News at Medicine - January 2019 - Poster boys

Poster boys
January 8, 2019
A PhD candidate and graduate student from the Faculty of Medicine have both taken home best poster awards at recent competitions.
At the 2018 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, Augustine Joshua Devasahayam’s poster, People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) consume more oxygen during mobility tasks: Findings from a cross-sectional study, won the Neurodegenerative Diseases NG Best Poster Award. 

Augustine is a doctoral candidate in the recovery and performance laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Michelle Ploughman. He received his Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Otago in New Zealand where he studied neural control of posture and balance. The aim of his PhD work is to develop an optimal exercise training method that can restore/enhance the ability to walk with minimal fatigue for those who have moderate to severe MS-related disability. Considering the barriers to exercise participation, Augustine’s study measured the oxygen use during daily tasks in order to characterize fatigue in those with severe walking disability.

“'I realized that significant work had to be done to improve the lives of those living with MS when I was working as a research assistant at the University of Otago,” said Augustine. “Both clinicians and people with MS know that participating in regular exercise will improve endurance and walking. However, they often report that fatigue, tiredness and heat sensitivity are some of the barriers that prevent them from engaging in exercise. My research focuses on mitigating those barriers and facilitating restoration of walking ability.”

At the Alpha MED Scientific MED64, graduate student Adam Ravalia took home the first prize during the Society for Neuroscience 2018 Poster Award Competition for Early synaptic dysfunction in the hippocampus of Q175FDN Huntington's disease mice.

Adam is studying alterations in synaptic transmission in Huntington Disease in the hippocampus. Specifically, his lab recorded electrically-induced synaptic activity in the mouse Huntington Disease genetic model Q175FDN and discovered a synaptic anomaly present only in the disease model mice. This synaptic anomaly was also investigated with super-resolution imaging techniques to further explore synaptic architecture and re-organization in the diseased brain.

Adam has a bachelor of science in neuroscience from Memorial University, and in 2017 began his Masters in Dr. Matthew Parsons' lab at the Faculty of Medicine. He is currently writing his thesis and aims to submit in the spring of 2019. Adam’s research focuses on cognitive aberrations in the early-stages (pre-clinical) of Huntington Disease.

“I grew up with both my parents being healthcare practitioners. With that, I was attuned to the world of medicine from a young age,” said Adam. “While studying neuroscience as an undergrad, I came to realize how little we know about the mind's complex mechanisms. This prompted me to seek a graduate degree to learn more and help contribute to the ever-growing knowledge of the brain.”