Browse the oral and visual presentations from day 1 of the 2022 UWill Discover Conference.

March 29, 2022

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A Multivalent Approach to Triggerable-Release Cancer Drug Delivery Systems

Jessica M. Dennison, University of Windsor
Sarah Nasri, University of Windsor
Emma Lauren Dennison, University of Windsor
Daniel Meister, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Windsor
Dr. John F. Trant, University of Windsor

Cancer continues to be one of the largest health concerns in Canada with approximately 43% of Canadians expected to be diagnosed in their lifetime. However, traditional chemotherapy methods often create complications from nonspecific drug distribution and poor penetration into tumors, providing an inefficient method for suppressing tumor growth and metastasis, and causing indiscriminate harm to healthy cells in the body. The damage that is caused to healthy cells is the root of most destructive and painful side-effects associated with chemotherapy, including nausea, fatigue, hair loss, mouth sores, fertility issues, and organ damage .

Nanodiamonds, microscopic diamond particles, have recently gained popularity in medical applications due to their low cost and negligible toxicity. Additionally, their large surface area allows them to be easily modified with biocompatible attachments like polyethylene glycol (PEG) chains and a self-immolative drug linker, which acts as an efficient drug carrier due to its increased loading site. The Trant Team seeks to design and characterize a selective drug delivery system utilizing the pH-sensitive linker property to release the drug in the cancer cell’s acidic environment, reducing harm to not-as-acidic healthy cells. Previous work within the team used nanodiamond single valent carriers in preliminary studies. This presentation will describe multivalent modifications to further increase the loading capacity. Once synthesized and characterized, this drug delivery system is to be tested in vivo on zebrafish to observe its safety and efficacy.

Acetal-Free Carbohydrates and Cancer Cell pH Targeting

Victoria Olga Kis, University of Windsor

Cancer cells have high levels of metabolism and proliferation, growing and dividing quickly while needing nutrients to support these high levels of activity. This activity creates acidic compounds as waste, which the cancer cells are rarely able to effectively clear themselves. Because the waste products cannot be cleared efficiently, most cancers have adapted to living in more acidic environments. This more acidic environment is rarely suitable for normal healthy cells, affecting the ability of immune cells to penetrate a tumour and still survive. Our goal is to increase the pH of the extracellular environment towards neutrality, and hence increase the survivability of healthy cells. This should then render the tumour susceptible to an immune response.

The primary aim of this project was to prepare proof-of-concept molecules that can target cancer cells and raise the pH of their environment. To do this we have prepared amine glycoconjugates, base-containing molecules that take advantage of the tumour cells high metabolic demands. This presentation will describe our synthetic approach of these compounds, their biological efficacy and the improved properties of Acetal-Free Carbohydrate analogues.

Almost periodic functions and almost periodic equidistributed functions

Yihan Zhu, University of Windsor

In our lives, there are plenty of periodic motions, which repeat in equal intervals of time. For instance, the recurrences of days and nights and the regular changes of seasons. However, a linear combination of two or more periodic motions need not be periodic any longer. Almost periodic functions are more general than periodic functions. Therefore, the class of almost periodic functions forms a more suitable object of study from a structural point of view. As we know sequence is a special case of function. With this knowledge, one part of the main idea of the research was generalizing the existing concept of equidistributed sequences to equidistributed functions by using the property of the invariant mean on almost periodic functions. In the proposed presentation, first, the classic notions of almost periodic functions and equidistributed sequences will be shown with examples. Following this, the definition of almost periodic equidistributed functions on general topological groups will be introduced with the comparison with the classic concepts of equidistributed sequences on compact groups. Furthermore, the Weyl’s criterion, which describes an equivalent condition of equidistributed sequences, will be discussed in the generalized version on almost periodic equidistributed functions as a new result. This presentation is based on part of the results of my Ph.D. thesis, supervised by Dr. Mehdi S. Monfared.

Some References: [1] H. Weyl, Uber die gleichverteilung von zahlen mod. eins, Math. Ann. 77 (1916), 313–352. [2] L. Kuipers and H. Niederreiter, Uniform Distribution of Sequences, Dover Publications, New York, 2006.

Building a Toolbox for Drug Delivery: Lipid-based Conjugated Polymer Nanoparticles

Monika May Kojic, University of Windsor
Angela Awada, University of Windsor
Simon Rondeau-Gagné, University of Windsor

