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A new approach to allergies

Study reveals using synthetic peptides could be a better solution for grass allergy sufferers.

A new approach to treating grass allergies offers potential as a shorter and more effective alternative to traditional allergy shots, according to a recent study led by Queen’s researcher Dr. Anne Ellis (Medicine, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences).

“For many Canadians, the misery of grass allergy season can be lessened through allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots,” says Dr. Ellis. “But this well-known treatment not only involves the discomfort of weekly needles for  four to six months, followed by monthly injections for up to five years after, it also carries a not insignificant risk of severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. This new approach could change all of that.”

One of the largest ever conducted on this allergen, the Phase II clinical trial looked at the effectiveness and safety of a grass peptide-based immunotherapy, compared to a placebo, in 226 study participants.

This revolutionary study is the first-ever completed Phase II study using synthetic peptides to treat grass allergies. Unlike traditional grass allergy injections – which use all of the proteins from grass – the peptide therapy works through a different mechanism, using tiny bits of specific proteins to target the most important immune cells.

“It’s a new way of giving immunotherapy that bypasses the indirect route of traditional treatment and goes right to the most important effector cells” says Dr. Ellis, who also works as a clinician scientist at the Kingston General Hospital Research Institute. “The theory is that the proteins used in this kind of therapy are so small, they avoid anaphylaxis.”

Participants were treated with either the peptides or a placebo four months before grass season. After just eight injections – given every two weeks over the course of 14 weeks in total – they were exposed to grass pollen in the Environmental Exposure Unit (EEU) at Kingston General Hospital. The EEU is a state-of-the-art controlled environmental exposure facility that enables up to 140 participants to be tested at the same time. 

Dr. Ellis’ study revealed participants who received the peptide treatment showed a significant reduction in allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal congestion, and runny nose upon exposure to grass pollen, while avoiding serious reactions such as anaphylaxis.

The study also showed that this treatment could be delivered over a shorter period of time – one dose every two weeks over 14 weeks, compared to the nearly year-round frequency of traditional allergy shots. Interestingly, a higher dose of the peptide treatment, delivered over four-week intervals, was no more effective than the lower dose given biweekly.

“We saw the same thing in studies using synthetic peptides for allergies to cats and dust mites,” says Dr. Ellis. “It’s clear that immunotherapy using these peptides is different – it causes a bit of a rethink about how the immune system works.”

Dr. Ellis’s study was published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It was also highlighted in the “Latest Research” section of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

A family affair

Queen’s Family Health Team a leader in patient care for the past 10 years.

For the past 10 years, the Department of Family Medicine’s Queen’s Family Health Team (QFHT) has taken a leadership role in providing health care in a timely and efficient manner to its patients. The team offers a collaboration of physicians, resident physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, a dietitian, a pharmacist, various clerks and other forms of administrative support – all working together to provide patient-centred care.

By offering such a wide range of health services, department head Glenn Brown says they are giving their patients the best care possible.

Enjoying the 10th anniversary celebrations are (l to r): Glenn Brown, Head, Department of Family Medicine; Ruth Wilson; Diane Cross, QFHT Clinic Manager; Walter Rosser; and Karen Hall Barber, QFHT physician lead.

“I truly believe in this model,” says Dr. Brown, who will soon be stepping down as department head after two five-year terms. “Queen’s University has taken a leadership role in developing the family health team model and our patients are benefitting. Our patients want a relationship with the members of our team and we are providing that.”

The department got its start in 1965. At the time, it was located in a five-room family care unit based at Kingston General Hospital. It was in 1971 that the department became an academic unit at Queen’s. In 1975, the Family Medicine Centre, on Hotel Dieu Hospital property at 220 Bagot Street, opened with a number of health professionals from various specialties, representing an approach to family medicine that would later be known as a family health team.

“We have moved far beyond the days when doctors worked in silos; they now work in professional groups,” says Dr. Brown, who uses care of diabetic patients as an example.

“Our nurse practitioners, dietitian and pharmacist work, with the physicians, nurses and other staff, to provide a collaborative approach to the care of our diabetic patient population. All members of our team are able to utilize our electronic medical records system, which ensures there is good communication among everyone involved and no duplication.”

