THUNDER BAY – Six medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) have received NOSM Dean’s Summer Medical Student Research Awards, valued at $6,000 each. This is the sixth year that NOSM has awarded Summer Medical Student Awards to qualifying M.D. students. NOSM Dean, Dr. Roger Strasser expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity these awards provide the School’s medical students. “Our future physicians are gaining valuable experiences in the field of research, often with exposure to investigations that are directly relevant to health issues impacting people in Northern Ontario. I extend warm congratulations to the student award recipients, and wish them success with their research.”
Student Research Projects: The following research projects, carried out across Northern Ontario, provide medical students with the opportunity to conduct hands-on research on a broad range of biological and social research topics while working with an established NOSM researcher.
- Award recipient Sean Bryan’s project, entitled, Clinical significance of cathepsin L in diabetes, will be supervised by Dr. Neelam Khaper.
- Supervised by Dr. T.C. Tai, award recipient Matthew Piche’s project is entitled, Protective Effects of Polyphenolic Compounds on Cardiac Myocyte Viability Under Oxidative Stress Conditions.
- The research project, Using Simulation Modelling to Evaluate Strategies for Reducing the Length of Stay of CTAS 3 Patients in the Emergency Department, will be studied by award recipient David Savage under the guidance of Dr. Bruce Weaver.
- Award recipient Leah Scott, supervised by Drs. Geoffrey Hudson and Marion Maar, will work on a project entitled, A historic chart review of chronic illness on Manitoulin 1930-1950.
- Supervised by Dr. T.C. Tai, award recipient William Yates’ project is entitled, Regulation of Adrenaline Biosynthesis by Reactive Oxygen Species.
- Award recipient Pouya Sadeghi Aval, supervised by Dr. Marina Ulanova, will work on the project, Clinical characteristics and epidemiology of invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease in Northern Ontario in the post-Hib vaccine era.
Dr. Greg Ross, NOSM’s Associate Dean of Research, is also enthusiastic about the opportunities provided by the Dean’s Summer Medical Student Research Awards. “The Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s vision is Innovative Education and Research for a Healthier North. The Dean’s Summer Medical Student Research Awards enable our medical students to expand on their education by gaining important research experience.”
A Glimpse into a Summer Medical Student Research Project
One of the 2011 recipients of the Dean’s Summer Medical Student Research Awards is first-year NOSM medical student Pouya Sadeghi Aval. He will work on the project, Clinical characteristics and epidemiology of invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease in Northern Ontario in the post-Hib vaccine era, under the supervision of Dr. Marina Ulanova, an immunologist with NOSM’s Medical Sciences Division.
This project is a part of a large research program, which has been run during the last five years by Dr. Ulanova, in collaboration with NOSM’s Clinical Sciences faculty Drs. William McCready, Len Kelly, Saleem Malik, Malcolm Brigden, Dimitrios Vergidis, and Birubi Biman. Recent collaborative studies at NOSM found an increased incidence of invasive disease caused by Gram-negative bacterial pathogen Haemophilus influenzae Type A in Northern Ontario in 2002 to 2008. This disease is extremely uncommon and its high rate in the region was unexpected. Remarkably, among the patients with severe infections caused by this pathogen, there was a large prevalence of First Nations, as well as individuals with severe underlying conditions causing secondary immunodeficiency.
In collaboration with Drs. Garry Ferroni of NOSM, Raymond Tsang of National Microbiology Laboratory, and Frances Jamieson of Ontario Public Health Laboratories, Dr. Ulanova has recently addressed a question whether patients’ specific immune responses and characteristics of the pathogen could potentially explain the high susceptibility to the disease among Northern Ontario residents, and this research is in progress.
During this summer, Sadeghi Aval will be analyzing health records of all patients admitted to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre with infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae Type A during the last two years. Sadeghi Aval’s summer research project will help to understand what risk factors may predispose to this disease, and hence, what can be done to prevent the infection.
This research is a part of the national Canadian surveillance of invasive H. influenzae disease and will be an important contribution to this national program.
The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is committed to the education of high quality physicians and health professionals, and to international recognition as a leader in distributed, learning-centred, community-engaged education and research.