Conjugated polymer nanoparticles, or CPNs, are highly versatile nano-structured materials that have amassed great interest due to their straightforward synthesis, biocompatibility, and tunable properties.1 The properties of CPNs can be tuned by varying the composition of the surfactant conjugated to the polymer core of these nanoparticles, rendering them suitable for a variety of applications including many in the realm nanomedicine.1 This tunability is key for the design of new drug-delivery systems and therapeutics as the CPN size and structure directly impact important properties, such as the blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability and drug target selectivity.2 Similarly, lipids and lipid-based nanomaterials have been widely studied as nanocarriers transporting various therapeutics in drug delivery systems because of their non-toxic and biocompatible nature.3-5 In this work, the synthesis of an isoindigo - based CPN system is demonstrated with four different lipid surfactants; – DMPC (14:0), DMPS (14:0), DPPC (16:0) and DPPS (16:0). The size, morphology and fluorescence properties of the resulting nanoparticles have been characterized using dynamic light scattering (DLS), small angle neutron scattering (SANS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and fluorescence spectroscopy. The development of this lipid-containing CPN system places an emphasis on elucidating lipid – CPN structural relationships by harnessing the differences in the properties of lipids to control the shape and size of the CPNs produced. The resulting lipid-CPN systems and the new structure-relationships unraveled in this work contribute to the refinement of nanomedicine by unveiling novel design criteria in nanomaterials. This new knowledge will open new avenues for improved efficiency in treatments and consequently establish a novel family of nanomaterials as an alternative drug delivery system for cancer treatment.

References:

1. Tuncel, D.; Demir, H. V., Conjugated polymer nanoparticles. Nanoscale 2010, 2 (4), 484-494.

2. Rizvi, S. A. A.; Saleh, A. M., Applications of nanoparticle systems in drug delivery technology. Saudi Pharm J 2018, 26 (1), 64-70.

3. Yingchoncharoen, P.; Kalinowski, D. S.; Richardson, D. R., Lipid-Based Drug Delivery Systems in Cancer Therapy: What Is Available and What Is Yet to Come. Pharmacol Rev 2016, 68 (3), 701-787.

4. Scioli Montoto, S.; Muraca, G.; Ruiz, M. E., Solid Lipid Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery: Pharmacological and Biopharmaceutical Aspects. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 2020, 7.

5. Bhalekar, M. R.; Madgulkar, A. R.; Desale, P. S.; Marium, G., Formulation of piperine solid lipid nanoparticles (SLN) for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy 2017, 43 (6), 1003-1010.

Characterizing the Anti-Cancer Efficacy of Rosemary Extract on Human Melanoma Cells

Mansi Arora, University of Windsor
Joshua Mathews, University of Windsor

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and the 19th most commonly occurring cancer in men and women. Current therapies for treating melanoma include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Surgeries are primarily helpful at early stages and invasive, while the other treatment options are often accompanied by many side effects due to their toxicity to healthy tissues. Hence, there is a need for the development of more efficacious and less toxic treatments. Historically, several Natural Health Products have been used as non-toxic and medicinal herbs for multiple illnesses, so they are good candidates for anti-cancer agents. In particular, studies have shown that Rosemary Extract (RE), derived from Salvia rosmarinus, has demonstrated anti-cancer properties on many cancer types. However, the level and mechanisms of cell death have not yet been elucidated in both the A375 and G361 human melanoma cell lines. As well, supplemental trials, which assess efficacy and toxicity of RE in combination with chemotherapeutics have not been done for melanoma. Hence, we have characterized the in-vitro RE efficacy in the A375 and G361 cell lines alone and in combination with standard chemotherapeutics used for treatment. The results indicate that RE induces apoptosis at relatively low dosages alone and in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, when RE is used in combination with current treatments, there is no negative interaction and even an anticipated positive interaction following further trials. Thus, RE is a good potential candidate for the treatment of this deadly illness affecting thousands of people around the world.

Control of Stemness in Glioma via Nanoparticle- Mediated Regulation of CD44 Receptor

Alexandra Sorge, University of Windsor
Dorota Lubanska, University of Windsor
Lisa Porter, University of Windsor

COTI-2: A Small Molecule with Anticancer Potential

Kaitlyn Breault, University of Windsor
Micheal Kruase Dr, University of Windsor
John Trant Dr, University of Windsor

COTI-2 is a small molecule with anticancer potential that targets p53, which is an important tumour-suppressor protein that is mutated in most cancers. It therefore cannot activate various responses, including cell-cycle arrest or apoptosis; COTI-2 allows for mutant forms of p53 to normalize to its wild-type form and this allows p53 to respond appropriately to tumour growth and cancer cells. It is currently unknown how and where COTI-2 works in the cells to restore the function to p53. In order to try to understand this, we seek to attach a handle for a tag such as biotin to COTI-2 will allow us to determine where the drug is working in the cells.

In this presentation, I will describe our progress towards the synthesis of COTI-2 derivatives with amine functional groups attached to the molecule, to which markers such as biotin can be appended. To ensure that these derivatives are adequate models for the activity of COTI-2 they will be tested using isothermal titration calorimetry to determine that their thermodynamic data is similar enough to COTI-2 itself. If this research is successful, it will clear the way for COTI-2 to further advance in the clinical approvals process and ultimately be used to treat a variety of cancers. This could also lead to the development of similar anticancer drugs and help treat cancer in combination with other treatments.

Designing New Solvent Resistant Materials for Greener Electronics

Ekaterini Iakovidis, University of Windsor
Madison Mooney, University of Windsor
Simon Rondeau-Gagne, University of Windsor

Semiconducting polymers are an important class of materials at the forefront of organic electronics research due to their mechanical and optoelectronic properties. Their solution processability allows for cost-effective development of lightweight, flexible, and large area electronic devices such as organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) and organic photovoltaics (OPVs). This proves to be advantageous in comparison to the expensive, high temperature processing methods required for traditional silicon-based electronics. However, these semiconducting polymers often have low solubility which creates limitations in their processing such as the need for toxic halogenated solvents. The limited solubility of these materials can also lead to interfacial mixing, which is a major challenge to overcome for the fabrication of higher-order, multilayer electronics to reach commercial applications.

