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Research Prominence

Stopping cancer in its tracks

The grant from the Canadian Cancer Society will provide opportunities for collaborations between researchers.

Researcher Andrew Craig understands the importance of stopping metastasis, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. And with an innovation grant of $193,798 from the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), Dr. Craig and his team hope to get one step closer.

“Metastasis – or the spread of cancer from its primary tumour site to another location in the body – is a critical stage to prevent. This grant from the CCS will allow us to conduct research on metastasis and develop new tools to prevent it,” says Dr. Craig. “Many current therapies are focused on trying to shrink tumours and have a limited ability to prevent the spread of tumours.

Dr. Craig and several talented trainees are developing and testing inhibitory antibodies targeting key signals that cancer cells require for metastasis.  These novel antibodies are being developed with collaborators in Toronto, and Dr. Craig’s team is actively profiling them to identify the most effective ones against highly metastatic breast and skin cancers. 

Antibodies are proteins found in the blood that are produced to respond to and counteract foreign substances in the body, but have been increasingly used to specifically target cancer.

“This grant will allow us to identify lead antibodies and test their potency in pre-clinical models of metastatic cancer,” says Dr. Craig. “We will strive to secure the additional funding and partners that will be needed to translate these tools into new immunotherapies for clinical trials in human cancer patients.”

This grant, made possible by donations to the CCS, has attracted new post-doctoral fellows and graduate students to Dr. Craig’s research team.

“Being able to develop and maintain a strong research-intensive atmosphere is another extremely important part of receiving this grant support,” says Dr. Craig. “The opportunities for collaboration as a result of bringing in new researchers is invaluable to tackling this challenging disease.”

This funding was provided by the Canadian Cancer Society Innovation Grants program.

Cutting-edge technology comes to Queen's

Eight researchers at Queen’s University have been awarded $1.3 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund. Leading the funding are Stephen Archer (Cardiology) and Neil Renwick (Pathology and Molecular Medicine).

Dr. Archer is using his funding to purchase a new super resolution microscope that can see structures five times smaller than any prior light microscopes.

“This new system, one of the very few in Canada, is to imaging the cell what the Hubble Space Telescope was to imaging the solar system,” says Dr. Archer, who received $400,000 and is also funded by the Henderson Foundation. “The microscope will be used to study how and why mitochondria divide and join together. Mitochondria play a key role in diseases including lung cancer and PAH.”

Dr. Renwick is focusing on cancer diagnostics.

“The goal of my CFI project is to transform cancer diagnostics using novel approaches,” says Dr. Renwick who received $200,000. “Through the vision of the CFI, I will purchase advanced instrumentation that will allow us to profile ribonucleic acid, a molecule that carries genetic information, and visualize diseased tissues. I expect these approaches will help pathologists to diagnose and classify cancers, recommend treatments, and predict clinical outcomes at the time of specimen assessment.”

“This CFI funding, which supports the acquisition or development of new infrastructure, provides the resources to sustain world-class research and the tools to pave the way for new and innovative discoveries at Queen’s,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “Our success in this recent competition across a broad range of disciplines is indicative of the leadership of our researchers in their respective fields.”

The six other Queen’s researchers funded in this recent competition are:

Tomas Babak (Biology, $150,000) –Dr. Babak will develop improved DNA sequencing methods that could lead to improved understanding of complex diseases including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Derek Berg (Education, $86,000) – Dr. Berg, will use an eye tracking system and computer-based assessment equipment to identify the cognitive bases of mathematical abilities and disabilities, with an end goal of developing interventions to support the early development of children’s mathematics proficiency.

Ahmad Ghahremaninezhad (Mining, $125,000) – Dr. Ghahremaninezhad is developing effective processes for sustainable and environmentally responsible extraction of metals from minerals while decreasing the negative environmental impact of metal extraction processes.

Jean-Michel Nunzi (Chemistry, $50,000) –Dr. Nunzi will develop a new antenna technology to approach the ultimate efficiency with which solar light can be converted into electricity on earth.

