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Posts Tagged ‘UCalgary Faculty of Medicine’

H1N1 – Now is not the time to let our guard down

By Glen D. Armstrong, PhD, Thomas Louie, M.D., and John Conly, M.D., Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary and The Calvin, Phoebe, and Joan Snyder Institute of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation.

Although there appears to be a lull in the number of serious H1N1 cases appearing in our hospitals, now is not the time to let our guard down.  The H1N1 virus  has resulted in severe infection with respiratory failure and increased numbers of intensive care unit admissions.  And this is before the typical influenza season peaks in February or March.  There is still plenty of time to get vaccinated. Now would be the perfect time to visit a vaccination clinic because of the significantly reduced wait times.

We want to remind people of one irrefutable fact; the incredible freedom we all now enjoy from once devastating infectious diseases because of safe effective vaccines. A short list includes smallpox, polio, mumps, measles, rubella, meningitis, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, and hepatitis A and B. We cannot overemphasize that these are all diseases that no longer kill or severely disable millions of youngsters and adults every year in the developed world, thanks to safe and effective immunization programs.

We openly acknowledge that none of these vaccines is 100 per cent safe. We have learned from experience that in any mass vaccination program, a very small proportion, less than one in a million people, will experience a severe adverse reaction to the vaccine. Such rare reactions may lead to lifelong physical or mental disabilities. In this regard, the H1N1 vaccine is no different than any of other.

The anti-H1N1 vaccination proponents are misleading and distorting the facts around the vaccine being distributed. They are making the minimal risks appear much greater than they really are. If you carefully read the articles the anti-vaccine proponents quote in their fear-mongering campaigns, the H1N1 vaccine is no more dangerous or different in formula or action than any of the other vaccines routinely and safely used for decades to prevent deadly infections from spreading in human populations.

With the exception of a minority of older individuals, our population has no natural immunity to the H1N1 virus. Unlike the typical seasonal flu strains, the H1N1 virus affects young and old, healthy, pregnant, or sick individuals in a capricious and unpredictable manner. The H1N1 virus also has more potential to cause societal hardship, and loss of income to families and businesses due to employee absenteeism.  So why not get vaccinated to protect ourselves, our family members, friends and society at large?

After all, the H1N1 vaccine is provided free of charge to all Canadians in order to protect themselves and probably more importantly, others around them. The societal benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. Despite the impression the H1N1 pandemic may be over, we still strongly encourage all Canadians to be vaccinated against H1N1.  Now is not the time to let our guard down.

Two UCalgary clinician scientists named Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 2008

By Andrea Di Ubaldo

Dr. Fiona Costello: photo provided

Dr. Fiona Costello: photo provided

As Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

Indeed, Dr. Fiona Costello and Dr. Andrew Demchuk seem to have found their perfect balance by constantly moving. Both were recently named to the Caldwell Partners International’s Top 40 Under 40 list.

The award is given to individuals who have shown vision and leadership; innovation and achievement; impact; community involvement and contribution; and growth / development strategy. Out of approximately 1200 nominees, Costello and Demchuk are two out of six physician scientists awarded this honour as chosen by an independent advisory board.

Balancing, more like juggling

Dr. Andrew Demchuk: photo provided

Dr. Andrew Demchuk: photo provided

For Demchuk, co-leader of the Attacking Stroke program at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in the Faculty of Medicine, it’s all about the ‘Big 5’: education; administration; research; clinical care; and family. Not necessarily in that order.

“I try to do all things because I like all five,” Demchuk says. “I have a great wife who manages most of the day-to-day raising of our two boys; I’m a quality time kind of guy, so I get to do the fun stuff with the boys at night and on weekends.”

Demchuk is the director of the Calgary Stroke Program, chair of Pillar 2 (Acute Care and Emergency Services) of the Alberta Provincial Stroke Strategy, past-chair of the Board of Directors of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT and Nunavut, and an associate professor with the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and the Department of Radiology at UCalgary.

In addition to his teaching and clinical practice, Demchuk is also a world-renowned researcher whose primary research interests lie in the area of cerebral vascular imaging and its application in developing new treatments for those who have suffered from stroke.  .
He admits to verging on workaholic status, as a director, teacher, researcher, physician, husband and father.

