Learn how to keep breathing easy as you age

Researchers from McMaster University are teaming up with The Lung Association and the Breathing as One Campaign for Lung Research for a public event to increase awareness about lung diseases, what can be done to prevent and treat such diseases, and what research is telling us about lung health.

Lung health issues specific to older adults will be the main focus of discussion at a café scientifique on Thursday, November 27, entitled Breathing Easy: Lung Health is Good Health for Older Adults. The panel discussion will feature insights from three McMaster researchers with expertise on diseases of the lungs, and from the Lung Association’s director of respiratory health programs.

The event will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the McMaster Innovation Park, and is open to everyone. It will also be available through live webstreaming. The audience will have ample opportunity to ask specific questions of the panel of experts following their presentations.

Lung disease is one of the most prevalent and costly health issues faced in Canada. One in five Canadians has some type of lung disease, lung cancer kills more people than breast, ovarian, colon and prostate cancers combined, and it is estimated that chronic lung diseases costs the Canadian economy $12 billion.

The event has been organized in conjunction with National Lung Month, being observed in November.

Presenters at the Café Scientifique are:

Dawn Bowdish, associate professor at McMaster and Canada Research Chair in Aging and Immunity, who will talk about pneumonia and its effect on chronic inflammatory diseases in older adults;

Gerard Cox, professor in the Department of Medicine whose research interests focus on disease development, and strategies for diagnosis and therapy, who will discuss research and treatment options for pulmonary fibrosis;

Carl Richards, professor in the McMaster Immunology Research Centre who researches how the lung copes with chronic inflammation and the relationship between cancer and inflammation, who will discuss his research on lung cancer; and

Carole Madeley, who is responsible for the delivery of several asthma programs funded by the provincial ministry of health, as well as The Lung Association-funded BreathWorks program, and other respiratory programs that are offered across the province of Ontario.

The café scientifique will be moderated by Dr. Parminder Raina, lead principal investigator for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging and Canada Research Chair in GeroScience.

The live webcast of the event can be accessed here, 15 minutes prior to the start of the presentations.

Provided by McMaster University

Hamilton collaboration aims to Forge young startups

Sina Afshani watched his aunt struggling to help his ailing grandmother out of a chair. His aunt urged Afshani, a graduate of industrial design, to make something that could help.

So he did.

The result is Blue Orchid, a simple device that uses a caregiver’s own weight and movement to bring a patient to his or her feet.

After 200 prototypes, Afshani is ready for the next stage and the newly opened The Forge at McMaster Innovation Park is helping him get there.

The Forge is a collaboration between McMaster University and the Innovation Factory. It will provide six months of business training, mentoring, links to expert advice and service providers, access to rapid prototyping equipment and incubation space to high-potential ventures led by entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 29.

They do not need to be affiliated with McMaster or any other post-secondary institution to apply to The Forge.

“This is open to all growth-oriented enterprises that are aimed at creating jobs and better lives,” said Glen Crossley, a business development advisor at the McMaster Industry Liaison Office.

The province contributed more than $1 million through its Campus Linked Accelerator program. The accelerator will start formally taking in clients in January but has been testing the space and its approach with eight startups.

The Forge has provided plenty of guidance, says Afshani, who is a student in Mac’s masters of engineering, entrepreneurship and innovation program. He has managed to raise $100,000 in seed funding for his concept.

“Being here makes it all feel more real. You start to feel like a real company. It psychologically helps.”

David Carter, executive director of Innovation Factory, says similar accelerators at the University of Waterloo and elsewhere feed “healthy competition and co-operation” and weekly meetings with mentors mean participants set the bar higher for themselves.

“For some, it’s a good dose of reality. For others, it is easier to work hard when others are watching you.”

Other startups occupying The Forge space include: Q Reserve, a database of researchers, equipment and lab facilities at universities and research institutes; Serenity, an ultrasound-equipped cane and vibrational navigation belt for the visually impaired; and Start the Cycle, a bike library system for disadvantaged youth.

“We wouldn’t have an organization with The Forge,” said Charles Burke, a PhD student in the university’s transportation studies program. “We were working out of the basement of a McMaster library that’s seen better days. This gave us a real place to meet potential partners.”

See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator.

Mac lands water tech deal with Chinese company

Imagine being able to ensure drinking water is safe in a community water system by using a series of remote sensors to instantly identify contamination before anyone gets sick.

That’s the goal of technology being developed at McMaster University, which is the focus of a new agreement between the university and Chinese and other Canadian partners.

The deal will see a $3-million investment by the Chinese company Jiangsu Delin Environmental Protection Technology Co. and $1 million from China’s science and technology ministry.

The university will provide office and lab space at the McMaster Innovation Park and is hoping the province and perhaps the federal government will throw in some cash as well.

The agreement was signed by McMaster officials taking part in the recent Ontario Science and Technology Mission to China led by Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The deal is significant because, as it is now, water samples have to be taken and then tested, a process that can take hours or days. Remote sensing offers the promise of continuous testing that can be watched in real time at a central facility.

“The idea of being able to monitor the water quality without actually having to send somebody to do the measurements is a very attractive proposition,” said Peter Mascher, McMaster’s associate vice-president of international affairs.

He said there’s huge interest in the technology in China because “people there are less and less accepting of the poor water and poor air quality.

“The Chinese government over the next few years is going to invest unbelievable amounts of money to find ways to purify their water and clean up their air.”

The technology would also be useful in remote areas of Canada where water systems can be unreliable, he said.

McMaster researchers have been working on the technology for several years, but it “only now has taken off because really many of the partners are at the right stage of development to really do something exciting.”

The deal would see researchers in Hamilton collaborating online with researchers at a laboratory in Jiangsu Province, China, to develop the technology with the goal of creating sensing equipment to detect biological contaminants at first and other pollutants such as heavy metals later on.

Asked if there were considerations about striking a deal with a country known for human rights abuses, Mascher said the deal is consistent with university ethical guidelines. “Given our prime minister just came back from China with a whole wagonload of commercial deals, you can’t be holier than thou.”

He said Chinese researchers and academics involved in water research “are not the people who violate human rights.”

Mo Elbestawi, McMaster’s vice-president of research and international affairs, said the deal will “allow for the two-way flow of technology, talent and capital between partners” and is the kind of enterprise the innovation park was designed to develop and commercialize.

See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator.