process.

To this end, Science Minister Kirsty Duncan commissioned a review of federally funded research led by David Naylor and a panel of university administrators and distinguished researchers, including Nobel laureate Arthur McDonald.

The report was delivered in late 2016. But the official release was delayed until early April 2017, after the government presented its second federal budget with no new funds for Canada’s three federal research agencies, commonly referred to as the tricouncil: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Picking winners instead of basic research

In fact, there was no mention of these funding agencies or the importance of fundamental research in the 2017 federal budget, despite a major focus on innovation, which inevitably builds on fundamental discoveries.

Instead, Ottawa continued the trend of previous governments to support directed funding for specialized themes, including $6 million for stem-cell research, $81 million for space exploration, $10 million for quantum computing and $35 million to support international collaborations. This approach amounts to picking winners, and ignores the value of broad support for the science ecosystem.

To this day, there has been limited endorsement of the Naylor report recommendations by the Canadian government. Some suggest the science minister and the Naylor report failed to make a compelling case that a major reinvestment of $485 million dollars annually — less than 0.1 per cent of GDP — is needed to restore funding for fundamental research to 2005 levels.

Duncan was slow to endorse the report and appeared to question whether funding recommendations should be left to elected officials — surprising since she herself commissioned the report, and it provides the basis for evidence-based decisions on how to bolster Canadian science funding and delivery.

Research funding dire

Research funding in Canada has remained relatively flat. (Handout)
Research funding in Canada has remained relatively flat. (Handout)

Instead, a grassroots effort among Canadian researchers led to the organization of town hall meetings across Canada where researchers weighed in on their concerns. These forums revealed how dire the funding situation is for researchers, especially for those in early and mid-career positions who are attempting to build or sustain their research program.

The meetings also demonstrated that the research community strongly supports implementation of all recommendations in the Naylor report. “Support the Report” became a mantra taken up by many Canadian scientists on social media and in meetings with government officials. We collectively met with most federal MPs and ministers and often found ourselves educating them on the Naylor report — even those within the Liberal government.

Since then, there has been no evidence that the science minister or the prime minister will provide the budget support needed to enact the report’s recommendations.

Now at the midpoint of its mandate, the Trudeau government is attempting to traverse an ever-widening gap between the government’s messaging on science and its actions. Due to inaction, they have effectively reduced available funding for federal research in open competitions where the research topics are not constrained or dependent on industry partnerships.

Serious implications

Why should the public be concerned? The loss of investigator-initiated grants means that we are currently limiting the support for new fundamental discoveries that cannot be predicted by well-intentioned government or granting council executives.

Further, these discoveries are often not translated into new treatments or devices immediately. The late Tony Pawson, who made seminal discoveries during his biomedical research career in Canada, had an important message for all governments when accepting the prestigious Kyoto Prize in Japan in 2008: “Governments increasingly want to see immediate returns on the research that they support, but it is worth viewing basic science as a long-term investment that will yield completely unexpected dividends for humanity in the future.”

This was certainly a failing of the Harper government, and still largely applies to the science policy of the Trudeau government, despite the warm platitudes of how they value science.

Action needed now

It is time for the Canadian government to move past boutique programs and photo-ops. Without new investment in unfettered research funding to the tricouncil agencies, we will see generations of highly skilled scientists leave Canada or choose another career.

This will further the steady decline in Canada’s reputation for world-class research. It also has the unintended consequence of stemming the flow of new discoveries that feed into the innovation sector.

Recently, several positive steps on the science portfolio have included appointment of Canada’s chief science adviser to the government and a Canada Research Coordinating Committee. These are promising developments, but without a major increase in federal funding, the research ecosystem will remain on life support.

The ConversationIt is now 2017, a time for evidence-based decisions in science policy. It is time for the Canadian government to demonstrate they are moving ahead with all recommendations from the Naylor report to return balance and support Canadian science in all its wonderful diversity.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Queen's researcher recognized for major contributions to global cancer research

Elizabeth Eisenhauer has been awarded for exceptional leadership in cancer research.

"Elizabeth Eisenhauer"
Elizabeth Eisenhauer has been recognized by the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance with its award for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Research. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

The Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) has recognized Professor Emerita Elizabeth Eisenhauer with its award for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Research for her preeminent work in the field of cancer clinical trials, cancer treatment and drug delivery, and cancer research strategy and development.  