David Rival (Mechanical and Materials Engineering, $175,000) – Dr. Rival is purchasing a high-speed laser and constructing an optical towing tank for the laboratory he is establishing at Queen’s. Dr. Rival’s lab will focus on several research areas including aerospace, defence and the renewable-energy sector.

Avena Ross (Chemistry, $150,000) – Dr. Ross and her team are investigating a family of marine bacteria that could be used to develop drug therapies.

Caring for a troubled world

Queen's in the World

Emergency room doctors and their staff work are on the front lines of health care, addressing the urgent needs of patients with everything from critical illness and injury to the routine afflictions of daily life. They’re experts at triage and decision-making in a fast-moving, unpredictable environment.

Susan Bartels, an emergency room physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Queen’s and a clinician scientist at Kingston General Hospital, adapts that expertise to a different kind of front-line care in some of the most troubled regions of the globe.

As a specialist in global health, she looks at what happens to people during wars and natural disasters, delivering not just urgent care, but also documenting and reporting on the complex, long-term, and often invisible consequences of those events on individuals, families and communities.

Susan Bartels has brought her medicial expertise to some of the most troubled regions of the globe.

A graduate of Memorial University who completed her residency at Queen’s, Dr. Bartels returned to Kingston last September from Boston, where she worked for seven years after  completing a fellowship in international emergency medicine at the Harvard Medical School and a master’s degree at the Harvard School of Public Health.

During that time she became director of the Global Health and International Emergency Medicine Fellowship at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. She also gained extensive experience as a faculty member with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, taking part in international aid missions in the U.S., Africa and the Middle East – work she continues to do through her new position at KGH and Queen’s.      

Some of her most significant experience has been in Central Africa, where her work has addressed issues such as drought, cholera, mortality, and war crimes. She also led two studies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, documenting women’s health and sexual violence as a weapon of war. The latter work has been groundbreaking because it provides a quantitative assessment of the long-term effects of sexual violence, such as abandonment by spouses, and abuse and social stigmatization of children born from these assaults.

More recently she has been focusing on child protection and the effects of the civil war on Syrian refugees in neighbouring Lebanon, including social isolation, missed schooling, forced child labour and child marriage. Through interviews with families she is building a picture of the long-term challenges faced by families misplaced by the conflict. Such documentation, Dr. Bartels says, helps to improve the science and practice of delivering humanitarian aid. “It’s about looking at the effects of war and finding ways to mitigate the impact.”

Amid the bleakness of the environments in which she works, however, she finds reasons for hope. “I am looking at resilience in this context, and how people have overcome adversity. It’s intriguing – what is it that allows people to overcome such terrible events and grow? What are the building blocks in individuals, families, and communities that we could foster or augment to help them rebuild?”

This story is the fifth in a series on the KGH Research Institute, a collaboration between Queen’s and Kingston General Hospital, and the clinician-scientists recruited to work in the centre.

Researcher lends expertise to oil spills panel

Queen’s University professor Peter Hodson has joined a new Royal Society of Canada panel that will study oil spills and their impacts on freshwater and marine environments.

Peter Hodson has been named to a new Royal Society of Canada panel dedicated to studying the impact of oil spills.

Dr. Hodson, an expert in the area of toxicity of crude oil to fish, joins five other experts tasked with examining strategies and regulatory requirements for spill preparedness, spill response, and environmental remediation.

“If there is a spill and you can’t contain it, the panel is going to study where the oil will go and what effects it will have,” explains Dr. Hodson (Biology, Environmental Studies). “My expertise is focused on species that live in water and their responses to spills of crude oil.”

The panel, set up in response to a request from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, will endeavour to answer a number of questions including:

  • How do the various types of crude oils compare in the way they behave when mixed with surface fresh, brackish or sea waters under a range of environmental conditions or when chemically treated for spill remediation?
  • How do the various crude oils compare in their toxicity to organisms in aquatic ecosystems?
  • Given the current state of the science, what are the priorities for research investments?
  • How should these scientific insights be used to inform optimal strategies and regulatory requirements for spill preparedness, spill response and environmental remediation?

To answer these questions, the panel will hold a series of scientific stakeholder consultations and prepare an expert report for release this fall.