Kids keep things in perspective

“I have four kids aged eight, five, three and six-months. It’s often a gong show,” Costello laughs. “I’m married to a great guy, who has a very demanding career. It’s tough to balance, but we work well together.”

Costello is a clinician scientist and co-director of the NeuroProtection and Repair Evaluation Unit (NPREU) with the Arresting Multiple Sclerosis (MS)  program at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the Faculty of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Her research and clinical expertise are in the areas of neuro-ophthalmology and multiple sclerosis.  Together with her collaborators, she has been awarded $2.5 million research grant funding to implement a novel experimental model of MS she has developed in ongoing studies.

“I use the visual system as a means of finding new ways to look at old problems.
The eye can give us many insights into mechanisms of brain injury, and help us better understand diseases like multiple sclerosis,” she says.

“It’s a great honour because this award isn’t restricted to the medical community,” 39-year-old Costello says. “Everyone goes in on an even playing field, all experts in their respective areas.”

Demchuk, also 39, believes it’s an honour for both him and his team. “It’s a bit of validation for all of the hours and days of work we put in. My CV would be miniscule without a team.”

Costello says her kids have made her a better physician and person and much better at time management. “My kids have forced me to be more focused and less self – indulgent with my time.”

“And kids don’t care what awards you’ve won,” she adds.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary
UCalgary’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. We train the next generation of health practitioners and move new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside, improving patient care.  For more information visit http://medicine.ucalgary.ca. or follow us on twitter.com @UofCMedicine.

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Doctor Shortage Symposium: Controversially educational

By Andrea Di Ubaldo

Pick a hot topic, add some industry professionals, invite everyone you can think of. What do you get? A Medical Student Health Policy Symposium that is both educational and, as the organizers hope, a little bit controversial.

2nd Annual Medical Student Health Policy Symposium

2nd Annual Medical Student Health Policy Symposium: Event poster

The symposium will be on May 7, 2009 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Faculty of Medicine’s Libin Lecture Theatre at the Health Sciences Centre.

Alaina Aguanno, a third-year medical student, and Kevin Wasko, a first-year medical student at the University of Calgary, are co-organizers of this year’s symposium which will discuss Canada’s doctor shortage. The two also sit on the students’ council as Vice-Presidents of External Affairs for their respective classes.

“We hope that this symposium answers a few questions but stirs up many more,” Aguanno says. “The issues we are discussing are complex – contributing factors and management strategies will only scratch the surface of the potential for the topics surrounding this issue.”

“We hope attendees will gain a better understanding of the physician shortage in Canada and what is being done to address the issue,” Wasko adds.

The annual symposium was created last year by Aguanno, who holds a masters of science in the areas of health policy and health economics and wanted to share her passion for these topics.

“I created the symposium because I felt that health-care professionals, and especially medical students like me, could benefit from a greater understanding of the social, political and economic context of the system in which we work,” Aguanno says.

Only in its second year, the event will feature many high-profile speakers, including the Hon. Ronald Liepert, Minister of Health and Wellness along with the presidents of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), Drs. Robert Ouellet and Noel Grisdale, and professors from UCalgary and the University of British Columbia.

“We invited the people who we thought were best-suited to answer our questions and they said yes!” Aguanno says excitedly. “Our speakers have been very enthusiastic about this event, both last year and again this year; we are fortunate to have such dedicated teachers and leaders.”

Last year’s symposium examined public, private and mixed models of health care financing and featured Dr. Brian Day, CMA president, and Dr. Darryl LaBuick, AMA president, along with Dr. Tom Noseworthy, professor and head of the Department of Community Health Sciences and director of the Centre for Health and Policy Studies at UCalgary.

“We’re really excited about this year’s event. With the enthusiastic support we received last year, the first symposium was at maximum capacity,” Aguanno smiles.

Learn more about the 2nd Annual Medical Students Health Policy Symposium.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary
UCalgary’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. We train the next generation of health practitioners and move new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside, improving patient care.  For more information visit http://medicine.ucalgary.ca. or follow us on twitter.com @UofCMedicine.

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U of C remembers Doc Seaman, philanthropist

doc-seamanThe Faculty of Medicine was saddened to hear of the passing Sunday of Daryl K. Doc Seaman. He was 86.

Seaman was one of Calgary’s biggest philanthropists and a huge supporter of the University of Calgary. Oh, and he was also instrumental in bringing the National Hockey League to Calgary in 1980 as one of the original owners of the Calgary Flames!

