Please join us for the 2020-2021 Senior Doctoral Fellow Speaker Series. Register here to attend.

Wednesday, May 26, 1:30-3:00pm

Jonathon Chio (Human Biology)

Drug re-purposing: Intravenous Human Immunoglobulin G to treat Traumatic Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury (SCI) causes motor and sensory impairments that lead to considerable patient suffering. There are approximately 1.3 million North Americans with SCI, with 4,300 new cases annually. Physical trauma in the spinal cord leads to immediate spinal tissue cell death and triggers cellular and molecular cascades. Neuroinflammation is a major contributor and is describes infiltration of immune cells into the injured tissue. The immune cells are beneficial and harmful after SCI; secreting growth factors to enhance tissue regeneration, but can make the initial injury more severe when removing dying cells. Immuno-suppressive strategies are the primary pharmacological treatment to complement surgical and rehabilitation measures. However, as the immune response has beneficial and harmful attributes, immunomodulatory (rather than immunosuppressive) strategies may be more efficacious.

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, intravenous human Immunoglobulin G (IVIg) is an immunomodulatory used to treat various disorders of the nervous and immune systems. A proven clinical track record can significantly reduce the cost and time associated with clinical translation of IVIg for treating SCI. To facilitate clinical translation, Jonathon’s PhD research uses a clinically-relevant rat model of SCI to identify the optimal dose, time window of administration and explore how IVIg mediates immunomodulation. Jonathon’s work has identified IVIg (2 g/kg) as the best dose. Short and long-term benefits of IVIg (2 g/kg) treatment are maintained when administered up to four hours post-SCI. The immunomodulatory effects include hindering immune cell infiltration into the spinal cord and re-directing immune cells to the spleen.

Next steps are to use this data towards preparing for clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of IVIg as SCI treatment. His research is published in peer-reviewed journals (Chio et al., J Neuroinflammation. 2019 Jul 9;16(1):141, Neurobiol Dis. 2021 Jan;148:105187 and Exp Neurol. 2021 Mar 19;341:113704).

Huda Hassan (African Studies)

Ciyaal Baraf: Fictions Empires Tell and Counter-Narratives of Somali Artists in Diaspora

My doctoral project explores the ways in which Canada’s Somali diaspora has been framed in mass media as the new national criminal subject. Ciyaal Baraaf (meaning “children of the snow” in Somali) is a Black Diaspora Cultural studies project, drawing from Black Transnational Feminisms, Somali studies, and Media studies. Ciyaal Baraaf examines the framing and reproduction of a particular Other in service of colonial attitudes and fictions of the empire (Brand, 2001). It involves two structuring parts: an intervention on the criminalization of Somalis in settler-state media; and, an analysis of the responses and counter-narratives of Somali artists through artistic place-making and self-creation through cultural production. My paper focuses on a section of this project, tracing the criminalization of Somalis in Canadian news media from 2010 to 2016. This paper argues that the Somalization of crime reveals ongoing reproductions of race, gender, belonging, and Canadian nationalisms. Through this optic, I also urge a questioning of the function and ethics of identification in journalistic practices and examine the ethics of the contemporary journalist.

Kunga Sherab (Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health)

Identifying the Enlightened Minds of Children in 13th-15th Century Tibet

Beginning in the 13th century, Tibetan Buddhist communities began to identify the incarnations of their dead masters in the bodies of newborn children. Generation by generation, new practices of interpretation were developed for this purpose. These included careful examination of the infant and toddler behavior, the careful analysis of dreams and natural signs, and the experiences of parents and close family members. In time, these local traditions of interpreting the minds of children became a dominant, trans-regional form of reproducing religious, social, and economic power and authority in Tibet and a unique feature of its Buddhism. The institution of the Dalai Lamas is only the best known of thousands of such incarnation lineages who spread over the last eight centuries not only in Tibetan societies, but also across the Himalaya and Inner Asia, in Sikkim, Bhutan, Mongolia, China, and beyond. The remarkable success of Tibetan Buddhism across large parts of Asia and, in the 20th century, around the world is in many ways due to this tradition of identifying children as the incarnation of previous Buddhist masters. Drawing from my larger dissertation project on the cultural history of practices to identify such incarnations, this presentation will focus on the earliest period, from c. 1200-1500. In these centuries, local interpretations of unusual children were the dominant kind of identification. This presentation looks at ways of understanding and exploring childhood consciousness and experience, as well as the nature of Buddhahood, through these ancient practices.

Date: May 26th, 2021
Start Time: 1:30pm