“We are developing this document to really highlight areas we don’t know a lot about,” says Dr. Hodson. “There is a lot of publicity and concern about the potential effects of oil spills associated with oil production and shipment by pipeline and rail, and it’s critical to emphasize these areas of research.”

For more information on the panel, visit the website.

Researcher digs deep

The search for dark matter continues in earnest at SNOLAB and the scientific team in Sudbury has a new research ally in Gilles Gerbier (Physics), the newest Canada Excellence Research Chair. In the four months since his arrival in Kingston, Dr. Gerbier has been busy setting up his home base at Queen’s and his lab two kilometres below the surface in the Vale Creighton mine.

Gilles Gerbier is working hard to establish his research facilities at SNOLAB and also at Queen's.

A world-leading researcher in particle astrophysics, Dr. Gerbier is currently setting up a major collaborative project on cryogenic detectors for dark matter discovery, one of the most advanced detectors to date. This international research collaboration is pulling in 20 scientific teams from North America and 15 teams from Europe.

“My own technical contribution involves installing a detector tower test facility at SNOLAB,” explains Dr. Gerbier. “My expectations for the coming year are to start operating my lab at Queen’s, gather the parts needed for the facility and prepare to assemble it starting in 2016. SNOLAB is providing me with excellent opportunities.”

Dr. Gerbier is also preparing a second project of a two metre in diameter gaseous spherical detector at SNOLAB. He has met with research teams from France and Greece and the technical team at SNOLAB to determine the scope of the detector project.

Closer to home, Dr. Gerbier has hired one PhD candidate to work with him and invited two post-doctoral fellows and another PhD candidate to join his laboratory starting in the spring. They are coming to Queen’s from Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

SNOLAB and the Queen’s University Particle Astrophysics group, including Dr. Gerbier, were recently featured in Horizon 2020 report, which describes the European community’s strategic long-term science projects in Europe. SNOLAB is also gaining further international recognition after the DEAP-3600 dark matter detector was featured in National Geographic.

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.

Committee formed to review Centre for Neuroscience Studies

In accordance with Queen’s University Senate Policy on “Procedures Governing the Establishment, Reporting and Review of Research Centres, Institutes and Other Entities at Queen’s University,” Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss is pleased to announce the membership of the advisory committee for the review of the Centre for Neuroscience Studies (CNS):

  • Dr. John Fisher, Associate Vice-Principal (Research), Committee Chair
  • Dr. Brian Bennett, Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, School of Medicine
  • Dr. Wendy Craig, Department of Psychology
  • Dr. Lynda Jessup, Associate Dean (Research)
  • Dr. Christopher Wallace, Chief, Division  of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery
  • Dr. Andrew Winterborn, University Veterinarian
  • Dr. Kelly Blair-Matuk, Office of the Vice-Principal (Research), Secretary of the Committee                                                                                           

Members of the university community are invited to submit their comments on the present state and future prospects of the Centre for Neuroscience Studies to Dr. Fisher c/o the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research), by Feb. 13, 2015.  Comments may also be sent by email to research@queensu.ca.  Submissions will be shared with the members of the Advisory Committee and will become part of the review process; anonymous submissions will not be accepted.  For more information on the centre, please visit the CNS website.

Advisory committee to review Centre for Studies in Primary Care

In accordance with the Senate policy on “Procedures Governing the Establishment, Reporting and Review of Research Centres, Institutes and other Entities at Queen’s University,” Dr. Roger Deeley, Vice Dean (Research), Faculty of Health Sciences, is pleased to announce the membership of the advisory review committee for the Centre for Studies in Primary Care (CSPC). The committee comprises:

  • Dr. John Fisher – Director of Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, and chair of the advisor review committee
  • Dr. Marcia Finlayson, Vice-Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, and Director, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University
  • Dr. Sudeep Gill, Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Queen’s University
  • Dr. Geoffrey Hodgetts, Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Queen’s University
  • Dr. Eva Grunfeld, Giblon Professor and Vice-Chair Research, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

To assist with the review, faculty, staff, students and members of the university community are invited to submit their comments to the committee on the present state and future prospects of the centre by Feb. 6.  Please send to Gladys Smith by email or mail to:

Chair, CSPC Advisory Review Committee
c/o Gladys Smith
Health Sciences Research Office
Queen’s University
Ste300-CRI, 10 Stuart Street
Kingston, ON  K7L 3N6

Submissions will be shared only with the members of the review committee and will become part of the review process; anonymous submission will not be accepted.

