So when he found himself examining protein mutations that cause cardiac arrhythmias in a laboratory at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, he knew he’d come a long way from where he once was.
By 2020, it is estimated that diabetes will cost the Canadian healthcare system $16.9 billion a year. In response, Calgary-based Orpyx Medical Technologies is developing a product that is garnering the attention of the diabetes technology community. The SurroSense Rx is a pressure sensitive insole that relays plantar pressure information to a wristwatch, notifying the user when damage is being done to their feet so that behavior can be modified to avoid complications.
Aarya— a third-year biotechnology student— was hoping to be able to hone her laboratory skills and knowledge of life sciences research before completing the final year of her degree. Though she had applied to a highly competitive life sciences research term in New York and was accepted to the prestigious Indian Academy of Sciences research program, Aarya chose to accept an internship with the Mitacs Globalink program because of the chance to take part in cancer research at the University of British Columbia under Dr. Christian Naus in the Department of Cell and Physiological Sciences.
The research that he will undertake with Dr. Bernardo Trigatti could be vital to developing treatments for atherosclerosis, a condition that causes cardiovascular disease. This condition causes fat to accumulate in the bloodstream, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as contributing to development of cardiovascular illnesses. With diagnosis of heart disease on the rise in North America and around the world, such research could have profound effects on preventing its progression among at-risk patients.
After completing his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Tehran, then working at a car manufacturing company, the loss of a close family member to cancer changed his goals for the future. He set his sights on biotechnology at the University of British Columbia. Ahmadi initially thought this meant a career destined for academia, but since attending eight Mitacs Step workshops he says “My eyes were opened to the opportunities outside of academia and I started to think about my career differently.”
“While I was working on my PhD, that’s what I was focused on. I needed time to foster industry relationships after my PhD, but I was still in an academic mindset. The Elevate program gave me the technical and practical skills to move to the next level.”
And he’s doing just that in the second year of his Mitacs Elevate postdoctoral fellowship. Gurjit is working with partner company Unitron Hearing, in collaboration with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the University of Toronto to make hearing care accessible through the internet.
Over the course of his Accelerate internship Zaifman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Chemistry department of the University of British Columbia, partnered with AlCana, a Vancouver biotechnology company developing lipid nanoparticles, which show great potential as a new means for the targeted delivery of therapeutics.
One of the most talked-about biomedical breakthroughs of 2010, this new development offers hope to sufferers of blood and immunological diseases, such as leukemias, who are often unable to find a suitable donor.
“Ideally, under further development, we hope to be able to grow mature blood cells for patients from their own skin, lessening the likelihood of rejection,” Eva said.