To ensure patients are getting full support, the QFHT is always expanding and improving its services. “We have a number of different baby programs, weight-management and healthy-eating programs, and pain-management clinics, just to name a few,” says Karen Hall Barber, QFHT lead physician. “These programs allow us to focus on prevention and identify issues before they get bigger.”

With all of the positive, there is some negative.

“The government has lost some faith that the model is working, but politicians are also aware data is limited in regards to patient satisfaction. All the studies available are showing family health teams are working,” says Dr. Hall Barber. “Part of the issue is the inequality of services available from family health teams. They aren’t all the same and that can lead to dissatisfaction.”

Dr. Brown agrees and says the Queen’s model can lead others to success.

“We need to make sure all citizens have access to the services because part of the issue is the equality of services. We are trying to help by expanding our own services to show this model can work. And it does work.”

Improving patient care

Queen's researcher examines impact of quality improvement efforts in Canadian hospitals.

A recent pan-Canadian research study from Queen’s University has found that hospitals need to make improvement efforts a top priority and engage frontline health care professionals to be most effective in improving the quality and safety of patient care. The study suggests that improvements in key areas could lead to more efficient use of health care resources and improvements to patient care. 

[Zoutman]
The study on quality improvement efforts in Canadian hospitals, published by Queen's researcher Dr. Dick Zoutman, found that quality improvement efforts need to be made a top priority, but that budget restraints often restrict the level of programming possible.

Queen’s researcher and Professor, Dr. Dick Zoutman (School of Medicine and Graduate Program in Health Care Quality), was the lead author on the report. The study surveyed the chief executives at 125 Canadian acute care hospitals on how they were approaching improving the quality of care in their hospitals – defined through such metrics as a reduction in ER wait times, triage times, improving discharge processes and connecting patients with outside resources. Dr. Zoutman looked at how hospitals carry out their quality improvement activities, which staff were involved, as well as the major barriers to achieving success in the quality improvement initiatives.  

“Improving the quality of the care in our hospitals is critical,” says Dr. Zoutman, who also serves as Chief of Staff for Quinte Health Care. “Quality of care should always be the paramount concern in all areas of health care.  Yet our hospitals have struggled with the best way to deliver the kind of quality care everyone expects of us.”

The study found that senior and middle management were most likely to be involved in a hospital’s quality improvement efforts, as opposed to frontline staff. As a result, many survey respondents found that time constraints limited their ability to solve quality of care issues. The results of the study showed that involving the frontline health professionals was the key to the success of a hospital’s quality improvement efforts.  The hospitals surveyed who involved their frontline doctors and nurses in improving health care delivery found that their quality of care improvement efforts had a positive impact on patient safety (90 per cent), better patient care results (88 per cent), and patient satisfaction (77 per cent).

The most commonly reported barriers to quality improvement were a lack of investment (89 per cent), an inability to collect data on the quality of care they were delivering to their patients (81 per cent), and not involving the doctors themselves in solving quality of care problems (77 per cent). Dr. Zoutman explains that the Canadian health care system as a whole lags behind in quality improvement programs compared to other countries. For example: 26% of Canadians wait four or more hours to be seen in the Emergency Department. Canada ranks as the worst internationally on ED wait times and these long wait times have not improved much in the last 10 years.

“Improving the quality of the care we provide in our hospitals should be our top priority,” says Dr. Zoutman. “However, it seems that quality improvement and patient safety programs are still in their infancy in Canadian hospitals compared to other industries such as automotive manufacturing and the airline industry. We know that quality improvement programs do have very significant positive impacts on the patient care experience.”

Dr. Zoutman says the results of this “inadequate” investment in the quality of care hospitals deliver is telling, as only 29 per cent of Canadian hospitals reported that they had accomplished over 90 per cent of their quality improvement priorities.

The full study, titled Quality improvement in hospitals: barriers and facilitators, was published in the International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance.

Big Data's promise and perils for health-care delivery

Queen's in the World

Exploring Big Data, and its great promise and serious perils for the delivery of health care, will be the theme of a lecture presented at Queen’s Feb. 7 by Dartmouth College Professor Denise Anthony. The talk – titled Big Data, Cybersecurity, and Health Care – is the first lecture of the Matariki Network of Universities Lecture Series and part of the Queen’s Big Data 175th Anniversary series.