Let's talk

Queen’s professor Heather Stuart has helped develop five ways to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness as part of this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day campaign.

Heather Stuart has helped develop five ways to fight mental health stigma.

These five ways to communicate about mental illness and show how the community can help those who struggle overcome their concerns about seeking help:

  • Language matters – pay attention to the words you use about mental illness.
  • Educate yourself – learn, know and talk more, understand the signs.
  • Be kind – small acts of kindness speak a lot.
  • Listen and ask – sometimes it’s best to just listen.
  • Talk about it – start a dialogue, break the silence

“If you were diagnosed with a serious physical illness, you’d expect and almost certainly get emotional and social support from people around you – not the silence, gossip, jokes or discrimination often faced by people with a mental illness,” says Dr. Stuart (Community Health and Epidemiology), Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-stigma Research Chair. “That stigma is the reality for many Canadians who struggle, but we can all help provide necessary support to family, friends and colleagues by keeping a few straightforward approaches in mind.”

As the current chair holder Dr. Stuart works to increase awareness and understanding of stigma, develops and disseminates best practices in stigma reduction, and engages in applied research collaborations with world leaders in mental health.

Researchers at Queen's are at the forefront of developing best practices in the field of anti-stigma, including the unique approaches undertaken through the Opening Minds Program of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and a leadership role in the World Psychiatric Association's Global Anti-Stigma Program.

“We thank Dr. Stuart for her important work in anti-stigma research and for her guidance in developing approaches we can all employ to help break down the stigma,” says Mary Deacon, Chair, Bell Let’s Talk. “It’s an effort supported by leaders like Clara Hughes who speak openly about their own experiences, sharing stories with others who’ve struggled and taking the message of hope to everyone.”

Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 28. To learn more about the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, visit the website.

Established in 2012 with a $1 million grant from Bell Let’s Talk to the Queen's Initiative Campaign, the Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University is the first research chair in the world dedicated to the fight against the stigma around mental illness.

New chairs take their seats

New chairs in the Faculty of Health Sciences from left to right: Dr. John Rudan (Surgery), Dr. Martin ten Hove (Opthalmology) and Dr. Michael Green (Public Health Sciences, Family Medicine)
New chairs in the Faculty of Health Sciences from left to right: Dr. John Rudan (Surgery), Dr. Martin ten Hove (Opthalmology) and Dr. Michael Green (Public Health Sciences, Family Medicine)

Three brand new chair positions in the Faculty of Health Sciences have been filled by esteemed leaders in the fields of health policy, surgery and ophthalmology.

Michael Green (Public Health Sciences, Family Medicine) has been appointed the Clinical Teachers’ Association of Queen’s Chair in Applied Health Economics/Health Policy, John Rudan (Surgery) is the Britton Smith Chair in Surgery and Martin ten Hove (Ophthamology) is the Edna and Ernie Johnson Chair in Ophthamology.

For Dr. Green, the funds from this chair will support the development of new projects and engaging other clinical teachers in his area of research.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to help increase the capacity for applied health services and policy research here at Queen’s,” says Dr. Green. “I plan to build on my work examining the impact of new models of funding and organizing primary care on both cost and outcomes, as well as the differential impact of these changes for specific population groups including Aboriginal peoples.”

Dr. Green has been a faculty member at Queen’s since 1995. He has also served as a consultant for both the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Health Canada.

Dr. Rudan (Artsci’76, Meds’81) is currently serving his second term as head of the Department of Surgery. “The generosity of this gift facilitates our ability to translate great science into surgical practise to benefit our patients,” says Dr. Rudan.

