Peter Wall News Feed
Christian Naus receives $1.5 million grant for Alzeimer's research
Christian Naus, professor in UBC's Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences and 2013-2014 Peter Wall Distinguished Scholar in Residence, has just received $1.5 million from the British Columbia Alzheimer's Research Award Program.
His project, Improving the neighbourhood for brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease, will identify unique new drugs which will not only directly target neurons but also enhance the astrocytes’ abilities to protect neurons that are vulnerable to degeneration in Alzheimer’s.
He says the connections he made as a Distinguished Scholar through the Peter Wall Institute helped him develop the proposal for this award.
“I was able to gather experts from around the world for the first Canadian Colloquium on Gap Junctions and Disease, as well as host Christian Giaume as a Peter Wall International Visiting Research Scholar from the Collège de France, who is an expert in targeting glial connexin channels for the treatment of neurological disease," says Dr. Naus.
"These opportunities helped us develop the Brain Canada proposal on gap junction channels, which will now lead to new research and treatments for Alzeimer’s Disease in BC and Canada.”
Naus is among two other UBC researchers and three other SFU researchers, who together, have received $7.5 million in research funding towards Alzeimer's. The Alzheimer's Research Award Program is a collaboration between Brain Canada, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), Genome British Columbia (Genome BC), and The Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation (PARF).
Planting the seed for hip health
Centre for Hip Health receives provincial grant to prevent hip fractures in older adults
Peter Wall Faculty Associate, Heather Mckay, Director of UBC’s Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, recently received a $4.5 million grant through the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) to help prevent falls and hip fractures in older adults and enhance mobility though early intervention.
The seeds for Mckay's research into fall prevention began during her tenure as an 2001-2002 Early Career Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute and continued during a 2002 Exploratory Workshop, Transdisciplinary Research to Prevent the Epidemic of Hip Fracture, led by Karim Khan, founder of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, and 2001-2002 Peter Wall Early Career Scholar.
“Our Exploratory Workshop helped build substantial relationships that led to collaborations across Canada and internationally,” says Khan.
Two years later in 2004, Khan and others received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation program to build the Centre. The Centre subsequently opened in 2011.
"The important relationships we created during our tenure as Scholars at the Institute shaped the course of the workshop and later studies," adds McKay.
McKay is also the Principal Investigator of the Wall Solutions Initiative project, Active Streets Active People, which focuses on the intersections between physical mobility, the neighbourhood built environment, social interactions — and ultimately, how these things impact health. The goal is to better identify those built environment features that help individuals across the lifespan (1 to 100 yrs) live healthy, active lives in their neighbourhoods.
Part of the recent $4.5 million grant from PHSA will enable the Centre for Hip Health to expand programming that increases the mobility of less active seniors through education and awareness, tailored programs, and the development of tools to create safe and healthy communities.
Prize-winning author Camilla Gibb visits UBC
The Institute is delighted to host prize-winning Canadian author, Camilla Gibb, at the Institute and UBC as 2014 writer-in-residence.
She has written four critically acclaimed novels—Mouthing the Words, The Petty Details of So-and-so’s Life, Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement—and is published around the world in fourteen languages.
During her two week stay, Gibb will participate in the creative and intellectual life of the Institute, and will meet with with professors and students from UBC Creative Writing.
On November 5, 2014, she will give a public talk as part of the Wall Wednesday Afternoon Series entitled Empathy, Narrative Truth and Artistic Process.
Read a recent Q&A with Camilla Gibb in The Wall Papers.
Peter Wall Faculty Associate, Kiley Hamlin, shares research on early moral cognition with the Dalai Lama
The Institute was thrilled and honoured to support the Dialogue with the Dalai Lama - Educating the Heart in the Early Years, held today at UBC's Chan Centre.
The sold out auditorium of students listened intently as His Holiness the Dalai Lama provided insights to a panel of UBC researchers and to the audience about his own questions around science research, early childhood development, kindness and compassion.
Peter Wall Faculty Associate and UBC Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychology, Kiley Hamlin, was among one of the panelists. She shared her research in early development of moral cognition, which examines whether pre-verbal infants make judgments about which behaviors and individuals are good and praiseworthy, and which are bad and blameworthy.
Her studies suggest that infants come into the world liking niceness and appreciating generosity, she said.
"Young humans are sensitive to goodness, they enjoy being helpful, compassionate and good," she indicated. This means that we need to give kids opportunities to see these behaviours and engage in these behaviours, she added.
"I have seen no research prior to hers that shows how generosity is built into the human spirit," offered John, Helliwell, co-panelist, UBC professor and co-Director of CIFAR's program on "Social Interactions, Identity and Well-Being."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama ended the event with words of encouragement for the generation of the 21st century. He suggested that we must not think of ourselves as part of a nation, but as part of humanity - as part 7 billion other people living on the planet. He urged the generation of the 21st century to act now to see a more peaceful, humane and happy world at the end of the century.
