RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS Researchers


University of Alberta

 

VIC ADAMOWICZ

 

Dr. Adamowicz is a Professor of Natural Resource and Environmental Economics at the University of Alberta. His research interests include quantifying the natural environment in economic analysis, forest economics and consumer choice and behaviour. Dr. Adamowicz is a participant in the Land Reclamation International Graduate School, as well as the Research Director for the Alberta Land Institute. He formerly held the position of Associate Dean (Research) from 2007 to 2009 and was a Tier I Canada Research Chair from 2001 to 2008. In 2007 he was elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and became a Fellow of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society in 2011.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Socioeconomic implications of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies: chronic wasting disease

 

 

JUDD AIKEN

 

Dr. Aiken is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta and an Intramural Faculty Member at the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases. His primary research interests are the role the environment plays in the spread of prion diseases, antemortem diagnosis of prion diseases and the molecular basis of aging processes. Dr. Aiken previously spent 20 years studying prion disease at the University of Wisconsin at Madison as a professor in the Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences before being recruited to the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases at the University of Alberta. Elected to the Board of Directors of the American Aging Association in 1996, he served until 2004 and was elected President of the organization in 1997. In 2005, Dr. Aiken was awarded the prestigious Ellison Senior Scholar Award, a private foundation supporting biomedical research of aging and age-related diseases.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Soil as a reservoir of CWD infectivity
  • Antemortem biomarkers of prion disease
  • Environmental chronic wasting disease infectivity
  • Environmental chronic wasting disease infectivity (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

TED ALLISON

 

Dr. Allison is an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta in the Department of Biological Sciences as well an Intramural Faculty Member at the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases. At the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases, Dr. Allison is developing zebrafish as model of neurodegenerative diseases, such as BSE, CWD and Alzheimer’s disease. He is a member of the Team to Prevent Blindness, the Centre for Neuroscience and the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Investigating prion protein function in the zebrafish genetic model
  • Protein folding diseases in zebrafish (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)
  • High impact - novel intercellular mechanisms for Alzheimer and prion diseases to interact: disease spreading as a unique therapeutic target (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)
  • Zebrafish models of Alzheimer disease (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)

 

 

BURIM AMETAJ

 

Dr. Ametaj joined the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta in 2004. With a research interest in nutritional immunology, he is studying the etiology and pathogenesis of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies among other topics. Dr. Ametaj received his PhD at Iowa State University in 1999 and did postdoctoral trainings at Purdue University and Cornell University. He belongs to multiple scientific societies including the American Dairy Science Association, the Canadian and American Animal Science Association and the Alberta Veterinary Research Institute.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Evaluating the role of lipopolysaccharides on the etiology and pathogenesis of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies

 

 

MIKE BELOSEVIC

 

Dr. Belosevic is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Alberta and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada with a primary research focus in comparative molecular immunology. One of Canada’s leading parasitologists and comparative immunologists, his research goals include the detection and inactivation of chemical contaminants, pathogens and prions in environmental samples. Dr. Belosevic has published 200 full journal papers and has won awards from the Canadian Society of Zoology, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the University of Alberta and the ASTech Award, which is one of Alberta’s highest science honours.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Prion inactivation and the environment

 

 

DAVID BRESSLER

 

Dr. Bressler received his PhD in Microbiology and Cell Biotechnology from the University of Alberta where he is now a Professor in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. Taking an innovative and multidisciplinary approach, his research focuses on converting biomass to renewable fuels. Dr. Bressler is also Executive Director of the Biorefining Conversions Network, an organization centred on the development of technologies of commercial value in the field of biomass conversion.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Development of value-added applications derived from rendering by-product streams, including specified risk materials (SRMs) (industry project collaboration with Sanimax and funding partnership with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development)
  • Development of natural fibre composites using rendered animal co-products derived from specified risk material (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

DAVID COLTMAN

 

Dr. Coltman is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta with an expertise in wildlife ecology, genetics and genomics. His research includes the ecology and evolution of mountain ungulates as well as the population structure of deer and host-genetic factors in the spread of chronic wasting disease. Dr. Coltman belongs to numerous scientific groups such as the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution and the European Society for Evolutionary Biology and also serves as a Senior Editor for the journal Molecular Ecology. 

