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Division News Archive

2012

Science Without Borders

Dr. Joana Gil-Mohapel, Research Assistant, and Dr. Patricia Brocardo, Post-Doctoral Fellow from Dr. Brian Christie's Neuroscience Laboratory at the Division of Medical Sciences, were recently the recipients of a "Science Without Borders" grant awarded by the Brazilian Federal Government.

The main goal of the "Science Without Borders" funding program is to promote the consolidation and expansion of science, technology and innovation in Brazil by means of international exchange and mobility. This federal program promotes the establishment of international partnerships between young international and hightly qualified researchers and Brazilian scientists through the development of joint research projects.

The total amount awarded was 298,246 CAD and will finance a project entitiled Development of Neuroprotective Strategies for Huntington's Disease and its main goal is to develop and test therapeutic strategies that can be used as early interventions to prevent or rescue the cognitive and motor deficits associated with this devastating neurodegenerative disease.

By promoting the partnership between these two Universities, this grant will contribute for the internationalization of not only the awarded researchers, but also the Division of Medical Sciences, and the University of Victoria.

Congratulations to both of you and we wish you both much sucess with this project.

CIHR Operational Grant Awardees

The Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) invests in more than 14,000 highly talented health researchers. Their investigations cover all aspects of health, from cellular communications to health care economics. Two researchers from the Division of Medical Sciences are among these talented health researchers and have recently been awarded a CIHR Operational Grant.

Dr. Craig Brown will recieve 623,900 over the next 5 years to investigate the impact of diabetes on brain function and recovery from ischemic stroke.

Dr. Brian Christie will recieve 826,290 over the next 5 years indentifying the role of Fragile-X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP) in hippocampal learning and memory processes.

Congratulations to both of you and we wish you much success in your research!

Student Awards

For her graduate studies in the Swayne Lab, Leigh Wicki-Stordeur has been selected to recieve the following two awards from the Faculty of Graduate Studies Donar Awards. Leigh was awarded the Howard E. Petch Research Scholarship ($7500) and the Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher Scholarship ($9000). Leigh was also awarded an NSERC PGSM award earlier this year.

Congratulations Leigh and best wishes for continued success in your graduate program.

Leigh Anne Swayne Inducted to Athletics Hall of Fame

Leigh Anne Swayne was inducted this September into the University of Guelph's athletics Hall of Fame along with her fellow teammates from the 1998 University of Guelph National Champion Women's Rugby Team. Pictured are Dr. Swayne (left), and fellow teammate and sister Dr. Seanna Swayne (right) and teammate Amanda McAlpine (middle) at the induction banquet.

Leigh Anne Swayne Hall of Fame

Neuroscience Graduate Program

Neuroscience Graduate Program (pg. 13) is highlighted in the latest edition of the UVic Torch magazine.

DMS Faculty Member featured in UVic Torch

Dr. Stephanie Willerth is featured in the latest edition of the UVic Torch magazine  - Biology in 3D (pg. 10).

Lieutenant Govenor's Silver Medal Award

Congratulations to Jessica Nathan (Simpson), from Brian Christie's lab, for receiving the 2011 Lieutenant Governor's Silver Medal for outstanding MSc thesis!

Loon Lake Cell Biology Retreat

Leigh E. Wicki-Stordeur, a Master's student in the Swayne Lab (Neuroscience Graduate Program) won second place amongst trainees for her talk entitled "Pannexin 1 regulates postnatal neural stem and progenitor cell proliferation" at the 2012 annual Loon Lake Cell Biology Retreat (http://athena.bioc.uvic.ca/CellBio2012/).

Leigh recently had this work accepted for publication in the journal Neural Development(Wicki-Stordeur LE, Dzugalo AD, Swansburg RM, Suits JM, Swayne LA (2012) Pannexin 1 regulates postnatal neural stem and progenitor cell proliferation. Neural Development, 7:11 PDMID:22458943).

University of Victoria's 2012 Craigdarroch Research Award

University of Victoria's 2012 Craigdarroch Research Award honours achievement in research at UVic. Dr. E. Paul Zehr was the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Knowledge Mobilization (Knowledge mobilization is the application of research results for societal benefit).

Dr. Zehr is an accomplished neuroscientist but is equally well known for his efforts to engage general audiences in the wonders of scientific research. Both passions inspired his two popular books, Becoming Batman and Inventing Iron Man.

