A good night’s sleep
Sleep apnea is a life-threatening condition that interruptsbreathing during sleep. The University of Calgary’sDr. John Remmers was the first to demonstrate that thecondition is due to a narrowing of part of the throat. Hedeveloped a device to keep the airway open during sleep:the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. TheCPAP essentially eliminates sleep apnea and dramaticallyimproves sleep quality. See Extra Weight Can Lead to BeingExtra Tired on page 30.
Cardiac surgery pioneer
The bio of the late Dr. John Callaghan contains a seriesof firsts including: co-developer of the world’s firstcardiac pacemaker, Canada’s first open-heart surgery andCanada’s first successful complete repair of the blue babymalformation. The last two landmarks were performed by themulti-talented cardiac surgeon at the University of AlbertaHospital. The open-heart surgery required a heart-lung pumpthat Callaghan built himself. His operations saved many livesand his pioneering innovations continue to save lives aroundthe world.
Combating doctor shortages
with innovative physician training
Medical schools in Calgary and Edmonton are addressingthe province’s chronic shortage of rural physicians with along-term approach focused on education and training. Oneof their innovations is the Rural Integrated CommunityClerkship Program, which gives third-year medical studentsat both universities an immersion-type experience in ruralpractice. Students are placed in an Alberta rural communityfor about 36 weeks where they learn in an integrated fashionby following their patients from the clinic to consults,surgery, delivery and other specialities.
‘Smarter’ roads are safer roads
The AMA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports, on average,that Alberta has one traffic fatality every day, one collisionevery five minutes and a serious injury from a collisionevery 20 minutes. Researchers at the University of Calgary’sSchulich School of Engineering are using a state-of-the-artlaboratory to increase road safety and ease congestion. Theresearchers are paving the way for smarter roads in Albertawith ramp meters, variable speed limits and advancedwarning systems.
Website cuts through social assistance maze
It can be tough to navigate Alberta’s wide rangeof social benefits and services and figure out whether you oryour family are eligible. My Alberta Supports is a website withan easy-to-use needs identification and eligibility estimator.No personal identifying information is needed. Afteranswering a few multiple choice questions, you’re providedwith a list of programs and services that may be right for you.Links to online applications will be available later this year.Find the estimator at AlbertaSupports.ca.
Breakthrough in colon cancer screening
Every year, about 1,200 Albertans are diagnosed with coloncancer and about 600 die from it. These grim statistics droveEdmonton physicians Drs. Richard Fedorak and Haili Wangto search for better ways to screen for colon cancer. Theirteam focused on detecting non-cancerous growths in thecolon called polyps. If left to grow, polyps can turn cancerous.The new technology can detect the chemical “fingerprints” ofthese growths in urine. “We have an easy, non-invasive test,”says Fedorak. “All you need is a urine sample.” The sciencebehind this is a tongue-twister—metabolomics—and Albertascientists are world leaders in the field. Now, Alberta-basedMetabolomic Technologies Inc. is commercializing the test,with a clinical trial complete in Alberta and one underwayin China.
New test for rheumatoid arthritis
A new test for rheumatoid arthritis—the first in more thantwo decades—is now available from Quest Diagnostics, theworld’s leading provider of diagnostic services. The test isbased on 10 years of research by Drs. Walter Maksymowychand Aziz Ghahary at the University of Alberta. Theydiscovered a protein that floods into the joints of peoplewith rheumatoid arthritis and causes an explosion ofinflammatory activity that damages joint tissue. Testing forthe protein not only detects rheumatoid arthritis, but alsopredicts the severity of the disease. “We have many treatmentoptions for rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s important to startthem early, especially for the very destructive forms,” saysMaksymowych.