The UHN Office of Research Trainees (ORT) is proud to announce the release of the latest issue of The ORT Times!
The ORT Times is UHN's monthly trainee-focused newsletter. It highlights news and editorials about trainee life, articles to help developing researchers get the most out of their training experience at UHN, tips on career development, and research training opportunities within and outside of UHN.
• The Success of ‘Science in the 6ix’
• In vitro vs. In vivo: Is One Better?
• The importance of Work-Life Balance
• Being Productive Over the Holidays
Conference Reports: Read conference reports from Dr. Hok-Yan (Miffy) Cheng and Dr. Camille Fauchon
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To see past issues of The ORT Times, please visit ORT’s website.
Lupus is commonly known as ‘the disease with a thousand faces’, as it can lead to a wide variety of symptoms and clinical test results that differ from one person to another. Moreover, these features can change over time and often mimic those of other unrelated diseases.
Lupus symptoms can include—but are not limited to—fatigue, joint pain and stiffness, skin rashes, chest pain, fever and kidney failure.
Dr. Zahi Touma, a Krembil Clinician Investigator and a Clinician Scientist with the University of Toronto, recently led a large international study to better understand the relationship among the symptoms and clinical test results associated with lupus. Towards this end, Dr. Touma and his colleagues examined medical records of 389 people diagnosed with lupus from Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The researchers discovered that some features of lupus are more likely to occur together than alone. For example, it is more likely for a lupus patient to have mouth ulcers and skin rash, than to have either symptom alone. Features that tend to occur together often involved the skin, immune system or blood.
“This work was part of a much larger initiative—involving over 100 lupus experts from numerous countries and medical disciplines—that established new criteria to help researchers identify uniform groups of lupus patients for clinical research. These criteria, which were informed by our findings, will make it easier for researchers to reveal the mechanisms underlying lupus and its symptoms, as well as identify new treatments for this complex disease,” says Dr. Touma.
This work was supported by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).
Touma Z, Cervera R, Brinks R, Lorenzoni V, Tani C, Hoyer BF, Costenbader KH, Sebastian GD, Navarra SV, Bonfa E, Ramsey-Goldman R, Tedeschi SK, Dörner T, Johnson SR, Aringer M, Mosca M; ACR/EULAR group. Associations among classification criteria items within systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2019 Sep 27. doi: 10.1002/acr.24078.
Dr. Michael Fehlings, a Senior Scientist at the Krembil Research Institute, and his research team have discovered a network of nerve cells that plays a key role in controlling our ability to walk. The group’s findings, published in Nature Neuroscience, challenge conventional perceptions of how the brain instructs and regulates the body while walking.
Although walking may seem like an innate and straightforward action, it takes many complex processes and different regions of the brain to effect the movements involved. A full understanding of how we walk still eludes researchers.
The prevailing view has been that the motor cortex, a region of the brain that controls the planning and initiation of limb movements, directs the body to walk.
The study, led by Dr. Fehlings’ former trainees Drs. Spyridon Karadimas and Kajana Satkunendrarajah, revealed that a different region of the brain, the sensory cortex, can also generate commands that trigger walking. This is surprising because the sensory cortex’s main function is to process information on the internal and external environments of the body. For example, the sensation of warm sunlight on your skin is processed by the sensory cortex.
The researchers further found that the sensory cortex sends these commands directly to the spinal cord through a relay of nerve cells. This relay is distinct from and operates in parallel with the signalling route of the motor cortex.
“Our data support a potential mechanism through which the sensory cortex can directly and efficiently control walking in response to the sensory information that is continuously processing,” says Dr. Fehlings.
Future research will delve into the mechanisms that govern the generation of signals in the sensory cortex to deepen our understanding of how we walk.
This work was supported by the Krembil Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, AOSpine, the Halbert Chair, the DeZwirek Foundation, the Onassis Foundation and the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.
Karadimas SK, Satkunendrarajah K, Laliberte AM, Ringuette D, Weisspapir I, Li L, Gosgnach S, Fehlings MG. Sensory cortical control of movement. Nat. Neurosci. 2019 Nov 18. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0536-7.
Princess Margaret (PM) Cancer Centre Senior Scientist Dr. Benjamin Haibe-Kains is this year’s recipient of the Bernard and Francine Dorval Prize from the Canadian Cancer Society. The award recognizes early career investigators who have made significant advances in increasing our understanding of cancer and how to treat it.
Dr. Haibe-Kains has established himself as a pioneer in cancer bioinformatics and has modernized methods that are used for the analysis of massive pharmacogenomic data. His innovative work has led to the development of open-source approaches to curate, integrate and analyze high-dimensional cancer pharmacogenomic data, resulting in new predictive models for patient survival and therapy response.
At PM, Dr. Haibe-Kains serves as the Chair of the Computational Biology and Medicine Program and is the Scientific Lead of the Data Science Program. He has authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications that have garnered over 16,000 citations, and has delivered invited talks at nearly 100 conferences, workshops and academic institutions worldwide.
The award will provide $20,000 of funding towards Dr. Haibe-Kains’ research program.
Congratulations Dr. Haibe-Kains!
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