Cells of Hope

Stem cells hold tremendous promise for treating disease. But first we need to understand how they work.

Dr. Stephanie Willerth

Finding the diabetes link

Family that faced this challenge now facinated by research conducted by University of Victoria's Craig Brown.

Virtual Reality Technology - Help for Autism

NeuroTracker (by CogniSens Inc.) is an awareness-boosting virtual reality training system used by NHL, NFL and pro soccer teams to give them a competitive edge. On April 1, as part of the Vancouver Canucks Autism Network (CAN) World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), children with autism and their parents had the opportunity to try out NeuroTracker technology.

UVic's Division of Medical Sciences faculty member, Dr. Brian Christie, along with Neuroscience graduate student Emily White and research assistant Kristin Morch, helped to arrrange the NeuroTracker demonstration at WAAD. Dr. Christie is currently lead researcher on a study investigating the potential benefits of using NeuroTracker technology for those living with autism, as well as other conditions. He was on hand at WAAD in Vancouver to discuss the study and how he thinks that the technology will be an awareness-improving support tool for autistic children, along with Dr. Jocelyn Faubert, Director of the Visual Perception and Psychophysics laboratory at the University of Montreal, and creator of the NeuroTracker technology.

Science Fact or Fiction - Brain Size

If your brain is bigger...are you smarter?

Victoria Brain Bee - Update

The first annual Victoria Brain Bee took place at the University of Victoria's Medical Sciences Building on Saturday, April 28th. It was an exceptional display of Victoria high school student neuroscience acumen.

Fierce comptetion between Lisa Weng (St. Margaret's School), Rio Hong and Eugene Tang (St. Michael's University School) culminated in a close win for Eugene Tang after multiple rounds. Eugene now heads off to the CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee at McMaster University on May 26, 2012 to win a chance to represent Canada at the International Brain Bee in South Africa. Eugene, Lisa and Rio will also get to experience a 'day in the research lab' in the Division of Medical Sciences.

Division of Medical Sciences 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award

Drs. Willerth & Swayne featured in UVic Academic Women's Caucus Newsletter

AWC Newsletter

November 2011 Congratulations

Dr. Laura Arbour promoted to full professor.

Congratulations!

Dani Sweetnam successfully defended her MSc thesis title: "Diabetes impairs cortical plasticity and functional recovery following ischemic stroke".

Division researcher named Michael Smith Foundation Career Investigator

Dr. Craig Brown is the recipient of a 2011 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Career Investigator Award. This 8-year award supports outstanding health researchers in British Columbia as they develop and build a leading research program and expand their potential to make significant contributions in their field. Dr. Brown's research focus is on understanding the mechanisms of experience and injury based cortical plasticity.

MSFHR is dedicated to the memory of Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Michael Smith, a pre-eminent BC scientist with a long-standing commitment to supporting researchers throughout their career.

Teaching Award in Medical Sciences 2010-2011

Congratulations to Dr. Stan Bardal PhD, this year's recipient of the 2010-2011 Teaching Award in Medical Sciences. The purpose of the award is to recognize and reward excellence in teaching and education in the Division of Medical Sciences at UVic.

Nominees are full-time faculty who have completed at least three consecutive years of teaching duties at the Island Medical Program or the Division. The committee selected Dr. Bardal as the recipient based on the strongly supported letters from present and former students and colleagues, with specific references to Dr. Bardal's clarity when teaching difficult subjects, respectful and non-interfering approach, encouragement of critical thinking skills and appropriate use of culture and humor to increase understanding. Additionally, the committee was impressed with Dr. Bardal's many innovations in the classroom and outside to improve the student experience, including his interprofessional collaborative work, offering lunch seminars to address gaps in learning, starting the extracurricular Journal Club, and developing a pharmacology reference handbook which has now become a full-fledged textbook.

A Teaching Awards Celebration will be held in February 2012.

CIHR New Investigator Award

Dr. Craig Brown is a 2011 recipient of a CIHR New Investigator Award (5-year, $300K) for his project "Imaging the impact of diabetes on brain function and recovery from stroke".

