FoMD in the News

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

By ROSS NEITZ - 30 October 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 Public Radio: 3 Scientists Win Nobel Prize For Hepatitis C Virus Discovery 


Three scientists Monday won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the hepatitis C virus, which led to the development of a test to prevent the spread of the virus and drugs that have saved millions of lives. University of Alberta virologist Michael Houghton, Harvey Alter of the National Institutes of Health and Charles Rice, who is now at Rockefeller University, will share the 10 million Swedish krona ($1.1 million) prize. Story is run by numerous media outlets globally, through newswire services Reuters, Associated Press, and news outlets such as Globe and Mail, Nature, Times Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, CBC News Network and CTV

New York Times: Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded to Scientists Who Discovered Hepatitis C Virus

Michael Houghton is one of three researchers jointly honoured for their contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem. Coverage also appears in the National Post, Smithsonian, Forbes, CNN, Bloomberg, UPI, Canadian Press, CBC News, CBC News (video), Global News Edmonton, CityNews, The Star NewsHindustan Times, The Star News (2), CTV Morning news, CTV National News, CTV News Channel, CBC Radio As It Happens and numerous other media outlets.


Regina Leader-Post: More smokeless cannabis products are coming to Shoppers Drug Mart

Alberta-based producer Atlas Growers collaborated with researchers at the U of A on some cannabis-related products that will soon be distributed across Shoppers Drug Mart's more than 1,300 stores nationwide.

Caledon Enterprise: How to manage screen time for children learning remotely 

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt life for Ontarians, high school students are learning through a hybrid in-school and at-home model and elementary school students who haven’t returned to the classroom are learning from home full time. Story references a 2019 U of A study about the effects on children exposed to too much screen time.

CTV News: Researcher at University of Alberta working on coronavirus vaccine panel 

A prominent Alberta virology expert believes a COVID-19 vaccine will be available to Canadians by the spring. Lorne Tyrrell, director of the U of A’s Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, is part of a panel looking into the development of vaccines and advising the federal government.

CBC Edmonton AM: A Nobel Prize surprise for an Edmonton doctor

Lorne Tyrrell is interviewed about colleague Michael Houghton's Nobel win.

The List: Why everyone is talking about Mike Pence's red eye at the VP debate

Carlos Solarte, assistant professor of ophthalmology, conducted research about pink eye as a possible symptom of COVID-19. The U of A study is referenced in a story noting that vice president Mike Pence appeared to have an irritated eye at the vice-presidential debate.

The Conversation: How an Alberta researcher’s discovery of hepatitis C led to the Nobel Prize and saved lives

U of A virologist Michael Houghton's win of the Nobel Prize is discussed in this opinion piece, which states that the recognition is yet a further testimonial of the need for discovery research to address the ravages of viral disease.

Forbes: The 2020 Nobel Prizes Are Awarded, Reminding The World Of The Human Capacity For Progress

Michael Houghton is mentioned in this article that focuses on the contributions of this year's Nobel winners.

CBC News: A closer look at Canada's homegrown COVID-19 vaccine candidates

Michael Houghton is interviewed about his work on a COVID-19 vaccine and other Canadian vaccine candidates are explored, including efforts by U of A spinoff company Entos Pharmaceuticals. 

Nature: The unsung heroes of the Nobel-winning hepatitis C discovery

Michael Houghton comments on his mixed emotions on receiving the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine while his research colleagues on the discovery were not acknowledged. In a Times Higher Education article, Houghton also explains why we should be ‘a bit more patient’ for a coronavirus vaccine. (Behind pay wall)

The Weather Network: A COVID vaccine is just the start, complicated decisions ahead 

Oncology professor John Lewis is interviewed about the COVID-19 vaccine his team is developing. He said their potential vaccine will be a single dose, like the flu shot, and they are entering clinical trials within the next few weeks.

Global News Edmonton: University of Alberta team lists the riskiest aerosol-generating procedures for health professionals

Sebastian Straube, a professor of medicine at the U of A, is interviewed about the riskiest procedures for medical professionals during the pandemic. Coverage also appears on CBC News, CBC Radio Active and Florence Health.

St. Albert Gazette: ‘There were some dark nights’: Oilfield workers fight for jobs and hope as industry flounders

Vincent Agyapong, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the U of A, is interviewed about how fluctuations in the economy contribute to the mental-health problems of people working in oil and gas. He said, in part, “Those who traditionally or ordinarily are more stable become vulnerable because they probably have been impacted by the recession.”

Bluenose Bulletin: New app helps family doctors care for adults with disabilities

Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor at the U of A, has created an app that he hopes will improve medical care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Mental Daily: VX-765 Identified As A Strong Candidate Therapy For Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers at the U of A have identified a strong candidate therapy for multiple sclerosis, known as VX-765. Published in the journal Glia, the study explains the anti-inflammatory drug is purported to substantially reduce the disease’s progression, making it a central focus in the discovery of a newer effective treatment for multiple sclerosis. Coverage also appears in Drug Target Review.

AT Today: Canadian university developing pioneering wearable tech to help people with neurological conditions

Hossein Rouhani, an assistant adjunct professor of biomedical engineering, and Chester Ho, a professor of medicine, are interviewed about an affordable, wearable sensor to help people suffering from chronic neurologic conditions. They say lockdowns have highlighted the significant benefits of wearable devices that can expand virtual health care and remote patient monitoring for many different medical conditions.

Fierce Biotech: How a drug derived from antiparasitic might combat blood cancer

Cancer cells rely on different signalling pathways to promote their survival. Now, scientists at the U of A have promising preclinical evidence that a new drug could work in blood cancers by targeting B-cell signalling. Luc Berthiaume, a professor of cell biology, is quoted. Coverage also appears on CTV News Edmonton and in Troy Media.

Global News: Edmonton company receives federal funds to develop COVID-19 vaccine

U of A professor of oncology John Lewis is interviewed about how the company he leads, Entos Pharmaceuticals, has been awarded federal money to conduct the Phase 1 clinical trial of Covigenix, its COVID-19 DNA vaccine. Lewis is also interviewed on the Danielle Smith Radio Show.

CTV News: Canadian study could lead to rapid testing, severity prediction, and treatment for COVID-19

A new study from researchers across Canada could have far-reaching implications in the fight against COVID-19. The research project was conducted by Lawson Health Research Institute, Western University and the U of A.

CBC News: Alberta excrement being tested for COVID-19 as researchers refine sewage surveillance

Steve Hrudey, professor emeritus with the Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology, is interviewed about how labs at the U of A and the University of Calgary are among more than a dozen across Canada joining a growing international effort to sample wastewater for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. In his role as chair of the National Research Advisory Group under the Canadian Water Network, Hrudey is helping to spearhead the research.


The Oprah Magazine: How safe are breast implants?

“It’s been known for 25 years that silicone implants can leak,” said rheumatic diseases expert Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, who has spent 25 years studying how the body reacts to implants, authored 10 studies on the topic and treated more than 500 patients.

Edmonton Journal: Addicted: How meth takes a toll on Edmonton's health system and devastates users

Infectious-disease expert Ameeta Singh said the availability of meth is almost certainly linked to Alberta's syphilis outbreak.

CBC News: For many Albertans, Thanksgiving dinner is a big question mark

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger is quoted about plans for Thanksgiving this year in relation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Her colleague Ilan Schwartz is also quoted in a Canadian Press story.

Global News: Political scientist on U.S. election in chaos as Trump gets COVID-19

With one month to go before the U.S. election, the campaign was thrown into chaos. Matthias Götte was quoted in an Indian Express story about the treatment plan for the U.S. president, Lynora Saxinger was interviewed in a National Post story, and Ilan Schwartz was quoted in a USA Today story.

CTV News: Seven reasons Canada's COVID-19 situation could worsen in the coming weeks

Here are seven reasons why the recent increases in COVID-19 activity in Canada may only be the tip of the iceberg. Infectious-disease specialist Ilan Schwartz is interviewed.

Washington Post: ‘Epidemiologists just wanna vomit’: Doctors disturbed after Trump removes his mask at the White House

President Trump appeared to have difficulty breathing as he made an appearance after leaving hospital, where he was treated for COVID-19. Ilan Schwartz is quoted from a tweet. Story also runs in Business Insider and related coverage appears in the New York Times and Global News.

Alberta Primetime: Should people take a COVID-19 vaccine?

Lorne Tyrrell, director of the U of A’s Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, is interviewed about what happens when a COVID-19 vaccine rolls out and urges people to get immunized when they can. He also praises colleague Michael Houghton's Nobel win.

Canadian Press (via EverythingGP): ‘Definite increase:’ Experts warn against underplaying recent surge in COVID-19 cases

Infectious-disease specialists Lynora Saxinger and Ameeta Singh are interviewed about the upsurge in COVID-19 cases and Saxinger warns that it must not be shrugged off as merely a byproduct of increased testing. Story appears in several media outlets including the Edmonton Journal and other Postmedia newspapers.

Global News: What’s a COVID-19 close contact?

Lynora Saxinger explains what contact tracing is and said all of that information is critical in determining who else might be sick, when someone tests positive for COVID-19. Saxinger is also interviewed by CBC News about the surge in COVID-19 cases, warning Edmontonians should be concerned.

CBC Radio: What are the safe rules for gathering with family and friends?

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about how we can flatten the COVID-19 curve so we have a better chance of safer times when the holidays arrive.

Edmonton Journal: 'We have to do a hard reset': Experts say some Albertans becoming complacent in COVID-19 fight

Lynora Saxinger and Louis Hugo Francescutti (School of Public Health and Department of Emergency Medicine) are interviewed about how Albertans must become more vigilant in who they let into their social bubbles, to help stem a second wave of COVID-19. Story appears in 75 media outlets.

CBC News Network: Reasons for Alberta's surge in COVID-19 cases

Tehseen Ladha, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the U of A, is interviewed about the importance of keeping social bubbles small and discusses reasons behind Alberta's recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Calgary Herald: Transparency key as Foothills hospital outbreaks expand say doctors, academics

Infectious-disease specialist Leyla Asadi is interviewed about how transparency is vital for gaining public trust amid large-scale COVID-19 outbreaks like those ongoing at the Foothills Medical Centre. She said health-care staff follow best practices to prevent outbreaks within acute-care facilities and that any report into the origin of the Foothills outbreak should be made public to better inform how the province deals with future outbreaks. Story also runs in the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Sun.

CBC Radio Daybreak: Are We Hardwired to Fall Prey to Social Media Messaging?

U of A professor of psychiatry Peter Silverstone is interviewed about anger for World Mental Health Day, as COVID-19 and other political and social issues continue to make headlines all over North America.

CBC News Network: Your COVID-19 questions answered

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger answers viewers' questions about COVID-19. 

CTV News Edmonton: Local experts provide insight on McDavid’s positive COVID-19 test

In early October, the Edmonton Oilers confirmed that Connor McDavid had contracted COVID-19. Lynora Saxinger and associate clinical professor of family medicine Marni Wesner give expert comment.

Narcity: Alberta's Contact Tracers Can't Figure Out Where 43% Of New COVID-19 Cases Came From

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger gives expert comment, saying that contact tracing is one of the main ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

The New York Times: Remdesivir fails to prevent COVID-19 deaths in huge trial

Infectious-disease specialist Ilan Schwartz is quoted about a study on the efficacy of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19. He says, “This puts the issue to rest—there is certainly no mortality benefit.”

Star News: Candy chutes and turkey suits? Doctor-approved ideas for finding fun this Thanksgiving, Halloween

Ilan Schwartz says outdoor Halloween parties with small numbers and lots of social distancing are safer than indoor parties, as in the age of the pandemic, the usually carefree holiday is fraught with anxiety.

The Canadian Press (via CTV News) Panting, spewing droplets, poor ventilation: What makes gyms a superspreading risk

Ilan Schwartz is interviewed about how certain indoor settings can provide a perfect storm for superspreading events. Appeared in several media outlets.

CTV News Edmonton: 'It's scary': Camp lifestyle stretches oilfield workers to the breaking point

Vincent Agyapong, a professor of psychiatry at the U of A, gives expert comment on mental health challenges faced by workers in Alberta’s oil industry.

CTV News: Can brushing your teeth prevent the spread of COVID-19? Not exactly

Liran Levin, a professor of dentistry at the U of A, is interviewed about the possible benefits of brushing your teeth or using mouthwash to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said, “Theoretically, it makes sense that brushing your teeth or washing your mouth could reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 because we know that the main infection is occurring through the mouth and nose.”

CBC News: Alberta medical experts call for mandatory COVID-19 restrictions based on hospitalization numbers

Infectious-disease specialist Tehseen Ladha is interviewed about rising COVID-19 cases and wants to see mandatory measures introduced in Alberta.

CBC Radio: How could two tiered health care work in Alberta if it were to be introduced? 

U of A health economist Christopher McCabe is interviewed about the possible structures and consequences of introducing two-tier health care in Alberta.

Edmonton Journal: David Staples: Lockdowns will cause 10 times more harm to human health than COVID-19 itself, says infectious disease expert

Ari Joffe, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the U of A, is interviewed about the potential harm from additional lockdowns due to COVID-19. “I’m truly worried the (lockdown) approach is going to devastate economies and the future for our children and our grandchildren,” says Joffe. Coverage appears in Postmedia newspapers across Canada.

CBC News: Superspreader wedding in Calgary, surging COVID infection numbers spur calls for tighter rules

Infectious-disease specialist Leyla Asadi is interviewed about the potential for additional superspreader events and believes the number of current infections suggests Alberta is in a second wave. 

Airdrie Today: Eleven ways to cope with COVID-19 during winter

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger discusses strategies to cope with social isolation as winter looms. 

The Globe and Mail: History helps explain why Alberta isn’t likely headed for a pandemic lockdown (and would never cancel Halloween)

Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about a pandemic lockdown and about the complexities of keeping vulnerable people safe (Global News). As well, Heidi Janz with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre is interviewed by the Edmonton Journal about how the pandemic has exposed struggles people with disabilities face. She also talked about federal Bill C-7 on medical assistance in dying, which would remove “reasonably foreseeable death” as a requirement. Story also runs in the Calgary Herald/Sun and the Edmonton Sun.

CBC News Calgary: Infectious disease expert wants to see more restrictions as Alberta case counts rise

Lynora Saxinger says now is the time to bring in tougher restrictions if Alberta wants to rein in surging COVID-19 numbers. "I think it's officially time to start plotting out some really deliberate and clear actions to make sure we can bring it back under control," she said.

News Talk 770: Surge in COVID-19 cases a concern

Lynora Saxinger says she is concerned about the case numbers in the community, even though ICU numbers are still low. The system is already strained, she said.

630 CHED: COVID-19 stress is a mental health concern

Peter Brindley, a professor of critical care medicine at the U of A, is interviewed about the toll COVID-19 is taking on people's mental health and said the effects of the pandemic will last for years. Coverage also appears on iNews 880.

CTV News Edmonton: Mental health worsening, tougher to treat since start of pandemic: advocates

Peter Silverstone, a professor of psychiatry at the U of A, says self-care—such as socializing within cohorts and exercising—can mitigate the pandemic’s effect, but that it’s important to be aware of signs that you or others may need professional guidance.

CBC National News: Researchers examine whether vitamin D could help treat COVID-19

Several clinical trials are trying to determine whether vitamin D could be effective in helping to treat or prevent COVID-19. Todd Alexander, a professor of pediatrics at the U of A, gives expert opinion saying most Canadians probably don’t need supplemental vitamin D.

CBC News Calgary: Alberta must move ahead with federal COVID tracing app, advocacy group says

Infectious-disease specialist Tehseen Ladha says there's a need to adopt a federal tracing app as COVID-19 cases rise in Alberta. Related coverage also appears on CBC Edmonton AM.


Nikkei Asia News: Nobel prizes highlight Li Ka-shing's role in scientific research

The story notes how overjoyed Li Ka-shing is about the Nobel Prizes won by researchers his foundation has supported, including the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the U of A, home to Nobel winner Michael Houghton.

Times Higher Education: Medicine Nobelist wants science awards to be ‘more inclusive’ 

Michael Houghton calls for prize committees to allow six or seven winners, rather than Nobel’s limit of three.

Edmonton Journal: Wednesday's letters: Nobel prize underlines value of U of A

Professor emeritus Bruce Dancik (Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences) pens a letter congratulating Michael Houghton and all of his team at the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the U of A for winning the Nobel Prize, and in light of the honour, asks the government to reconsider budget cuts to the U of A. 

Lakeland Today: St. Paul surgeon inducted into the American College of Surgeons

St. Paul surgeon Iftikhar Ahmad was inducted into the Fellowship of the American College of Surgeons during a virtual ceremony held Oct. 4. Along with being a surgeon at the St. Therese Health Centre, Ahmad is also part of the U of A Department of Surgery and is involved in teaching medical students and residents. 

Global News Edmonton: Health Matters: Hidden malnutrition and speedy youth injury help

The Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic is helping young athletes with injuries get the help they need as soon as possible. Terry DeFreitas, assistant professor of family medicine at the U of A, is interviewed.

Edmonton Journal: Festival of Trees goes virtual to raise money for Alzheimer’s research

The University Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees event is being held online this year, with proceeds supporting researchers at the U of A who are working on a way to restore memory in patients who have Alzheimer’s.

Prairie Post: Confidence in health care needs a defibrillator before fourth quarter

The article references a survey of U of A and U of C medical students earlier this year that indicated 91 per cent were unwilling to continue to practise medicine in Alberta upon completion of their studies due to the government’s passing of Bill 21 in 2019.

CBC News Edmonton: Student group organizes art therapy project for seniors during COVID-19 pandemic

Medical students Asad Makhani and Danielle Portnoy created the Seniors Advocacy Movement with other students, using art therapy to help seniors express their feelings of isolation during the pandemic. The art is currently displayed at Southgate Centre and will eventually be in a U of A gallery. Coverage also appears on Global News.

Edmonton Journal: 'No one eureka moment': U of A virologist describes decade of work that led to a Nobel Prize win

U of A virologist Michael Houghton is interviewed about his recent Nobel Prize win. He said his team steadily worked in steps, with no single “eureka” moment.

CityNews: 'Queering for Cancer' support website launched

Amanda Bolderston, a radiation therapist educator at the U of A, is interviewed about a new support website she helped launch for LGBTQ2 people being treated for cancer. Story runs on Edmonton and Winnipeg CityNews channels. Additional coverage appears on CBC News Edmonton.