Dr. Eisenhauer, renowned for her research in ovarian cancer, malignant melanoma, and malignant brain tumours, is one of only six recipients who will be formally presented with CCRA awards at the organization’s biennial scientific conference next week.

“I feel very honoured to have received this recognition from the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance,” says Dr. Eisenhauer. “CCRA has brought together research funding agencies from across the country to develop common strategies and shared investments designed to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer – work that I have long supported.”

Improving cancer treatment
In 1990, Dr. Eisenhauer discovered a method for administering a commonly-used cancer drug Taxol that not only sustained the drug’s efficacy longer, but also reduced its toxic side effects in patients. Her discovery led to a new global standard of care for Taxol use in the treatment of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, non-small cell lung cancer amongst others.

In 1982, Dr. Eisenhauer was instrumental in creating the Investigational New Drug (IND) Program for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), based at Queen’s University. Under her directorship, the IND program offered an opportunity for clinical investigators and patients to obtain new cancer drugs and contribute to their evaluation and development. During her tenure, which ended in 2012, Dr. Eisenhauer presided over 200 phase I-III clinical trials involving more than 5,500 patients and more than 100 new cancer-fighting drugs. Many of these drugs led to new international standards of cancer treatments.

From 2006 to 2017, Dr. Eisenhauer also assumed several other national leadership positions, including roles as president of the National Cancer Institute of Canada; expert lead, Research at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer; and co-chair of the CCRA. Most recently, she served as head of oncology at Queen’s before her retirement in June 2017.

“Dr. Eisenhauer’s ground-breaking research contributions have fundamentally changed how scientists develop, test, and administer new treatments for cancer,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s. “Her efforts to advance potential treatments safely and effectively through clinical trials have led to new standards of care and increased quality of life for cancer patients around the world. On behalf of Queen’s, I want to offer my congratulations for this well-deserved recognition, and commend Dr. Eisenhauer for her exceptional leadership in the fight against cancer.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Eisenhauer says there has been excitement around emerging immune treatments and molecular-targeted medicines for cancer, but she stresses that it would be a mistake to focus solely on a few treatment areas.

“Reducing the burden of cancer will require research and implementation of important findings in all areas, including prevention, early detection, treatment, survivorship, and palliative care,” says Dr. Eisenhauer. “There is a tendency to assume that there are simple answers to cancer, which leads to a lot of funding being directed into a single area of research. However, there have never been simple solutions, so a multi-pronged approach will be the only sufficient way to reduce the impact of this disease.”

The CCRA conference runs from Nov. 5-7 in Vancouver.

Keeping up The Conversation

It’s a simple, but powerful, formula. Take one part leading academic research, add a dash of journalistic flair, and mix in a robust digital presence. It is this winning recipe that has earned The Conversation, an academic journalism website, the participation of thousands of researchers worldwide, and captured the attention of millions of citizens interested in news with a healthy dose of academic rigour.

The Conversation
Queen's is a founding member of the Canadian national affiliate of The Conversation and, since its launch earlier this year, 33 articles by Queen's experts have been published.   

After a successful soft launch this summer, the Canadian national affiliate of The Conversation is running at full steam, having published hundreds of researchers’ articles, including a number from Queen’s. The university is a founding member of the national news platform.

“Our participation in The Conversation relays the importance and impact of disseminating and promoting the leading-edge research and scholarship happening at Queen’s University,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). “The Conversation is a powerful tool for community engagement and is already bolstering the efforts of our researchers to share their expertise and build profile.”

Over the course of the summer, over two dozen Queen’s academics contributed to The Conversation, sparking dialogue about the business of marijuana, how to improve the skills of tomorrow’s doctors, , recruiting more women to join the military, how to prevent irregular heartbeats, the meaning of The Tragically Hip’s lyrics, and more. These faculty and graduate students suggested topics, wrote columns, and submitted them to The Conversation. From there, professional journalists helped edit the articles to ensure consistency and clarity.

The Conversation’s unique model puts the researchers in the driver’s seat when sharing their expertise,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “It is increasingly important that we convey the impact of our research and ideas beyond the academy, and we believe tools such as The Conversation are filling that gap in a powerful way.”

THE STATS

The 33 articles published to date by Queen’s experts have garnered a combined 167,000 reads and 166 comments on The Conversation’s website. One of the most popular, and possibly most controversial, pieces was an article by David Maslove, Clinician Scientist with the Department of Medicine and Critical Care Program, about the need to regulate journalism in the same way his profession is regulated.

