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May 2011

Mitacs Elevate fellow plays role in important medical breakthrough

Mitacs Elevate fellow Eva Szabo was part of a team under the direction of Dr. Mick Bhatia of McMaster University’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute which transformed skin cells into mature blood cells in less than thirty days.

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.

In July 2010, Eva was awarded a research fellowship through the new Mitacs Elevate program, which provides funding for new PhDs in southern Ontario while taking part in a customized training program to further develop their professional skills including project management, communication and networking.

Through the funding from her Elevate fellowship, she will continue developing this new process and look at ways to make it more efficient. “We hope that over the next few years we can develop the process to provide a new transfusion product,” Eva explained. “This could be a new option for patients who have had their own blood cells damaged by invasive therapies, such as chemotherapies.”

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their support of the Elevate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Elevate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and Research Manitoba.

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