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Director's Corner: Radioactivity in the Food Chain
The earth calls upon tremendous resources to heal itself in times of great
insult. Thus, over the last two centuries or so, the effects of man-made
and natural disasters have been mitigated by the capacity of our planet to
self-repair over time. The oceans have a vast capacity for self-correction.
The oil spill in the Gulf, over decades of biodegradation, will eventually
clear. Volcanic ash, which threatened to completely disable air travel,
eventually cleared from the atmosphere. Airborne pollution from Asian
industries has dumped high levels of mercury into the Pacific Ocean,
forcing the recommendation that pregnant women and children consume only
small portions of sport fish per month. Control of industrial pollution in
Asia would over time reduce the amount of mercury entering the food chain.
So far, there is an “exit strategy” – albeit lengthy - for each new injury.
However, since the 1950’s when atomic testing began, up through Three Mile
Island and Chernobyl, and most recently the catastrophe in Japan, the scope
of the damage to the environment by nuclear fallout has increased far
beyond public comprehension. Why?
This is because once certain isotopes of nuclear fallout artificially
generated by damaged reactors enter the food chain they never leave.
Although radioactive iodine has a relatively “short” half-life, other
elements, like certain isotopes of cesium, remain radioactive for thousands
and thousands of years. Some of these man-made isotopes, such as
strontium-90, were non-existent in the food chain prior to atomic testing.
Now, every organism on earth has measurable amounts of strontium-90. Once
in the food chain these elements are recycled forever.
Once in the chain, there is no exit and no escape.
These isotopes can enter the food chain through discarded radioactive fish
like tuna and swordfish that have ingested intensely radioactive seawater
used to cool the damaged reactors. The Japanese have now come to recognize
that this is a hopeless situation for their fishing industry, and dooms the
world to what was first perceived of as a unique, limited Japanese peril.
The publicity surrounding the contamination and destruction of sport fish,
each fish bringing in up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Asian
fish markets, has suddenly caused a re-evaluation of world wide nuclear
policy, even though the effects of the atomic testing of the 1950’s and the
Three Mile Island and Chernobyl reactor event are still preventing food
crop use in large, uninhabitable areas surrounding these reactors. Around
Chernobyl, for example, still, one cannot eat any food products, milk,
vegetables, or animals that live near the decimated reactor. This, even
though the reactor is entombed in concrete.
And so this is our legacy; unprecedented in our lifetimes, and in the
lifetimes of all of our grandchildren far into the future. The solution,
and it is taking the world far too long to implement it, is to as rapidly
and efficiently as possible, seal the damaged reactors in concrete.
More about energy policy and how it will affect Canadians in a future
Please send any comments about the Director's Corner to
Albert Aguayo, new Laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of
Researcher, visionary thinker and
scientific leader Albert Aguayo was selected for induction into the
Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. Aguayo is best known for his research
demonstrating that the central nervous system of mammals could regenerate
after injury, findings that went against current dogma at the time. This
landmark work opened the door to a vast body of research on neural
regeneration and provided hope that this new knowledge would lead to
effective therapies for patients with spinal cord injury.
Trained in medicine in Argentina and in neurology at Toronto and McGill,
Aguayo focused his career on basic research and served as the Director of
the Centre for Research in Neuroscience at McGill for 15 years. He served
as President of the Society for Neuroscience and the International Brain
Research Organization. Aguayo will be inducted on April 28 in London,
Ontario, and joins other McGill scientists the Canadian Medical Hall of
Fame, including Wilder Penfield, Herbert Jasper, Brenda Milner and Bill
Feindel from the Neuro.
The Neuro’s Newly Re-Designed Intensive Care Unit
The Neuro’s ICU has reopened after a complete
face lift. The goal of the new design was to revitalize and reorganize the
space to create a quieter, more efficient environment for staff and
patients. The ICU now has a new central workstation designed to reduce
noise levels and improve patient monitoring and confidentiality. Space
beside patient beds is now large enough to accommodate state of the art
computerized medical equipment to better serve patients. The original
meeting room has been transformed with computer systems permitting access
to electronic records. Access to the ICU is now controlled by a swipe card
system, reducing traffic and nonessential personnel in this critical care
unit. Optimizing the physical environment for patients, clinicians and
staff helps to promote continuous flow and ensures that processes are free
of waste. Congratulations to the ICU team and all involved in making the
renovation a reality.
Honouring George Karpati
Muscular Dystrophy Canada has
created the Dr. George Karpati Award. This annual award will be presented
at MDC's Annual General Meeting to an exemplary neuromuscular clinician or
researcher who has made a significant contribution to neuromuscular
research, the advancement of care of people with neuromuscular disorders,
or to Muscular Dystrophy Canada in the past year in the areas of public
awareness, services and/or fundraising.
This award is dedicated in honour of Dr. George Karpati, who passed away
suddenly in February 2009. Dr. Karpati was a leading expert in the
diagnosis, treatment and care of patients with neuromuscular disorders. He
also led a world-class research team at The Neuro that sought to establish
gene transfer techniques for the treatment of muscular dystrophy. Among his
many achievements, Dr. Karpati was the first to demonstrate that dystrophin
localizes beneath the muscle cell membrane, and that dystrophin is absent
in muscle fibres of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. A devoted
friend of Muscular Dystrophy Canada, Dr. Karpati was a long-standing
volunteer and member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee.
The First Annual Charity Fashion
, held on April 1st at Vincent Massey Collegiate, raised more
than $15,000 for the Brain Tumour Clinic at The Neuro. Organizer Sabrina
Gagliardi, a teacher at VMC, and a host of volunteers organized the event
in memory of Sabrina’s late husband, Modestino Di Fonzo who was a long time
patient at the Clinic. Thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors for their
heartfelt efforts. For more information, please see CTV Report
with Christine Long, who emceed the event.
To celebrate the life of Michael Hendy who
passed away in the summer of 2010, his family and friends organized the
on April 7th, which raised more than $55,000
towards increasing awareness for bacterial meningitis and a Hemedex
Cerebral Blood Flow Monitoring System for The Neuro. The equipment is
indispensable for monitoring meningitis and other neurological conditions,
and can significantly alter treatment outcomes. Thanks to all the
volunteers and sponsors, including Margaret Trudeau, who was a lively
emcee, and Dr. Jeanne Teitelbaum, who spoke about Michael and the
importance of the monitoring system to the treatment of meningitis and to
Virgin Radio for covering the Gala Virgin Radio
The town of Markham, Ontario, has proclaimed April 22 as B-Strong
Day in memory of Lindsay Bolger, who shortly after being diagnosed
with a rare brain tumour in 2005, founded the B-Strong Fund to raise money
for The Neuro and the Princess Margaret Hospital. After a four-year battle
with cancer, Lindsay succumbed to the disease in November 2009 but her
legacy will live on as her B-Strong Fund continues to raise money for
cancer research. The 5th B-Strong Bash will take place on September 30,
2011 at Angus Glen Golf Club.
Lindsay was treated at The Neuro by Dr. Rolando Del Maestro.
Das Experiment, Neuro Film Series, April 19
Thomas Stroh, Director of the Neuro’s Microscopy Unit, will host Das
Experiment, a provocative 2001 German film about a social experiment,
similar to the 1971 Stanford prison experiment, which explores the dynamics
of power and the impact of social roles on human behavior. Stroh, a
researcher who studies chemo-receptors on the surface of neurons, will lead
a discussion of the film. All are welcome to this free showing at 6:30 pm
in the Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre at the Neuro.
Spring Fling, April 20
Come, be entertained AND impressed by the multitude of talents hiding in
our midst! Spring Fling show time is Noon, April 20 in the Jeanne Timmins
Interdisciplinary Neuro Palliative Care Rounds, April
Clinical Nurse Specialist Rosa Sourial and Nursing Practice Consultant
Louise Fullerton will discuss the topic, Dying from a Stroke.
Sourial and Fullerton are well respected and experienced nurses whose work
has advanced the care for patients with a life-limiting stroke. All are
welcome to attend this presentation at Noon on April 28 in the Jeanne
Timmins Amphitheatre. A light lunch will be offered at 11:45. Please
register in advance with Debbie Rashcovsky at email@example.com
The Brenda Milner Lecture and Neuropsychology Day, May
Maguire from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University
College London will deliver the 14th annual Brenda Milner Lecture entitled,
Scenes, spaces and the hippocampus, as part of Neuropsychology Day
on May 2. Maguire, who is interested in how we understand large scale space
and our personal experiences within it, will lecture at 4:30 pm in the
Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre. Researchers from the Cognitive Neuroscience
Unit will present posters about their work in the Timmins foyer from 2 to 4
pm. All are welcome to attend these events.
Ira Byock will present The Ethics and Practice of Loving Care, May
Ira Byock, Director of Palliative Care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical
Center, will deliver the 14th annual Sandra Goldberg Lecture entitled,
The Ethics and Practice of Loving Care in McGill’s Moyse Hall at
5:30 pm on May 4. All are welcome to attend this lecture as part of
Palliative Care Week, May 2-6. To learn about other presentations this week
or to view Byock’s lecture online, see at http://www.council-on-palliative-care.org
Brain Tumour Research Centre Official Unveiling of the Donor Wall,
On Monday, May 9 at 5:00 p.m., The Neuro will recognize individuals,
families, foundations and corporations who supported the BTRC fundraising
campaign (1997 – 2002), as well as major donors since the campaign who have
supported brain tumour research and clinical care. The event will take
place in the de Grandpré Communications Centre of the BTRC. The BTRC was
inaugurated in 2002 to combine the best possible clinical care and research
focused on brain tumours. Since then, thousands of patients have been
treated in our neurosurgery suites and in the Brain Tumour Clinic, and new
scientists and clinicians have been recruited to the BTRC.
Barry Connors to deliver Herbert Jasper Lecture, May
Barry Connors, Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Brown University,
will deliver the Herbert Jasper Lecture entitled, What are electrical
synapses doing in the mammalian forebrain. All are welcome to this
lecture on May 17 at 4 pm in the de Grandpré Centre. Herbert
Jasper (1909-1999) is known as a pioneer in neuroscience for his
studies of the electrophysiology of the brain and for developing
electroencephalography (EEG) as a research and diagnostic tool. Wilder
Penfield met Jasper at Brown University where he had established his first
EEG lab. On Penfield’s invitation, Jasper brought his portable EEG machine
across the border many times to collaborate with researchers and clinicians
at the Neuro, and was recruited to establish the Neuro’s Neurophysiology
and EEG lab, which he directed from 1946 to 1964. He later moved to the
University of Montreal and focused on neurochemical and microelectrode
techniques. Jasper, a founder of the International Brain Research
Organization, received many awards and honors, including the Albert
Einstein World Award for Science.
Neuro Convocation, May 19
Members of the faculty and staff, and supporters of the Neuro will be
honored with awards that will be conferred at the Neuro Convocation. Please
plan to join us at 3:00 pm on May 19 in the Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre to
celebrate the achievements of these friends and colleagues.
In the News
The work of scientists and clinicians at The Neuro is frequently in the
news so you can stay up to date by following our media coverage.
Etienne De Villers-Sidani was interviewed about
hallucinations near death and the possible causes for a report ‘Démystifier
la mort’ on Radio-Canada program ‘Les Docteurs’ [watch section 4/6]
Brain Awareness Week organizer Anne-Julie Chabot was
interviewed by Agence Science Presse. BAW Open House was covered on
Global TV. Brain Bee organizer Judith Antoine-Bertrand was
interviewed by CJAD Radio.
A new study led by Amit Bar-Or had coverage on the web,
read the press release Multiple Sclerosis: risk factors in children.
Amit Bar-Or was interviewed for an article about Multiple
Sclerosis, recounting Jennifer Pevec’s experience with the disease in
Montreal en Sante magazine
Continuing local and international coverage on the
study of how listening to pleasurable music releases dopamine
in the brain The Arizona Republic, Berlingske Tidente (Denmark),
McGill Daily, SETI Institute Radio, The Journal Gazette, Global TV (April 10)
Congratulations to ...
Advisory Board member and National Chair of the Neuro Annual Fund, has been
awarded the McGill Alumni Association’s E.P. Taylor Award for her
outstanding voluntary service to The Neuro. She will receive her award and
be honoured at the MAA’s Awards Banquet on Thursday, May 26, 2011.
from The Study and Laurianne Garabed
Sainte-Marcelline, winners of 2011 Montreal Brain Bee. Both students will
move on to compete at the Fourth Annual CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee
McMaster University, May 27-28, 2011.
Condolences to ...
Friends and family of Warren Chippindale (1928-2010) who
will gather on May 7 for a memorial service to celebrate his life and his
dedicated service to The Neuro and to McGill University. Warren was a
loving patriarch, an inspiring mentor and wise advisor who is deeply missed
by those who were privileged to know him. Warren’s many accomplishments
were noted in the December
issue of the Neuro News. His family welcomes all those who wish to
remember Warren to join them on May 7 at 1:30 pm in the Jeanne Timmins
Amphitheatre at The Neuro, 3801 University Street.
Director - David R. Colman, PhD
Senior Management - Martine Alfonso; Mark Angle, MD; Phil Barker, PhD; Rob
Dunn, PhD; Lucia Fabijan; Tom Gevas; Elizabeth Kofron, PhD; Catherine Rowe;
Donatella Tampieri, MD
Neuro News: Elizabeth Kofron, PhD & Sandra McPherson, PhD
Please send any items for the Neuro News to
Sandra McPherson or