This work explores the incorporation of carbohydrate side chains in conjugated polymers to afford tunable solubility in greener, alcohol-based solvents. In addition to improving the solubility in ecofriendly and non-hazardous solvent, carbohydrate moieties help materials to be more resistant and stable during processing in various organic solvents resistance. This solvent resistance was confirmed both visually upon submersion in various solvents and using UV-visible spectroscopy. The side-chain engineering approach had no negative impacts on the electronic performance of these materials in OFETs even after submersion in solvents, which confirms the stability of these materials. This presentation encompasses the motivations behind this new approach and demonstrates how carbohydrate side chains can manipulate solubility of electronic materials, leading to both improved processability in eco-friendly solvents and solvent resistance for the creation of complex multilayer devices.

Developing lab activities for an introductory anatomy course: Reflections and recommendations from a faculty/student partnership.

Megan A. Murtagh, University of Windsor
Kalina N. Georgieva, University of Windsor
Claudia M. Town, University of Windsor
Bradley D. Mangham, University of Windsor
Rebecca G.B. Misiasz, University of Windsor
Robert P. Oates, University of Windsor
David M. Andrews, University of Windsor

Students “as partners” challenges the notion that students simply consume knowledge, but rather, they are viewed as co-producers of knowledge (Green, 2019). This approach used in curriculum development is illustrated in this research project. Five undergraduate students and one graduate student collaborated with a faculty member to develop ten lab activities for a first-year anatomy course in Kinesiology. All student partners had taken the course previously and had expressed their passion for the subject matter. With guidance and support from the course instructor, students utilized the knowledge and experiences they had acquired in the course to design lab experiences that aligned with the course content. This approach is consistent with other studies in which students worked with faculty members to adapt curriculum for future students (Spencer et al., 2021). Once the lab activities were created, the students were asked to reflect upon their experience. The instructor encouraged the discussion of various elements in the reflections, such as how the students felt working in the partnership, and their discoveries related to curriculum development. The students were also asked to consider the impact of the partnership on both their well-being and on higher education in general. The analysis revealed seven themes which will be shared in the presentation. Several recommendations, including the importance of maintaining effective communication, fostering group cohesion, and developing a knowledge transfer plan, will also be offered to help inform other students and faculty members who wish to engage in a similarly effective partnership.

Bibliography:

Green, W. (2019). Engaging “Students as Partners” in global learning: Some possibilities and provocations. Journal of Studies in International Education, 23(1), 10–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315318814266

Spencer, B., Tori, K., & Campbell, R. (2021). Undergraduates as course creators: Reflections on starting and sustaining a student-faculty partnership. International Journal for Students as Partners, 5(1), 138-145. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v5i1.4399

Documenting head impacts in youth hockey

Jonathan Graniero
Emily Stanley
Julia Rossi
Teanna Kavanagh
Dave Andrews

Sport-related concussions, which can result in long-lasting adverse cognitive and behavioural effects in athletes, have gained the attention of the research community since an estimated 200,000 concussions are reported in Canada each year. While concussions occur in many sports, most of the research on the mechanisms of concussive impacts has focused on football, despite double the concussion rate in hockey.

Concussions in youth athletes often result in more detrimental physiological consequences compared to adults, but most research has been conducted in professional sport. With approximately half a million players registering in minor league hockey in Canada every year, concussion awareness and prevention in this susceptible population is therefore imperative to reducing health concerns. Consequently, our proposed study aims to fill this gap within the existing literature by examining head impacts in youth hockey.

We will utilize a multi-camera video system to record youth hockey games at local rinks in Windsor-Essex County. From the video records, the following measures related to head impacts that occur during play will be quantified: impact type, frequency, and location; player anticipation based on body position prior to impact, and; head velocities and impact severities.

Once described and quantified, these data will provide a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in head impacts in youth hockey. It is also expected that our results will help to inform the development of interventions that reduce head injury rates, including concussions, through concussion education, training in bodychecking anticipation, and possible rule changes that limit head impact potential.

Fostering science students as partnerships. Examining undergraduate students’ perspectives of pedagogical partnerships

Aliyah King, University of Windsor
Siddhartha Sood, University of Windsor
Isabelle Hinch, University of Windsor
Dora Cavallo-Medved, University of Windsor
Chris Houser, University of Windsor
Laura Chittle, University of Windsor

There has been a growing discourse within higher education to engage with Students as Partners (SaP) and to transform institutional culture by harnessing the strength of students and faculty working together. Engaging with SaP offers benefits to both students and faculty, yet there continues to be less research on SaP practices at the macro-degree level. The purpose of this study was to conduct a faculty-wide investigation of student-faculty partnerships within the Faculty of Science at a mid-sized university in Ontario, Canada. Through a mixed methods approach of surveys (n = 178) and semi-structured interviews (n = 10) with undergraduate students, we examined the types of student partnerships occurring within the Faculty of Science as well as gathered insights into students’ perspectives of the benefits and challenges they experience engaging in these partnerships. Collaborating with faculty on research projects, teaching assistantships, and being a student leader in an organization with faculty guidance were considered the most impactful partnerships among participants. Students also reported several social, personal, academic, and career-related benefits as a result of working in partnership with faculty members, while common challenges included barriers to engaging in activities, social barriers, power imbalances, difficult working environments, and personal challenges. By studying the benefits and challenges experienced by students, we provide advances towards creating an engaged learning environment that supports undergraduate student engagement, collaboration, and enhanced student-faculty relationships that in turn support recruitment and retention efforts.