“Working with The Conversation’s editorial team was great, with turnaround times between drafts that were much faster than what I’m used to in traditional academic publishing,” says Dr. Maslove. “It was really gratifying to see the piece we created reach a wider audience and stimulate debate.”

Another notable Queen’s submission included Sarita Srivastava’s (Sociology) “I wanna be white!’ Can we change race? – a piece analyzing a recent controversy on transracialism. Dr. Srivastava’s piece led to an invitation for her to speak during a symposium on the matter held at the University of Alberta.

Sarita Srivastava
Sarita Srivastava

“Writing for The Conversation has been a wonderful opportunity to reach a wider audience and to comment on current events as they are happening,” says Dr. Srivastava. “Their editor was extremely skilled in working with me to write in a more journalistic style, while maintaining scholarly content. Within days of my article’s publication, I was invited to speak at an upcoming symposium on the same topic.”

Once the articles are posted to The Conversation’s website, they are shared with a large network of Canadian and international media organizations through a “Republish” feature and posting via The Canadian Press Wire service. The work of Queen’s academics has gone on to be featured in major North American newspapers such as The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News and The National Post, magazines like Scientific American, and national dailies as far away as Australia, where The Conversation was originally founded.

“In our first three months of publication, content from The Conversation Canada has been viewed almost two million times. Combining academic expertise with journalistic storytelling means we are reaching a wide audience across Canada and around the world at a time when the public is thirsting for reliable, fact-based information,” says Scott White, editor-in-chief of The Conversation Canada. “We're very pleased that Queen's has been with us from the very beginning, including a Day One story, as well as important articles on the country's health care system and the beauty of song lyrics, to name just a few.”

The Conversation is regularly seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca

Investing in research

QROF supports cancer research 
Last year, 20 Queen’s faculty members received QROF grants, including Parvin Mousavi (School of Computing) whose project is advancing multi-parametric imaging for augmenting the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer. A recipient of the International Fund, Dr. Mousavi is working within the Advanced Multimodal Image-guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School.
According to the American and Canadian Cancer Societies, 262,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed annually and these numbers are expected to double by 2025 when the baby boomer generation reaches the age of peak prevalence. Dr. Mousavi’s research will contribute to better diagnoses and risk stratification of prostate cancer, and help decrease its mortality and morbidity.

Letters of intent are being requested for two funding competitions open to researchers and scholars at Queen’s University – the 2017-2018 Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds (QROF) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Institutional Grant (SIG) competitions.

The QROF provides researchers and scholars financial support to accelerate their programs and research goals, and offers opportunities to leverage external funding to build on areas of institutional research strength. Through a federal government block grant provided to Queen’s by SSHRC, the recently-redesigned SIG competition supports social sciences and humanities researchers with funding for research project development, pilot study work, or to attend or run knowledge-mobilization activities like workshops, seminars or scholarly conferences.

“Championing research and scholarly excellence is a cornerstone of our mission at Queen’s University,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “The QROF competition allows us to make our largest internal investment in research, scholarship and innovation by supporting researchers striving to take their work to the next level. With SSHRC's recent redesign of the allotment of funding from the SIG, we are poised to reinvigorate research in the social sciences and humanities, further strengthening scholarship in the SSHRC disciplines."

The QROF competition consists of four funds:

  • The Research Leaders’ Fund – for strategic institutional commitments to aspirational research in support of the university’s research strengths and priorities
  • The International Fund – to assist in augmenting the university’s international reputation through increased global engagement
  • The Arts Fund – designed to support artists and their contributions to the scholarly community and to advancing Queen’s University
  • The Post-Doctoral Fund – to both attract outstanding post-doctoral fellows to Queen’s and to support their contributions to research and to the university

The SIG competition provides funding through two granting programs:

  • SSHRC Explore Grants – support social sciences and humanities researchers at any career stage with funds to allow for small-scale research project development or pilot work, or to allow for participation of students in research projects
  • SSHRC Exchange Grants – support the organization of small-scale knowledge mobilization activities in order to encourage collaboration and dissemination of research results both within and beyond the academic community, as well as allow researchers to attend or present research at scholarly conferences and other venues to advance their careers and promote the exchange of ideas

The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) has issued calls for letters of intent, and successful candidates will be invited to submit a full application. Information on each of the funds and the application processes can be found on the on the website of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research). For more information, email ferrism@queensu.ca.

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