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Study compares cancer drug cost, benefit

Queen’s University researcher Christopher Booth reveals the price of new cancer therapies is not associated with treatment effectiveness.

A new study from Queen’s University professor Christopher Booth has revealed the pricing of cancer drugs appears to have no relationship to their effectiveness.

Through the review it was revealed that the most expensive drugs were not the most beneficial.

“Most members of the public (and many patients) may not understand that when they read about a new ‘breakthrough cancer therapy’ in the media it usually does not cure cancer but extends survival by a few weeks or perhaps a few months,” says Dr. Booth (Oncology). “Given that these drugs are very expensive and have important side effects, these small improvements may not lead to real improvements in the overall health and well-being of our patients or society as a whole.”

Using frameworks developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), Dr. Booth and his team studied all randomized controlled trials of new cancer drugs in non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer over a four-year period.

The study found that there was no relationship between the price of a cancer drug and the extent to which it improves patient survival and quality of life. The authors concluded that to deliver optimal cancer care in a sustainable health system will require oncologists and policy makers to reconcile the disconnect between drug cost and clinical benefit.

“Our data does not suggest the use of these agents is inappropriate. These treatments have been established based on well-conducted clinical trials,” explains Dr. Booth. “Our concern is that the very small magnitude of benefit associated with many new treatments may not be fully appreciated by the public and by some patients.”

Dr. Booth advocates moving towards a value-based system where treatments and interventions that have a greater benefit for patients and society receive more resources than treatments that offer little benefit. He says one model that is being considered is value-based pricing where cancer drugs that offer the largest treatment benefit are sold at a higher price than drugs with negligible benefit.

“In our current system the price of a new cancer drug has no relationship to its benefit but is largely driven by the maximum price the market will bear,” says Dr. Booth. “A value-based pricing system would encourage companies and researchers to focus on developing more effective medicines by offering greater financial returns for those therapies with substantial benefit and smaller financial returns for treatments with negligible benefits. If you think about it, this relationship between quality and cost is what drives most economic transactions and it has always seemed strange to me that it does not apply to new cancer medicines.

The study was published in The Lancet Oncology.

A major step in treating genetic diseases

Queen's researchers demonstrate proof-of-concept therapy for genetic disorders.

Researchers at Queen’s University have published new findings, providing a proof-of-concept use of genetic editing tools to treat genetic diseases. The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, offers an important first step towards treatment for a rare liver disease, as well as other disorders caused by genetic mutations.

“Using the CRISPR-Cas9 system, we have demonstrated an important proof-of-concept in using gene editing to treat genetic disorders such as Arginase-1 deficiency,” says Angie Sin, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s.

Dr. Sin, working under the supervision of Queen’s researcher Colin Funk (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) examined the use of the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, in combination with stem cell technology to repair Arginase-1 deficiency. The Arginase-1 enzyme plays an important role in the urea cycle – a key liver function that converts ammonia to urea for excretion in urine. Patients with a defective Arginase-1 coding gene are unable to convert ammonia, resulting in impaired ability to produce urea, as well as stunted growth, excess arginine in the blood, and progressive intellectual and neurological impairment.

The study offers an important first step towards treatment for a rare liver disease.

Like many genetic disorders, Arginase-1 deficiency is autosomal recessive – requiring two copies of the defective gene – and does not tend to result in symptoms before the age of three.

“Unlike many genetic disorders, there is a delay before symptoms present with Arginase-1 deficiency,” says Dr. Funk. “With this new gene editing technique, there might be a chance to cure the disease – as well as other similar disorders – much earlier.”

In testing the technique, Dr. Sin utilized a cell model with an induced genetic deletion, resulting in a defective Arginase-1 mimicking the disease in humans. Using the CRISPR system, Dr. Sin was able to reincorporate the repaired exons into the cell’s genetic structure and restore enzyme function.

While there are still many obstacles between the results of the cellular model and full-scale patient treatment, Dr. Sin explains that a new therapeutic strategy would offer tremendous benefits over current treatment methods. Current treatment for the disease is restricted to pharmacological agents, such as nitrogen-scavenging drugs, as well as protein-restricted diets. Demonstrating successful use of CRISPR gene editing technology for Arginase-1 deficiency would also offer clues as to treatment for other similar disorders.

”Using this approach may hold great promise for developing gene editing strategies to repair Arginase-1 and other similar genetic disorders,” she adds. “In current studies, we are using cells from Arginase-1-deficient patients to carry out a similar editing approach. The future goal is to transplant the corrected cells back to the patient and correct the disease. In addition, unlike the traditional gene therapy approach, there is no concern for loss of gene function over time or the potential for immune rejection.”

