Research Groups

Biological Nano Electrical Mechanical System (BioNEMS) Research Group

Dr. W.J. (Chris) Zhang meets semi-regularly with researchers from the U of S Colleges of Medicine and Engineering. The collaborative research on the subject of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) provides new scientific basis to guide the operation of surgeon in tumor removal. Currently, the size of the tumor that can be removed by RFA is about 3 cm. BioNEMS Group research results, along with the device, has a high potential to enable removal of tumours larger than 3 cm. Another project - in progress - may improve the efficiency of vaccination for Hepatitis C virus in large animals.

Dr. C. Ron Geyer and his research team were awarded an Innovation grant from the Canadian Cancer Society of almost $200,000. They plan to develop new imaging probes to better visualize and detect tumours in the brain. The probes will help doctors diagnose glioblastomas and guide surgical removal—leading to better patient outcomes.

Glioblastoma is the most common and most aggressive malignant primary brain cancer in adults. In an interview by Global Saskatoon, Geyer stated that "Its five-year survival rate is less than 10 per cent.", as most patients survive only 1 to 2 years after diagnosis.

Cannabinoid Research Initiative of Saskatchewan (CRIS)

The aim of this interdisciplinary research group is to obtain scientific evidence about the application of cannabinoids and cannabis derivativesto humans and animals, for health, disease and disorders.

Gene Expression Mapping Using Syncrotron Light (GEMS)

GEMS arose from the idea that cells could be engineered to induce the uptake of iodine, a contrast agent that can be seen using hard X-rays. These cells can then be visualized in living animals using the Biomedical Imaging and Therapy (BMIT) beamline. This important new technique will enable tracking of iodine-laden cancer cells as they move through body systems and eventually form tumours. This potential insight into the behaviour of cancer at a cellular level is part of the reason the GEMS group received phase two funding from SHRF, and using similar methods, the group will be able to examine the effectiveness of chemotherapy agents on cancer metastases. said Nichol.

Institute for Child and Adult Arthritis Research (ICAARe)

ICAARe comprises a unique array of studies bridging gaps between pediatric and adult rheumatic diseases. ICAARe believes that collaborating with a variety of researchers and experts will effectively advance knowledge that improves patient care and outcomes and strengthens research capacity by mentoring colleagues, training students and generating new infrastructure resources. The four cornerstones of ICAARe are research, knowledge translation, training and infrastructure capacity development. ICAARe embraces and integrates biochemical, clinical, social, cultural, environmental and population health research resulting in improved health care delivery. ICAARe facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration amongst scientists within the College of Medicine and from a variety of other departments and Colleges within the U of S. This Institute’s goal is to improve the health and well-being of children and adults with rheumatic diseases.

The Immunology Research Group (IRG) was formed in 2003 by a consortium of the University of Saskatchewan's immunologists. They comprise a large number of scientists from five departments at the U of S, as well as five associated research or diagnostic organizations. IRG's mandate is to foster immunology research within our community that is recognized both nationally and internationally for its excellence. Given the deeply integrated nature of immunology with so many other disciplines, IRG researchers focus their efforts on an array of specialities, including tumour and transplant immunology, allergy and asthma, infectious diseases, inflammation, toxicology, basic immunology and immunoregulation, at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.

Dr. Eric Price’s multidisciplinary research program is focused on improving chemical methods for attaching radioactive metals to disease-specific molecules such as peptides and antibodies. The cancer-targeted radiopharmaceuticals that Dr. Price is creating are selective and sensitive. As radioactive imaging agents they provide exquisitely accurate and sensitive early detection of cancer, and as radioactive therapeutics they have fewer side effects than many of the highly toxic and non-selective standard chemotherapy drugs still used today. These types of drugs can be thought of as “smart drugs”, as they are able to selectively bind to cancer cells while ignoring healthy cells. Some of these radioactive agents are used for positron emission tomography (PET) nuclear imaging to provide non-invasive and quantitative data about a patient’s individual cancer burden, which is currently the only effective way to apply the principles of personalized medicine. Dr. Price has substantial experience in designing, radiolabeling, and evaluating chelators with linkers, peptides, nanoparticles, and antibodies.

Local collaborations at the U of S include the Canadian Light Source synchrotron (CLS) to study metal-chelate binding properties with collaborators Drs. Graham George and Ingrid Pickering. A recently awarded SHRF Collaborative Innovation Development grant with Drs. George, Pickering, Price, and Dmitriev will provide seed money to start a collaboration looking at the role of copper and zinc in Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Price is also collaborating closely with Drs. Chris Phenix and Ron Geyer, where they are attempting to improve delivery and selectivity of highly toxic chemotherapeutic drugs by using the cellular machinery of cancer (enzymes) against itself. Dr. Price has also been recently awarded a CIHR Project Grant with Drs. Andrew Freywald and Franco Vizeacoumar to generate cutting-edge personalized medicine for triple negative breast cancer by combining genotype-directed cancer therapy with radioactive antibodies.

Funding sources for Dr. Price’s research are crucial and greatly appreciated, include the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canada Research Chairs (CRC), Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Fedoruk Centre, and startup funds from the University of Saskatchewan.

To learn more, please access Price Research Group's website.

Proteomics Research in Interactions and Structure of Macromolecules (PRISM)

PRISM brings together a large group of scientists with diverse research programs with protein science as a common denominator. The research themes of PRISM members are related to the understanding and utilization of molecular processes in the cell and in cell-cell interactions, and include:

  • signal transduction and molecular mechanisms of cancer
  • protein-protein interactions and molecular mechanism of pathogenicity
  • molecular mechanisms of immunity and vaccine development
  • small molecular inhibitors as therapeutic agents

PRISM maintains the Protein Characterization and Crystallization Facility (PCCF), which provides access to specialized equipment guided by knowledgeable PhD-level staff.

The Psycholegal & Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Research Lab, launched and led by Dr. Mansfield Mela, conducts research in the areas of forensic psychiatry, FASD and psycholegal topics. Dr. Mela is a co-lead researcher for CanFASD, Canada’s first comprehensive national FASD research network.

The Psycholegal & FASD Research Lab is leading the way in conducting patient-oriented research projects investigating the complex co-existence of FASD and mental disorder. Dr. Mela has been the principal researcher in an unprecedented collaborative endeavor to develop the first-ever psychotropic medication algorithm for individuals with FASD. Other recent FASD research activities include a qualitative investigation into the barriers and enhancers for a clinical pathway in FASD and mental disorder, an investigation on narratives to improve recognition of individuals with undiagnosed FASD in adult health care settings, and a systematic review on the use of psychotropic medications in those with FASD.

The Psycholegal & FASD Research Lab has also conducted a number of projects investigating psycholegal aspects in forensic populations such as an exploration of the neurocognitive profiles of individuals with offending history in an outpatient forensic psychiatry setting and a follow-up analysis on a randomized control trial investigating the impact of forgiveness training conducted in a correctional facility. The Psycholegal & FASD Research Lab prioritizes collaborative research that listens to the voices of those with lived experiences and these projects could not be conducted without meaningful partnerships with numerous organizations.

Knowledge translation strategies that are relevant for community and policy influence are valued and research is conducted with the goal of producing findings that will improve outcomes in the lives of individuals, family members, and caregivers.

If you have questions or would like to discuss collaborative research opportunities at the Psycholegal and FASD Research Lab, please Contact the Lab.

