Ron Miguel Bertenshaw

3MT 2024 Finalist Ron Miguel Bertenshaw

2024 Runner Up

Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, Health Sciences

Thesis: Helping the Brain Help Itself

Introduce yourself:

I am a current graduate student in Dr. Ian Winship's lab in the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute here at the University of Alberta. I started in the lab as a fourth year thesis student in the Undergraduate Neuroscience program and have been hooked on stroke research ever since. Outside of the lab, I've been very passionately involved with initiatives involving science communication, inclusion, and diversity!

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

Ischemic strokes are a significant contributor to adult deaths and disabilities in the world, and part of the problem is that many stroke patients today still leave their treatment and rehabilitation regimens with some level of a permanent disability. My research is on this protein called pleiotrophin (PTN), specifically looking at what its role in the brain is after stroke and how it may help improve functional recovery by promoting neuroplasticity in the brain.

How does presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help you to explain your research to the public?

Being able to relay your knowledge succinctly to people with different levels of understanding really goes to show how well you know your research, and so I wanted to take this as a challenge for myself. Additionally, having participated in an international synthetic biology competition like iGEM in the past, I understand the importance of being able to relay and promote your research towards a wider audience for accessibility, generating stakeholder interest, and spreading awareness.

What inspires you to do research?

Ever since I attended a certain Shrek play in high school, I have come to love learning anything and everything there is to know about the brain! Studying neuroscience has given me many "aha!" moments, and learning about the intricacies of the nervous system has been nothing short of immensely gratifying.

What are three key words important to your 3MT?

Strokes, recovery, neuroplasticity.

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities?

Strokes are a debilitating disease, with disease prevalence and burden having significantly increased within the past few years. The insights gained from my research can lead to the generation of new potential therapeutic targets for recovery, or validate targets that have been implicated in previous studies. In learning more about pleiotrophin (PTN) and its role in post-stroke neuroplasticity, we hope that it can help supplement stroke therapies down the line and improve the overall functional recovery of stroke patients everywhere.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

I would like to dedicate my research to everyone I have worked with inside and outside the lab who has shaped me into the scientific researcher I am today. I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Ian Winship, all of my previous and current lab mates, my peers in the neuroscience graduate program, my previous iGEM team members, friends, family, and anyone else that I may have crossed paths with in my academic journey.

Ron Miguel Bertenshaw – Helping the Brain Help Itself

Watch Ron's Three Minute Thesis