News at Medicine - March 2021 - Expanding our minds

Expanding our minds
March 23, 2021
In recognition of Brain Awareness Week which was held March 15-21, two graduate students, Lisa Fang and Stephanie Blandford created an awareness campaign about research happening in the Faculty of Medicine.
Lisa Fang is a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience at the Faculty of Medicine. Her research aims to understand the role of the brain in overeating and obesity, with the goal of finding a therapeutic target. Stephanie Blandford is a PhD Candidate in Neuroscience at the Faculty of Medicine. Her research focuses on identifying new biomarkers in multiple sclerosis.
On March 19-20, Lisa and Stephanie took over the Faculty of Medicine’s official Twitter account @MUNMed where they profiled researchers, highlighted important findings and shared facts about the brain.
The Twitter takeover was a huge success and a wealth of knowledge was shared. Here’s a summery of some great research happening here at Memorial University.

From (L-R):
Top row:
1) Neurodegenerative diseases kill brain cells but did you know that before they die, they lose their ability to communicate with other brain cells? Dr. Matthew Parsons aims to understand why communication fails early in neurodegenerative diseases, and what can be done to restore it!
2) Dr. Duane Button’s research focuses on how the brain and spinal cord adapt to exercise and how they contribute to resistance training. They have found that these contributions are different when an individual partakes in long-term resistance training.
3) Our neuroimmunology expert, Dr. Craig Moore, has been working on preventing brain injury and promoting repair in multiple sclerosis (MS)! His lab is investigating novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets that hopes to enhance/optimize treatment options for MS patients.
4) Dr. Bob Gendron’s research describes the structure and function of unique features of marine teleost visual systems and how their diversity is important to their biology in the wild. His research adds new knowledge about marine teleost vision and about vision science in general.
Middle row:
1) The brain controls body weight by regulating appetite and metabolism. Dr. Michiru Hirasawa studies how this mechanism works and is affected by high-fat diet or cancer, to find new treatments for obesity, cancer-related weight loss and cognitive deficits!
2) Dr Qi Yuan studies how environmental factors like stress, enrichment, and diet can influence early Alzheimer’s disease. Using state of the art techniques, her lab is exploring the cellular & molecular mechanisms underlying learning + memory, & their decline!
3) Dr Kevin Power aims to understand how the brain & spinal cord generate walking. This will help guide rehabilitation strategies designed to maximize residual motor function of individuals with motor impairments following, for example, spinal cord injury or stroke!
4) Diet impacts how our brains function in health and in disease. Dr. Jacqueline Vanderluit's lab studies the impact of high fat diet on the response of brain cells to a stroke. We are focusing on the acute 8 hours post-stroke when brain cells have the greatest chance of recovery.
1) Dr. Curtis French's research program uses zebrafish to study genetic diseases. HIs lab studies diseases affecting the brain like epilepsy and glaucoma in the hopes of better understanding them and developing new treatment options.
2) Dr. Michelle Ploughman's research interests center on neuroplasticity + neurorehabilitation in stroke & multiple sclerosis! Her lab focuses on the effects of exercise, intensive training and lifestyle habits on the brain challenged by injury, disease and aging.