The full text of the study, titled Proof-of-Concept Gene Editing for the Murine Model of Inducible Arginase-1 Deficiency, is available online from Nature Science Reports.

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.

Spring convocation gets underway

  • Honorary degree recipient James Rutka (Meds’81) speaks to the graduates from the School of Medicine and School of Nursing during Thursday afternoon's convocation ceremony.
    Honorary degree recipient James Rutka (Meds’81) speaks to the graduates from the School of Medicine and School of Nursing during Thursday afternoon's convocation ceremony.
  • Chancellor Jim Leech congratulates and poses for a photo with a graduate after she received her PhD during Thursday's Spring Convocation ceremony.
    Chancellor Jim Leech congratulates and poses for a photo with a graduate after she received her PhD during Thursday's Spring Convocation ceremony.
  • Deputy Provost Teri Shearer, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Rector Cam Yung preside over the first of 21 ceremonies for Spring Convocation at Queen's on Thursday, May 25.
    Deputy Provost Teri Shearer, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Rector Cam Yung preside over the first of 21 ceremonies for Spring Convocation at Queen's on Thursday, May 25.
  • Graduands give a round of applause to their family and friends who have supported them throughout their studies during Thursday's first ceremony of Spring Convocation.
    Graduands give a round of applause to their family and friends who have supported them throughout their studies during Thursday's first ceremony of Spring Convocation.
  • Graduands, family, and friends fill Grant Hall on the opening day of Spring Convocation at Grant Hall, on Thursday, May 25.
    Graduands, family, and friends fill Grant Hall on the opening day of Spring Convocation at Grant Hall, on Thursday, May 25.

Spring Convocation got underway at Queen’s University with the first two of 21 of ceremonies being held at Grant Hall on Thursday, May 25.

The first ceremony featured graduates from a number of Smith School of Business graduate programs while the afternoon featured the School of Medicine and School of Nursing.

During the afternoon ceremony an honorary degree was conferred upon James Rutka (Meds’81), a pediatric neurosurgeon and professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Surgery.

A live feed of each 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.

Renewable energy and reconciliation

Queen’s researcher receives CIHR grant for interdisciplinary research program on Indigenous leadership in renewable energy development.

Queen’s University researcher Heather Castleden (Geography and Planning/ Public Health Sciences) has received a $2 million team grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to lead an interdisciplinary research program on Indigenous leadership in renewable energy development for healthy communities.

Dr. Castleden hopes that the project will bring to light new and restored understandings of integrative health by sharing our stories, resources, and tools with Indigenous and Settler governments, industries, ENGOs, universities, and beyond. (Photo Credit: Jon Aarssen)

The program of research, titled A SHARED Future: Achieving Strength, Health, and Autonomy through Renewable Energy Development for the Future, will bring together more than 75 Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics, as well as representatives from various Indigenous and settler governments and organizations across Canada, to examine how fostering Indigenous leadership in renewable energy development has the potential to deliver positive community benefits and spur efforts towards reconciliation.

“Much of my research has involved a Two-Eyed Seeing framework – something I learned from Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshal and his colleague, Cheryl Bartlett, who is a retired biologist and former Canada Research Chair in Integrative Science,” explains Dr. Castleden, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities. “The guiding principle of Two-Eyed Seeing is to bring the best of Indigenous and Western knowledge systems together to try to answer research questions more comprehensively and whole-istically.”

Through this program of research involving multiple projects, Dr. Castleden and her colleagues will examine stories of success in renewable energy development. Amongst other criteria, the research will determine whether Indigenous communities, governments, and organizations are using a business-as-usual model, a joint venture model, a co-operative, or an Indigenous leadership model in their collaborations. The team will also examine how these efforts have the potential to lead towards new and restored understandings for integrative health by reconciling and healing relations between the Indigenous and settler communities, as well as the relationship with the environment.

“For the past 15 years, Dr. Castleden has partnered with Indigenous communities across Canada in conducting community-based, participatory research on issues such as social and environmental justice and health equity,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “This project will not only bring about a better understanding of the impacts of renewable energy development on Indigenous communities, it will also foster a deeper understanding of the requirements necessary to overcome barriers that address relationships and support for Indigenous populations and their communities,  in order for Canadians to pursue meaning reconciliation.”