“We are very pleased to host this inaugural Matariki Network lecture. Not only is it an opportunity to deepen our connection with Dartmouth College and our other Matariki partners around the world, but it is a chance to hear from an expert, Dr. Anthony, who brings a wealth of knowledge on a subject that is pertinent to all of us,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

Denise Anthony, Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives and Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College, will visit Queen's Feb. 6-10 and give a lecture on Big Data, cybersecurity, and heath care on Feb. 7. (Supplied photo)

In the lecture, Dr. Anthony will illuminate the important implications of rushing to turn the digital promise into reality, without understanding how Big Data analytics change institutions. For the institutions of health-care delivery, the use of Big Data will require changes in information governance that affect not only the security and privacy of health information, but also the role of patients, the profession of medicine, and the meaning of health itself, says Dr. Anthony in her abstract.

Dr. Anthony, who is vice provost for academic initiatives and professor of sociology at Dartmouth, has held adjunct appointments at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice and at Geisel School of Medicine. She was also research director of the Institute for Security, Technology, and Society from 2008-2013.

During her visit to Queen’s, Dr. Anthony will meet with colleagues and students in the Queen’s Surveillance Studies Centre and continue to develop Queen’s-Dartmouth collaborations through visits with Queen’s senior administrators.

“I am so honoured to be part of Queen’s University’s 175th celebration. What an impressive milestone! The Matariki Network is really a unique and special partnership among seven institutions across seven countries, and this kind of international collaboration seems especially important right now in an uncertain world,” says Dr. Anthony. “I have been a long-time admirer of the Surveillance Studies Centre, and particularly the work of Professor David Lyon and his colleagues and students, who are world leaders in helping us to understand the impact – positive and negative – of Big Data in our world today. I look forward to meeting with many students and scholars at Queen’s University over the course of my visit.”

Dr. Anthony’s lecture will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 6:30 pm in the Britton Smith Foundation Lecture Theatre, School of Medicine. A reception will take place beforehand, beginning at 5:30 pm, and all are invited.

The Matariki Network of Universities is composed of seven like-minded, research-intensive universities from around the world. One of the network’s aims is to build on the collective strengths of its member institutions to develop international excellence in research and education. Within the network, each institution is responsible for advancing a key research theme, with Dartmouth focused on cybersecurity.

The Queen’s anniversary series, Big Data 175, has been designed to engage intellectually and practically with a major analytic development and pressing public issue, from multi-disciplinary and cross-campus perspectives. The series, organized by a cross-campus, multi-faculty group, has so far held three events, with more planned for 2017. Visit the website for more details.

 

Opportunities for international collaboration

Queen's in the World

Applications are open for the International Visitors Program of the Principal’s Development Fund, a program that helps connect Queen’s with academics and institutions around the world by sponsoring visits by international scholars. The program also works to foster connections between Queen’s and its partners within the Matariki Network of Universities.

“This program provides a tremendous opportunity for collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas between the Queen’s community and scholars and universities around the globe,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “I am very pleased to offer this funding as part of our ongoing support for international partnerships and, in particular, alliances with the Matariki Network.”

Last year, Professor Karol Miller from the University of Western Australia visited Queen's through the International Visitors Program of the Principal's Development Fund.

The International Visitors Program includes three application categories, each of which offers grants of up to $3,000. Category one is the open program, which helps to cover the costs of bringing an international scholar to Queen’s for a period of at least three days. 

The other two application categories focus on leveraging Queen’s membership in the Matariki Network of Universities. One of these is an extension of the visiting scholars program, specifically aimed at bringing visitors to Queen’s from the other Matariki universities, which include the University of Western Australia (UWA), Tübingen University, Uppsala University, Dartmouth College, University of Otago, and Durham University. Last year, Professor Karol Miller from UWA visited Queen’s through the program and gave a talk about his research into computational biomechanics at the School of Computing Distinguished Speaker Seminar.

The third application category provides funding to assist Queen’s faculty and staff to travel to Matariki partner institutions to build new collaborations. This seed funding may be used to initiate new academic, research, or administrative initiatives.

Applications for these categories are due to the relevant dean’s office by April 21, 2017. For more information, including program details and application forms, visit the Principal’s website.

Questions about the Principal’s Development Fund may be directed to Csilla Volford, Coordinator, International Projects and Events, in the Office of the Associate Vice-Principal (International).

 

An eye-catching result

Research determines how the brain recognizes what’s important at first glance.