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Proactive surveillance & management of chronic wasting disease in Alberta's wild cervid populations
  • Mapping of CWD genes in wild deer

 

 

DEBRA DAVIDSON

 

A Professor at the University of Alberta in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, Dr. Davidson’s research interests include natural resource politics and governance, social dimensions of global environmental change, environmental risk, state theory and rural sociology. Dr. Davidson is a participant in the Land Reclamation International Graduate School program and has authored two books: Challenging Legitimacy at the Precipice of Energy Calamity and Consuming Sustainability: Critical Social Analyses of Ecological Change. She has also served as Director of the Environmental Research and Studies Centre, a community service organization aimed at promoting environmental literacy.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Improving TSE mitigation through institutional analysis of response strategies: a comparative study of Alberta and Ontario, Canada

 

 

ELLEN GODDARD

 

Dr. Goddard was a National Australia Bank Professor of Agribusiness and Associate Dean at the University of Melbourne before becoming a Professor in the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta. Her areas of specialization include agricultural marketing, trade and policy, consumer demand for foods in Canada, and the impact of advertising and media on consumer demand. Dr. Goddard is Cooperative Chair in Agricultural Marketing and Business at the University of Alberta and is also Program Leader of a national policy research network for Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in Consumer and Market Demand for Food.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • TSEs and society: measuring the impact and investigating policy options
  • Development of an integrated risk management framework for chronic wasting disease (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)

 

 

LELUO GUAN

 

Dr. Guan is an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science. Her research interest is in bovine functional genomics focused on elucidation of molecular mechanisms of livestock production and health related traits using transcriptome profiling through RNA-sequencing. She was one of the major contributors to the cDNA project in the International Consortium to accomplish Bovine Genome Sequencing. Additionally, Dr. Guan is on the management team of Livestock Gentec, a centre focused genomics research and bringing the commercial benefits of genomics to the Canadian livestock industry.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Comparison of proteomic network changes in TSE pathology using cell-free in situ protein expression array generated from the full-length cDNA libraries

 

 

CHARLES HOLMES

 

Biography and photograph not available

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Molecular characterisation of a novel prion protein signal transduction pathway

 

 

MICHAEL JAMES

 

Dr. James is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta with a research interest in the orderly arrangement of atoms within enzymes and proteins. A leader in his field, Dr. James established the first Canadian laboratory devoted to protein crystallography in 1968 at the University of Alberta. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including election to fellowship in the Royal Society of London, the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Averst Award in Biochemistry. Dr. James is also a committed mentor, training over 20 PhD students and more than 30 postdoctoral fellows in his career.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Structural, pathobiological and biophysical characterization of cervid prion proteins: towards the development of anti-prion therapeutics for CWD (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Structure-guided design and biological validation of PrPC stabilization by small compounds using a novel multi-site targeting approach

 

 

JACK JHAMANDAS

 

Dr. Jhamandas is currently a Distinguished University Professor in the Division of Neurology at the University of Alberta. He is a practicing neurologist and neuroscientist whose research interests focus on misfolded proteins in Alzheimer's and prion diseases and aspects of brain control of cardiovascular function. In recognition of his scholastic endeavors, Dr. Jhamandas has received the Gold Medal in Medicine from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, has held a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Alzheimer's Research and has been elected as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the American Neurological Association. Dr. Jhamandas has served on the Board of Directors of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, N.W.T. & Nunavut, as a member of the Inaugural Advisory Board for the CIHR Institute of Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction and also as Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Neurophysiology of prion proteins in rat basal forebrain neurons
  • Glycolytic modulation of amyloid-astrocyte interactions: implications for Alzheimer disease pathogenesis (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)

 

 

SATYABRATA KAR

 

Dr. Kar is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta and an Intramural Faculty Member at the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases. Prior to moving to the University of Alberta in 2003 as a Tier II Canada Research Chair, he was an Assistant Professor of the Psychiatry Department at McGill University. Dr. Kar is a neurochemist with a vivid interest in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s aims to understand why selected groups of neurons are severely affected in Alzheimer’s disease pathology and how to protect them. He has received several awards including the prestigious Commonwealth scholarship from the UK government, Chercheur-Boursier awards from the Fonds de la Recherche en Sante du Quebec, Senior Scholar from AHFMR and the Young investigator award from the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Cathepsin D and neuronal vulnerability potential implications in Alzheimer's disease pathology (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)
  • Role of astrocytes in the generation and clearance of beta-amyloid peptides: potential implications in Alzheimer's disease pathology (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)

 

 

NAT KAV

 

Dr. Kav is currently Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta. His major research interests are in the area of agricultural biotechnology and recombinant antibody technology for diverse application including the study of prions. Current emphasis of his research program is in the identification and characterization of genes (and proteins) involved in mediating plant responses to stress and manipulating them for improvement of economically important crop species. Dr. Kav has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles, holds two United States patents and is an active reviewer for many journals and granting agencies (provincial and federal). Not only an excellent researcher but also an outstanding teacher, Dr. Kav has won the Faculty Teacher of the Year Award from the University of Alberta multiple times.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Recombinant prion-specific antibodies for passive immunization

 

 

ANDRIY KOVALENKO

 

Dr. Kovalenko is a Senior Research Officer at the National Institute for Nanotechnology and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta. Prior to this position he was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Institute for Molecular Science, Okazaki National Research Institutes in Japan, where he later became a Fellow of the Japanese governmental program “Research for the Future” and was appointed a tenured researcher. In 2003, Dr. Kovalenko moved to Edmonton and built the Theory and Modeling Group at the National Institute for Nanotechnology, National Research Council of Canada, among the four Principal Investigators that established the research activities of the Institute. His research focuses on the development and application of theoretical methods capable of predicting the behaviour of nanosystems. Throughout his career Dr. Kovalenko has published 134 papers in peer-reviewed international journals, 29 refereed proceedings, six patents, five book chapters and delivered 45 invited talks.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Immunological lead towards characterization of toxic oligomers for therapeutic targeting in neurodegenerative diseases
  • Targeting prion-like propagated misfolding of SOD1 for ALS Immunotherapy
  • Predictive description of misfolding and aggregation of proteins implicated in neurodegeneration (funding partnership with the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging)
  • Pathological aggregation of Abeta peptides in intra- and extracellular environments: Pathways and implications for therapeutics of Alzheimer's disease (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)

 

 

DEBBIE McKENZIE

 

Dr. McKenzie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta and an Intramural Faculty Member at the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases with a research interest in prion disease and the biology of aging. In particular, her research focuses on genetic susceptibility of cervids to chronic wasting disease (CWD), isolation and characterization of CWD strains, CWD host range, cellular mechanisms involved in establishing productive prion infections and the development of biomarkers/therapeutics for prion diseases. Prior to joining the University of Alberta in 2009, Dr. McKenzie was a senior research scientist at the University of Wisconsin and was also a member of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Interagency Science Team for five years.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Fate of prion infected cells
  • Chronic wasting disease strains (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)
  • Susceptibility of cattle to CWD prion isolates (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Determining the diversity of CWD agents
  • Cell tropism of prion strains

 

 

EVELYN MERRILL

 

Dr. Merrill is a University of Alberta Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences with a research focus on large mammals, looking at foraging and nutritional ecology of ungulates, plant-herbivore interactions and the impact of landscape modifications on wildlife populations. She is a principal investigator in the Border Deer Study, a project aimed at linking scientific knowledge with wildlife management, especially in regards to chronic wasting disease. In addition to being Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Wildlife Management, Dr. Merrill has received several awards including the William Rowan Distinguished Service from the Alberta Chapter of the Wildlife Society and a Recognition Award from the Alberta Trappers’ Association.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Decision support models for managing CWD in wild deer populations in Alberta
  • Experimental harvests for CWD control in wild cervids (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

STEPHEN MOORE

 

Dr. Moore has been the Director of the Centre For Animal Science at Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation in Australia since 2011. With over 20 years of experience in bovine genomics, Dr. Moore was previously the Chair of Bovine Genomics at the University of Alberta and is the former CEO of Livestock Gentec. He also led the Alberta Prion Research Institute from 2006-2008 as the institute’s first Scientific Director. Dr. Moore’s research focuses on beef cattle, in particular the association of genome structure to animal performance, with the purpose of reducing production costs and improving animal health, welfare and food safety.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • A comparative approach examining host response to TSE infection by serial analysis of gene expression (microSAGE) in cervids and ovids (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)
  • A comprehensive, comparative approach to genetics & pathobiology of prion disease

 

 

NORMAN NEUMANN

 

Dr. Neumann is a Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta with a research focus on detecting, tracking and assessing human health risks linked to biological hazards in the environment such as viruses, bacteria and prions. Dr. Neumann is cross-appointed with the Provincial Laboratory for Public Health, and the outcomes of his research are incorporated into provincial public health laboratory service programs and policy development.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Characterizing patterns of contagion and transmission of chronic wasting disease in cervids (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)
  • Defining the fate of BSE and CWD in specified risk materials treated by composting, biodigestion, thermal hydrolysis and/or advanced oxidation (funding partnership with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development)

 

 

BRENDA PARLEE

 

Dr. Parlee is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies and Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology (Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences) at the University of Alberta and a Tier II Canada Research Chair. Her main research interest is in social, economic and cultural responses to ecological change. Working across the social, natural and health sciences, Dr. Parlee is ultimately interested in research questions, processes and outcomes that matter to community well-being. She has collaborated with communities, Aboriginal organizations and governments in northern Alberta, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Nunavut for over 15 years on many kinds of interdisciplinary projects, the majority of which emphasize community-based research methods and Traditional Knowledge.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Tracking changes in wildlife health - traditional knowledge and Aboriginal peoples

 

 

LUIS SCHANG

 

Dr. Schang is a Biochemistry Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta with a research focus on the role of cellular proteins and lipids in infections and the replication and pathogenesis of viruses and prions. Dr. Schang initially studied veterinary medicine at the National University of Buenos Aires and then completed a PhD at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying herpes viruses. He is an Editor in the Journal of Virology, PLOS ONE and other journals and is on the Publications Committee of the International Society for Antiviral Research. Dr. Schang was the co-chair for the International Herpesvirus Workshop in 2012. Additionally, he is a founding member of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, an organization that invests in virology research and a founder and the Director of ProPhysis, a start-up biotechnology company in the field of infectious diseases.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Protein kinases in the pathobiology of prion diseases
  • Protein kinases as potential therapeutic targets in prion diseases (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)

 

 

VALERIE SIM

 

Dr. Sim is an AHFMR Clinical Investigator, an Assistant Professor in the Division of Neurology at the University of Alberta and an Intramural Faculty Member at the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases. Her research interests include the pathogenesis of prion disease, the role of infectious oligomers in prion diseases and how the abnormal structure of prion protein is linked to the infectious properties of prions. Not only a passionate researcher, but also a dedicated clinical neurologist, Dr. Sim spends 25 per cent of her time on clinical neurology and the remainder on the basic science of prion diseases.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Oligomeric PrPres and amyloidogenic PrP fragments: their molecular structure, toxicity, and role in prion disease pathogenesis (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)
  • Prion disease therapies trial (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

MARIA STEPANOVA

 

Dr. Stepanova is a Visiting Worker at the National Institute for Nanotechnology and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Alberta. Dr. Stepanova’s research includes theoretical understanding and prediction of the mechanisms that cause spontaneous formation of complex structures at micro and nanoscales.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Discovering design rules for stabilized prion protein mutants
  • Discovering molecular origins of protein misfolding diseases

 

 

BRIAN SYKES

 

A biochemist in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Sykes has been a Professor at the University of Alberta since 1975. He is particularly interested in the structure, dynamics and function of proteins. Dr. Sykes was key in the creation of The National High Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre at the University of Alberta, and now serves as director of this world class nuclear magnetic resonance facility. In addition to receiving the Ayerst Award from the Canadian Biochemical Society, the Steacie Prize from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Gerhard Herzberg Award from the Spectroscopy Society of Canada, Dr. Sykes was elected to The Royal Society (London) in 2000.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • NMR studies of folding and misfolding of fibril-forming proteins in the liquid and solid states

 

 

FREDERICK WEST

 

Dr. West is a Professor and Associate Chair (Research) of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta. His primary research interests centre on chemical synthesis, including developing techniques to prepare complex natural product targets, creating new chemical transformations and the design and synthesis of unnatural molecules to have certain physical or biological properties. Throughout his career he has received major recognitions for both teaching and research. Recent examples at the University of Alberta include the Alfred Bader Award of the Canadian Society of Chemistry (2011), the Killam Annual Professor (2011-12), the Faculty of Science Award for Excellent Teaching (2010) and the Department of Chemistry Teacher of the Year (2013).

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Small molecule libraries designed for multivalent binding to PrPSc

 

 

DAVID WESTAWAY

 

Dr. Westaway studied prion protein, other related proteins and Alzheimer’s disease at the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Disease in Toronto before moving in 2006 to become Director of the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases at the University of Alberta. A molecular biologist, Dr. Westaway uses genetically-engineered mice to understand key aspects of the disease process in neurodegenerative diseases. His current research focuses on cell quality control systems, the origins of sporadic prion disease and molecular overlaps between prion and Alzheimer’s disease. In 2010, Dr. Westaway received the Don Rix Memorial Prion Mentorship Award from the Alberta Prion Research Institute and PrioNet Canada in recognition of his contributions as a prion scientist and mentor. Dr. Westaway’s awards include the Premier’s Research Excellence Award, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Investigator Award and the Zenith Scholar award from the Alzheimer’s Association (USA) . He is currently appointed as a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Prion Diseases.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Mouse modeling of prion disease: new approaches to prion transgenic mice
  • Extending the spectrum of prionopathies to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and autism
  • A parallel platform resource for measuring prion infectivity (funding partnership with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development)
  • Biological destruction of prion proteins (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

HOLGER WILLE

 

An Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta, Dr. Wille’s research is centred on the structure of amyloids and other disease-related, misfolded proteins. Dr. Wille received his PhD from the University of Hamburg in Germany and conducted his dissertation research at the Max-Planck Unit for Structural Molecular Biology where he developed a lifelong interest in the connection between protein misfolding and neurodegenerative diseases. Prior to coming to the University of Alberta in 2012 to join the Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases, Dr. Wille was a faculty member in the Department of Neurology at UCSF.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Analyzing the structure of CWD prions by cryo electron microscopy (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • A hybrid approach towards the structure of BSE prions
  • Myotube cultures as a prion source for structural investigations
  • Human prions – distinguishing sporadic from familial forms via structure and function

 

 

DAVID WISHART

 

Dr. Wishart is a Professor in the Department of Biological Science and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Alberta and the Program Coordinator of the Metabolomic Sensors program at the National Institute for Nanotechnology. His broad research interests include structural biology, nanobiology, synthetic biology, prion biology, bioinformatics and metabolomics. Dr. Wishart has had over 250 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and also led the Human Metabolome Project, that catalogued all of the known metabolites in human tissues and biofluids.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • A novel approach to characterize prion aggregates and the prion propagation complex (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)
  • An integrated approach to characterize the structure, dynamics & kinetics of prions
  • An integrated approach to characterize the structure and dynamics of prions – phase II
  • Using metabolomics and proteomics to identify novel biomarkers for preclinical diagnosis and monitoring of prion diseases (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)
  • Detection of pre-clinical prion disease biomarkers by metabolomics (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Developing a vaccine for CWD using attenuated PrP oligomers (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Glycolipids in prion conversion and propagation: mechanisms and models
  • Developing a vaccine for chronic wasting disease using synthetic, stabilized PrP oligomers (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

MICHAEL WOODSIDE

 

Dr. Woodside is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta, the iCORE Chair in Biophysics and a Senior Research Officer at the National Institute for Nanotechnology. His research focuses on the microscopic mechanisms of structure formation in single biological macromolecules with applications to protein folding, misfolding and aggregation, as well as RNA folding and function.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Testing potential chemical chaperones for prions with single-molecule spectroscopies (industry project collaboration with ChemRoutes Corportation)
  • Probing mechanisms for conversion of individual PrP molecules
  • Mapping the misfolding pathways of SOD1 directly using single-molecule force spectroscopy

 

 

HOWARD YOUNG

 

A Professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta, Dr. Young’s research looks at the links between defects in calcium metabolism and heart disease. He is also using electron microscopy to investigate different structural forms of the prion protein. Dr. Young has published 44 papers on structural biology and biochemistry and has received numerous accolades including the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Senior Scholar, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, New Investigator and the Scientist Development Award from the American Heart Association.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Molecular basis for the species barrier in prion protein disease transmission
     

 

University of Calgary

 

JANICE BRAUN
 
An Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, Dr. Braun’s research focuses on the role of chaperones in normal neural function and in neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Braun is a member of the Canadian Association of Neuroscience, the Society of Neuroscience, the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences and the American Society of Cell Biology. She has published 45 peer-reviewed journal articles and has been recognized for her achievements receiving honours such as the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, the Senior Scholar Award and the Canadian Institute of Health Research New Investigator Career Award.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Chaperoning prions: elucidation of the cellular machinery for prion folding & misfolding
  • Unravelling the mechanisms of neuroprotection: the link between synaptic loss and lysosome function (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)
  • New approaches to understanding and preventing neurodegenerative diseases

 

 

MARKUS CZUB
 

Biography and photograph not available

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Identification of biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid and serum specific for neurological diseases in cattle
  • Prions and the peripheral nervous system: analysis of essential components for prion neuroinvasion

 

 

STEFANIE CZUB

 

A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Czub holds many impressive positions including managing the prion, pathology, virology and wildlife disease units at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Lethbridge. She is head of the Canadian BSE reference laboratory and one of the four international technical experts for BSE as designated by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), a member of the national TSE Expert Advisory Group and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary’ s veterinary school. Previously Dr. Czub was a senior researcher at the Pathology Institute of the Julius-Maximilians University in Würzburg, Germany. Dr. Czub’s work in regards to TSEs has been groundbreaking. In 2013 she was awarded with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the ASTech Award for “outstanding Leadership in Alberta Science”.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Identification of molecular biomarkers in bovine urine
  • Comprehensive risk assessment of potential CWD-transmission to humans using non-human primates as an animal model
  • Inventory expansion and appraisal of non PrP biomarkers of TSE diseases
  • Risk assessment of atypical BSE in cattle experimentally infected with Canadian C-, H-, and L- type field isolates (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Finalizing a risk assessment of chronic wasting disease transmission to humans using non-human primates (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Discrimination of classical and atypical BSE by a distinct PrPSc profile (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Oral challenge of classical and atypical BSE to determine transmissibility, age-related susceptibility and agent distribution (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

CARMEN FUENTEALBA

 

Biography and photograph not available

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • In land and life: multi-scale implications of chronic wasting disease for Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)

 

 

SABINE GILCH

 

Before joining the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary in 2013 as Assistant Professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair, Dr. Gilch undertook postdoctoral studies on the molecular and cellular biology of prion infection at the Technical University of Munich and the University of Wyoming. Dr. Gilch’s studies primarily involve using cell cultures and animal models to study the molecular and cellular biology of prion infection in order to identify new targets for treatment of prion diseases. In particular she looks at how prion infection interferes with neuronal metabolism and how this might lead to neurodegeneration and she also studies the molecular basis of the distribution and shedding of CWD prions with the goal of improving CWD diagnosis in fecal samples.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Prion-host cell interaction: importance of prion interference with host cell cholesterol metabolism for persistent prion propagation
  • Peptide aptamers as therapeutic and analytic tools in prion research
  • Defining a relationship between biochemical properties of chronic wasting disease prions and prion shedding (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Targeting Ab oligomer-PrPC interaction using peptide aptamers: a novel approaches for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)

 

 

FRANK JIRIK

 

Dr. Jirik has been a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary since 2000. He has many years of experience with the generation and use of transgenics as a means to study gene function in the live animal and as models of human disease. He is also the Director of the Transgenic Core Facility at the University of Calgary. Passionate about multidisciplinary biomedical research, over the years Dr. Jirik has worked in a wide variety of research areas. Recently, with the support of the Alberta Prion Research Institute and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada and University of Calgary collaborators, his laboratory is carrying out studies into the function of the prion gene and protein, as well as ways to minimize brain damage resulting from protein misfolding.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Role of prion Cu-binding in the neurological disease caused by expansion of the octapeptide repeat region

 

 

CHRISTOPH MUELLING

 

Biography and photograph not available

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • PrPC expression in deer antler velvet, trigeminal nerve, and brainstem nuclei and ganglia lead

 

 

HERMANN SCHÄTZL

 

Dr. Schätzl is a Professor with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. Trained by S.B. Prusiner at UCSF, Dr. Schätzl was Professor of Clinical Virology at the Technical University of Munich and Wyoming Endowed Excellence Chair before coming to Calgary. His overall objective is to study the cellular and molecular biology of prion infections and to use gained understanding for delineating novel targets for intervention. He is both a dedicated researcher and educator, and has trained over 50 students and 25 researchers as well as published 99 research articles and 12 book chapters.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Modulation of protein quality control pathways as a novel intervention strategy in prion diseases
  • Limiting zoonotic potential and spread of chronic wasting disease by wild-life vaccination
  • Between propagation and clearance: the dual role of autophagy in prion infection
  • A new anti-prion strategy: modulation of Prnp transcriptional activity (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

CHRISTOPH SENSEN

 

Biography and photograph not available

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Preliminary characterization of chronic wasting disease in elk

 

 

JOSEPHINE SMART

 

A Professor of Anthropology at the University of Calgary, Dr. Smart’s areas of specialization include economic anthropology, food and emergent infectious diseases, BSE and the socioeconomic impact in Canada, the socioeconomic development in China after 1978 and Chinese international migration. She was the recipient of the Distinguished Research Award (University of Calgary) in 2006 and the Distinguished Teacher Award (University of Calgary) in 2000.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • TSEs & social-economic impact in Alberta

 

 

PETER STYS

 

Dr. Stys completed his medical studies at the University of Ottawa, where he later returned as a Professor of Neurology and a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Health Research Institute before being recruited to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary in 2007. His research focuses on how nerve fibres and their insulating sheaths (found in the brain and spinal cord) are damaged by strokes, trauma and multiple sclerosis. Dr. Stys has published over 100 peer reviewed articles, 17 book chapters and two books and been recognized for his outstanding work with the Dr. Frank LeBlanc Chair in Spinal Cord Research, the Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Axo-glial biology and the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Research Scientist Award. In 2013, he was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the highest honour for Canadian scholars, artists and scientists.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Role of NMDA receptors in AD pathology - a complex interaction with tau and cellular prion protein

 

 

ROGER THOMPSON

 

Dr. Thompson is an Assistant Professor of Cell Biology & Anatomy and Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Calgary and a member at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. His primary research interest is in the mechanisms of neuronal death during stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases, looking specifically at an ion channel called Pannexin-1 and how it gets activated during stroke. Dr. Thompson is a Review Panel Member for the Canadian Institutes for Health Research Neurosciences B (cellular and molecular neuroscience), Deputy Chair (Scientific Officer) of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada Scientific Review Committee III and belongs to numerous other committees including the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, Nunavut, Northwest Territories Medical Advisory Board, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute Selection Committee (Synaptic Physiologist Position) and the University of Calgary, Department of Neuroscience Graduate Education and Undergraduate Education committees.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • A novel model for sporadic Alzheimer's disease induced by stroke (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)

 

 

WILFREDA THURSTON

 

Biography and photograph not available

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • A cohort study of the impact of prion disease on farm family community health (funding partnership with PrioNet Canada)

 

 

SHIGEKI TSUTSUI

 

Holding a DVM and a PhD in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Tokyo, Dr. Tsutsui is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience. His topics of interest include neurodegeneration, demyelination, protein misfolding diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, advanced microscopy, leukocyte biology and medical imaging physics.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Detection of Alzheimer's disease from blood using fluorescence spectroscopy (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)
  • Detection of early Alzheimer’s disease from blood using novel microspectroscopy (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)

 

 

GERALD ZAMPONI

 

Dr. Zamponi is Professor and Senior Associate Dean (Research) in the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology at the University of Calgary with a research interest in the mechanisms that control the electrical activities of the brain and heart, particularly how they operate in disorders such as epilepsy, pain and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including Induction into the Royal Society of Canada, an Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the ASTech Award.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Functional interactions between prion proteins and NMDA receptors - a role in prion pathophysiology?