Indigenous Ways of Knowing will play a central role throughout the design of the program and its various projects, in conceptualizing the team’s research approach, organization and methodology. Dr. Castleden explains that doing so allows the research team to consider issues in a broader and more whole-istic nature. She adds that Indigenous leadership and efforts towards self-determination and autonomy have led to broader inclusion of Indigenous perspectives and knowledge in academic research.

“We have been trained in academia to specialize in our fields, which makes it very difficult to see a problem from multiple generations back or forward, to translate from the individual to the community and beyond – that’s where Indigenous knowledge systems bring the breadth of the issue to light,” she says. “This is especially true with health research. There is, with many Indigenous knowledge systems, the ability to see health issues as being not just about physical health or mental health but also emotional health, cultural and spiritual health and well-being of people. We don’t tend to do that in Western science, so again that’s what makes this make sense.”

Dr. Castleden and her team are one of nine team grants to receive funding under the CIHR Environments and Health Signature Initiatives program. The program aims to support researchers and teams investigating how various sectors can collaborate to promote healthy environments and reduce exposure to the causes of poor health.

For more information on the A SHARED Future project, please visit the HECLab website.

Improving the lives of critical care patients

Queen’s researcher takes on a leading role in innovative ICU recovery study.

For patients who survive an episode of critical illness, they can experience weakness and other limitations to their function long after they’ve left the hospital. But there’s hope in sight: A unique, multi-site clinical trial that aims to improve outcomes for intensive care unit patients using a combination of early nutritional supplementation and exercise. The trial is set to begin, with researchers from Queen’s University playing a leading role in the study’s operations.

Dr. Heyland and his team at the Clinical Evaluation Research Unit will design and manage the study protocol, taking place in ICU's across the United States.

The Nutrition and Exercise in Critical Illness (NEXIS) trial will take place in four ICUs across the United States and run through March 2022. Principal investigators are Daren Heyland of Queen’s University, Dale Needham of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Renee Stapleton of the University of Vermont. The study will examine whether intravenous amino acid supplementation and the in-bed cycling exercise improves recovery for patients requiring life support from a mechanical ventilator in the ICU.

“This collaboration represents one of the first trials of a combined nutrition and exercise strategy in critically ill patients to aid in their recovery,” says Dr. Heyland, who also serves as the director of the Clinical Evaluation Research Unit at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre. “The combination of our respective expertise in nutrition and rehabilitative medicine in critical care settings allows us to bring the best of the two worlds together.”

Patients taking part in the study will receive an intravenous infusion of amino acids in addition to their standard nutrient intake – targeting 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day – and will conduct 45 minutes of cycling exercise five days per week. The study will randomly assign patients into two groups – one will receive the novel combined study intervention, while the other receives standard ICU care. Recovery will be measured using the six-minute walk distance (6WMD) test at hospital discharge as well as many other measures of body composition, muscle strength and physical functioning during patients’ hospital stay. The researchers will conduct phone-based follow-up calls six months after discharge to evaluate lasting benefits of the study intervention.

“ICU patients experience accelerated muscle wasting, believed to be related to the role of the inflammatory response in critical illness,” says Dr. Stapleton, an associate professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. “The consensus is that standard ICU nutrition practice is protein-deficient, typically providing only 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, and that this may play a part in muscle wasting.”

As one of the world’s leading multicentre clinical research methods centres, the CERU at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre will be responsible for the development of study procedures and day-to-day coordination of the study. Dr. Heyland, who serves as clinical director of CERU says that the centre’s unique level of expertise in coordinating intensive care nutritional studies will strengthen the study’s ability to examine this new course of treatment.

“What has evolved in critical care medicine is a realization that more and more people are experiencing, and surviving, critical illness,” says Dr. Heyland. “We have a large number of survivors of critical illness who, in addition to muscle weakness and impaired physical functioning, can also suffer from such conditions as depression and anxiety, as well as cognitive impairments following release from the intensive care unit. These impairments can have long-lasting health impacts for both the surviving patient and their family members. This study will play an important role in improving the physical outcomes for ICU survivors.”

The research conducted during the NEXIS project is supported by a five-year, $3.5 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on the NEXIS trial, please visit the website.

New research into pre-eclampsia

Queen’s doctor works on new process to prevent or treat pre-eclampsia.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has recognized a promising new treatment for pre-eclampsia being developed by Queen’s University researcher Graeme Smith. Dr. Smith recently received a $198,942 Catalyst Grant which will help advance his research.

