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Research2Reality Videos

Connecting today’s research with tomorrow’s reality, Research2Reality is a groundbreaking initiative that shines a spotlight on world-class scientists who are engaged in innovative and leading edge research in Canada. Enjoy these videos featuring McMaster "rockstar" scientists Dawn Bowdish, John Brennan, Jim Cotton, Fiona McNeill, Parminder Raina, Allison Sekuler, Ravi Selvaganapathy, Sheila Singh and John Valliant.


Why is it that older people get sick more often than young people? The biggest assumption we have is that the reason old people get sick is because their immune systems don't work. Dawn Bowdish, Canada Research Chair in Aging and Immunity, has actually found that this simply isn't true. The immune systems in older people are functional, they just work differently. 
Read more at Research2Reality 


Chemistry professor John Brennan and his research team at the Biointerfaces Institute have developed a number of very simple paper-based strips for the detection of things like pesticides, heavy metals in water, and most recently, the technology to detect E. coli in water and on food. 

Read more at Research2Reality



Jim Cotton, Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his research team are trying to capture the 70% of potential energy from fossil fuels that is wasted to our environment and use it for other purposes. Once they have optimized something on the order of a commercial establishment, they want to grow these sustainable systems, like Lego, into bigger and bigger systems. Read more at Research2Reality


To help define safe limits, Fiona McNeill, Professor of Medical Physics and Applied Radiation Sciences, is measuring long-term metal exposure and its impact on human health. McNeill explains that “at the moment, we assess people’s exposure through measurements of blood in urine, but they only tell us about a person’s recent exposure and we know that most health effects are consequence of long-term exposure. Using radiation-based techniques – mostly x-ray techniques – I assess people’s exposure painlessly and simply.” This technology is portable, allowing McNeill to study at-risk populations all over the world.

Read more at Research@Reality


By the time we hit 2050, 1 in 4 people are going to be over the age of 65. So it is surprising that we do not know very much about geriatric health and why some people age in a healthy way and other people do not. To solve this mystery, Parminder Raina, Canada Research Chair in GeroScience,  is examining everything from the biology of aging to the social aspects of aging. Read more at Research2Reality

Neuroscientist Allison Sekuler, has found that as we age, the brain has a capacity to reorganize itself when it comes up against a challenge and make use of areas that were previously used for other things in younger people. For instance, if we are not able to see as well, we are able to make use of the parts of the brain that normally would be used for memory and attention to compensate. Prof. Sekuler’s research group in the Vision & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab studies how the brain changes with age and experience, and is using a combination of behavioural and neuroimaging methods to understand the limits of this compensatory reorganization. Read more at Research2Reality


Why are some people better at recognizing faces than others? Although it seems to be something that should be very simple because we do it every day, we know almost nothing about the science behind how it is that we are able to recognize faces.  Professor Allison Sekuler and her research group in the Vision & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab study facial recognition using a variety of neuroimaging techniques like electroencephalography or EEG. Read more at Research2Reality


Microfabrication is used everywhere – including inside your smartphone, making computing devices small and portable. One specific application is microfluidic devices that handle fluids on the microscale, confined to spaces under a millimeter, directing them to move, mix, or divide. Mechanical engineering professor Ravi Selvaganapathy, Canada Research Chair in Microfluidics, is using this technology to build a lab on a chip. 

Read more at Research2Reality


Brain tumours are one of the most aggressive types of tumours known to mankind and despite gold standard therapy – surgery, radiation, chemotherapy – patients usually have only months to live after diagnosis with cancers like glioblastoma. Dr. Sheila Singh, pediatric neurosurgeon and Canada Research Chair in Human Cancer Stem Cell Biology, knows we can do better. Read more at Research2Reality


Collecting information is an important first step to attacking any problem. When confronted with an unknown health problem, medical imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan, allows doctors to see inside a patient’s body. If a cancer is present, these images can reveal its location and size, and what other organs and structures may be affected. Prof. John Valliant, a chemist at McMaster University, is developing probes that may help doctors take even better pictures of diseases, allowing them to match the right treatment to the right patient. Read more at Research2Reality