Saskatchewan Epilepsy Research Initiative (SERI)

The mission of SERI is to synergize clinical and basic science expertise at the University of Saskatchewan in order to promote a comprehensive research effort in understanding the causes and complications of epilepsy, aiming to devise more effective treatment strategies to improve patients’ quality of life. The initiative is based in six research pillars:

  1. SERI performs comprehensive research in national and provincial population data bases exploring secular trends of incidence, prevalence, mortality and comorbidity in patients with epilepsy (PWE) from the general population.
  2. A comprehensive epilepsy telehealth program has been created as a part of this initiative to develop large-scale prospective and retrospective clinical studies in PWE from remote communities, mainly targeting patients from northern Saskatchewan.
  3. SERI has developed a successful clinical research program exploring outcomes in PWE. The initiative performs studies using different methodologies such as meta-analysis, case-control studies, cohorts, and randomized clinical trials.
  4. In 2013, in collaboration with Dr. Hernandez and Dr. Moien, Dr. Tellez-Zenteno created the first epilepsy brain bank (EEB) in Canada at the U of S. This bio-bank has been recognized nationally and internationally.
  5. SERI has been very successful validating new electroencephalogram-devices and successfully ensured their implementation in the care of patients with epilepsy. We are in the process of creating a new EEG technology obtained with cellular phone and other portable devices. The devices will be highly portable, and it will be implemented in the telehealth clinic and in the emergency room and the intensive care unit.
  6. Locally, SERI has collaborated with multiple departments in the College of Medicine and across the U of S. The initiative has successfully collaborated on multiple projects at the national and international level. SERI led the publication of the national guidelines to practice electroencephalography in Canada, the national guidelines regarding discontinuation of medications after epilepsy surgery, and currently is leading the guidelines on the diagnosis and management of patients with non-epileptic events. At the international level, SERI has also developed collaborations with other countries, resulting in high impact publications.
To learn more, please acces Dr. Tellez-Zeneno's website.

Based on existing research strengths at the U of S, the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) was formed in 2007 with the aim of developing advanced technologies for the production of tissue/organ scaffolds for various tissue engineering application. TERG currently includes more than 10 professors, clinicians, and scientists from both life sciences and engineering. The research collaborations among TERG ranges from the development of tissue scaffolds to various TE applications including the repair of articular cartilage, bone, teeth, peripheral nerves, and spinal cord, as well as in the treatment of myocardial infarction, cerebral aneurysms, and cancer.

The strategies being developed include efforts to engineer novel scaffolds with controlled composition and properties optimized for given applications, to promote cell function and tissue regeneration, and to antagonize inhibitory effects occurring in damaged tissues/organs or target cancer stem cells. These strategies will be creatively integrated to achieve combined or synergistic effects for a given TE application through tests in culture dishes, animal models, and, eventually, human patients.

The TERG research also aims to develop synchrotron-based imaging technologies to track the success of scaffolds in the TE applications. The innovative aspect of TERG research rests on the development of novel scaffolds, creatively integrated strategies, and unique synchrotron-based imaging, which combined will have profound long-term impact on the health and welfare of patient populations around the world.

For more information, please  Contact TERG Leader, Dr. Daniel Chen.

The U of S Team for Prostate Research is developing improved diagnostic and treatment tools for prostate cancer in humans through the use of a canine model. Using a synchrotron-based x-ray source for imaging and therapy at the Canadian Light Source (CLS), this multi-disciplinary team is investigating prostate disease using new and conventional imaging methods.  Long-term goals include the development and validation of synchrotron x-ray imaging for research and clinical imaging of animal and human prostate glands as well as exploration of spontaneous canine prostatic diseases as a model for human diseases and development of a model of induced prostatic carcinoma in dogs.  The intention is to provide a basis for cost-effective analysis when selecting imaging methods for the diagnosis of prostate disease in the clinical setting, reducing unnecessary and expensive imaging tests and improving early detection rates.  The involvement of under-graduate and graduate students, basic and clinical researchers and junior faculty at the University of Saskatchewan makes this team truly multi-disciplinary and diverse.

