McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Branavan gets "corner of the cake" with Vanier scholarship

Published: June 29, 2012
Branavan Manoranjan, one of 10 McMaster University students awarded prestigious $50,000 Vanier Graduate Scholarships

Branavan Manoranjan wants to increase the survival rates of children suffering from the most aggressive form of pediatric brain tumour — medulloblastoma.

Manoranjan was one of 10 McMaster University students awarded prestigious $50,000 Vanier Graduate Scholarships by the Canadian government this week. He plans to establish a molecular profile of cells that evade therapy in brain tumours.

"To be named a Vanier Scholar is like getting the corner piece of a cake with lots of icing," said Manoranjan, who is a medical graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences.

"It has always been a true privilege to be working under the mentorship of some of the leading stem cell and cancer scientists at McMaster," he said.

"To be recognized as a potential research leader provides me with a gentle reminder of my responsibility to Canadians to translate my lab research to clinically-feasible bedside therapies."

Five Faculty of Health Sciences’ students are among the 10 Vanier scholarships awarded to McMaster, the largest group of Vanier Scholars in the University’s history.

"This award highlights the fact that our graduate students are true leaders within the University, in the broader Hamilton community, nationally and around the world," said Allison Sekuler, associate vice-president and dean of graduate studies. "We're thrilled that Canada has recognized their accomplishments with such a great honour."

Another Vanier scholar recipient at McMaster is Madeleine Mant of the Department of Anthropology, who is examining how 19th century Londoners died. She will study evidence of "perimortem trauma" — injuries which occurred at or around the time of death — on the skeletal remains of 1,000 individuals.

She will travel to England to collaborate with the Museum of London's Centre for Human Bioarchaeology, where she will study remains found at a range of sites. These include lower, middle and upper class gravesites and mass epidemic and pauper graves.

She hopes to one day apply the framework she develops in London to sites on Canadian soil.

Established by the federal government in 2009, the scholarship awards each student $50,000 a year for up to three years.

McMaster's 2012 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship winners

Canadian Institutes of Health Research recipients:

  • Marisa Azad (Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences), researching mechanisms to battle antibiotic resistance
  • Dr. Adalberto Loyola-Sanchez (Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences), will devise strategies to develop community health programs to improve the lives of people with chronic conditions
  • Branavan Manoranjan (Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences), profiling brain cancer stem cells responsible for untreatable tumours in children
  • Jocelyn Wessels (Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences) will focus on how endometriosis progresses, leading to new therapies and diagnostic tests
  • Dr. Reza Yousefi-Nooraie (Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences) will research the role of social networks in improving public health decision-making in Canada

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada recipients:

  • Amanda Beers (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, Faculty of Science), researching the effect of age on visual perception
  • Jenna Gillen (Kinesiology, Faculty of Science) will focus on the regulation of skeletal muscle metabolism as related to exercise
  • Renee St-Onge (Biology, Faculty of Science) will work towards a better understanding of specific bacteria, which is a major producer of pharmaceutical compounds used in medicine

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada recipients:

  • Madeleine Mant, (Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences), research focused on breaks or injuries to bone that occur at or around the time of death
  • Cara Tigue (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, Faculty of Science), will investigate how voice pitch influences voters' perceptions of a politician's position on certain issues
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