Researchers at the Centre for Neuroscience Studies (CNS) at Queen’s University have discovered that a region of the brain – the superior colliculus – contains a mechanism responsible for interpreting how visual input from a scene determines where we look. This mechanism, known as a visual salience map, allows the brain to quickly identify and act on the most important information in the visual field, and is a basic mechanism for our everyday vision.

[Brian White]
Dr. Brian White, a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Neuroscience Studies at Queen's University, is the lead author on the study, which determined where in the brain the first information about a scene is deciphered.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, found that neurons in this region of the brain create a visual saliency map (a representation, or distilled version, of the scene that highlights the most visually conspicuous objects), which correlated with established computer models of saliency. The research opens up new opportunities in a wide range of fields including neuroscience, psychology, visual robotics, and advertising, as well as applications for diagnosing neurological disorders.

“When we look out at the world, the first things that attract our gaze are the low-level visual features that comprise a scene – the contours, the colours, the luminance of the scene – and computational models of visual saliency are designed to predict where we will look based on these features,” explains Brian White, a postdoctoral researcher at the CNS and the study’s lead author. “Our colleagues at the University of Southern California – led by Professor Laurent Itti – are at the forefront in the development of these models. With our neurophysiological expertise, we showed that neurons in the superior colliculus create a saliency map that guides attention, in much the same way as predicted by the saliency model. Until now, this was largely just a concept with little supporting evidence, but our latest study provides the first strong neural evidence for it.”

Dr. White and his co-investigators, including fellow Queen’s researcher Douglas Munoz, measured how the activation of neurons in this area of the brain respond to natural visual stimuli, such as video of dynamic nature scenes. The research team found a strong correlation between the model’s predictions of visual saliency across the scene, and the patterns of activation by these neurons – demonstrating  not only the validity of the model in predicting visual saliency and attention, but opening new possibilities in a range of fields.

Dr. White says the findings have important applications in the development of diagnostic tests for neurological disorders – such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with such disorders show patterns of gaze that differ from controls when viewing natural scenes. These differences can be distinguished using the saliency model, and can then be used to help understand what the different brains are doing based on the neurophysiological results.

“While a number of fields can benefit from an improved understanding of saliency coding in the brain, the real benefit is the opportunity for further study on the superior colliculus and how it integrates inputs from other brain areas,” Dr. White says. “We’re very interested in furthering both the clinical and diagnostic benefits that can be derived from these findings, as well as the opportunity for further basic research.”

The full paper, titled Superior colliculus neurons encode a visual saliency map during free viewing of dynamic video, was published in the journal Nature Communications and is available online.

Enhancing health care

New research highlights the importance of culturally safe care for Indigenous patients with diabetes.

In Canada, rates of Type 2 diabetes are three to five percent higher in Indigenous peoples when compared to non-Indigenous peoples. Not only this, but Indigenous Canadians typically have poorer health outcomes during treatment of diabetes.

Queen’s family medicine professor Dr. Michael Green has co-authored a study with colleagues from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the University of Calgary, and the University of British Columbia on the healthcare experiences of Indigenous patients with diabetes.  The study found that many patients experienced culturally unsafe care – a factor that may contribute to poorer health outcomes. 

“Many of the participants in our study reported that negative experiences with the health care system made them reluctant to seek the care they needed or to want to actively engage in the care of their diabetes,” says Dr. Green.

Participants in the study reported issues with the health-care system including having the health system experience trigger traumatic childhood memories at residential schools, interactions that patients felt were racially motivated, limited access to care due to physician shortages and geographic isolation, and negative interactions with health-care professionals.

This study also found that many Indigenous patients avoided or disengaged from their diabetes care because of negative experiences such as derogatory or judgmental comments by health-care providers, or visual triggers in health-care settings

The research showed health-care relationships can be repaired when health care providers demonstrate empathy, humility, and patience.

“We also learned important lessons directly from Indigenous patients about what health care providers and health systems can do to help build positive relationships and what they need to learn to provide care that is both effective and culturally safe,” says Dr. Green.

The research suggests a two-pronged approach to improving health care for Indigenous peoples. First, the study recommended a stronger focus on cultural safety training and antiracism education for health-care workers including a stronger emphasis on relationship development and advocacy.

