The Government of Canada recently invested $91.5 million to fund 121 Canada Research Chairs, including two at the University of Lethbridge.
Dr. Deborah Saucier (Neuroscience) and Dr. Stacey Wetmore (Chemistry and Biochemistry) are both receiving Tier II Canada Research Chair funding worth $500,000.
Saucier joins the U of L from the University of Saskatchewan, while Wetmore has relocated from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.
Saucier will be working with researchers at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN) on human and animal research models. She will be focusing on how individual behaviours reflect individual differences in the brain and how these differences relate to brain function in both “normal” and dysfunctional brains.
“I focus on brain-behaviour relations in humans and rats, with considerable emphasis on interactions between sex and age,” Saucier says. “In humans, I will be using virtual reality and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) processes to understand why, for example, some people are good at navigating and why others have such difficulty. In rats, I will investigate how the living environment and the age of the rat affects its recovery from stroke.”
Wetmore’s research uses calculations on computers to study reactions between DNA and various harmful chemicals to understand how DNA can be altered. She is also studying how enzymes that already exist in our body repair DNA by chemically removing the damaged pieces.
Wetmore says that understanding how the damage occurs and how nature repairs the damage will put scientists in a better position to develop more effective techniques to repair or prevent DNA damage.
She is conducting this research using computer modelling.
“This approach is extremely useful to study molecules that are difficult or impossible to study using traditional experiments. For example, some molecules are difficult to study experimentally due to their short lifetimes, but comparatively easy to study using computers,” says Wetmore.
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