August 2011 Congratulations

Two Division Post-Docs, Dr. Joana Gil-Mohapel and Dr. Kelly Tennant, who are recent recipients of Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Research Trainee Program - Post Doctoral Fellowship Awards (Biomedical). This award support highly qualified Post Doctoral trainees to prepare for careers as independent health researchers. Dr. Gil-Mohapel conducts research related to Huntington's disease and Dr. Kelly Tennant is involved in research related to stroke recovery"

July 2011 Cosmic Con 2011 Iron Man Podium

In July, E. Paul Zehr, professor in the Division of Medical Sciences and the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, along with 130 000 others, attended the San Diego International Comic Con where he gave a knowledge mobilization presentation related to his forthcoming book "Inventing Iron Man: The Possibility of a Human Machine". The book is a scientifically sound look at brain-machine interfaces and the outer limits where neuroscience and neural plasticity meet, mixed with a large dose of pop culture fun. The presentation covered many related aspects of neuroscience including neural plasticity and the neuropathology of phantom limbs and the good and bad of connecting the human nervous system to technological devices. The talk was well-received with dozens of questions ranging from the practical advantages of brain-machine interface to long-term stability of implants in the human body.

July 2011 FASD research highlighted in Vancouver Sun

A group of UVic scientists, led by Dr. Brian Christie, are involved in a study to determine if regular exercise can increase the production of a special protein in the brain and reverse some of the damaging effects of FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).

July 2011 Division researcher named Michael Smith Foundation Career Investigator

Dr. Craig Brown is the recipient of a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) Career Investigator Award. This 8-year award supports outstanding health researchers in British Columbia as they develop and build a leading research program and expand their potential to make significant contributions in their field. Dr. Brown's research focus is on understanding the mechanisms of experience and injury based cortical plasticity.

MSFHR is dedicated to the memory of Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Michael Smith, a pre-eminent BC scientist with a long-standing commitment to supporting researchers throughout their career.

The Advanced Microscopy Facility

"The Advanced Microscopy Facility: scanning electron microscopy with backscatter and EDX for elemental analysis, nanofabrication using focused ion beam, monthly workshops to train to use instruments or we will do the work for you. More information at www.stehm.uvic.ca.

June 2011 Jessica Simpson, new MSc grad, featured in "The Ring"

Jessica is a former grad student under Dr. Brian Christie. Read about her accomplishments

June 2011 Brain Canada applauds budget commitment for research and treatment of brain disorders

Federal Commitment of $100 million will match private funds to address diseases affecting 1 in 3 Canadians. Following Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's reaffirmation of $100 million in federal matched funding for a public-private partnership to advance brain research in Canada. The partnership, led by Brain Canada, will fund some of the most excellent and innovative research in the world - using a uniquely Canadian model of interdisciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration that has already produced important breakthroughts in brain research. Read more.

May 2011 Alcohol and the brain

Saanich News featured a series on alcohol consumption and the effects it has on your body. Dr. Brian Christie knows well the physical implications involved in having a few brews or chilled glasses of Chardonnay.

New research into fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) offers hope.

May 2011 Neuroscience Graduate Programs at UVic Approved

The UVic Neuroscience Graduate Program (MSc and PhD) was given final approval by the Ministry of Advanced Education on May 19, 2011. The program is interdisciplinary, building on existing strengths in the Psychology, Biology, Division of Medical Sciences, Biochemistry and Microbiology and Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education Departments and will be hosted by the Division of Medical Sciences http://web.uvic.ca/calendar2011/GRAD/GPROGS/Neur/index.html .

The new program will produce students who have a research-based background in either cellular or cognitive neurosciences, reflecting the two major neuroscience research streams at UVic. The program is designed to emphasize connections between the core areas (learning and memory; synaptic function; developmental neuroscience; sensory motor systems; disease and injury) and to encourage students to develop competencies in more than one area.

The first class of students in the Neuroscience Program will commence in September 2011. For more information please contact the program graduate secretary, Karen Myers ( dmscsec@uvic.ca), or the Neuroscience Program Director, Dr. Brian Christie ( brain64@uvic.ca).

BC Protemics Network Award

Leigh Wicki-Stordeur from the Swayne lab received a BC Proteomics Network studentship to work this summer (2011) with Dr. Swayne and Christoph Borchers (Biochemistry - UVIC Proteomics Centre) on a collaborative project.

Fragile X syndrome

 Dr. Brian Christie was recently interviewed on this topic for Alzheimer Research Forum.

Exercising Your Aging Brain

A documentary on exercise and cognition was aired on CBC's Quirks and Quarks, Saturday April 2, featuring our own Dr. Brian Christie. Listen directly to the audio http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/episode/2011/04/02/april-2-2011/ or download an mp3.

Canadian Brain & Behaviour Spring Conference

Congratulations to Dani Sweetnam who was awarded "Best Graduate Talk" along with one hundred dollars at the Canadian Spring Conference on Behaviour and Brain in Fernie, BC. There were a total of 57 talks from graduate students attending the conference. Dani's talk was about the research she's been doing for the past two years under Dr. Craig Brown, which involves using state of the art functional imaging techniques to examine the affect that Type 1 diabetes has on the functional recovery after stroke.

2010

2010 Year in Review Newsletter

Find out more about the success of the Island Medical Program and Division of Medical Sciences in 2010.

Division hosts international brain meeting

The Division of Medical Sciences recently hosted a Society for Neuroscience Chapter Meeting, showcasing the work of an impressive group of neuroscience researchers from universities in the Pacific Northwest. The conference was organized by DMSC faculty Dr. Brian Christie, Dr. Craig Brown, and Dr. Patrick Nahirney and staff member, Kaisha D'Ochoa. It was held on Saturday, October 23, 2010 in the Medical Sciences and was attended by over 100 scientists, including researchers from: University of Washington, Western Washington University, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

Participants presented recent findings on topics ranging from mechanisms of brain disease, cellular and molecular aspects of synaptic plasticity in learning and memory, and neuropsychological analysis of auditory input and face recognition. The event was sponsored by the Division and the Brain Research Center (UBC) and its success reflects the Division's commitment to establishing a world-class neuroscience program at UVic and fostering awareness about the current state of health-related research at the University. Division students also did a great job representing UVic at the conference, with Caitlin King, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Helfer, and Dani Sweetnam all winning presentation awards.

First recipient of Teaching Award in Medical Sciences announced

Congratulations to Dr. Jane Gair, PhD, the inaugural recipient of the Teaching Award in Medical Sciences. The purpose of the award is to recognize and reward excellence in teaching and education in the Division of Medical Sciences at UVic.

Nominees are full-time faculty who have completed at least three consecutive years of teaching duties at the Island Medical Program or the Division. The committee selected Dr. Gair as the recipient based on her demonstrated teaching excellence, contributions to curriculum development, innovation in the classroom, contributions to the UVic community and community outreach.

Dr. Gair will be recognized, along with other recipients from faculties across UVic, at the UVic Learning and Teaching Centre's annual recognition event in February 2011.

Influx of graduate students in the Division of Medical Sciences

The Division of Medical Sciences is very proud of its growing contingent of graduate students. Because the Division does not yet have its own graduate program, these students work under the supervision of Division faculty while enrolled in graduate programs such as Biology and Biochemistry.

For example, NSERC Canada graduate scholar and Michael Smith Foundation for Research Scholar Jessica Simpson is an MSc candidate in Biology who is supervised by the Division's Dr. Brian Christie. Jessica is studying how the adult brain retains and alters its ability to generate new neurons in neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington's disease and is a recent recipient of several awards recognizing outstanding graduate students at the University of Victoria, including the Robert W. Ford Graduate Scholarship and the Alexander and Helen Stafford MacCarthy Muir Graduate Scholarship.

In future, it is expected that Psychology and Kinesiology graduate students, as well as students from other departments, will benefit from the training opportunities provided in the Division.

Division researcher makes HIV breakthrough

Dr. Stephanie Willerth, Assistant Professor with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Victoria, has a cross-appointment with the UVic Division of Medical Sciences and has recently established her lab research space in the Medical Sciences Building. Dr. Willerth is conducting ground-breaking research which has advanced the understanding of HIV and how to treat it. Read more about it in the Ring

 

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Upcoming Medical Sciences events

Message from Division Head

Links of interest

Find out more about our FASD Research Study here

Neuroscience Graduate Oral Defense

Funding Opportunities

2nd Annual CIHR Brain Bee Victoria - UPDATE

Summer 2013 IMP/DMSC Newsletter

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