Investigating the effects of cognitive overload in a simulated manufactoring task

Nate Saddy, University of Windsor

If traditional ergonomics optimizes jobs with a focus on the body, cognitive ergonomics optimizes jobs based on the mind. Since interaction with technology has been increasing, understanding the mental workload of a task becomes a critical factor when analyzing performance and safety. Cognitive overload can be described as a situation where the mental demands of a task are greater than the individual’s ability to successfully complete the given task. It is known that this stressful state impedes task performance and can even increase muscle activity. This indicates that a job requiring a higher cognitive demand could lead to more injuries; however, the literature is limited when observing this effect in simulated manufacturing tasks. It is also known that blink rate and pupil size change during workloads in stationary tasks, suggesting ocular metrics could be a viable measure of mental workload. This relationship, however, has not been studied in a task requiring full body movement. Therefore, the goals of this study are threefold: 1) further understand the relationship between cognitive overload and task performance/safety; 2) determine if ocular metrics are a viable measure of mental workload during a task requiring full body movement; and 3) analyze any potential relationship between muscular activity and ocular metrics.

Kanoronhkwáhtshera: A Haudenosaunee Anishnawbe woman’s view on the impact of the The Doctrine of Discovery on Haudenosaunee women

Stephanie Pangowish, University of Windsor

Since the colonization of Indigenous people on this territory, Indigenous women have faced violence, and we continue to face violence not only in political spheres but also at home; at the root of this is the assumed sovereignty of the Canadian state over Indigenous people. Haudenosaunee women have long held a sacredness, a sacredness is recognized by our communities. Women's sacredness is outlined in our Creation Story and our Great Law of Peace. The Creation Story tells us how we interact with each other and all things. Our Great Law of Peace is our governing law that combines all six nations in the Haudenosaunee confederacy. Women play a central role in both the Creation Story and the Great Law of Peace, which confirms the importance of women within traditional Haudenosaunee communities; the impact of the doctrine of discovery has damaged that traditional knowledge and customs.

The impacts of the Indian Act, disenfranchisement of Haudenosaunee women, and residential school are tools that have tried to erase the "Indian problem" in Canada. This research focuses on how attacking Haudenosaunee women, and family structure has had negative impacts until today. Along with the negative consequences, this research also highlights the resilience of Haudenosaunee women providing examples of how Haudenosaunee women have remained firm in their scaredness by fulling the roles supplied to them by the Creator continuing to provide Kanoronhkwáhtshera (love) to their people, homes, and lands

Life Satisfaction and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: An Analysis of 48 Nations

Hailey N. Pawsey
Kenneth M. Cramer Ph.D., University of Windsor
Denise Deblock, University of Windsor

To assess whether Maslow's hierarchy of needs can predict life satisfaction, the present study utilizes Wave 7 (2017-2020) of the World Values Survey. These data include questions on health and financial satisfaction, as well as trust and confidence in societal institutions disseminated to over 69 000 individuals from 48 countries. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, it is predicted that greater life satisfaction will be subsequently predicted by health satisfaction at the first level, financial satisfaction at the second level, and trust and confidence at the third level. Data were split by both the individual and national levels to determine how life satisfaction can be predicted by individuals and nations. Based on previous findings from Wave 6 (2010-2014), we anticipate that financial satisfaction and income (aligning with Maslow's second level) are more important predictors of greater life satisfaction than health satisfaction (aligning with Maslow's first level). Results will provide important implications regarding the application of Maslow's hierarchy of needs at both the individual and national levels.

Low-Cost Eye-Tracking Data Analytic System for Vision Therapy

Obiajuru Onwunamoghor Ninduwezuor Mr., University of Windsor
Prarthana Pillai Miss, University of Windsor
Balakumar Balasingam Dr., University of Windsor
Francesco Biondi Dr., University of Windsor
Arunita Jaekel Dr., University of Windsor

Making Venom on Demand: A Surprising Medical Need for Conotoxins and Our Efforts to Supply

Chitra Bidlon, University of Windsor
Mana Dashti, University of Windsor
Sanaz Nadimi, University of Windsor
Sarah Nasri, University of Windsor
Jason Wong, University of Windsor
John Trant, University of Windsor
Nazanin Taimoory, University of Windsor

uploaded as digital file!

