So, when Nutrien, the world’s largest producer of crop inputs, services, and solutions was seeking some out-of-the-box solutions for a safety technology at their Saskatchewan potash mines, they turned to Mitacs to access top research talent.
The resulting collaboration with the University of Regina has produced a new computer algorithm that more accurately identifies potential hazards in the roof of a mined-out cavern—giving workers advanced notice so that they can deploy safety protocols in a timely manner.
The province’s need to be prepared is even more urgent. An earthquake has a domino effect on infrastructure and services. It can knock out power, and damage railway tracks and bridges. It disrupts essential services that hospitals and emergency personnel need to do their jobs. Although on average 3,000 quakes occur in BC each year, the province has not had its readiness tested by a major event recently. But it could happen at any time.
Norman called up his friend Mark Nathan, a cardiologist.
“We put our heads together to develop the concept further,” said Dr. Nathan. “We were inspired by the idea of a cardiac stent, which is a sterile device used in heart surgery to allow arterial blood flow in patients with heart disease. Stents are different in all the important respects from what we had in mind, however; as with stents, we wanted to create sleeve-like scaffolds that can wrap around a stud, contain and release effective medication, dissolve predictably, and disappear.”
In collaboration with University of Waterloo-Mitacs researcher, Yael Zilberman-Simakov, LeNano's portable device tests blood for a specific biomarker, a type of protein, elevated by the onset of heart failure. “If a patient has a higher-than-usual concentration of the biomarker, they are at an increased risk of having heart failure,” says Yael. “Similar to how glucose levels should be monitored among diabetic patients, this type of protein needs to be checked every day.Compared to a lab test, personal test devices like LeNano's are faster, simpler, and more convenient.
Florian Mayer, a Mitacs Globalink intern who spent his summer at Ryerson University in Toronto, wants to figure out how cities and roads can be built to reduce traffic, while working to improve long-term health outcomes in the world’s busiest cities. Researching alongside Associate Professor Leila Farah, Florian examined how the urban environment affects public health and how planners can work with communities to improve it on a local level.
Working under the direction of University of Alberta Professor Stephanie Yanow and PhD student Catherine Mitran, Ina is looking at samples from pregnant women in several regions in South America who have been infected with a type of malaria parasite called Plasmodium vivax. She’s then exploring the cross-reaction of those samples to that of pregnant women who’ve been infected by a different malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, to see if the first species can create antibodies that contribute to protection against the second species.
Tao is helping develop a structural system that will mitigate hazards in industrial buildings — often containing heavy equipment — during an earthquake.
Tao’s first task involves looking at blueprints of industrial buildings, specifically ones that store overhead cranes, to better understand their design and seismic behaviour. This is a significant step because overhead cranes can change the way a building moves and reacts to an earthquake.