Recipients: Heather Aldersey, Heidi Cramm, Michael Cunningham, Gabor Fichtinger, Parvin Mousavi, Robert Ross.
Heather Aldersey —
Dr. Heather Aldersey’s project “Setting Priorities for Sex and Relationship Education for Women with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and their Families” aims to better equip women with intellectual disabilities (ID) and their families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with skills for developing safe, healthy relationship and strategies for identification, avoidance, and reporting of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Women with intellectual disabilities (ID) in low-income and conflict contexts are typically omitted from sex and relationship education and support systems, in spite of the fact that they are the populations most vulnerable to abuse. Developing and delivering sex and relationship education and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) reduction interventions for persons with disabilities (PWDs) is a particularly urgent concern, with global studies indicating a three times higher prevalence of SGBV for PWD’s as compared to the general population. Dr. Aldersey’s project will benefit Queen’s by enabling collaboration between Queen’s faculty, Congolese stakeholders and international experts to set the priorities for future sex and relationship education in the DRC.
Heidi Cramm —
Dr. Heidi Cramm is using the International Fund to finance her project “Military & Veteran Family Health Research: A Global Alliance.” The overarching purpose of this project is to develop an internationally agreed upon definition of the military and Veteran family. This project will build upon the first International Invitational Roundtable event, co-hosted by the Canadian Institute for Military & Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) and King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) in London, UK, in March 2017. Scholars from Canada, the USA, the UK, and Australasia, in partnership with the Vanier Institute for the Family, will contribute to the identification of gaps in the global understanding of the health needs of military and Veteran families. Among creating the means to move towards consistent data gathering, this project will produce and disseminate reports, along with peer-reviewed journal articles in the Journal of Military, Veteran, and Family Health (JMVFH) and foster international collaborations. The Alliance, a demonstration of strong international partnerships will ensure central involvement by Queen’s and Canada in international, cutting-edge initiatives to show that military and Veteran family health and wellbeing is of socioeconomic importance.
Michael Cunningham —
Most polymers and plastics are derived from petroleum-based sources, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Dr. Michael Cunningham plans to collaborate with Professors in Montpellier, France and Queen’s Professor Pascale Champagne to develop new approaches for the modification of two different natural polymers, cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) and chitosan that are currently of high research interest. The primary objective of this research is to develop new, more economical routes for making materials comprised mostly or entirely of renewable materials, with the specific goal of making the routes sufficiently economically attractive to enable widespread commercialization, and target the eventual replacement of materials derived from non-renewable resources. Success in this evolving research collaboration will not only achieve significant benefits to research efforts both at Queen’s and Montpellier, but encourage a broader and more significant societal and environmental impact. With Canada’s focus on developing new products from our plentiful and underutilized natural resources, the proposed research will be particularly beneficial in establishing leadership in the area of renewably-sourced materials.
Gabor Fichtinger —
Professor Gabor Fichtinger of the Queen’s School of Computing and his colleagues at Dartmouth College are using the International Fund to investigate the integration of Dartmouth’s electrical impedance imaging technology, distinguishing cancer from normal tissue during surgery, with Queen’s NaviKnife, a real-time, electromagnetic breast cancer surgery navigation system. This project brings together three Matariki Network partners: Queen's and the University of Western Australia have been recently funded by the CIHR Collaborative Health Research Projects to develop NaviKnife; Dartmouth is joining us as a third partner, adding their unique dimension to the research. Matariki Network members support the development of interdisciplinary, innovative research that demonstrates significant economic and societal global impact. Currently, in Canada, an average one out of three breast conserving surgery patients requires additional surgery: an appallingly high failure rate that necessitates immediate attention and definitive improvement. Breast conserving surgery is a form of soft tissue cancer surgery. Soft tissue surgeries are one of the most frequent types of general surgery procedures, providing the opportunity for complementary benefits to Canadians. During these surgeries, incessant tissue deformation and motion and a target that is not visible give rise to an extremely challenging procedure. Fichtinger’s proposal, a new cancer surgery guidance system that can significantly reduce surgical failure rates, will unify internationally-renowned expertise and cutting-edge technology from both Queen’s and Dartmouth, strengthening Canada’s reputation as a leader in cancer research.
Parvin Mousavi —
The focus of Dr. Parvin Mousavi’s project is multi-parametric imaging for augmenting the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer, in the Advanced Multimodal Image-guided Operating (AMIGO) suite at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School. This suite is an internationally recognized, unique clinical translational test-bed for image-guided diagnosis and therapy. According to the American and Canadian Cancer Societies, 262,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed annually and these numbers are expected to double by 2025 when the baby boomer generation reaches the age of peak prevalence. Dr. Mousavi’s research will contribute to better diagnoses and risk stratification of PCa helping decrease its mortality and morbidity. By improving early detection of aggressive prostate cancer and augmenting the current standard-of-care with affordable, widely available and minimally-invasive techniques, this project will improve the lives of thousands of Canadian men and conserve valuable health care funds. This rare international collaboration opportunity will bring together world leading clinicians at BWH and an established team of researchers in ultrasound imaging and machine learning at Queen’s university.
Robert Ross —
Dr. Robert Ross is using the International Fund to finance his project “Exercise and Metabolomics — A novel approach to understanding the mechanisms by which exercise improves cardiometabolic health.” His research program describes a collaboration between our research group at Queen’s (Ross) and the research group of Dr. Robert Gerszten at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Specifically, Dr. Robert Ross will investigate whether exercise induced changes in metabolite concentration can explain the individual response to exercise for a given risk factor. While we know that most individuals who participate in national guideline-recommended activity (150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity/week) will improve in one or more cardiometabolic risk factors, there exists substantial interindividual variation in response, wherein a significant proportion of individuals do not respond favourably to exercise. These observations have important clinical significance and can offer insight into why and how individuals respond or do not respond to exercise, and ultimately, influence prevention and treatment strategies for health care providers. Success of this research project will strengthen future grant applications for both research groups as well as provide a unique opportunity for Queen’s to work with an internationally recognized scholar, and consequently, open opportunities for Queen’s trainees and research teams to explore the mechanistic underpinnings of findings that otherwise would not be possible.