Dentistry prof a global expert at studying spit

Dr. Colin Dawes is a proud member of the “Salivation Army.”

The professor emeritus, a faculty member of the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry since 1964, is the most-published salivary researcher in Canada. A recent honour for the British-born oral biologist was being asked to co-author an article for the Journal of Dental Research summarizing 100 years of important salivary discoveries – including his own.

In the 1970s, Dawes studied how the body clock affects saliva. He found that unstimulated saliva flow naturally peaks at about 5 p.m. each day. In the 1980s, he published a mathematical model of how saliva clears sugar from the mouth. In the 1990s, his lab tested chewing gum for the Wrigley Company.

One of Dawes’ most-cited discoveries, made in 1971, is that when saliva flow drops to 40 to 50 per cent of a person’s normal rate, the sensation of “dry mouth” is felt. He was the first scientist in the world to quantify this.

The octogenarian has retired from research, but still reviews manuscripts for journals. He’s grateful to generations of dental students who contributed their slobber to science.

“Saliva is not a popular topic,” he says with a chuckle.

Nursing research to benefit families, youth


Two faculty members from the College of Nursing have received more than $1.8 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for projects that will support the health of families and youth.

Kellie Thiessen [PhD/14], associate professor of nursing, director of the bachelor of midwifery program and researcher with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, was awarded $810,901 for a project with Elder Katherine Whitecloud of the Assembly of First Nations.

It will look at connecting Indigenous and Western health-care systems to improve maternal/child health care in remote Canadian communities. The project aims to identify maternity care models that are cost-efficient, culturally appropriate, and support mothers in staying near home to give birth.

Roberta Woodgate [BN/89, MN/93, PhD/01], professor of nursing, Canada Research Chair in child and family engagement in health research and healthcare, and CHRIM researcher, received grants for two projects. The first, with funding of $458,999, will focus on respite care to provide relief for families of Manitoba children with complex care needs.

Woodgate’s second project, which received $539,324, will study non-suicidal self-injury in youth and ways to improve supports and services for youth who self-harm.


In our Winter 2018 issue, we mislabelled a photo of the Rehabilitation Sciences Class of 1968, describing them as the Class of 1978.

We apologize for the error. Thank you to alumna Sharon (Jorgenson) Eadie [Dip.OT/78, BOT/81] for providing this photo of members of the actual Class of 1978, who enjoyed a 40-year reunion in the fall of 2018.

Click here for a profile of Heather Cutcliffe, an accomplished alumna from this class.

Studies in Kenya show promise against HIV

A study led by a Max Rady College of Medicine researcher is the first to demonstrate that chickenpox vaccine, when given to people who are already immune to it, does not trigger an unwanted “HIV-welcoming” immune state in the genital lining or bloodstream.

Kelly MacDonald [MD/87], professor of internal medicine, immunology and medical microbiology at U of M and professor of immunology at the University of Toronto (U of T), led a research team from U of M, U of T and the University of Nairobi. The study, conducted in Kenya, was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The results clear the way for testing a vaccine that uses the chickenpox virus to “carry” HIV genes and induce HIV immunity, said MacDonald, head of U of M’s section of adult infectious diseases.

In another study in Kenya, published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, a team led by Keith Fowke [B.Sc.(Hons.)/88, PhD/95], head of medical microbiology and infectious diseases, showed that daily low-dose Aspirin reduced HIV target cells in the female genital tract by 35 per cent.

Further research is needed to test whether this level of reduction will prevent HIV transmission, said Fowke, whose team represented the universities of Manitoba, Waterloo and Nairobi and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

If so, he said, Aspirin could be an affordable global tool for HIV prevention.

Research team seeks insight on HIV care in the North

A new interdisciplinary research project will study the experiences of First Nations people with HIV in northern Manitoba.

Gayle Restall [BMROT/79, PhD/10], associate professor of occupational therapy in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences and researcher with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, and Linda Larcombe [PhD/05], associate professor of internal medicine in the Max Rady College of Medicine, are co-leading the project with Albert McLeod, an Indigenous scholar with Two-Spirited People of Manitoba.

The study team includes researchers from several Indigenous and health organizations.

The project, “Mapping the journey: Developing culturally appropriate, geographically responsive HIV care for northern Manitoba First Nations People,” received a three-year grant of $445,422 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“We want to look at how the journey of people living with HIV in the North compares with the experience in Winnipeg,” Restall said. “We want to understand additional complexities for people dealing with HIV, such as housing and employment.”

The researchers will seek knowledge about culturally appropriate best practices for HIV testing and care. They will explore a holistic view of life with HIV that highlights resilience.

“Ultimately, it’s about people with HIV in northern Manitoba being able to live well and have options,” Restall said.

College of Pharmacy hosts powerful workshop

In February, about 50 faculty and staff from the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences took part in an experiential workshop to better comprehend the effects of colonization on Indigenous communities.

The workshop, “Building Bridges Through Understanding the Village,” began with facilitator Kathi Camilleri laying out symbolic objects on a blanket. A feather signified governance. A canoe stood for travel. A drum represented music.

Participants took on roles within the traditional village. Then Camilleri put on a red hat and the identity of European colonizer. One by one, she removed the objects – nearly everything the community held sacred. Then she started taking the children.

“Playing the role of a parent, I had a deep sense of hopelessness, injustice and fear that I may never hold my child again,” said Sarah Olson [BA/16], a descendent of residential school survivors.

The half-day workshop, which emphasized healing, was hosted by the College of Pharmacy. Olson, who works as project assistant, Indigenous engagement for the Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic), was one of the organizers.

The event, organizers said, helped ensure that those who teach and mentor future health professionals do so with an informed, compassionate understanding of Indigenous community members.

Partnership gives birth to midwives



On her four-year journey to a bachelor’s degree in midwifery, Adelle Harman has supported the births of about 100 babies.

“I’ve witnessed something amazing every single time,” said the 27-yearold from Thompson, Man., who has dreamed of providing prenatal, birth and postpartum care since she was 18.

In May, Harman was one of 12 Manitobans who graduated from the McMaster University midwifery education program. A partnership between the Ontario university and the U of M College of Nursing was formed in 2016, after the Manitoba program in which the class initially enrolled was discontinued.

The partnership enabled the class to complete McMaster coursework online and at U of M, and to undertake clinical placements in Manitoba. Harman’s placements ranged from a birthing centre in Nunavut to the Access River East clinic in Winnipeg.

A common misconception, Harman said, is that midwives support only out-of-hospital births. In fact, Manitoba midwives are licensed for hospitals and are thoroughly trained to work with hospital teams.

Harman is returning to Thompson to practise. She hopes to see expanded midwifery services in the North so more women can give birth without leaving their communities.

‘Visionary leader’ inducted into Hall of Fame

Dr. Naranjan S. Dhalla, a cardiovascular science pioneer, is one of six national medical heroes who were inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame this year.

Dhalla is a distinguished professor of physiology and pathophysiology in the Max Rady College of Medicine, with a U of M career spanning more than 50 years. He founded the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences at St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre and was its long-time director.

“Dr. Dhalla’s influence on the field of cardiovascular science has been transformative globally,” said U of M Vice-President (Research and International) Dr. Digvir Jayas [M.Sc./82]. “He is a true visionary leader.”

Dhalla is a founding leader of the International Society for Heart Research and
the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences.

He has edited or authored more than 50 books, presented at more than 500 conferences and trained more than 150 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He served as editor-in-chief of the journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.

In 2001, he was instrumental in drawing more than 2,000 professionals to Winnipeg for a meeting of the World Heart Congress, helping to establish Canada as a centre of cardiovascular science and research.

Dhalla was honoured at an induction ceremony in Montreal in May. His portrait will be added to the gallery of Canadian Medical Hall of Fame laureates in the U of M’s Brodie Centre.

Researcher finds parallels between Manitoba, Russia


Suicide in northern Indigenous communities is a concern shared by Canada and Russia, a researcher from Russia’s Northern State Medical University found when he spent two weeks in Manitoba this spring.

Dr. Yury Sumarokov’s visit was part of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences’ Kiga mamo anokimin onji minoayawin (“We will work together for health and wellness”) partnership with eight First Nations communities.

“We brought Yury in to talk about suicide and suicide prevention because the Indigenous communities see this as a very important topic,” said Dr. Reg Urbanowski, dean of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences.

Sumarokov has worked as chief physician at the largest mental health clinic in northern Russia. He spoke on both U of M campuses and travelled to The Pas, Thompson and several First Nations to meet with community members.

“The problems here are similar (to those in Russia),” Sumarokov said, adding that alcohol
use and pressure on cultural values contribute to high suicide rates in both countries.

“Language, traditional culture and the development of a ‘sense of connectedness’ are the strongest suicide-protective factors for Indigenous people all over the world,” he said

Pharmacy students lend a hand to Habitat


When the call went out for volunteers for the Rady Faculty’s 2018 Habitat for Humanity home-building project, three College of Pharmacy students stepped up in a big way.

The trio organized a fundraising social and a samosa sale that brought in more than $3,000 for the project. They also got their hands dirty as construction volunteers.

“It felt amazing,” said fourth-year student Marina Cameron [B.Sc./15], who teamed up with Jenna-Julie Esteban Villarba (third year) and Snimar Bali (second year).

The house for a Winnipeg couple, Leeann and Craig, and their four children was the fourth one built through a partnership between the Rady Faculty and Habitat for Humanity Manitoba. The two-week build took place last June on the Bannatyne campus.

The bungalow was then transported to its permanent site on Flora Avenue for completion. Leeann and Craig put in 500 hours of sweat equity, and the family moved in just before Christmas.

“To get to meet the family and to work alongside them was a really rewarding experience,” said Bali.

“It was nice to do something hands-on,” said Villarba.“We got to feel like we were physically helping and engaging with the community.”

‘Canada is home now’ for long-serving dentistry dean

When Dr. Anthony Iacopino arrived in 2007 as the U of M’s new dean of dentistry, he knew little about Canada and wasn’t sure how long he would stay.

“I didn’t know if I would like it, or if they would like me,” recalls the New Jersey-born professor of restorative dentistry, whose previous academic appointments were in Texas and Wisconsin.

Iacopino not only stayed – becoming one of the longest-serving deans in the college’s history – but recently became a Canadian citizen. After 12 years of leadership, he will hand the reins of the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry to incoming dean Anastasia Kelekis-Cholakis [DMD/92, Dip. Perio/98] on July 1.

His accomplishments include technological innovations, facility upgrades, enhancing the learning and teaching environment, creating a general practice clinic structure, establishing a mentorship program with the Manitoba Dental Association for all dental students, and strengthening relationships with alumni.

Iacopino will continue at the college as a professor and researcher. “My American rough edges have been smoothed down,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot about tolerance, acceptance, avoiding conflict, and the benefits of collegiality. Canada is home now.”

Rady students shine at distilling complex research

Kevin Boreskie [B.Kin./15, M.Sc./18], a doctoral student in applied health sciences (a joint program between the College of Rehabilitation Sciences and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management), clinched the Dr. Archie McNicol Prize as winner of the U of M’s 2019 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

The contest challenges graduate students to explain their research to a general audience with no notes, one PowerPoint slide and a three-minute time limit.

Boreskie’s presentation was called Exaggerated blood pressure response to exercise: A simple solution. He advanced to the Western Regional 3MT competition.

Kashfia Shafiq, a master’s student in human anatomy and cell science at the Max Rady College of Medicine, won the People’s Choice Award for her presentation, Dying young at a very old age.

Chantal Asselin, Samira Seif and André Coleman from physiology/pathophysiology and Berardino Petrelli from biochemistry/ medical genetics were also among the 14 finalists.

Boreskie, the grand prize winner, joked that the 3MT experience has helped him explain his research to friends and family.

“Realistically, when you’re sitting around the dining room table, you only have three minutes or less before they zone out,” he said.

Hospital simulation builds teamwork, collaboration

Two labs at the Helen Glass Centre for Nursing on the Fort Garry campus were transformed into a simulated hospital ward in February for an event called Interprofessional Education (IPE) Day Shift.

The annual workshop gives students team-based experience in delivering health care in a realistic setting. Students also play the roles of patients.

The event, which simulated a seven-hour hospital shift, brought together 65 students from medicine, nursing, pharmacy and rehabilitation sciences. They worked in interprofessional teams to assess and treat “patients,” practising skills such as reviewing charts, prescribing medications and transferring patients from bed to wheelchair.

Nursing instructor Barb Goodwin [BA/90, BN/94], director of skills and simulation education, said the event helps students share knowledge gained in their own health-care programs and appreciate knowledge from other disciplines.

“The rounds we did and the case studies were pretty close to real life,” said Trisha Vera, a second-year occupational therapy student.

“We’re still learning about the roles of our own profession, but it’s helpful to understand the other roles, too, so you know where to reach out for help.”

Grad students honoured with new achievement prize

In February, six highly accomplished students received the inaugural Dean of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Graduate Student Achievement Prize.

The award was created to recognize outstanding academic achievement, service and leadership among graduate students from the five colleges of the Rady Faculty.