Mental Health and Burnout Relating to Staffing Ratios Among Nurses during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Integrative Review

Jennifer Babin, University of Windsor
Hailey Rice, University of Windsor
Karina Berendsen, University of Windsor
Allison Mack, University of Windsor
Maryrose Janisse, University of Windsor

Background: Burnout has been an overwhelming concern among nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has increased stress for nurses in both their personal and professional lives, especially due to the increasingly limited healthcare resources. Poor patient-staff ratios and other organizational stressors have exacerbated the poor mental health conditions of nurses and caused many to rethink their choice of careers.

Purpose: The purpose of this integrative review is to explore the effects of co-existing mental health disorders and the development of burnout due to the increasing patient-staff ratio for Registered Nurses working on acute care units during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Keyword searches included burnout, nurse-to-patient ratios, COVID-19, and mental health using nursing research databases (CINAHL, Pubmed, and Proquest) for peer-reviewed articles between 2017 to 2022. The results and outcomes were synthesized and compared for significance regarding nursing burnout and mental health relating to nurse-patient ratios following Whittmore and Knafle integrative review design.


Results: Preliminary results determine that high nurse-to-patient ratios put nurses with co-existing mental health at higher risk for burnout. Data analysis is ongoing and final results will be available at the time of the conference.

Conclusion: The results will provide an in-depth review of the current literature surrounding how nurse-patient ratios affect nurse burnout and overall mental health. This will help to define implementation strategies to ultimately decrease nurse burnout and improve mental health in attempts to increased career satisfaction and overall patient well-being.

New & Novel Phases of the Classical Kitaev Honeycomb Model

Griffin C. Howson, University of Windsor

The physics of many-body systems enables new and novel phases of matter with applications in other areas, including spintronics, quantum computing and information processing. A better understanding of these systems and how to control them offers a world of new technological and computing capabilities. The Kitaev honeycomb model has been of recent interest, exhibiting fascinating properties even at the classical level (Kitaev 2008). Understanding the role of electric and magnetic fields on the classical Kitaev model has been the focus of recent work due to its potential for realizing new phases and states of matter (Rau et al. 2016). Mapping out a phase diagram of the model, which shows its state under electric and magnetic conditions, is the ultimate goal. Using various complementary computer algorithms and methods, electric and magnetic effects on the model are explored. “Iterative minimization” techniques are employed, minimizing the energy of the finite Kitaev model on a step-by-step basis, while also generating the state of the model at this minimum energy. Comparing these results to modified algorithms that minimize the energy in a single, less-restrictive step, help to identify particularly interesting electric and magnetic conditions. Finally, to explore the possibility of states that are not regularly repeating in space, an educated guess in an infinite system is used, allowing for non-periodic states to “fit” in the system. An electric and magnetic phase diagram of the model will be presented, depicting how the magnetic states of this model can be controlled via the electric field.

[1] Kitaev, A. 2008. Anyons in an exactly solvable model and beyond. Annals of Physics.

[2] Rau, J., Lee, E. & Kee, H. 2016. Spin-Orbit Physics Giving Rise to Novel Phases in Correlated Systems. Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics.

Parenting Styles and the Impostor Phenomenon: The Mediating Role of Self-Efficacy

Alexandra DiFazio, University of Windsor

Introduction:

The Impostor Phenomenon (IP) refers to the emotions, cognitions, and behaviours of objectively successful individuals who believe their achievements are not due to personal capabilities or intelligence, but external factors or assessment errors. The development of the IP has been correlated with differing parenting styles utilized by a mother and father respectively when rearing a child. Although parenting styles may play a role, it is highly improbable that they are the sole explanation as to why some individuals report feeling like an impostor. Instead, other variables are likely also involved. Resent research has studied self-efficacy (i.e., a person’s belief in their ability to accomplish a task) as another contributing factor to the development of an individual’s IP feelings. The current study aims to explore what mediational role, if any, self-efficacy has in the relationship between parenting styles and the IP in undergraduate university students.

Methods:

Data was collected through convenience sampling from 80 undergraduate university students via a self-report survey containing demographic questions as well as measures of parent style, self-efficacy, and impostor phenomenon.

Results:

The results are pending as data analysis is still ongoing. Results will be available at the time of the conference.

Conclusion:

This research will likely contribute to understanding the development of the IP in relation to differing parenting styles and differing levels of self-efficacy in undergraduate university students. Results will help create a greater awareness of the IP on university campuses with the potential to aid in more IP-related resources for students.

Spy1 Levels Predict Sensitivity of Refractory Multiple Myeloma to Therapy

Adam Renaud, University of Windsor
Jillian Brown, University of Windsor
Dorota Lubanska Dr, University of Windsor
Indryas Woldie Dr, Windsor Regional Hospital
John Hudson Dr, University of Windsor
Lisa Porter Dr, University of Windsor