“The only treatment we have for pre-eclampsia right now is delivery which often leads to premature births and that just isn’t a solution,” says Dr. Smith (Obstetrics and Gynecology). “Treatments using different types of medications have not been successful.”

Pre-eclampsia is a disorder in pregnancy characterized by the onset of high blood pressure. The disease affects two to eight per cent of pregnancies worldwide and is one of the most common causes of death due to pregnancy and it increases the risk of poor outcomes for both mother and baby.

Dr. Smith and his team are researching increasing the normal production of carbon monoxide in humans as well as external exposure to low doses of carbon monoxide in pregnancy. Studies have shown the gas is an important substance that, at low concentrations, plays an role in the health of pregnant and non-pregnant humans.

Carbon monoxide could provide the key to improving the blood flow between mother and baby to help prevent or treat pre-eclampsia.

“We have different approaches to try to determine if this will work including turning on or turning up the carbon dioxide production in our bodies or using a drug treatment to increase carbon monoxide in pregnant mothers,” says Dr. Smith. “There is still a long way to go as we have to prove this is safe but we are taking solid first steps.”

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in a variety of disciplines. Queen’s University is a member of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities.

Scholars receive prestigious national chairs

Three Queen’s researchers receive Canada Research Chairs from Government of Canada.

An internationally-renowned chemist who has reshaped the field, Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry) has been named the new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry.

Arriving at Queen’s in 2002 as a Queen’s National Scholar, Dr. Crudden’s research investigates the interaction of organic compounds with metals in the synthesis of novel materials and for the development of highly active catalysts. Her work has widespread applications in pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and agriculture – a testament to the depth and breadth of her research.

Dr. Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry) has been named the new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry. She is joined by Dr. Peter Davies (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering) and Dr. Mohammad Zulkernine (Computing, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Software Reliability and Security) who saw their Canada Research Chairs renewed.

Dr. Crudden’s work in the field of organic chemistry has been lauded as revolutionary and has allowed for the synthesis of compounds previously thought impossible. In recent years, she has published nearly 100 papers in high-impact journals, and her research has been cited nearly 3,000 times. Committed to training the next generation of leading multidisciplinary researchers, she has also supervised 20 doctoral candidates, 19 master’s candidates and 31 postdoctoral fellows – many of whom have taken positions in research and industry.

“This grant will let me spend more time on research while still having the pleasure of teaching Queen’s undergraduates,” says Dr. Crudden. “Our research program has also become very international lately and this research chair will allow me to set aside time to visit collaborators in the U.S., Finland, Scotland, Japan and the rest of Canada.” 

Two other Queen’s researchers have seen their Canada Research Chairs renewed. Peter Davies (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has been renewed as the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering, while Mohammad Zulkernine (Computing) has been renewed as the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Software Reliability and Security.

“The CRC program allows Queen’s to attract top-calibre researchers, to provide them with the tools to succeed, and to make Canada an international leader in research and development,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  “Queen’s researchers, including the three CRC recipients announced today, are at the forefront of their fields, conducting research that addresses some of the most challenging and complex problems in science, with potential to have a global impact.”

Dr. Davies’ research focuses on how a protein’s structure enables it to carry out its purpose and how the function of a protein can be changed by altering its structure. His research has numerous potential applications in healthcare and biotechnology.

“I am delighted to have the support of the Canada Research Chair program for another seven years,” Dr. Davies says. “This renewal is a vote of confidence for the research we have been doing in recent years, and it will allow my group to branch out into a new area. We have recently become involved in the study of adhesin proteins that bacteria use to form biofilms and infect various hosts. By studying and engineering these proteins we hope to interfere with their infectivity.”

As technology becomes a larger aspect of our day-to-day lives, security and reliability are of paramount concern. Dr. Zulkernine’s research is focused on addressing these issues at different stages of the development cycle, in order to better protect the next generation of mobile and cloud computing environments.

“This award actually belongs to my current and former graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have worked hard with me to achieve my research goals,” says Dr. Zulkernine. “I am also thankful to my collaborators in the School of Computing, Queen's, and industry partners for their continuous support. This award will attract more high quality students and world renowned software security and reliability researchers to our Queen's Reliable Software Technology (QRST) research group.”

Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair.

The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program is at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development since 2000. The CRC program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Canadian universities both nominate Canada Research Chairs and administer their funds.

For more information on the Canada Research Chairs program, please visit the website.

Queen’s researchers lead the way in numerous fields, with notable advances made recently in particle astrophysics, cancer research, ecological history and environmental change, and clean energy technology. Through leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in a variety of disciplines. Queen’s University is a member of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities.

