FoMD in the News

A round-up of news stories featuring the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Compiled by Ross Neitz - 27 November 2020

This is a roundup of relevant news and media stories involving the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. We appreciate you relaying information that is relevant to faculty members in your respective areas.


National Post: University of Alberta research team poised to cure diabetes—again

James Shapiro, professor of surgery at the University of Alberta, discusses a new stem cell process that has been able to cure diabetes in mice and he is hopeful the process will translate to humans. "We're at the point where we can reliably manufacture insulin producing cells from patients' blood who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and we have been doing this now for the last several months in the lab." Coverage also appears on CTV News, CTV News Morning, Global News, CBC Radio Atlantic, and in the Cochrane Times.

The Canadian Press (via Global News): Alberta study finds telltale COVID-19 symptoms in kids are fever, loss of taste or smell and nausea

Professor of medicine Finlay McAlister is interviewed about new U of A research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showing that one-third of children who tested positive for COVID-19 had no symptoms, but in those that did, loss of taste/smell, headache, fever and nausea/vomiting were most strongly associated with positive cases. The story was also featured on Global News: Health Matters, CBC News, CTV News Channel and several other media outlets. 

UK Express: Coronavirus symptoms: Gastrointestinal signs occur in 20 percent of COVID patients - why?

Mitch Wilson, a radiologist and clinical lecturer at the U of A, comments on his study review that found that one in five patients with COVID-19 may only show gastrointestinal symptoms. He says, "There's a growing amount of literature showing that abdominal symptomatology is a common presentation for COVID-19." Coverage also appears on the Weather Channel and in the Daily Mail, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Science Times, Daijiworld, Nauka W Polsce, Alkhaleej Today, News Medical, HealthDay, WebMD, Pharmacy Times and several other sources.


The London Free Press (via Postmedia): London researchers honing in on rapid blood test for COVID-19

David Wishart, professor in the U of A’s Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, is quoted in this story about a study he co-authored. It's hoped the findings could lead to a rapid finger-prick blood test to screen for the disease.

The Gateway: University of Alberta researchers receive new funding to test for COVID-19 immunity

U of A professor of medicine Nicola Cherry and assistant professor of laboratory medicine and pathology Andrei Drabovich will each receive funding to support their research into COVID-19. The funding is a joint initiative between Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

Global News Edmonton: Health Matters:  Wearable device in testing promises to provide crucial supports to MS patients 

Hossein Rouhani, an assistant adjunct professor of biomedical engineering, is interviewed about a device his team helped develop that could help manage or even diagnose multiple sclerosis. He says, "Early detection can help reduce complications of MS," and remote monitoring means fewer visitors to the hospital. Coverage also appears on several other Global newscasts across Canada.

Redbook: How Safe are Breast Implants?

Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, a professor of medicine at the U of A, discusses his research into the safety of breast implants and says, “It’s been known for 25 years that silicone implants can leak.”

The Globe and Mail: Universities, student researchers team up to fight COVID-19 

John Vederas (Faculty of Science), professor of biochemistry Joanne Lemieux and Lorne Tyrrell, director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, have joined forces to investigate if a drug used to treat feline peritonitis could have treatment potential in humans in the fight against COVID-19. Within months, they have been able to demonstrate that the drug worked on a live virus.

Global News Edmonton: Diabetes study aimed at intervention

Mahua Ghosh, an associate professor of medicine at the U of A, is interviewed about a study aimed at helping Type 2 diabetes patients go into remission.

CBC News Edmonton: Can Vitamin D help COVID-19 patients?

Aldo Montano-Loza, a professor of medicine at the U of A, is interviewed about his research exploring whether high doses of vitamin D can help people who contract the virus.

Global News Edmonton: An app to help care for adults with disabilities

Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the U of A, is interviewed about a new app that helps primary care doctors treat and care for adults with developmental disabilities. He says that loved ones and caregivers can also use the information to guide health-care interactions.

Global News: Beloved Edmonton events are adapting to COVID-19 rules this holiday season

Alzheimer's research at the U of A is mentioned as the benefactor of fundraising efforts from the 2020 Virtual Festival of Trees. 

Global News Edmonton: Health Matters: new device can detect stroke

Brian Buck, an associate professor of medicine at the U of A, is interviewed about this new device that could be a game-changer in diagnosing patients experiencing a stroke. He says the device will help first responders determine if the patient should be taken to a stroke centre (at 2:49 of the video).