Multiple myeloma (MM) is an aggressive hematopoietic malignancy with a poor prognosis that is caused by the abnormal growth of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CKIs) have been explored as a possible treatment for MM, with limited clinical success. We postulate that the cyclin-like protein, Spy1 (SPDYA), which is capable of overriding cell-cycle checkpoints, may play a role in limiting therapeutic effectiveness. To support this hypothesis, we have found that Spy1 is highly expressed in MM patient samples and human cell lines. We aim to explore the role that Spy1 plays in CKI resistance in MM using a variety of in vitro and in vivo techniques. Firstly, we intend to create and optimize an in vitro platform to study MM using patient samples collected from clinicians at Windsor Regional Hospital. Using this culture, and human cell lines, we intend to investigate the methylation status of Spy1 and other MM genes in Spy1 overexpression and knockout conditions to see the effects of epigenetic regulation. Then, we will perform drug and toxicity assays with standard CKIs using our Spy1 overexpression and knock-down lines to observe response to CKIs, expecting lines with higher Spy1 to demonstrate increased therapy resistance. Finally, our cells with manipulated Spy1 levels will be injected into zebrafish to test the effects of CKIs in vivo. Collectively, we aim to explore the role Spy1 may play in resistance to CKI therapy in MM, to improve disease understanding and identify areas treatments may be improved.

STEMxPolicy: An approach to empowering STEM students to become leaders in policymaking

Anumita Jain, University of Windsor
McKenzie Rae Buchanan, University of Windsor
Sarah Khan, University of Windsor
Lana Yacoub, University of Windsor
Aaryan Patel, University of Windsor
Deya'a Almasri, University of Windsor
Nikko Drkulec, University of Windsor
Dora Cavallo-Medved, Faculty of Science, University of Windsor

Public policy is informed by many stakeholders and bodies of knowledge. As policies are needed for topics rooted in STEM such as climate change, AI, health, cybersecurity, etc., it is vital that knowledge translation between researchers and policymakers is prompt and efficient. The current 1–2-decade gap in knowledge acquisition and implementation is insufficient (Curran et al., 2011). Researchers and policymakers should not be two mutually exclusive groups. STEMxPolicy is a new student organization in the Faculty of Science’s USci Network based in student experiential learning and research. Our goal is to bridge the existing gap between STEM and policy by educating students about STEM policy, engaging them in policy-based discussions, and empowering them to become leaders in policymaking. Over the past year, we have hosted two panels and three “Snapshot Seminars” featuring expert panelists that have sparked thoughtful dialogue. The seminars have provided students an overview of the relevance of policy-making within STEM, field-specific considerations in constructing policy, and guided students to get involved. Social media has also been leveraged to circulate educational “Vlog Interviews” and “Hot Topic” posts and promote virtual events. Our work has created numerous student-faculty partnerships and engagement opportunities with high-profile speakers from large provincial and national organizations such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, and National Research Council. We anticipate that this model of connecting STEM and policy will translate into more STEM professionals being at the forefront of the policymaking process.

Curran, J. A., Grimshaw, J. M., Hayden, J. A., & Campbell, B. (2011). Knowledge translation research: The science of moving research into policy and practice. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 31(3), 174–180. https://doi.org/10.1002/chp.20124

Stepping Out of the Stream: How Theatre Needs to Adapt for Disabled Audiences

Elissa Weir, University of Windsor

When one is asked to think about going to the theatre, the image tends to be the similar: taking steps to sit in a darkened room to watch and listen to a show for approximately 2 hours in relative silence. This experience, however, carries numerous barriers for disabled audiences. While many theatres provide disabled seating, this is the absolute minimum and unhelpful to many disabled patrons. There is a wide range of disabilities, and the accommodations for those disabilities are just as varied. It is worth taking time to examine what has already been done to accommodate different disabilities by previous theatre productions or troupes, as well as the emergence of digital theatre and its benefits when it comes to accommodations. In particular, digital theatre is more versatile and can be adapted by individuals to suit their needs. This study will take the form of a video essay, and introduce and give an overview of the underrepresented area of accessibility in theatre. The video will incorporate disability studies theory, such as academic work by Jessica Watkins, and studying audience interviews I helped conduct from The Stream You Step In, a digital theatre performance held by the University Players in 2020. With help from digital theatre, there is now time to rethink accessibility in theatre and theatre spaces so that it can be implemented in in-person performances after the threat of the pandemic has passed.

Study of Numerical Methods to Solve the Quantum Mechanical Three-Body Problem

Lamies Sati, University of Windsor
Gordon W.F. Drake FAPS, FRSC, PPhys, University of Windsor

Introduction:

The helium atom with two electrons serves as a model for many other three-body problems in atomic physics. Unlike hydrogen, it is the simplest system that cannot be solved exactly in the nonrelativistic limit; but it displays many of the complications found in multi-electron atoms. Thus, it has been researched extensively since the beginnings of quantum theory.

In this project, we compare the accuracy and speed of three methods of calculating eigenvalues of helium: Power Method, Tridiagonalization method, and Jacobi’s method by using David Bailey’s extended double quadruple precision (dq) module. This increases the numerical accuracy from 32 decimal digits in quadruple precision to 70 decimal digits in dq-precision - the machine epsilon is 7 x 10-70.

Purpose:

  • Study convergence without loss of accuracy or numerical stability.
  • Compare our results with other values in previous calculations in the literature (with Dr. Drake’s and others' previous calculations).
  • Compare the computation time for the three methods.