Dr. Rudan was a leader in the creation of the Clinical Mechanics Group, now known as the Human Mobility Research Centre (HMRC), at Queen's. He has either led or co-investigated studies involving more than $9 million in funding from sources including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

He has served as the vice-chair of the orthopaedics oral examination committee for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and as vice-president and president of the Clinical Teachers’ Association at Queen's.

Dr. ten Hove (Meds’89) is an associate professor and head of the Department of Ophthalmology.

“Being appointed the first recipient of the Edna and Ernie Johnson Chair in Ophthalmology is a true honour,” says Dr. ten Hove. “As a well-respected Department of Ophthalmology for more than 50 years, we are very proud of this named chair and will use it to establish ourselves as a national leader in advancing vision science and vision care.”

Dr. ten Hove is an active researcher in the area of the neural mechanisms underlying visual attention and has served on the examination committee of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and on the Royal College’s specialty committee for ophthalmology.

All three chairs were created with funds donated by generous benefactors. Dr. Ernest A. Johnson, Meds’38, and his wife, Edna, established the Ernie and Edna Johnson Chair in Opthalmology to advance knowledge in the field. The Clinical Teachers’ Association of Queen’s established the Chair in Applied Health Economics/Health Policy to bring focus and attention to the topic of health profession compensation. The Britton Smith Chair in Surgery was established by long-time Queen’s supporter Brit Smith, MC, QC, LLD’09.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Bevy of awards for Queen's in 2014

Royal Society of Canada
Nine Queen’s University faculty members have been elected as fellows to the Royal Society of Canada, the highest number of inductees the university has had in one year. Front from left, are: John Burge (Music); Wendy Craig (Psychology); W. George Lovell (Geography); and Erwin Buncel (Chemistry). Back row: Roger Deeley (Cancer Research Institute); Francois Rouget (French); and Ian McKay (History). Absent: Myra Hird (Environmental Studies) and Peter Milliken (Policy Studies). (University Communications)

A number of Queen’s faculty earned prestigious awards throughout 2014, including a record number being elected to the Royal Society of Canada.

Recognition came in many forms and at various levels; all of them were exciting for the recipients as well as the Queen’s community.

The Gazette takes a quick look at some of those awards:

Royal Society of Canada record

A total of nine Queen’s University faculty members were elected to the Royal Society of Canada, the highest number in one year for the university. Fellowship in the RSC is one of the highest recognitions for Canadian academics in the arts, humanities, and the social and natural sciences. The nine newest fellows from Queen’s brought a wide range of research interests including health, environmental issues, history, bullying prevention and chemistry.

Read the full story

Queen's names Canada Excellence Research Chair

The arrival of Gilles Gerbier at Queen’s University in September shone a little light on the search for dark matter, invisible particles that exist in space. Dr. Gerbier joined Queen’s as the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Particle Astrophysics and is working both in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and at SNOLAB in Sudbury, researching the mysteries surrounding dark matter.

Read the full story

Four new Canada Research Chairs for Queen's

A quartet of Queen’s professors was named Canada Research Chairs in October, while two current Queen’s chairholders had their positions renewed. Chairholders are leading researchers in their areas and improve Canada’s depth of knowledge in the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

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Research leaders earn prestigious medals

A pair of Queen’s researchers were honoured by the Royal Society of Canada as Guy Narbonne (Geological Sciences) received the Bancroft Award for publication, instruction and research in the earth sciences and his contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of the subject of geology while John McGarry (Political Studies) received the Innis-Gerin Medal for his contribution to the literature of the social sciences.

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James Low named member of the Order of Canada

Emeritus professor James Low was named a member of the Order of Canada in July for his contributions as an academic and as the founder of the Museum of Health Care in Kingston. The award is the second highest honour of merit in Canada and is given to those who make a major difference in Canada through lifelong contributions in their field. Six Queen’s alumni were also appointed as officers of the Order of Canada.

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Baroque expert elected to Institut de France

Gauvin Bailey (Art History) earned some recognition outside of Canada as he was appointed to the prestigious Institut de France. The Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art, Dr. Bailey was elected as a “correspondant-étranger” (foreign correspondent) of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (Humanities) of the Institut de France, one of the most-respected and oldest learned institutions in the world, having been founded in 1663.

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