Leading the way in health research
Serendipity has played a role a least a couple of times in directing the career of Paul Kubes Artsci’84, MSc’86, PhD’89 – a career that recently saw the University of Calgary professor recognized as Researcher of the Year by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The first serendipitous event led to his staying at Queen’s for five extra years after his BSc – first as a graduate student in physiology and then as a doctoral candidate.
“I had actually applied to do my Master’s at UWO, but when that opportunity fell through, Queen’s professor Chris Chapler stepped in and offered to supervise me instead,” says Paul. “I ended up having such a positive experience that I stayed for the next five years and converted my Master’s to a PhD.”
Then serendipity struck a second time. A chance attendance at a lecture given by a young American researcher was enough to prompt Paul to cancel a post-doctoral fellowship with an established Nobel Prize winner in England and move to Louisiana instead. During his time in the States, he began his groundbreaking research into fatal infection and inflammation that has since garnered him numerous awards and international acclaim.
“It was at Queen’s that I really began to appreciate the importance of research,” explains Paul, who credits health sciences professor Chris Chapler, imaging technician Jeff Mewburn, biomedical engineering professor Denis Lywood, and physiology professor Don Jennings as all being integral to his early research career.
As a professor in the U of Calgary’s Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, Medicine and Microbiology, and Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Director of the Snyder Institute for Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, Paul’s professional goal is to find a way that infection can be treated without antibiotics, a medical advance that would be revolutionary given the increasing appearance of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.
With the help of one of the world’s most powerful microscopes, Paul has developed an imaging system that allows researchers to watch white blood cells and the bacteria they are chasing in real time – a technological breakthrough that has transformed the way he works. Ultimately, for Paul, it all comes down to being involved in something worthwhile and helping people for whom there may be no other treatment.
“Without research, medical treatment just stagnates and never improves,” he says. “it’s through research we can really make a difference.”