Methods:

1) Jacobi’s method: the slowest, but the most numerically stable (1 to 1.5 min)

The Jacobi method is used to find the complete set of eigenvalues of a symmetric matrix by repeated exact diagonalization of a 2 x 2 matrix formed by two diagonal elements and the matching largest off-diagonal element. This process is iterated until it converges.

2) Tri-diagonalization method (about 20 seconds). Tridiagonalization method reduces a Hermitian matrix to tridiagonal form that is then diagonalized to find the complete set of eigenvalues and eigenvectors.

3) Power method with inverse iteration (2-3 seconds): converges to the single eigenvalue that is closest to an initial guess and corresponding eigenvector.

Findings: In progress

Testing anti-microbial efficacy of Alcohol- Free Hand Sanitizer (AFHS)

Moutasem Seifi, uwindsor
Farsheed Shahbazi Raz, uwindsor
Bukola Rhoda Aremu, uwindsor

Testing anti-microbial efficacy of Alcohol- Free Hand Sanitizer (AFHS)

Moutasem Seifi, Dr. Bukola Aremu, Dr. Farsheed Raz, Dr. John Trant*

The pandemic highlighted health issues arising from hasty production of poorly purified ethanol to keep up with rising demand of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS), calling for a need for an alternative anti-microbial reagent. Overuse of lower-grade ethanol products may result in potential skin allergies or irritation or even poisonings from accidental consumption.1, 2 Not only health effects, but the waste from ABHS causes environmental effects when it reaches water, threatening aquatic life as well as disrupting soil infiltration rates on land.1 Essential oils (EOs) have been found to contain anti-microbial properties.3, 4 While not as commercially available as the main reagent, EOs are used to supplement and improve ABHS by moistening the skin from dehydration and add anti-microbial effects. This talk discusses the Trant Team investigation of using naturally derived essential oils as a complete substitute to alcohol by comparing the relative anti-microbial efficacy of EOs with commercially approved ABHS.Efficacy was determined by carrying out quantitative suspension and ex-vivo tests and measuring the reduction in E. coli and S. aureus bacteria. Our preliminary results demonstrated that EOs could potentially be used as a primarily active ingredient to kill bacteria. Future prospect is continuing the study the effect of EOs on other bacterial and potentially viral strains.

1. T. J. Tse, S. K. Purdy, J. Shen, F. B. Nelson, R. Mustafa, D. J. Wiens and M. J. T. Reaney, Toxicology Reports, 2021, 8, 785-792.

2. A. Mahmood, M. Eqan, S. Pervez, H. A. Alghamdi, A. B. Tabinda, A. Yasar, K. Brindhadevi and A. Pugazhendhi, Science of The Total Environment, 2020, 742, 140561.

3. R. Y. Booq, A. A. Alshehri, F. A. Almughem, N. M. Zaidan, W. S. Aburayan, A. A. Bakr, S. H. Kabli, H. A. Alshaya, M. S. Alsuabeyl, E. J. Alyamani and E. A. Tawfik, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021, 18, 6252.

4. K. A. Hammer, C. F. Carson and T. V. Riley, Journal of Applied Microbiology, 1999, 86, 985-990.

The Coastie Initiative

Nathan Cherry, University of Windsor
Libby George, University of Windsor
Alex Smith, University of Windsor
Chris Houser, University of Windsor

Coastline change is an ever-increasing area of interest with a multitude of research opportunities. The Coastie Initiative was developed with Parks Canada to crowdsource the collection of regular imagery of coastal morphology, building a large dataset for tracking shoreline change. Citizens can partake in this growing program by submitting a ‘Coastie’ through the web-based platform. At every site, a phone cradle, designed to standardize images, is accompanied by an informational panel and a QR code. Visitors can use the QR code to quickly access the submission wizard. After submission, the image is saved and awaits classification by researchers. The intended development of the project includes an achievement system to promote user retention, an automated classification system to eliminate manual labelling, and an ocean literacy stream as an effort to educate and inform the public. The initiative was launched during the fall of 2021 with 5 locations. The Coastie program is a collaboration that has developed from the global CoastSnap Community Beach Monitoring movement that began in Australia in 2017. Using the early prototype dataset, coastal change can be quantified from repeat geo-rectified images. These capture deposition/erosion of the beach and dune topography in response to ambient environmental conditions or higher energy storm events. This dataset will serve as a baseline to monitor how coastal systems respond to climate change, including sea level rise, change in storm activity, and reduction in sea ice coverage. The Coastie Initiative allows citizen scientists to influence coastline exploration participating alongside motivated researchers.

The Development of Wingate Normative-Reference Values for a Healthy Canadian Adult Population

Olivia N. Morassutti, University of Windsor
Adriana M. Duquette, University of Windsor

Introduction. The Wingate anaerobic test is a tool used to evaluate anaerobic power and capacity. While it is commonly utilized to assess performance, specifically among athletic populations, its evaluative capacity for non-athletic populations is limited by the lack of published data and normative-reference standards in the literature. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to develop Wingate normative-reference standards that are representative of the general young and healthy Canadian adult population.

