Collaborating on Research

May 01, 2003, vol. 27, no. 1



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SFU's interdisciplinary nature sees faculty from many different departments collaborating on medical and health-related research. Here is a small sample of some of the many researchers at SFU working in this field.

Eric Accili
Jinko Graham
Christine MacKenzie
Christopher Beh
Nick Harden
Miriam Rosin
Fiona Brinkman
Charles Krieger
Jamie Scott

Eric Accili


Eric Accili is interested in the physiology of cardiac function. The assistant professor of kinesiology is especially interested in the genes and hormones (such as adrenalin) that are involved in regulating heart rate. Funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), his research may lead to better drugs and strategies for controlling rapid heart rates and other cardiac arrythmias.

Jinko Graham


An assistant professor in statistics and actuarial science, Jinko Graham is a statistical geneticist. She develops new statistical methods for assimilating genetic data in order to better understand diseases with a genetic component. Currently, Graham is analysing blocks of genetic material, called haplotypes, collected from children and young adults with type I diabetes. Her work will help to determine whether there is an assoc-iation between gen-etic markers and the risk of developing the disease.

Christine MacKenzie


Christine MacKenzie's research goal is to understand how the brain learns, organizes and controls coordinated, goal-directed human movements such as keyboarding, grasping, object manipulation and skilled use of tools.The kinesiology professor conducts research on human performance and human-computer interaction to design new hardware and software for interactive training and remote manipulation tasks, and to develop more dextrous robotic and prosthetic hands. As well, MacKenzie's research helps to optimize the design of surgical processes and surgical technologies for minimally invasive surgical techniques. This reduces systemic and human errors and improves patient safety.

Christopher Beh



New faculty member Christopher Beh is an assistant professor in the department of molecular biology and biochemistry. He uses molecular genetics and genomics to examine the regulation of cholesterol-like molecules in yeast in order to understand why cholesterol is so important to biological membranes and human health. This research is important to understanding many health problems, including heart disease and birth defects caused by defective cell division in utero. Beh's research is also helping to further investigations into the genetic causes of Niemann-Pick Type C disease, a fatal cholesterol-related neurodegenerative disease that afflicts children and adolescents.


Nick Harden


Nick Harden, assistant professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, holds a CIHR grant to study how genetically engineered Rho proteins in fruitflies impact cell development. “Rho proteins are frequently involved in misregulated cell development,” he says. “A thorough understanding of how they control normal cell development will yield insight on how cells become tumorous, defective or metastasize.” In turn, he hopes this information will help to advance the development of better treatments than radiation or chemotherapy for targeting and killing cancerous cells.

Miriam Rosin


Miriam Rosin, professor of kinesiology, specializes in cancer prevention research. Much of her work involves identifying novel genetic alterations that occur in tissue years before development of cancer. These alterations will be used as markers to predict the risk of cancer development to improve a clinician's ability to target treatment to high-risk lesions. Rosin's research is supported by a grant from Genome Canada and more recently by an award from the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. that will be used to follow patients at elevated risk for oral cancer for up to a decade, to identify and verify specific alterations as high-risk markers.

Fiona Brinkman


Fiona Brinkman, assistant professor, science/molecular biology and biochemistry, holds a Michael Smith foundation for health research career award. Named as one of the world's top 100 young innovators last year by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brinkman's research focuses on discovering how harmless microbes evolve into disease-causing agents. Her laboratory also develops new computer tools that aid research and development of new antibiotic therapies and vaccines.

Charles Krieger


Neuro-physiologist Charles Krieger, an associate professor of kinesiology, studies nerve function and dysfunction. He is currently studying ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. “We're looking at what might be killing the motor neurons inside cells in mice and looking for ways to modify how these cells die,” says Krieger. “Ultimately, there may be something we could give to ALS patients to prevent the death of the neurons affected in this disease.” Krieger is also studying peripheral nerve damage in diabetics.

Jamie Scott


Jamie Scott researches the human immune response in her quest to develop an effective new vaccine against HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS. A professor in the department of molecular biology and biochemistry, Scott has spent the past 15 years studying peptides, which are small protein molecules that bind tightly to antibodies, the body's germ warfare corps. Now, she has developed vaccine-lead peptides that can bind to the few antibodies known to neutralize the infectivity of HIV-1. Her goal is to use these peptides in a novel immunization scheme in which the peptides would target the HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies and trigger a targeted immune system response against the HIV-1 virus. Currently she is testing her vaccine leads in collaboration with Burnaby-based company Abgenix. Recently, Scott expanded her research scope to more fully under-stand the evolution of the antibody re-sponse in HIV-1-infected people.

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