Wired: How a Medication for OCD Ended Up in a Covid-19 Trial

Professor Sandy McEwan discusses clinical trials of the drug fluvoxamine as a means to treat COVID-19. The data are “certainly very promising” and McEwan hopes the drug gets taken into “a UK-style dexamethasone study where it can be quickly and rigorously tested in a larger population with clear outcomes.”

CBC News: Machine learning can fill in missing information in public health data, U of A research shows 

Kai On Wong, a senior data scientist at the Real World Evidence unit of the Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre, is interviewed about his research into a new machine learning tool that could help fill significant gaps in Canada's public health data.

CTV News: Two studies will help determine whether health-care workers in Canada are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19

Nicola Cherry, a professor of medicine at the U of A, is interviewed about a study to determine why so many health-care workers are contracting COVID-19, what protective measures work and how stress, anxiety and infections can be reduced as the second wave of the pandemic continues.


CBC News: Why our immune system might be better at fighting COVID-19 than we think

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger discusses a recent study about COVID viral antibodies and says, "There are lots of examples of low antibody levels getting boosted up quickly when you are re-exposed to an infectious agent due to B cell memory pumping out antibodies on re-exposure." 

CBC News: What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday, Nov. 2 

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about new social gathering restrictions in Alberta given the current case numbers. "Depending on where things are going, a pretty sweeping, broad lockdown—which is what everyone wanted to avoid—might be required to get the numbers down to a simmer," Saxinger said.

Edmonton Journal: Schools aren't super-spreaders of COVID-19 among kids, evidence shows: Groundwork

Allison Carroll, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the U of A, is interviewed about new studies that show younger children are less likely to be super-spreaders of COVID-19. She says, "Younger students do not seem to be significantly infected or at least detected, or spreaders of the disease as opposed to older children." As a result, kids and teens no longer have to isolate for just a sore throat or runny nose. Lynora Saxinger is also interviewed about this policy change on CBC Edmonton AM.

Good Times: What are skin tags?

Lee Green, professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine, gives expert comment on the topic of skin tags and their removal.

Canadian Press (via The Star): How to combat COVID fatigue: experts say clear messaging, safe social options needed

Vincent Agyapong, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the U of A, comments about COVID fatigue and says that as cases rise, some may be feeling their efforts to curb the disease were futile. The story appears in nearly 100 sources across Canada.

Calgary Herald: Alberta records 2,268 COVID-19 cases, 15 deaths in four days; Mayor Nenshi 'extremely troubled'

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about the spike in COVID cases in Alberta and says, “This is a really concerning sign that there are probably many more infections out there that we haven’t caught yet.” She is also interviewed about test positivity rates on CBC News Calgary.

CBC News Calgary: Calgary's active COVID-19 cases leapt 331% in one month 

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about the spike in COVID cases in Alberta and says,"I think history would judge us harshly if we actually don't really address [the numbers] quite clearly and firmly, and ... that is something that I think we'll be looking for over the next few days."

Canadian Press (via The National Post): Infectious disease expert says human case of rare swine flu in Alberta likely a one-off

Lynora Saxinger says it’s shocking to hear about Canada’s first human case of a rare swine flu variant, but she expects it’s likely a one-off situation. The story appears in 133 other sources including Global News.

Global News Radio: The Danielle Smith Show: Is Alberta reaching a tipping point with COVID-19?

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about spiking COVID cases and what behaviours are contributing to them. She says diagnosing where transmission occurs should determine what restrictions are put in place.

CBC News Edmonton: Experts call for stricter COVID-19 measures in Calgary and Edmonton

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about people in Edmonton and Calgary being asked to stop holding social gatherings in their homes. Saxinger is also interviewed for a COVID-19 Globe and Mail story (behind paywall), Postmedia and another CBC News story.

CBC News Edmonton: Face coverings for all seasons: Mandatory mask bylaw likely to last through winter, spring

Allison Carroll, a pediatric respirologist at the U of A, is interviewed for this story about the City of Edmonton planning to extend its mandatory face-covering bylaw to May 31, 2021. Carroll said on a daily basis she notices people wearing masks with their noses exposed.

BMJ Opinion: Peter Brindley: Covid-19 fatigue and “masking” how we feel

Peter Brindley, a professor of critical care medicine at the U of A, pens an opinion piece sympathizing with people about how frustrated and tired of the pandemic everyone is feeling. 

630 CHED Afternoons: Talking with Dr. Lorne Tyrrell – Pfizer has announced their COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective

Lorne Tyrrell, director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, gives expert comment on the announcement from pharmaceutical company Pfizer that its COVID-19 candidate vaccine may be 90 per cent effective. Coverage also appears on CBC Radio Active and CBC Alberta at Noon.

Global News: ‘Canary in the coal mine’: Alberta doctors sound alarm on rising COVID-19 cases

Infectious-disease specialists Stephanie Smith and Lynora Saxinger are interviewed as a number of Alberta physicians are sounding the alarm on the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Noel Gibney, professor emeritus with the Department of Medicine, is interviewed in related CBC News Edmonton and CTV News Calgary stories.

Canadian Press (via Cochrane Today): Despite Pfizer success, a lot has to happen before vaccine rollout in Canada: experts

Lynora Saxinger said she expects multiple COVID-19 vaccines to be in circulation within the next year, as pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says early results from its coronavirus vaccine trial suggest a 90 per cent efficacy rate at preventing COVID-19. 

Global National: What is a coronavirus ‘circuit-breaker'? A pivot in strategy with pros and cons

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed in this story about a possible short shutdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. She said with “hard and short” restrictions like a circuit-breaker, the aim is to “dial back the clock” for public health. She is also interviewed on CBC The Dose about the topic. Saxinger also does a COVID-19 Q and A session for viewers on the CBC News Network and CHQR Radio and an interview with the Edmonton Journal about how schools are coping with COVID-19 outbreaks.

CBC Radio: Alberta at Noon: Your vaccine questions answered

Lorne Tyrrell, director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, answers listeners' questions about what people should do when a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Professor of oncology John Lewis is also interviewed by the Toronto Star about the logistics of delivering the vaccine.

Edmonton Journal: David Staples: What measures will best get us through COVID outbreak? No magic answers, Hinshaw says

Ari Joffe, clinical professor of pediatrics at the U of A, is mentioned in this opinion piece which talks about the downside of a COVID-19 lockdown. Joffe, the column says, has pointed out that stringent lockdown has also been linked to unemployment, opioid deaths, painful isolation and mental health woes.

Globe and Mail: Experts around the world say to wear a mask indoors. But do province-wide mandates work? 

Tehseen Ladha, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the U of A, is interviewed about this topic and says there's a need for strong and consistent messaging. (Behind paywall) She is also interviewed by CBC News Network about a letter she and other doctors signed calling for tougher public health restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.

CTV Alberta Primetime: Short, sharp lockdown would be helpful

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about how a short 'circuit breaker' lockdown could help the COVID-19 surge situation. She is also interviewed by Global News and CBC Radio.

Washington Post: Canadian coronavirus cases grow and spread as once-effective unity frays

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed in this article about the growing spread of COVID-19 in Canada and says the pandemic is becoming "increasingly political." Leyla Asadi joins Saxinger in saying the restrictions announced last week are "simply inadequate." The two are also quoted in an Edmonton Journal story. Saxinger is also interviewed in a Globe and Mail article (behind paywall), the Red Deer Advocate and CBC News Network (no link). Peter Brindley, a professor of critical care medicine, says "second wave" doesn't do justice to what’s unfolding on the frontlines of the health-care system in this Global News interview. Infectious-disease specialist Ilan Schwartz talks about record COVID-19 numbers on CTV News Channel.

Canadian Press (via CityNews) Canada surpasses 300,000 COVID-19 cases, more than 100,000 in past month

Ilan Schwartz is interviewed in this article about rapidly rising COVID cases. He says “widespread restrictions" are needed to prevent the skyrocketing spike projected by COVID modellers. (Story appears in multiple outlets across Canada)

Calgary Herald: Opinion: With time running out in Alberta, a 'circuit-breaker' is our best chance

Lynora Saxinger pens this opinion piece on the urgent need for a 'circuit breaker' to contain the surge in COVID-19 cases. She is also interviewed on Global News Radio.  

The Star: Quebec unlikely to relax ‘red-zone’ restrictions as planned on Nov. 23: premier

Pediatric infectious-disease specialist Joan Robinson discusses the efficacy of closing schools after the holiday break. She said, “You’re doing it so adults can have more socializing over the Christmas period.”

CBC News: Rising COVID-19 cases spark talk of widespread school closures, extending holiday break

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about circuit breaker lockdowns. "To some extent, to maximize the benefit of a circuit breaker, you could make an argument that schools should be included at least for the first couple of weeks, because that's the kind of crucial period," said Saxinger.

Vice: What the COVID Vaccine Rollout Will Look Like in Canada

Lynora Saxinger discusses how a COVID-19 vaccination will look in Canada, and said it’s likely Canada will end up using a “menu of vaccines,” with some that might work better for different populations for different reasons.

iNews880: "Don't give up" as COVID-19 cases continue to climb

Professor of critical care medicine Peter Brindley sympathizes with people during COVID-19 and urges them to remain hopeful. Assistant professor of pediatrics Tehseen Ladha says COVID-19 cases will continue to climb if restrictions aren't tightened in an interview on CBC Radio One.

CTV News: Ottawa still negotiating with provinces on how to roll out COVID vaccines

Lorne Tyrrell, director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, is interviewed about the rollout of COVID vaccines. Tyrrell says the virus is more dangerous than any side-effects you may endure from the vaccine, encouraging all Albertans to take it when it's readily available. 

BBC Radio: The search for Covid-19 vaccines growing

Michael Houghton, professor of medical microbiology and immunology and Nobel Laureate, is interviewed about how the search for COVID-19 vaccines has moved the science of such work forward. Story starts at the 16:42 mark.

CBC News: What you need to know as we get closer to a COVID-19 vaccine

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed in this story about COVID-19 vaccines. Though it is unknown how long a vaccine would retain its immunity, Saxinger is encouraged by the messenger RNA technology in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Saxinger is also interviewed in a CBC News story about the 'infodemic' that comes along with the pandemic.

Edmonton Journal: Alberta is bracing for more restrictions: Here are three ways to stem COVID-19 damage

Ari Joffe, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the U of A, is interviewed in this column about how to minimize the pandemic's damage to health and society. Joffe said the cost of lockdowns in Canada is at least 10 times higher than the benefit in terms of population health and well-being, at least if you account for numerous variables such as economic recession and social isolation and their known impacts on life expectancy. Assistant professor of pediatrics Tehseen Ladha is also interviewed on CTV News Channel and said the longer Alberta takes to go into a lockdown, the higher the risk of a collapse of the health-care system.

CBC News: Doctors, health-care advocates say Alberta's new restrictions are inadequate

Ilan Schwartz and Tehseen Ladha react to the province's newest measures to check the spread of COVID-19, saying the new restrictions don't go far enough. Ladha is also interviewed by CTV News Channel.

CBC News: Personal responsibility, government inaction and Alberta's COVID crisis

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed in this analysis piece that weighs personal responsibility versus government action in controlling the pandemic. "Every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book," she said. She thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do. 

CBC Edmonton AM: Are new public health measures enough?

Infectious-disease specialist Stephanie Smith weighs in on new public health measures in Alberta to stem the spread of COVID-19. She believes the restrictions aren't going to go far enough to produce a significant impact. Ilan Schwartz is also interviewed by CBC News Edmonton and Lynora Saxinger tells the Calgary Herald without knowing the source of thousands of new cases, the government’s restrictions could miss the mark.

CBC News: How risky is it to go shopping now? Your coronavirus questions answered 

Adrian Wagg, director of the U of A’s Division of Geriatric Medicine, is interviewed about whether it's safe for seniors to go mall walking. He said it's not a risk as long as you stay more than two metres apart from others, wash your hands regularly and wear your mask. 


University Affairs: Meet Canada’s newest Nobel Prize winner

U of A virologist Michael Houghton talks viruses, accelerated vaccine trials, and the importance of pursuing challenging areas of medicine.

CBC Radio Active: Generous donation helps fund new library

Geoffrey Sperber (professor emeritus, Dentistry) and Dale Askey (vice-provost and chief librarian, Library and Museums) are interviewed about one of the largest donations in the history of the U of A that will help build a new health sciences library. The story is also featured on CBC News Edmonton.

Edmonton Journal: Prominent U of A neuroscientist dies from COVID-19 after outbreak at Edmonton General

Richard “Dick” Stein, a prominent U of A neuroscientist, is remembered. The scientist, renowned for his work with biomedical devices, died from COVID-19. Coverage also appears on CityNews.

My Yellowknife Now: Report outlines health problems in Northwest Territories

Story notes that the U of A partnered with the government of the Northwest Territories to produce educational videos about dealing with cancer, in the government's bid to improve community awareness and understanding of the cancer care system.

CTV News Edmonton: Local doctor, emergency dispatcher 'likely saved the lives of 8 Edmontonians' from CO leak

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is recognizing the actions of an unnamed U of A doctor and an emergency dispatcher, saying their quick thinking likely saved eight lives after a carbon monoxide leak.