McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

FHS new and renewed Canada Research Chairs

Published: November 15, 2013
Patient in ICU exercising on an ICU bike
Patient in ICU exercising on an ICU stationary bicycle.
Michelle Kho
Michelle Kho, an assistant professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science

Canada Research Chair in Critical Care Rehabilitation and Knowledge Translation

Exercising in the Intensive Care Unit is a concept that seems at odds with the typical ICU where recovery for the hospital’s sickest patients often means prolonged bed rest, sedation, and constant monitoring and support from specialized equipment. But exercising critically ill patients might be 'just what the doctor ordered' — a remedy that’s at the heart of rehabilitation scientist Michelle Kho’s Canada Research Chair in Critical Care Rehabilitation and Knowledge Translation.

Kho is one of the two newest Canada Research Chairs in the Faculty of Health Sciences. New and renewed CRCs were announced on Nov. 14 by the Minister of State, Science and Technology, Greg Rickford.

As a practicing physiotherapist and researcher, Kho’s 'lab' is the ICU, where she works with highly specialized health care teams to help patients not only survive their life threatening illness or injury, but improve their recovery time and promote continued health and well-being once they leave intensive care. If patients survive their critical illness, 1 in 4 has severe weakness impairing their quality of life for up to 5 years after leaving the ICU and more than half do not return to work.

Kho’s research program — Critical Care Cycling to Improve Lower Extremity Strength (CYCLE) — focuses on preventing or reducing the adverse effects of immobilization by having patients pedal a motorized stationary bicycle affixed to their ICU bed. Her current clinical research home is at St. Joseph’s Hospital, using a specialized bicycle funded by St. Joseph’s Foundation; eventually her research program will expand to each of 3 medical-surgical ICUs in Hamilton.

"It’s the patients who inspire me," says Kho, "and the idea that my research program can provide them – and their loved ones — with hope that they can lead healthy, productive lives after they’ve been discharged from the ICU."

Eva SzaboCanada Research Chair in Metabolism in Human Stem Cells and Cancer Development

Eva Szabo, a researcher with the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Metabolism in Human Stem Cells and Cancer Development.

Szabo says that over the past decade it has become more evident that abnormal adipose tissue regulation plays a major role in development and progression of obesity, type II diabetes and cancers. However, the effect of human adipocytes on development of a diseased state and their potential use in disease management remains to be proven.

The main focus of Szabo’s research program is to dissect the role of human adipocyte during development of metabolic disorders, including obesity and type II diabetes, as well as cancers, utilizing human adult and pluripotent stem cells for modeling normal and disease states and towards development of novel treatment strategies for these debilitating diseases."

Four health sciences researchers had their Canada Research Chairs renewed for another term:

"The Canada Research Chairs program has an uncompromising commitment to excellence in research, and a rigorous nomination process that applies equally to our newest Chairs as to those that have been renewed for another term," says Mo Elbestawi, vice president, research and international affairs. "Drs. Larché, Bhatia, Steinberg and Draper continue to distinguish themselves as world-class researchers, attracting excellent students and trainees to their research programs, while Drs. Kho, Szabo and Zhu will be carrying out programs of original research that will make a significant impact on their respective fields and on the lives of Canadians."

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