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UOHS 2018 Elevator Pitch Winners

$200 PRIZE

$150 PRIZE

Missing in Photo: Christine Saleeb

$100 PRIZE

Ryan Sandarage

UOHS 2018 - 1st Place Elevator Pitch Winner 


Stroke is a devastating condition that afflicts fifteen thousand Canadians every year. Current treatments are still ineffective in repairing brain damage caused by stroke. Our focus is to restore healthy brain cells and increase the quality of life in stroke survivors. We are developing a treatment that provides resources to stimulate the brain’s own stem cells, endogenous neural stem/progenitor cells (eNSPCs), and is a promising therapy to repair and restore brain function after stroke. Current treatments that deliver growth factors in animal models of strokes stimulate eNSPCs and increase survival rates. However, these treatments cannot be translated to humans because they require extremely invasive and life-threatening surgeries. Therefore, we have developed a growth factor-releasing biomaterial that is easy to implant as part of a routine surgical procedure performed in human stroke patients. Our biomaterial delivers growth factors that have been established in animal models to promote tissue repair and functional recovery after stroke. We demonstrate that our biomaterial is effective at delivering growth factors to promote the growth of eNSPCs and that the implanted biomaterial clinically applicable in rats after stroke.

Vanessa Cservid & Christine Saleeb 

UOHS 2018 - 2nd Place Elevator Pitch Winner 


Shared, non-critical pieces of equipment which touch the patient, such as blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, pulse oximeters and stethoscopes, are commonly overlooked for their role as potential reservoirs for Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs). This project aims to improve patient safety by increasing the cleanliness of non-critical pieces of equipment which touch the patient including blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, pulse oximeters and stethoscopes located in the Emergency Department of a community hospital in Southern Ontario. Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycles and focus groups were used to create an intervention including educational awareness during audits and staff huddles, educational materials (i.e., posters and videos) as well as accessibility of the cleaning materials (i.e., disinfectant wipes). To monitor and assess cleanliness of equipment, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) audits (N=732) were conducted and PDSA cycles were used to investigate and identify barriers and facilitators to the cleaning process. Factors included structural identifiers/location, volume of patients and workload as well as distinction of duties between nurses and environmental services. Evaluation of interventions will be assessed through ATP audit values focused on Relative Light Units under 10. This ongoing project will identify those interventions that effectively decrease the ATP audit values, while raising awareness regarding the cleanliness of patient care equipment, thereby decreasing the potential for HAI infections.

George Liu

UOHS 2018 - 3rd Place Elevator Pitch Winner 


Recent studies demonstrate that approximately 90% of HIV-associated CD4 cell death is caused by pyroptosis of uninfected cells rather than by apoptosis of infected cells. This pro-inflammatory cascade is demonstrated most strongly in lymphoid tissues, where concentrations of both HIV and CD4 cells are particularly high. Current treatment of HIV utilises chemical drugs to inhibit viral replication. However, with a high number of viruses produced per infected cell, coupled with the numerous mutations associated with HIV’s reverse transcriptase mechanism, HIV is incredibly adaptive against current medication. The proposed research aims to develop a “decoy CD4 cell”, whereby the membrane would still contain the characteristic proteins and receptors of CD4 cells, but it would lack the fundamental organelles required for HIV replication. Thus, HIV would continue to infect decoy cells, but would be rendered harmless upon infection. Throughout the body, decoy cells would work as sponges in situ to soak up large portions of HIV and allow for functional restoration of CD4 cell levels. To develop the decoy cell, mechanisms that allow erythrocytes to shed their nucleus and ribosomes would be investigated first. Then, through gene therapy, these mechanisms could be incorporated into CD4 cells. Efficacy in containing HIV would then be screened for in vitro, then analyzed in vivo by mouse model, and then finally, in clinical trials. If all is successful, this new biotechnology could provide promising implications for finding a functional cure for HIV, as well as other similar retroviruses.

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