Second, the study recommends enhancing patient-centered approaches to care to respond to the cultural and social needs of Indigenous patients.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

A gala affair

Event at Isabel Bader Centre raises funds to support student cancer research.

Daffodil Gala Kingston
Friday, February 3
Isabel Bader Centre
Doors open at 6 pm
For more information visit the website

The Canadian Cancer Society Research Information Outreach Team (RIOT), led by Queen’s doctoral candidates Mathieu Crupi and Piriya Yoganathan (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), is hosting the first-ever Daffodil Gala in Kingston – an outreach and fundraising effort by graduate and post-doctoral researchers in cancer research for the broader community.

All monies raised at the event will go to support the Queen’s Transdisciplinary Training Program in Cancer Research. The program was established to produce future leaders in cancer research.

Mathieu Crupi and Piriya Yoganathan are co-organizing the Daffodil Gala.

This program provides young investigators, including graduate and post-doctoral students, with training and hands-on experience in transdisciplinary research.

“Over the last 15 years, the program has funded over 100 students contributing to cancer research at Queen’s and it’s very important these opportunities continue,” says Mr. Crupi. “Sponsorship has provided all the money needed to organize the gala, and every dollar from ticket sales will go directly to the Training Program.”

These funds are necessary to ensure this invaluable program is sustainable for incoming students after 2018 who will be the cancer researchers of tomorrow.

The Daffodil Gala is being held at the Isabel Bader Centre and features classical music entertainment, dinner, a silent auction and talks by cancer researchers including Lois Mulligan (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) and Canadian Cancer Trials Group director Janet Dancey. Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf will be on hand to welcome attendees to the event, and Rector Cam Yung will serve as host and emcee.

A unique twist to the event will see artwork created by children living with pediatric cancer and artworks created from Training Program student’s research auctioned off as another fundraising item.

“We are planning the event to take place before World Cancer Day (Feb. 3),” says Ms. Yoganathan. “Along with raising important funding, the event provides a chance for the public to learn more about the promise and progress of cancer research taking place here in the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute.”

For more information or to purchase tickets visit the website.

Research Data Management survey continues

Queen’s University Library is launching a third round of the Research Data Management (RDM) Survey to solicit feedback from the Faculty of Health Sciences community.

On Monday Jan. 16, faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in the Faculty of Health Sciences will be asked about RDM practices of sharing and managing research data and to how the library might help facilitate data management activities on campus. 

This initiative is part of Portage’s Canadian RDM Survey Consortium, a group of several universities working together to gain a richer understanding of RDM practices and required support services, particularly in light of upcoming changes to funding requirements around data sharing, data preservation and the submission of data management plans. 

Last fall Queen’s University Library conducted the initial survey looking for insights from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as several departments in the Faculty of Arts and Science including Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography and Planning, Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, and the School of Environmental Studies. This data, report, and documentation are now available for download from Scholars Portal Dataverse.

“Our findings provide valuable insights into the volumes of information researchers are dealing with, and into RDM services that the Queen’s research community is interested in,” says Tatiana Zaraiskaya, Public Service e-Science Librarian. “One of the most interesting findings of this survey was the extent to which respondents expressed interest in training and support for data management. Best practices and standards are key, and on the data front, library data services are well-positioned to provide and promote these to researchers. ”

This past summer, a revised version of the RDM survey was administered in the Faculty of Arts and Science (Humanities and Social Sciences), Smith School of Business, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Education, and the School of Policy Studies. Data analysis and report writing are now underway.

Queen's University Library provides RDM services to support researchers in meeting grant requirements, producing more competitive grant applications, and increasing the impact and visibility of researchers’ work. RDM services encourages long-term preservation of data and ensures compliance with ethics and privacy policies. The library encourages researchers to get in touch with an RDM specialist using the form on their website.

The library will continue to share survey updates. Anyone with questions is asked to contact the Research Data Management Survey Team.

A mission to bolster the strength of Africa’s young people

As part of the unveiling of a new partnership between Queen’s University and the University of Gondar in Ethiopia – supported by a 10-year, USD$24-million grant from The MasterCard Foundation – the Queen’s Gazette is providing an inside look at both the University of Gondar and The MasterCard Foundation, as well as how this project was developed. In this piece, we look at the history and mission of the foundation, and its role in bringing this project together.

Visit The MasterCard Foundation website and you’ll find an abundance of stories – stories that detail the impact of the organization’s mission to give African youth with few resources the chance to succeed.