Research Clusters

The Bacterial Physiology & Genetics Research Cluster is comprised of 2 labs that collaborate and perform important topic-related research activities:

Kerri Kobryn's laboratory studies the biochemistry and molecular biology of the Lyme Disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. The Lyme disease spirochetes are unique among human pathogens in having a linear chromosome and plasmids terminated by unusual hairpin telomeres. The lab primarily studies the enzyme, ResT, which forms hairpin telomeres with a view towards eventual rational design of Borrelia-specific drugs. ResT is related to proteins that in other bacterial species control chromosome segregation.

Peter Howard's laboratory studies the molecular biology of toxin secretion by Gram-negative bacteria and structure, function and biogenesis of the outer membrane. In Gram-negative bacteria, the peptidoglycan cell wall is a significant structural barrier for outer membrane protein assembly, and the lab investigates the mechanism of peptidoglycan reorganization to enable membrane protein assembly and toxin secretion.

The Biomedical and Environmental Research Cluster is a group of basic scientists and clinicians from the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Agriculture and Bioresources, Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, the College of Pharmacy and the School of Public Health.  The lab houses the CFI funded National Agricultural Industrial Hygiene Laboratory (NAIHL), and the Mass Spectrometry facility.  Researchers undertake a diverse range of research initiatives in biomedical and environmental health research.

The Biomedical and Environmental Research Cluster has celebrated their great work with an annual 2nd Floor Research Day (2017 and 2018) together with the Cardiopulmonary Cluster (2D40), and welcome collaboration with other investigators.

 For more information about researchers, shared equipment and most recent publications please visit the Biomedical and Environmental Research Cluster website.

The Cancer Cluster occupies more than 6,000 sq. ft. of space on the 4th floor of the new Academic Health Sciences Building at the University of Saskatchewan.  This group includes seven Principal Investigators studying various aspects of cancer cell biology, providing high caliber interdisciplinary training in the study of cancer cells utilizing a blend of cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, protein structure-function, enzymology, cell-based assays, and animal models to answer fundamental questions about the nature of cancer cells and how this information could be used to identify and validate new targets for therapy. 

Containing four Research Scientists from the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and three Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan, the Cancer Cluster's combined group size is about 35 people, including: graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research associates, research technicians, summer students and undergraduate research project students.

To learn more, please access the Cancer Cluster website.

The Cardiopulmonary Research Cluster is a group of scientists and clinicians conducting a wide range of research at the University of Saskatchewan. The cluster contains eleven faculty members, together with their students and research staff, from the Departments of Biochemistry, Medicine, Pharmacology and Physiology.

For more information, please visit Cardiopulmonary Cluster - 2D40.

Drug Discovery & Development Research Group (DDDRG)

The DDDRG provides pharmeceutical, nutritional, and molecular sciences expertiese with an aim to develop effective and sustainable therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. Supporting and advancing research that leads to new therapeutic applications for existing drugs, as well as the discovery of bioactive compounds found in prominent Saskatchewan agricultural products as a value-added benefit to the agricultural economy. Additionally, DDDRG has established a strong reputation as a collaborative research cluster that can advance the preclinical development efforts of other researchers and industry partners.

The Imaging and Development Cluster is an interdisciplinary group of 13 clinicians and scientists, hailing from 5 departments in the Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry, and in the School of Physical Therapy. Using innovative imaging techniques to reveal mechanisms of disease, the cluster collaborates widely in the Colleges of Kinesiology, Arts and Science, Veterinary Medicine, and Engineering, highlighting a cross-disciplinary approach. In the past 5 yearsit has enjoyed great success, obtaining 50 grants totalling more than $20M from CIHR, NSERC, and other funding agencies, publishing over 150 scholarly papers, and trained more than 150 highly-qualified personnel (students, residents, and technicians).

Making great use of our local resource, the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, a majority of cluster members work to develop new means to assess and treat skeletal and neural disorders. With lab facilities that satisfy molecular biology, cell culture, and histology needs, the cluster has unique imaging components, including microCT and OPT imagers, with top-shelf image processing software.  The exact projects carried out in each cluster lab varies from skeletal development in mouse, chick, and fish embryos to neurological disease in human brains to blood vessel changes in disease, but a common interest in innovative imaging techniques pulls them all together.

