Breakthroughs in the Spotlight

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New podcast season provides an inside view of science at UHN in the era of COVID-19.
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Hear from UHN scientists Drs. Joan Wither (top-left), Brad Wouters (top-right), Gang Zheng (bottom-right), Beate Sander (bottom-left) and others on how UHN is advancing medical science in these weekly podcasts.

UHN is home to countless research programs that are helmed by world-leading scientists. The Behind the Breakthrough podcast, launched in 2019, offers a behind-the-scenes take on these scientists’ groundbreaking medical discoveries. 

Returning for its third season, the podcast features a new lineup of interviews between host Christian Cote and scientists from across UHN. In addition to discussing solutions to some of the most pressing health issues, the one-on-one conversations delve into these scientists’ personal journeys in life and research.  

The new season kicks off today, October 12, with a special episode with Dr. Brad Wouters, UHN Executive Vice President of Science and Research, on the pandemic and the cutting-edge COVID-19 studies led at UHN. 

Among the COVID-19 topics that Dr. Wouters and Christian discuss are a number of UHN-led clinical trials: one that identified the commonly available heparin blood thinner as an effective treatment for individuals with moderate COVID-19 symptoms; and another that revealed that COVID-19 vaccine boosters can significantly improve immune protection in transplant patients. They also discuss UHN’s vital work in guiding Ontario public health policy and the decades of basic science research that have enabled the rapid development of vaccines. 

“It was very exciting. I do remember that day very clearly,” says Dr. Wouters in recalling when the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Canada. “We’ve all been really stunned by how great these vaccines are, and how effective they are, and it is a triumph of science, and I think perhaps one of the greatest examples of the importance of investing in science.” 

Future episodes will involve discussions on a broad mix of research topics. Among the guests are:

  • Dr. Babak Taati, a KITE Scientist, who will explain how he is using computer vision for rehabilitation and health monitoring;
  • Dr. Joan Wither, a Senior Scientist at the Schroeder Arthritis Institute, who will talk about her search for biomarkers of autoimmune disease;
  • Dr. Jordan Feld, a Senior Scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, who will chat about his recent work on treating COVID-19 outpatients;
  • Dr. Beate Sander, a Scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, who will talk about the economics of infectious disease and guiding public health policy for COVID-19; and
  • Dr. Gang Zheng, a Senior Scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, who will discuss new cancer treatments based on nanotechnology. 

New episodes will be released every Tuesday until early December—remember to subscribe here: Behind the Breakthrough