In particular, the foundation’s Scholars Program – which Queen’s has joined through its partnership with the University of Gondar in Ethiopia – aims to provide economically challenged but academically talented young people living in Sub-Saharan Africa with quality secondary and university education.

Students enrolled in The MasterCard Foundation Scholars program come from various parts of Africa and study at institutions around the world. In the above photo, Scholars studying in North America gather at a bootcamp in New York City last fall. (Jake Naughton for The MasterCard Foundation)

The stories of the Scholars describe their commitment to the future of Africa – through problem-solving on issues such as food security, politics and governance, human rights, women’s rights, and mental health awareness.

“They are truly Africa’s next-generation leaders,” says Anna Miller, Program Manager for Education and Learning at The MasterCard Foundation. “For MasterCard Foundation Scholars, this is not only an opportunity to receive a quality education, but an opportunity to be a part of a movement of young leaders who will create inclusive change that matters within their communities. They are not only selected on the basis of their academic prowess, but also on the basis of their character, and the promise they have shown as next-generation leaders who give back to their communities.”

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars – the program has reached almost 35,000 students so far – study near their homes and around the world, at partner institutions such as Duke University, the American University of Beirut, Makerere University in Uganda, University of Cape Town, and the University of Edinburgh, as well as with Canadian partners – Queen’s, University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia. Receiving holistic financial, academic, and emotional support, the students get to pursue their academic dreams across any discipline and use what they’ve learned to give back to their communities and become role models and mentors to others.

The MasterCard Foundation’s beginning and its future

The MasterCard Foundation was created through a generous gift from Mastercard World Wide at the time of its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2006, endowed by the company with 10 per cent of the its shares. At the time of the IPO, the endowment was worth $500 million – today, its value has grown to more than $10 billion, ranking the foundation as among the largest in the world.

Completely independent from Mastercard, the foundation charts its own course and has long placed priority on Africa. Its goal is to assist people living in poverty by providing access to education, financial inclusion, and skills training. 

More stories in the Gazette on the partnership
Project overview: The MasterCard Foundation $24M grant launches 10-year, int'l project
An interview with the University of Gondar: Queen's-Gondar project an opportunity to push programming further
A Scholar's perspective: Scholar Munya Mahiya shares vision for inclusive universities

Africa has the world’s youngest population (600 million under the age of 25) and in some areas, 60 per cent of youth live below the poverty line. The foundation believes that with the right opportunities, young people can lift themselves, their families, and communities out of poverty.

"The MasterCard Foundation’s vision is for a world where all have the opportunity to learn and prosper,” explains Peter Materu, Director of Education and Learning, The MasterCard Foundation. “Core to this mission is the conviction that a person’s starting point in life should not determine his or her future. Rather, the foundation believes in the agency of individuals to change their own lives and the lives of others. We believe that this change happens only when people are equipped with the right knowledge, skills, and tools. This is what we are seeking to achieve under the Scholars Program and the Gondar/Queen’s partnership in particular."

'Queen’s is lucky to work with the University of Gondar'

Students in The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program are committed to giving back to their communities, becoming role models and mentors to others. In the above photo, students meet at a summit in Ghana last year. (Illume for The MasterCard Foundation)

Part of the Scholars Program, the Queen’s-University of Gondar 10-year project provides access to secondary and higher education for young people, many of them with disabilities or from conflict-affected regions, who are committed to giving back to their communities.

“The MasterCard Foundation was the matchmaker in this project, as they connected our team at the International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) with our counterparts at the University of Gondar,” says Heather Aldersey, Queen’s National Scholar and Assistant Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy and the faculty project lead at Queen’s University.

Dr. Aldersey says it just happened that her team and a team at the University of Gondar submitted similar proposals to The MasterCard Foundation around the same time. While they didn’t have all the same elements, the foundation could see the “shared interest” and asked both universities to come up with some more ideas.

“It’s wonderful to be able to partner with the University of Gondar,” says Dr. Aldersey. “They are so visionary. They know what they want in Ethiopia, they know what they want in Gondar, and I think Queen’s is lucky to be able to work with them. They have included us to help in their vision for change and I think it’s a great opportunity for all involved.”

[Mastercard Foundation logo]
Learn more about The MasterCard Foundation’s ongoing projects...

 

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