Aug. 11, 2014

Tingting Yan, HYRS 2014, U/C
Tingting Yan, HYRS 2014, U/C

(Calgary, Alberta)  August 11, 2014… This summer, grade 11 student, Tingting Yan has been working with a robot looking to improve stroke recovery for people who have suffered a stroke. Tingting is a student in the 2014 Heritage Youth Researcher Summer (HYRS) program at the University of Calgary. She is one of 22 Grade 11 students chosen to participate in the six‐week HYRS program, providing hands‐on health research experiences in laboratories and clinics at the University of Calgary.

Tingting is working in the laboratory of Sean Dukelow,MD, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Hotchkiss Brain Institute within the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary.Dr. Dukelow’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of stroke recovery and facilitating stroke rehabilitation through the use of technology.

“This summer has been an amazing experience,” says Yan who is going into Grade 12 at Sir Winston Churchill High School in Calgary this September. “I’m directly participating in research that has the potential to change the lives of those affected by stroke.” Yan’s project is part of a larger research project called RESTART (Rehabilitation Stroke Deficits and Robotic Technology).  In this project she will assess neurological dysfunction in patients within the hospital using robotic technology. Her project is funded by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS).

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, there are around 50,000 strokes every year. Around 315,500 Canadians are living with the debilitating effects of stroke. Most individuals who survive a stroke are left with physical and cognitive disabilities ranging from mild to severe. However, our brains have the ability to heal themselves and stroke survivors can regain some of their physical and cognitive skills through a wide range of therapeutic treatments. Dr. Dukelow’s lab is looking to improve the life of those who suffer a stroke and the accompanying physical difficulties those people endure.

“I am considering a career in medicine, and HYRS definitely opened my eyes to the world of biomedical research,” says Yan. “My mentor, Dr. Dukelow, is a clinician-researcher. While working with him, I saw how biomedical research creatively blends medicine and engineering innovations to enhance patient care. There is a huge need to improve medical treatment methods available not only for stroke patients, but for anyone who lives with a life altering condition.”

“The HYRS program opens up medical and health research to young Albertans and their teachers,” says Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions CEO and President, Cy Frank, MD. “By successfully mentoring young people like Tingting, we foster and encourage their understanding of research, which will ultimately help to build the next generation of health research leaders in our province.”






For information about Sean Dukelow’s research, visit:
Province‐wide, there are 50 students working this summer at the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge.

This year, the HYRS program received 211 applications from Grade 11 students in 76 schools across Alberta. An adjudication committee of high school teachers from St. Albert, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Calgary, and two scientists from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary selected 50 students. Eleven of the HYRS students are from towns and rural communities across Alberta. The Alberta Cancer Foundation is funding five spots – two each at the U of A, the U of C and one at the U of L.

HYRS participants receive a stipend through Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS) to work on research projects supervised and mentored by university researchers. HYRS programing includes hands-on research time in the lab, plus guest lectures, professional development sessions, and tours of research facilities. Participants produce a scientific poster which they share with their referring teachers, mentors, lab colleagues, and family at the HYRS Final Celebration and Poster Presentation held on the last day of the program on each campus.

Students who apply to HYRS are required to have at least an 85% average in biology 20 and mathematics 20, as well as 85% in an additional science.  They also need two teacher references, a community reference, and to write an essay about an aspect of health research that interests them and why they want to be part of the HYRS program.

In addition to the HYRS program, AIHS also offers other Education and Community Outreach programs, including a free week-long camp, called FYSci camp, to 40 high school students, and free teachers’ workshops. For more information on all AIHS outreach programs visit:

For more information about HYRS: Danica Wolkow, HYRS Provincial Coordinator,
1.877.423.5727 x237,

Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions supports research and innovation activities to improve the health and wellbeing of Albertans and create health related social and economic benefits for Albertans. AIHS provides leadership for Alberta’s health research and innovation enterprise by directing, coordinating, reviewing, funding and supporting research and innovation. For more information see:

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