The heart of the matter

Queen’s researcher Amer Johri brings unique technology to Science Rendezvous.

A main focus of Science Rendezvous has always been the hands-on experience – being able to touch, experience and do.

This year’s Heart and Stroke booth promises visitors a unique experience thanks to Amer Johri and his ultrasound machine.

Using volunteer student models, Dr. Johri, a Queen’s University professor,  cardiologist and ultrasound specialist, will be scanning and explaining the different parts of the human heart.

“I really want to explain how the human heart works and how to keep it healthy,” says Dr. Johri, a clinician scientist in the Kingston General Hospital Research Institute. “What better way than to use a real person and a real heart? It will also give kids an opportunity to learn more about ultrasound so they aren’t scared of the technology. We are really just taking a photograph of your heart.”

Each year, Queen’s partners with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to engage the public in an event promoting heart health. A number of Queen’s researchers, including Dr. Johri, receive funding from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Last year, after attending the event last year with his son, he wanted to participate in providing other children exposure to science.  He and his lab are all volunteering in 2017.

 “The Heart and Stroke Foundation provides critical funding,” says Dr. Johri, “and Science Rendezvous provides a unique opportunity to explain our research in a public forum. It’s also a team bonding experience for everyone that works in our lab – we have a group of interesting and dynamic researchers that are doing amazing work.”

Dr. Johri is the director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Network at Queen’s (CINQ). The goal of the network is to position CINQ as the central node in a global network, working to translate novel cardiovascular imaging and treatment technologies into clinical practice. Some of Dr. Johri’s main research focuses are 3D echocardiography and early stage heart disease detection.

The 10th annual Science Rendezvous Kingston 2017 runs Saturday, May 13 from 10 am to 3 pm at the Rogers K-ROCK Centre. Admission is free.

Unique technology

Queen’s University professor recognized for innovation in medical education.

Sanjay Sharma, a professor of ophthalmology and epidemiology at Queen’s University, has received the John Ruedy Award for Innovation in Medical Education from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.

Dr. Sharma was recognized for spearheading the development of MEDSKL, a free, open-access platform for medical students that uses video to deliver clinical education from leading physicians around the world. MEDSKL was designed for medical school students and practicing physicians to learn and review the fundamentals of clinical medicine.

“Being a doctor requires the ability to apply knowledge and theory in often unpredictable circumstances. Yet today’s medical students still receive their core education primarily through textbooks and lecture halls. Students need earlier access to clinical knowledge and case studies that bring the fundamental aspects of practicing medicine to life,” says Dr. Sharma.

The John Ruedy Award, named after the former Dean of Medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, recognizes physicians who have developed innovative digital or materials that support undergraduate, postgraduate, or continuing medical education.

“Queen’s University and the School of Medicine are proud to recognize Dr. Sharma for the work he’s done in innovating medical education,” says Dean Richard Reznick. “His contributions will provide students with yet another opportunity to enhance their medical training.”

When starting his medical career, Dr. Sharma says he chose Queen’s for his residency due to the amount of surgery performed, which fit his interests perfectly. He arrived at Queen’s in 1991 and has continued to work to change the care and treatment of patients with eye conditions ever since.

“In 2007 eye injections using new medicines were proven to have remarkable benefits in patients with wet macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and other retinal conditions,” says Dr. Sharma. “To achieve these benefits, frequent eye injections called intravitreal injections are often required. Through our work at Hotel Dieu Hospital we realized that one of the barriers to quality health care was easy access to a clinic where these procedures are provided.”

To address these location issues, Dr. Sharma opened his first part-time intravitreal clinic in Belleville in 2011. After positive feedback, he opened a number of new clinics in Brockville, Smiths Falls and Port Hope. He always does the first assessment of patients at his Hotel Dieu clinic but is now able to provide injections at four different sites.

“In the clinics we feature some of the best young medical minds in the country, including medical students, residents and fellows,” says Dr. Sharma.

It’s this interest in students and their education that led Dr. Sharma to present a new way for medical students to learn. He created the open access website Medskl.com, which features more than 100 TED talk-style on dozens of clinical topics, from general surgery to public health and the legal and ethical aspects of medicine. Each learning module includes a two-minute whiteboard presentation, a 15-minute lecture and a 1,000 word written document.

The award will be presented at the end of April at the 2017 Canadian Conference on Medical Education, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in a variety of disciplines. Queen’s University is a member of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities.

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