 

 

University of Lethbridge

MAJID MOHAJERANI

 

Dr. Mohajerani is an Assistant Professor at the University of Lethbridge, Department of Neuroscience and a member of the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience. Prior to moving to the University of Lethbridge in 2013 as a Campus Alberta for Innovation Program Chair in Brain Health and Dementia, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia. His primary research interest is on the mechanisms of brain plasticity and reorganization after stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases. He has received several awards including the Heart and Stroke Foundation of CANADA Henry J.M. Barnett  Award, CAIP chair award and Young New Investigator from Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

 

  • A rodent model of the sporadic version of Alzheimer’s disease: Interactions between ministrokes, beta-amyloid and acetylcholine (funding partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories)

 

University of Saskatchewan

 

SCOTT NAPPER

 

Dr. Napper is a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Saskatchewan in addition to his position as Senior Scientist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Center (VIDO-  Intervac). His research focuses on infection and immunity in regards to proteins, including vaccine development for Johne’s disease and prion diseases. Known not only as an excellent researcher but also as an outstanding teacher and mentor, Dr. Napper has received the University of Saskatchewan Teaching Excellence Award twice.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Testing of CWD disease-specific epitopes for immunogenicity and protection

 

 

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

 

TIM McALLISTER

 

Dr. McAllister is Principal Research Scientist in Ruminant Nutrition & Microbiology at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. His research focuses on microbiology, nutrition and beef production and on food and environmental safety issues related to livestock production, strategies for mitigation of Escherichia coli O157:H7, prion inactivation within the environment, and more recently, studies of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria in feedlots. Dr. McAllister has authored or co-authored over 450 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 50 reviews, as well as 700 abstracts and conference proceedings and over 100 final reports for collaborative research projects. Additionally, he is a member and past president of the Canadian Society of Animal Science, a member of the Alberta Veterinary Research Institute Council and is an Adjunct Professor at five Canadian universities, including one in Australia and one in China.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Investigation on the potential uptake of pathogenic prion protein by plants grown on prion-contaminated soil (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

 

STEFANIE CZUB

 

A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Czub holds many impressive positions including managing the prion, pathology, virology and wildlife disease units at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Lethbridge. She is head of the Canadian BSE reference laboratory and one of the four international technical experts for BSE as designated by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), a member of the national TSE Expert Advisory Group and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary’ s veterinary school. Previously Dr. Czub was a senior researcher at the Pathology Institute of the Julius-Maximilians University in Würzburg, Germany. Dr. Czub’s work in regards to TSEs has been groundbreaking. In 2013 she was awarded with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the ASTech Award for “outstanding Leadership in Alberta Science”.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • Identification of molecular biomarkers in bovine urine
  • Comprehensive risk assessment of potential CWD-transmission to humans using non-human primates as an animal model
  • Inventory expansion and appraisal of non PrP biomarkers of TSE diseases
  • Risk assessment of atypical BSE in cattle experimentally infected with Canadian C-, H-, and L- type field isolates (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Finalizing a risk assessment of chronic wasting disease transmission to humans using non-human primates (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Discrimination of classical and atypical BSE by a distinct PrPSc profile (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)
  • Oral challenge of classical and atypical BSE to determine transmissibility, age-related susceptibility and agent distribution (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)

 

 

Highmark Renewable Research Inc.

 

TIEJUN GAO

 

A Senior Research Scientist with Highmark Renewable Research, Dr. Gao’s research interests include anaerobic digestion, bioenergy, risk management of biological hazards in environment, biowaste treatment and integrated utilization, GHG emission, microbiology, molecular biology, infectious diseases, proteomics and ecology. He completed his MSc in Biochemistry/Medicine at Chongqing University, China and received his PhD in Medicine from Tampere University, Finland. In addition to authoring 47 peer-reviewed publications and six book chapters, Dr. Gao holds six patents.

 

Projects funded by the Alberta Prion Research Institute:

  • On-farm site-trial specified risk materials (SRM) treatment using a pilot mobile unit of the integrated biowaste utilization system (IBUS-p) (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development)
  • Exploring the nutrient value of specified risk materials from thermophilic anaerobic digestion (funding partnership with the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency)