Alumni Weekend

Though COVID-19 prevents us from celebrating in person this year, we're keeping our September tradition alive by bringing Alumni Weekend to you - wherever you are! For the week of Sept. 21-27, 2020, we'll be bringing you exclusive digital content straight to your device's screen. You'll find an exciting lineup of live virtual lectures, tours, family-friendly content and more! Get your full fix of campus, all from the comfort of your couch.

Research: Behind the Scenes at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Put on your virtual lab coat, meet our researchers, and get an up-close look at cutting edge research in an exclusive tour of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. We will step into several labs and hear from the researchers themselves about some of the exciting work happening in the world of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.

The virtual tour features:

Andrew MacIsaac, Assistant Dean of Advancement & CEO of Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation

API is a not-for-profit institution with an expert interdisciplinary team that works with a network of collaborating organizations. As a whole, API provides the expertise, services, and infrastructure of a pharmaceutical company. It helps innovators launch their ideas into the real world, connect industry to the services they need for commercial success, and accelerate all aspects of the drug development process. Join "Research: Behind the Scenes" to learn how API is working to fill drug shortages caused by COVID-19 by manufacturing needed drugs right here in Alberta.


Dr. John Ussher, Associate Professor & Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Pharmacotherapy of Energy Metabolism in Obesity

Obesity is a major health burden, with ~60% of Canadian adults being either overweight or obese, which greatly increases risk for both diabetes and heart disease. Seminal work from Dr. John Ussher's laboratory has revealed that the ability of our cells to properly burn fuel (e.g. sugar, fat) malfunctions in overweight/obese individuals, and that this is a key contributor to these individuals' increased risk for both diabetes and heart disease. Dr. John Ussher's laboratory uses mouse genetics and integrative physiological and pharmacological approaches to pinpoint the root cause explaining why fuel burning malfunctions in overweight/obese individuals. In particular, his lab has discovered that the muscle increases its reliance on burning ketones (a fuel source made by the liver during fasting/starvation) in overweight/obese individuals, which causes blood sugar control to malfunction. Furthermore, Dr. Ussher's has demonstrating that preventing the muscle's ability to burn ketones for fuel results in a remarkable improvement in blood sugar control in obese/diabetic animals. Dr. Ussher's lab continues to pursue investigations into why fuel burning malfunctions in obesity/diabetes, particularly in the muscle, heart, and liver, as the answers to these questions will ideally lead to the development of new drugs that can prevent and/or reverse diabetes and heart disease in overweight/obese individuals.

Dr. Nese Yuksel, Professor

Dr. Yuksel's research program is focused on innovative approaches to improve access and enhance quality of care in women's health, including menopause, reproductive health and osteoporosis. Some examples have included the development of practice tools for pharmacists for hormonal contraception and the development of a patient decision aid for women with early surgical menopause. Currently, her research team is looking at cannabis use in menopause.

Hormonal changes during menopause can lead to a variety of symptoms. The use of cannabis for medical purposes has grown in Canada since legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, with one of the largest growing markets being people in midlife. Dr. Yuksel's research team will aim to study women who may be choosing cannabis to help with symptoms commonly seen in menopause. Unfortunately, there is an evidence gap with the use of cannabis in menopause. The purpose of this study is to go directly to menopausal women to understand their experiences and perceptions with cannabis. The research team will be conducting surveys and interviewing women to capture if and how women are using cannabis, and their expectations and perceptions with cannabis for menopausal symptoms. These findings will help inform the development of evidence-based strategies for educating women about cannabis and supporting health care providers caring for these women.

Dr. Afsaneh Lavasanifar , Professor

Cancer is one of the most common causes of mortality worldwide and diagnosis rates are continually increasing. An estimated one in three women and one in two men will be diagnosed with a form of cancer at some point throughout our lives. For many cancer types, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the chosen treatment methods, but their success rates are surprisingly limited, and both can cause serious side-effects. Dr Afsaneh Lavasanifar and her research group at the University of Alberta have set out to develop drug-delivery systems to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment and reduce side-effects. Their research involves the targeted delivery of drug-loaded nanoparticles directly to tumour tissues.