Aug. 14, 2012

(Calgary, Alberta) August 14, 2012…“I am really grateful for the opportunity to get involved in the research field and see neurology from a researchers’ perspective,” says Olayinka Oladosu, one of 21 grade 11 students participating in the 2012 Heritage Youth Researcher Summer (HYRS) program at the University of Calgary.

“I’ve had an interest in being a neurosurgeon for a long time, but this opportunity has given me an inside view of what it is like to be a researcher, doing work that could change the world,” says Oladosu, a grade eleven student from Sir Winston Churchill High School in Calgary. His HYRS experience is funded by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS).

Oladosu is working in the laboratory of AIHS Clinical Investigator Cory Toth, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. He is also Director of Research for the Calgary Chronic Pain Centre. His team investigates the impact of diabetes upon memory and behaviour.

A potential complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy, a loss of feeling in the hands and feet as nerves die. Diabetic neuropathy can also lead to loss of memory. Oladosu’s HYRS research project focuses on determining the effect curcumin (the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which is found in yellow curry) has on blocking the brain pathway that is suspected of causing these symptoms.

“Before participating in HYRS, I knew I wanted to become a neurosurgeon, but now I could see myself not only being a physician, but also doing research. I like the environment in research – the idea that I could potentially discover something new,” says Oladosu.

“The HYRS program opens up the world of medical research to young Albertans,” says Alberta innovates – Health Solutions CEO Jacques Magnan, PhD. “By successfully mentoring young people like Olayinka, we accelerate their understanding of and exposure to research, and we help build the next generation of health leaders in our province.”

Background:

Province-wide, there are 50 HYRS students working this summer at the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge.

This year, the HYRS program received 225 applications from Grade 11 students across the province. An adjudication committee of high school teachers and scientists selected the 50 successful students. The Alberta Cancer Foundation is funding 5 spots – two at the University of Alberta, two at the University of Calgary and one at the University of Lethbridge.

HYRS participants receive a grant to work on research projects supervised by AIHS and university research mentors. The HYRS program hosts guest lecturers, poster sessions, field trips and an open house where HYRS participants spend a day sharing what they have learned with their high school science teachers. AIHS also offers a free week-long camp, the FYSci camp, to 40 high school students, and free teachers’ workshops.

Students who apply to HYRS are required to have at least an 85% average in two sciences and math. They also must submit an essay about why health research interests them, two teacher references and a community reference.

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