Canada has long been a leader in the field of stem cell research, fueling the dream of renewed mobility for those with spinal cord injuries.

Regaining the ability to walk after being paralyzed by a spinal cord injury is a dream that many people think of as the quintessential medical miracle. For patients, even the smallest improvements to mobilityare cause for celebration. However, unlike cuts and bruises to the skin, the spinal cord has limited capacity to heal on its own, often leaving injured patients with limited mobility and paralysis for life.

One research area poised to make a big impact in the treatment of spinal cord injury is stem cell therapy. …


‘The science of gambling has come a long way. We’re reaching a tipping point where governments are waking up to their responsibilities.’

Luke Clark is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Director of the Centre for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia. We asked him everything from what inspired him to become a researcher to what he is reading in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What inspired you to become a researcher? When I was about age 16 at high school, I was really struggling to decide what to read at university. My parents wanted me to be a…


Marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, but public policy shifts are helping more people get needed healthcare.

Universal access to healthcare is a point of pride for Canadians. However, it is no secret that there are many barriers to accessing the medical system, especially for stigmatized and marginalized communities.

Dr. Kate Shannon, associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and Director of the Gender and Sexual Health Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, is an advocate for health and human rights in the context of HIV and AIDS, addressing inequities by effecting change at the policy level.

“We know from the kind of landscape of HIV epidemic over the last…


‘I was fuelled by horror at the current state of the world, and infused with a conviction that things can be much better.’

Professor Deborah Cowen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. We asked her everything from why she chose her field of study to what she is reading in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What inspired you to become a researcher? I became a researcher by accident. It was a combination of relentless curiosity about how things work, fueled by horror at the current state of the social world, infused with a conviction that…


Tiny microorganisms that consume human-produced pollutants are helping reclaim contaminated sites and safeguard clean water.

In Canada, it may seem that clean water will never run out. The Great Lakes basin is one of the largest fresh water reserves in the world. But water has no boundaries, it can move from the air to the earth to the ocean, and many of the services and technologies that come with being an advanced society create pollutants that can contaminate our water supply. For example, the dry-cleaning compound, perchloroethylene or PERC, is toxic. The University of Waterloo recently showed that nitrates from fertilizer used today could persist in drinking water for decades.

Many researchers are turning…


The study of epigenetics is showing how childhood poverty has deleterious health impacts that can last for a lifetime

Michael Kobor, associate professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, studies epigenetics. To help explain his field of study, he invites you to think of each of your 25,000 genes as a light bulb. The intensity of the light represents the level of activity of each gene. Like genes, each of these 25,000 light bulbs can be fully on or fully off, but epigenetics is like the dimmer switch that allows them to shine at any intensity in between; Kobor looks at both the light intensity and the position of the dimmer switch.


Seasonal allergies a combination of nature, nurture, and more nature

Spring can be a beautiful time: the flowers are out, the trees are blooming. But for the 25% of Canadians that suffer from seasonal allergies, it can also be a sniffly, sneezy, mucous-filled nightmare.

Like any allergic reaction, seasonal allergies occur when your immune system, normally there to protect you against foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses, becomes activated by a seemingly harmless substance.

Appalling pollen

The main culprit for seasonal allergies is pollen — a powdery substance produced by plants that essentially contains the plant’s sperm. Many trees, grasses, and other plants like ragweed rely on the wind to…


Forget the special sauce; it’s actually a wave of environmental factors that’s driving your persistent fast food cravings

What we eat is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle. Often it’s hard to choose the right things. When you’re tired after a hard day at work and all you want is that bag of chips that’s sitting on your counter. When you don’t have the time to make lunch for the kids and yourself, so a slice of pizza from the work cafeteria has to be good enough. When you just can’t say no to the ice cream that’s on sale.

But even if we have the best intentions, eating healthy can be an uphill battle.

It…


Excessive drinking and smoking are just two of the preventable risk factors that contribute to stroke.

Strokes can hit anyone, anytime, anywhere — but a new study shows how to reduce the risk by over 90%.

A stroke can happen unexpectedly — anytime, anywhere, sometimes without you even realizing it. Because of this, we tend to imagine that it’s something outside our control, like a lightning strike. Yet a new study led by Drs. Martin O’Donnell and Salim Yusuf from the McMaster University Population Health Research Institute shows that the majority of risk factors for stroke are preventable.

Risky business

This study, called INTERSTROKE Phase II, builds on results from INTERSTROKE Phase I with over 13,000 additional patients, bringing the total to 26,919 participants from 32 countries. …


High speed train prototypes from two teams of Canadian students are among the final entrants in Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop Challenge.

At the heart of the Waterloop high-speed train design is a set of air castors that provide a cushion of air under the train that allows it to move without the ground friction of wheels and rails. While air castors are common commercially available parts, usually used to lift heavy objects like docked ships, their use at high speeds is new.

Team Waterloop, the student design team from the University of Waterloo behind this innovation, hopes it will be one step in changing the way we travel. Down from an original 1,200 teams that submitted designs to the SpaceX Hyperloop…

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