McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Two win Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship Awards

By Laura Thompson
Published: December 23, 2008
Kelly O’Brien and Tim James
From left: Kelly O’Brien, a physiotherapist and Tim James, a biologist.

Two young investigators with diverse clinical and scientific backgrounds are the inaugural recipients of the Michael G. DeGroote Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award.

Kelly O’Brien is a physiotherapist who earned her PhD from the University of Toronto and joined the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University in September 2008. Her research interests focus on the disability experienced by adults living with HIV/AIDS.

As part of her PhD research, O’Brien conducted a series of focus groups with HIV-positive men and women living in Toronto. She discovered that disability in an HIV/AIDS context was episodic in nature and consisted of symptoms and impairments, difficulty carrying out day-to-day activities, challenges to social inclusion and uncertainty.

"The plan now is to move forward and actually devise an HIV disability questionnaire and assess its measurement properties with men and women living with HIV," she said.

Tim James is a biologist who earned his PhD from Duke University and joined McMaster as a post-doctoral fellow in January 2008. His research focuses on genetic control of mitochondrial inheritance in Cryptococcus neoformans.

The pathogenic yeast spreads through airborne spores and is associated with bird droppings and trees. A C. neoformans infection can cause pneumonia-like symptoms in people with compromised immune systems. Half of all cases of the fungus occur in people with HIV/AIDS.

"I’d like to integrate a health component into my work," James said. "Personally, I feel that a health component is important because it is a way of giving back to the community something beyond the knowledge gained by basic research."

The Michael G. DeGroote Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award is given to a young investigator with an exemplary academic record and an interest in pursuing post-doctoral research in one of the many areas that are demonstrated strengths of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The award provides annual support of up to $45,000 for up to three years, through the Michael G. DeGroote Faculty of Health Sciences Development Fund.

A second fellowship, the Michael G. DeGroote Academic Fellowship Award, has also been created through the development fund. The award, one of the largest of its kind in the world, provides support of $75,000 per year for two years for a research associate, academic, in the Faculty of Health Sciences. The award is designed for candidates who have completed a post-doctoral fellowship and are interesting in seeking a junior faculty position at McMaster University. Upon satisfactory completion of the fellowship, the recipient may be recommended for an assistant professor position at McMaster.

The deadline for this year’s Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship Awards is March 2, 2009. For more information or to apply, visit the Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship Awards website.

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