Wall Scholar brings men's health exhibit to small town Alberta
Wall Scholar and UBC Nursing Professor, John Oliffe, is bringing the Man-Up-Against-Suicide exhibit, which was on display in Vancouver this summer, to Rimbey, Alberta - a rural community an hour south west of Edmonton.
Risk for suicide among men in rural areas increases by 40% or more the further away one gets from urban centres. Men are four to five times more likely to die by suicide than women in rural areas in Canada. But it wasn’t the stark statistics that brought two local Rimbey friends to lobby Oliffe's team, asking them to extend their research project to the small town in Alberta.
Emma Palm and Cayley Thomas Haug, united by the loss of both of their brothers to suicide, lobbied John Oliffe and his colleague, John Ogrodniczuk, to bring the exhibit to Rimbey. Palm and Haug will co-host the Movember-funded photography exhibit in Rimbey from October 16-20, 2014.
The Man-Up Against Suicide project, led by Oliffe and Ogrodniczuk, also a Rimbey native, interviewed over 40 men and women who were affected by men’s suicide. The participants narrated their experiences through taking photographs, and a collection of these photographs are shared at various local, national, and international photo exhibits as well as online.
Brett Finlay awarded Prix Galien Canada
Dr. B. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor and UBC Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Immunology, has been awarded the Prix Galien Canada Research Award 2014.
The award is presented to the researcher or the research team judged by the Jury to have made the most significant contribution to pharmaceutical research in Canada.
"I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been awarded the Prix Galien Research Award 2014," says Dr. Finlay. "Our hope is that our most recent research into the microbiota and its effect on diarrhea and asthma will help to deliver new preventions and treatments."
The award is the most prestigious award in the field of Canadian pharmaceutical research and innovation. Referred to as the Nobel Prize of pharmaceutical research, it recognizes the efforts and achievements of pharmaceutical research and development. The Prix Galien Canada is a branch of Innovation Life Canada.
Please join the Institute in congratulating Dr. Finlay on this prestigious award.
To learn more about his research, watch The World of Microbes.
Fashioning Cancer project raises nearly $40 000 for cancer research
Fashioning Cancer: The Correlation between Destruction and Beauty has raised approximately $40 000 for cancer research by auctioning off ball gowns inspired by microscopic images of cancer cells.
The 10 ball gowns, designed by UBC Theatre's Jacqueline Firkins and inspired by Christian Naus' lab at UBC, were sold at an auction on September 23 at the Porsche Centre Vancouver.
"It was an amazing evening of great energy and inspiration and personal stories. I was truly overwhelmed," said Firkins. "I'm so grateful for all of the support from start to finish on this project. It means so much to be able to give something back to the community and to use my skills in a new and exciting way."
The project originated through the Peter Wall Institute's Research Mentorship Program and aimed to get people talking about the disease, and how it relates to beauty and body image.
To learn more, read Professor designs gowns inspired by microscopic images of cancer.
Janis Sarra named in Top 25 Women of Influence
Dr. Janis Sarra, UBC Presidential Distinguished Professor at the Peter Wall Institute and UBC Professor of Law, has been ranked as one of this year's Top 25 Women of Influence.
Dr. Sarra ranked 5th right behind Kathleen Wynne, Premier of the Government of Ontario in the public sector category.
The Top 25 Women of Influence recognizes a select group of executives who have achieved the highest levels of professional success in business, health, non-government organizations, professional services and the public sector. Having made a significant difference in their fields, these women serve as important role models for future female leaders across Canada. All 25 women will be profiled in the winter issue of Women of Influence magazine.
For more information on Women of Influence, please visit www.womenofinfluence.ca.
Peter Wall Distinguished Professor to lead new CIFAR research program
Dr. B. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor, and Dr. Janet Rossant, Chief of Research at The Hospital for Sick Children and Professor, University of Toronto, will lead a new Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) program, which will explore the role that microbial organisms have in human development and behaviour.
The research program was recently approved by the CIFAR Board of Directors after a Global Call for Ideas was issued in April 2013. Leading researchers from across Canada and around the world were invited to submit proposals to create research networks that would tackle complex questions of global significance.
The program, Microbes & Humans, aims to develop a deeper understanding of how human microbiota effect human health, development and evolution. It will explore the role that the microbial organisms that reside within us (microbiota) have in human development and behaviour, and how the microbiota has impacted evolution and the dynamics of society and culture – new thinking in this emerging field will improve our understanding of personal and global health.
Dr. Finlay's areas of research interest and accomplishment include host-parasite interactions of pathogenic bacteria, especially enteric bacteria, and pioneering the use of polarized epithelial cells as models to study pathogenic bacteria penetrating through epithelial barriers. Research in his lab is focused on understanding bacterial pathogenesis from the perspective of both pathogen and host. Dr. Finlay holds appointments as UBC Professor in the Michael Smith Labs and in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology & Immunology. To learn more about his research, watch this short video.
The start-up phase of the program is expected to begin in 2015.
To learn more about CIFAR’s new research programs, click here.