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July 2013

Research from the heart

“Participating in research that could potentially benefit the way different heart diseases are treated is something that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. It makes all the hard work I’ve put into my studies pay off and keeps me motivated to continue to further my knowledge so that one day I will contribute to research that will improve the lives of people all over the world, ” said Diego Parra.

Diego comes from Guadalajara, Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education where he is working towards his undergraduate degree in Biotechnology. It was his initial intrigue with DNA that drove him to this field of study, but now the possibility that his research will have real world impact has pushed him to pursue his masters.

A 12-week Mitacs Globalink internship brings Diego to the University of British Columbia, where under the guidance of Dr. Filip Van Petergem from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Diego is researching the components of the protein RyR to see how changes in its structure have been linked with a rare heart disease, among other genetic diseases.

The objective of Diego’s research is to gain insight on abnormal changes of function that can occur in the RyR protein. Then, he will help design medicines to recover the normal function where it could be used to treat different diseases linked to the protein.

When asked what his dream job would be, he answers selflessly, “It would be related to the different applications of genetics to benefit the well-being of humankind, either by doing research that could lead to new medicines, or treatments for a wide number of diseases that impact people daily. Thanks to Mitacs Globalink, I’m having the chance to experience this impactful research first hand.”

Mitacs would like to thank the following government and international partners, in addition to our full and associate university partners, for their support of Globalink in 2013: Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Le Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies, le Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior of Brazil, the China Scholarship Council, the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.