Methods. A convenience sample of 873 (396 males and 477 females) university students, ranging in age from 20 to 29 years, was examined. Data were collected in a Kinesiology laboratory-based course from 2010 to 2019. Participants completed a Wingate exercise protocol, which consisted of two 30-second bouts of pedalling that were separated by a 30-second rest period. During the testing bouts, participants pedalled against a resistance equivalent to 7.5% of their body mass in kilograms.

Results. An overall trend of higher peak power (PP) and mean power (MP) values among male participants in comparison to female participants was observed, while females displayed lower fatigue index (FI) scores. Independent samples t-test results revealed statistically significant differences (p<0.05) between males and females for absolute PP and MP, but not for relative PP and MP, and FI.

Conclusions. The collected data allowed for normative-reference standards, including percentile rankings and seven performance classifications, to be generated. The development of these Wingate norms, specific to the target population, will allow for significant practical applications, including an effective method to assess anaerobic performance and health.

The Impact of Colonization on the Prevalence of Suicide among Canadian Indigenous Youth and Young Adults: Nursing Implications

Emily Bohdal Mrs., University of Windsor
Amanda Charlebois (Elghaname) Mrs., University of Windsor
Courtney Hohnstein Ms., University of Windsor
Mathew Kashila Mr., University of Windsor
Lyndsey Lafleur Ms., University of Windsor

Background

There is a disproportionately high rate of suicide among Canadian Indigenous youth and young adults. The historical impacts of colonialism are a contributing factor to the intergenerational trauma and health disparities among Indigenous People. Incidents of suicide, attempted suicide, and suicidal ideation amongst Indigenous youth and young adults may be associated with ongoing colonialism. To understand suicide rate amongst Indigenous youth and young adults, it is necessary to review current literature on Canadian colonialism’s impact on this health crisis.

Objective

Through the collection, examination, and integration of published literature, this integrative review aims to contribute to the current knowledge on Indigenous youth and young adults by identifying common themes regarding suicide prevalence and interventions.

Methods

The present integrative review used Whittemore and Knafl’s (2005) framework. The electronic databases used included CINAHL, Google Scholar, and PubMed. The inclusion criteria include studies containing youth and young adults ages 9 - 24, publications in English, studies published within the last 15 years, and quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method peer-reviewed studies. Data extraction and analysis were completed on the included studies.

Results

Preliminary data analyses are ongoing. Presently, the literature integration suggests a correlation between colonialism and suicide amongst Indigenous youth and young adults.

Conclusion

The literature on this topic is limited; thus, further research is needed.

Keywords

Indigenous, First Nations, Native, Aboriginal, Canadian, Suicide, Colonialism

The Role of Tuberin in DNA Damage Repair During Cell Proliferation

Kadila Adili, University of Windsor
Kim Nguyen, University of Windsor
Jackie Fong, University of Windsor
Elizabeth Fidalgo da Silva, University of Windsor
Lisa A. Porter, University of Windsor

The cell cycle contains DNA damage checkpoints that delay mitotic progression and allow for DNA repair before cell division. DNA damage can be caused by radiation, drugs, and other processes which lead to cellular mutations and carcinogenesis. The tumour suppressor protein p53 is activated in the presence of DNA damage. It induces apoptosis or cell cycle arrest which allows cells to repair themselves. Tuberin (TSC2), another tumour suppressor protein, regulates the G2/M transition in the cell cycle and negatively regulates protein synthesis and cell growth. Mutations in tuberin can lead to the multisystem autosomal dominant disease known as tuberous sclerosis (TSC).

Previously, our lab has shown that Tuberin regulates mitotic onset through cellular localization of the G2/M Cyclin, Cyclin B1. My project focuses on the Tuberin/Cyclin B1 complex in relation to G2/M arrest and DNA damage repair. In this study, we will overexpress Tuberin-WT and Tuberin clinical mutants in NIH-3T3 (mouse) and U2OS (human) p53 wild type cells. Etoposide, a topoisomerase II drug, will be used to induce DNA damage. Cells will then be analyzed by flow cytometry, TUNEL assay, and western blot to assess their cell cycle profile, apoptotic levels, and protein expression. Using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, a NIH-3T3 null TSC2 cell line will be created to clarify the role of Tuberin during DNA repair. Preliminary results have determined that 4μM of etoposide treatment at 8 hours arrests 50% of NIH-3T3 cells at G2/M. This project will provide greater insight into DNA damage induced carcinogenesis, TSC, and other proliferative diseases.

Which colour do you want for your cells, pink or blue? -Improving the synthesis of cyanine dyes

Peihan Xu
Dr. John J. Hayward, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Windsor
Dr. John F. Trant, University of Windsor

Cyanine dyes are fluorescent compounds commonly used in biosensors because of their great compatibility in vivo and high extinction coefficient, which has made it the perfect choice for our previous studies investigations into prostate cancer. Although cyanine dyes are commercially available, they are very expensive with only few suppliers and problematic synthesis. To facilitate our cancer research projects, we have sought to develop improved synthetic routes to these useful compounds.

In this presentation I will describe our work towards the improved synthesis of some of the cyanine dyes, Cy3 and Cy5. The difficulties (and successes) of the synthesis will be analysed and extension of these methods to other members of the family will be discussed.