Though he shied away from publicity, his time, effort and funds did not go unnoticed, particularly at the University of Calgary.

In 2001, along with his brothers, B.J. and Don, Doc provided $2 million in funding for the establishment of the Seaman Family MR Research Centre at the Calgary Health Region/University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine. In 2007, the centre became home to the neuroArm, the world’s first MRI-compatible surgical robot, which revolutionized neurosurgery and other branches of operative medicine by liberating them from the constraints of the human hand.

Seaman supported other student awards and was a Chancellor’s Club member since 1992. He received a U of C honorary degree in Law in 1993 and a Faculty Association Recognition Award in 2005. His most recent gift to the U of C came this summer in the form of $500,000 to fund scholarships for student-athletes in football, hockey, basketball, volleyball, soccer and women’s field hockey.

Seaman will be missed greatly. The University of Calgary and the Faculty of Medicine express condolences to the family and friends of Doc Seaman.

Read a more in-depth story at: http://www.ucalgary.ca/news/january2009/seaman-memoriam

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary

The U of C’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. Through its educational programs, the Faculty of Medicine trains the physicians and scientists who will lead the next generation of health practitioners. Through its clinical work, continuing medical education programs, and close relationship with the Calgary Health Region, the Faculty of Medicine moves new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside efficiently and effectively, improving patient care.

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Research finds older women who are physically fit have better cognitive function

January 8, 2009 2 comments

By Karen Thomas, AHFMR

Marc Poulin's study on exercise and aging shows improved cognition.

Marc Poulin's study on exercise and aging shows improved cognition.

New research published in the international journal Neurobiology of Aging by Marc Poulin, PhD, DPhil, finds that being physically fit helps the brain function at the top of its game. An Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Senior Scholar, Poulin finds that physical activity benefits blood flow in the brain, and, as a result, cognitive abilities.

“Being sedentary is now considered a risk factor for stroke and dementia,” says Poulin, a scientist in the Faculties of Medicine and Kinesiology at the University of Calgary. “This study proves for the first time that people who are fit have better blood flow to their brain. Our findings also show that better blood flow translates into improved cognition.”

The study, Effects of Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Cerebral Blood Flow on Cognitive Outcomes in Older Women, compares two groups of women whose average age was 65 years old. From a random sample of 42 women living in Calgary, the study observed women who took part in regular aerobic activity, and another group of women who were inactive. Poulin’s team recorded and measured the women’s cardiovascular health, resting brain blood flow and the reserve capacity of blood vessels in the brain, as well as cognitive functions. The team included scientists, doctors and graduate students, with MSc student Allison Brown taking a lead role.

The scientists found that compared to the inactive group, the active group had lower (10 per cent) resting and exercising arterial blood pressure, higher (5 per cent) vascular responses in the brain during submaximal exercise and when the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood were elevated, and higher (10 per cent) cognitive function scores.

One study participant, Calgarian Merceda Schmidt, 91 years old, walks about six kilometres per week to her volunteer schoolteaching and piano playing commitments. “It’s just in my nature – the batteries I got when I was born. My legs want to go,” says Schmidt. “I have to admit, I was nervous before the bike test. I could’ve done better if my shoe hadn’t fallen off.”

“The take home message from our research is that basic fitness – something as simple as getting out for a walk every day – is critical to staying mentally sharp and remaining healthy as we age,” says Poulin, a member of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

Poulin’s research is supported by AHFMR, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT & Nunavut, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Strafford Foundation.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary

The U of C’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. Through its educational programs, the Faculty of Medicine trains the physicians and scientists who will lead the next generation of health practitioners. Through its clinical work, continuing medical education programs, and close relationship with the Calgary Health Region, the Faculty of Medicine moves new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside efficiently and effectively, improving patient care.

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UCalgary Medicine wins at 2008 MarCom Awards

January 8, 2009 1 comment

by Jody MacPherson

UCalgary Medicine’s Communications and Media Relations Department has won platinum and gold awards at the 2008 MarCom Awards, which is an international creative competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communication professionals, as judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals based in Texas.

* The Faculty of Medicine’s Research Report 2007/2008 won a Platinum Award, which is the highest level award. Laurie Wang, Manager, Internal Relations was the editor of this publication.
* The “Your Faculty” magazine (a Faculty of Medicine publication) also won a Platinum Award. Note: This magazine has just been renamed this to “UCalgary Medicine.” Laurie was also the managing editor at the time of the award.
* The recent announcement of the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies won a Gold Award in the category of writing/media kits. Jordanna Heller, Manager, Media Relations was the lead writer on this.
* The UCMG Member Portal Communications Plan also won a Gold Award. That plan was also put together by Laurie Wang.
* The department also received Honourable Mentions for the neuroArm media reel which was a labour of love for Jordanna and for the writing in one of the articles in Your Faculty magazine authored by Marta Cyperling, Advisor, Media Relations (Summer, 2008 issue).

Of course, none of this work is done without support from fellow U of C communicators, especially Colleen Turner and her team who’ve given input, advice and encouragement to the Medicine communications team.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary

The U of C’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. Through its educational programs, the Faculty of Medicine trains the physicians and scientists who will lead the next generation of health practitioners. Through its clinical work, continuing medical education programs, and close relationship with the Calgary Health Region, the Faculty of Medicine moves new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside efficiently and effectively, improving patient care.

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Faculty of Medicine home to one of Canada’s Most Powerful women

November 27, 2008 9 comments

By Andrea Di Ubaldo

Photo provided

Dr. Jennifer Hatfield: Photo provided

How does one make their way onto a list of the top 100 most powerful women in Canada?

Well, it doesn’t hurt to have talent, but for Dr. Jennifer Hatfield, named one of the Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 this year, it’s about learning from those who have helped her along the way.

The award is given to those who “have had a major impact or made a great contribution to Canadian society.”

“When I heard the news I felt very grateful for the support and mentorship I have had from fellow faculty members at the university. I have been given remarkable opportunities to pursue rewarding work here in Canada and overseas.”

Hatfield, director of both the Health and Society and the Global Health Program at the O’Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) program at UCalgary and former psychology clinician, is leading many innovative research projects around the world on behalf of Canada and the University of Calgary.

“My colleagues at UCalgary really enable and support each other and open up opportunities to take a leadership role,” Hatfield says. “People like Dr. Billie Thurston, Dr. Tom Noseworthy and Dr. Benedikt Hallgrímsson have been incredible supporters as has the Faculty of Medicine, which has allowed me to follow my passion for undergraduate education and global health research.”

“Powerful” accomplishments

Hatfield continues to be a leader and contributor in the global health community. Her many roles have certainly earned her the title of one of the Top 100, a list published annually in the Globe and Mail:

  • Mentor, UNITAR
    As a mentor for a division of the United Nations called UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research), Hatfield has participated in post-conflict reconstruction leadership development projects for civil service and NGO professionals in Afghanistan for the past three years along with a team from UCalgary; this year she traveled to India and Japan to mentor a new group focused on gender and equity, supporting women leaders in the country.
  • Leader and facilitator, BHSc program
    Her work in global health research, education and training at UCalgary where she is leader of the Health and Society Major and facilitator of the development of the BHSc Global Health Program, a new and innovative program; the first of its kind in Canada.
  • Co-chair, Canadian Global Health Coalition Task Group
    As co-chair of the Canadian Global Health Coalition Task Group on Global Health Research Partnerships, funded by the International Development Research Council, Hatfield is responsible for leading and facilitating an international team of researchers who are working toward promoting and improving partnerships between researchers in Canadian and low and middle income countries.

A thoughtful mentor

Hatfield’s work mentoring young men and women with leadership aspirations from Canada and abroad is very rewarding for her. She works with them on a variety of research, capacity building and training projects focusing on malaria and HIV in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

“I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to build and work with a team of outstanding young researchers, Lisa Allen and Erin Hetherington in particular, working with students to build their understanding in the field,” she smiles.

“I attribute my opportunity to lead these students to the O’Brien’s – David and his wife Gail,” Hatfield says proudly. “They are leaders in creating leaders in global health research. It would not be possible for me to demonstrate this leadership without all of these leaders around me.”

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary

The U of C’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. Through its educational programs, the Faculty of Medicine trains the physicians and scientists who will lead the next generation of health practitioners. Through its clinical work, continuing medical education programs, and close relationship with the Calgary Health Region, the Faculty of Medicine moves new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside efficiently and effectively, improving patient care.

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