Equipment Grants 2013

2013 Capital Equipment Grants

Dr. Susan Howlett, Pharmacology, Medicine (Geriatric Medicine)
$32,814 for equipment and technical support to study frailty and heart health

Dr. Susan Howlett is internationally known for her discoveries about how heart cells function and how this function varies by gender and changes with age and increasing frailty. For example, heart cells get larger and less efficient at pumping as a person becomes more frail. She and her research team have developed a unique model of frailty in mice and will use this new equipment—which allows them to wirelessly measure heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, activity levels and other health indicators in fully conscious, unrestrained mice—to learn more about how frailty affects heart function and how heart function might be preserved. A number of other researchers will use the equipment—which has been co-funded by the Cardiovascular Research Group—to study cardiac regeneration and repair, lipid metabolism, Huntington’s disease and osteoporosis.

Dr. Gerry Johnston, Microbiology & Immunology
$38,354 for equipment to support genome analysis

As a cancer researcher and associate dean of research at Dalhousie Medical School, Dr. Gerry Johnston spearheaded the application for several key pieces of equipment to incorporate into the new Olwen Dorothy Farrell Enhanced Gene Analysis and Discovery (EGAD) facility. This essential equipment will enable cancer and infectious diseases researchers to take full advantage of the powerful potential of the EGAD facility to conduct high-throughput genome analysis experiments. These studies will shed light on the mechanisms of cancer development and on potential new ways to suppress and destroy cancer. They will also reveal how the dysentery-causing Shigellabacterium infects people. This work could reveal potential targets for vaccines against Shigella, which kills hundreds of thousands of people in the developing world each year.

Dr. Paul Murphy, Physiology & Biophysics
$8,625 for essential spectrophotometry equipment

Dr. Paul Murphy and several of his colleagues rely on spectrophotometry as a means of analyzing concentrations of DNA, RNA, and other important components in cell and tissue samples. This grant will enable Dr. Murphy to advance his studies of DNA errors that can lead to cancer. Known as epigenetic changes, these DNA errors can be reversed, making them important targets for potential new cancer treatments. Other researchers will use the equipment to learn how changes in neurotransmitter release patterns influence plasticity of the brain, and how molecules that drive cell death processes contribute to heart attacks and stroke, among other studies.

Dr. Jan Rainey, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
$29,817 for equipment to analyze the role of individual atoms in human physiology

Dr. Jan Rainey examines the workings of the human body and the mechanisms of disease at the finest possible level of detail—the level of the individual atom. He and his research team will use new fluorescence spectroscopy equipment purchased through a DMRF equipment grant to gain an atomic-level understanding of an important hormone called apelin, which will help with the design of new drugs and improved diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They’re also using bacteria to produce artificial spider silk proteins, which could be used for engineering tissues or coating biomedical devices. A number of other researchers will use the equipment to learn how molecules interact with each other to drive essential processes, or the development of disease, in the human body.

Dr. John Rohde, Microbiology & Immunology
$15,279 for imaging equipment to study bacterial infection

A talented young investigator, Dr. John Rohde is studying how the highly infectious Shigella flexneribacterium is able to overcome human immune defences to cause severe dysentery. Every year, Shigella infects and kills tens of thousands of people, mostly children, in the developing world. There is currently no vaccine against the bacterium, which also does not always respond to antibiotics. Dr. Rohde is unravelling the molecular mechanisms of Shigella infection, in order to identify potential targets for vaccines and treatments. This work requires a spectrophotometer system equipped with appropriate containment facilities to prevent the release of infectious agents. The new equipment will provide a safe and efficient facility for high-throughput analysis which will benefit the work not just of Dr. Rohde but of many other investigators in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology as well.

Dr. Kazue Semba, Medical Neuroscience
$23,440 for telemetry equipment to study the neurobiology of chronic sleep loss

Sleep researcher Dr. Kazue Semba and her collaborators in the departments of Medical Neuroscience and Psychiatry want to learn more about the impact of chronic sleep loss on the mind and body. New telemetry equipment from DMRF will complement existing equipment in Dr. Semba’s lab to create a facility for studying the physiological, autonomic, cognitive and cellular impacts of sleep loss in a rodent model of chronic sleep restriction. This research will shed light on how chronic sleep loss affects the release of stress hormones, the ability to stay focused on a task, and many other facets of mind-body function—important work given the prevalence of insomnia and poor-quality sleep in society today. Dr. Semba and her colleagues hope their work will reveal new ways to help people improve the quality and duration of their sleep.