Please Contact Brian Eames if you're interested in how the Imaging and Development cluster might work together with you.

The U of S currently conducts vigorous research into providing innovative treatments for infectious diseases using molecular design of new drugs. Using this research and investments in unique synchrotron technologies at the Canadian Light Source, biological and containment facilities at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) with InterVac, the Molecular Design Research Cluster has submitted a proposal for a Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) position, which would provide a focal point for a team-driven aggressive attack on these infectious diseases that threaten our society.

The Neuroscience Research Cluster is a group of basic scientists and clinicians conducting neuroscience-related research at the University of Saskatchewan. Here, they share contiguous laboratory and office space within the new Health Sciences building and as a team are making great progress in understanding what causes certain brain disorders and how best to treat patients who suffer from these brain disorders. Twenty-one faculty members and over sixty trainees and research staff work in the areas of mental health, psychiatric disorders, and related illnesses, including:

  • Stroke
  • Epilepsy
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Pain
  • Diabetes
To learn more, please access the Neuroscience Research Cluster website.

The Virology & Immunology Research Cluster is comprised of 4 labs collaborating and performing health research related to the topics of virology & immunology:

Linda Chelico's lab examines the host intrinsic immunity to HIV-1 infection and the origins of mutations in cancer cells. These seemingly disparate topics are unified by the enzyme family involved in both processes, the APOBEC family of deoxycytidine deaminases. APOBEC enzymes modify cytosine in single-stranded DNA to promutagenic uracil, which enables a variety of physiological functions (inhibiting HIV-1) and malfunctions (cancer mutagenesis). We have characterized the biochemical features that enable mutagenesis of HIV-1 and human DNA, which have implications in both the treatment of HIV-1 and cancer.

The central focus of Joyce Wilson's laboratory research is the study of virus-host interactions between HCV and the infected cell. Of particular interest are interactions between HCV and the micro RNA pathway of the cell, specifically miR-22 that helps HCV to replicate. This is an unusual function for a miRNA, which normally suppresses translation and promotes degradation of RNAs. The lab is undertaking structure-function and virology studies to dissect this relationship.

Research in Popi Havele's laboratory concentrates on understanding the biology and physiological function of the CD8 T Cell. His team has found that the naturally occurring CD4:CD8 Ratio is a defining and predictive parameter of the specific immunity induced by antigen. Our findings relate to the mechanism of CD4 T Cell Differentiation, mouse strain dependent differential CD4:CD8 Ratio, and age dependent differential CD4: CD8 Ratio resulting in preferential Induction of Th2 immunity in Neonates.

Peter Bretscher's laboratory studies mechanisms responsible for self-nonself discrimination and immune class determination and immune responses in autoimmunity, to tumours, and in chronic infectious diseases, and strategies of vaccination.

Newest cluster member Kerry Lavender's research focus is viral immunology. Dr. Lavender developed the TKO-BLT humanized mouse model for the study of viral pathogenesis and human immunity to human pathogens such as HIV-1. The model is particularly suited for the in vivo assessment of new therapies, particularly those that require an extended period of evaluation such as HIV-1 cure strategies. Currently, the lab’s primary focus is to understand and harness the unique properties of individual interferon alpha subtypes in order to develop new therapeutic strategies against HIV-1 infection.

Contact Us.

The Office of the Vice-Dean Research is committed to serving all members of our research community by offering support and resources. If your Research Group or Research Cluster would like to be featured on this website, or you would like to offer any feedback, please Contact Us, and our staff will be happy to work with you. 

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Office of the Vice-Dean Research
  College of Medicine
  University of Saskatchewan
  Office 4A20 - Dean's Suite, Health Sciences Building
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