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(e)AFFECT

Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 EFFECTING CHANGE, AFFECTING LIVES RESEARCH AT QUEEN’S

A fundamental

discovery

A NOBEL PRIZE

for Art McDonald

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

The Canadian Cancer

Trials Group


Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

The Canadian Cancer

Trials Group

EFFECTING CHANGE, AFFECTING LIVES

CONTENTS

UPFRONT 1 Welcome

2 Special Feature: Tiny Particles, Big Prize

4 Researchers in the News

6 Awards and Honours

FEATURE 8 Strength in Numbers: Canadian Cancer Trials Group

INSIGHTS 12 Trials Help Clinicians Face a Daunting Disease: Jim Biagi

14 Quality of Life Amidst Quantity of Data: Michael Brundage

16 Calculating the Real Value of Clinical Trials: Annette Hay

17 Where Medical Science Meets Patients: David Berman

FOCUS 18

Art of Research

22 Reading Between the Lines: Peter Thompson

GLOBAL REACH 24

Mining Security: Stéfanie von Hlatky

26 The Importance of Perspective

THE BACK PAGES 28

The Next Generation

31 In Their Own Words: Kathleen Lahey

(e)AFFECT

(e)AFFECT is published twice a year by the Office of the

Vice-Principal (Research). The mission of our office is to

stimulate, enhance and facilitate ethical research and

scholarship at Queen’s by providing leadership, support

and services to advance Queen’s position as a research-intensive

university, while raising awareness of the excellence

of Queen’s research and providing accountability to

our stakeholders.

Our goal is:

Helping people achieve excellence in research and scholarship.

(e)AFFECT

RESEARCH AT QUEEN’S

A fundamental

discovery

A NOBEL PRIZE

for Art McDonald

ON THE COVER:

Arthur McDonald poses in front

of the neutrino detector that

generated the Nobel-winning data.

VICE-PRINCIPAL (RESEARCH)

Dr. Steven N. Liss

MANAGING EDITORS

Kelly Blair-Matuk

Melinda Knox

PROJECT COORDINATION

Alison Migneault,

Queen’s University Marketing

FSC FPO

PHOTOGRAPHY

Greg Black, Bernard Clark

GRAPHIC DESIGN

Christine Jamieson, Queen’s University Marketing

CONTRIBUTORS

Andrew Carroll, Leigh Cameron, Ian Coutts, Meredith Dault,

Tejay Gardiner, Atif Kukaswadia, Tim Lougheed, Alec Ross

ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE TO:

Office of the Vice-Principal (Research)

251 Richardson Hall, Queen’s University

Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Phone 613-533-6933

Fax 613-533-6934

Email research@queensu.ca

Web queensu.ca/vpr


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

“It does not get any better than this.”

A selfie with Art on the day of the Nobel Prize announcement, October 6, 2015.

WELCOME TO

OUR READERS

Recently, I was asked by a campus reporter how I felt about the

announcement of Professor Art McDonald’s 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for

his work on neutrinos. This was my answer. The award of a Nobel Prize is a

spectacular achievement for Canada, for Queen’s, for the Department of

Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, and, of course, for Professor

McDonald, a truly wonderful human being. There are some days when you

just have to pinch yourself.

In such a short time span, we had yet another wonderful announcement

– the opening of the Smith School of Business – made possible from an

historic $50M gift from alumnus Stephen Smith that is sure to strengthen

not only the university’s reputation for excellence in business education,

but also in business research. More recently, the university received an

extraordinary gift from Alfred and Isabel Bader: a significant, late-career

masterpiece by Rembrandt called Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo.

These three examples reflect the transformative impact of our student,

alumni, faculty and staff contributions, and there are many more as you will

see in this current issue of (e)AFFECT.

A very obvious example is presented in our feature story about the

Canadian Cancer Trials Group, “Strength in Numbers.” It is hard to imagine

anyone in the world who hasn’t, in one way or another, been touched by

cancer. Fortunately, the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, located on the main

Queen’s campus, is brimming with talented people, some of them

individually featured on the upcoming pages, all on the edge of discovery for

the prevention and cure of cancer. Importantly, their work has taken ideas

crafted at the lab bench, and moved them to study on human populations

to generate data about efficacy and safety, quality of life and cost.

Another example is apparent in “The Importance of Perspective,” a story

about the two-plus-two exchange program with Tongji University in

Shanghai – one of our international partners I had the good fortune to visit

several times this year. Student exchanges expose undergraduate learners

to different cultures and different ways of doing things that truly broaden

the horizon for each and every one of them, and provide them a more global

way of thinking, learning, and analyzing.

I hope that you enjoy reading this issue and, as always, I welcome your

comments and encourage you to explore, discover, and engage in the

research enterprise at Queen’s.

Dr. Steven N. Liss

Vice-Principal (Research)


Clever, humble,

multi-faceted:

a profile of Arthur B. McDonald, Nobel Laureate

Queen’s Professor Emeritus

shares the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics

BY WANDA PRAAMSMA

At an early age, Arthur B. McDonald was already busy

trying to figure out the way things work.

“His mother will tell you that at age five, he used to take

apart clocks,” says Dr. McDonald’s wife, Janet. “Very early

he was intrigued by how things work.”

It’s that interest in the mechanics of the world that eventually

led Dr. McDonald, the 2015 co-winner of the Nobel

Prize in Physics, to study the universe on a fundamental

level, through physics.

“In high school, I was interested in science, not necessarily

physics. And I had a math teacher, Bob Chafe, in Sydney,

Nova Scotia, who inspired many to pursue math,” says

Dr. McDonald. “When I started studying at Dalhousie,

I went to study math and science, but it was other teachers,

Professors Ernest Guptill and Innes MacKenzie, who

inspired me in physics. I also found that I could do it

and it was fun.”

The Nobel Prize win recognizes the immense contributions

Dr. McDonald has made over his lengthy career, but

particularly honours his longtime research and groundbreaking

findings into neutrinos – sub-atomic particles considered

the basic building blocks of the universe.

In 1989, he became director of the Sudbury Neutrino

Observatory (SNO), located in the Vale (formerly known as

INCO) Creighton mine near Sudbury, succeeding Queen’s

Professor George Ewan, the Canadian spokesman for SNO

the year prior. Working in the world’s deepest underground

laboratory, the SNO team – made up of scientists from

several Canadian universities – discovered that neutrinos

change from one type, or “flavour,” to another on their journey

to Earth from the core of the sun. This finding confirmed

that these fundamental particles have a finite mass and that

the current models for energy generation in the sun are

very accurate.

Dr. McDonald shares the prestigious Nobel win with

Japanese scientist Takaaki Kajita, a professor at the University

of Tokyo who similarly found, at the Super Kamiokande

detector in Japan, that neutrinos created in the atmosphere

underwent a metamorphosis in their journey to Earth.

“I am truly honoured,” says Dr. McDonald. “While I am

a co-winner of the Nobel Prize, the honour really represents

a culmination of the hard work and contributions of many

colleagues with whom I have collaborated during my career.”

Dr. McDonald grew up in the small Nova Scotia city of

Sydney, where a tightknit family gave him a strong sense of

community and laid the foundation for his successful career.

“There was a lot of knowledge and respect there, within

his family,” says Mrs. McDonald, who is also from Sydney

and met Dr. McDonald at a dance in high school. The couple

will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016.

2


“He’s very clever, but along with that, he has a really good

sense about things. He’s multi-faceted,” she says.

“Art has a wonderful way with people. He is very humble

and respectful, and I think that’s why the SNO collaboration

has done so well. They are all very collegial. That starts with

the director and permeates through the group.”

Dr. McDonald left Sydney for Dalhousie University in

Halifax, graduating in 1964 with a BSc (Honours) in

physics and a year later, with an MSc in the

same field. From there, he headed south, and

west, to complete a PhD in nuclear physics

at the California Institute of Technology in

Pasadena. He and Mrs. McDonald came

back to Canada in 1969 and settled in

Deep River, where Dr. McDonald worked

at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories

with Atomic Energy of Canada, performing

fundamental nuclear and particle physics

experiments with accelerators and reactors.

After 12 years in Deep River, Dr. McDonald

was offered a position at Princeton University. They

were raising their four children in Deep River, and while

somewhat reluctant to leave, the family moved and stayed in

Princeton until 1988, when Dr. McDonald came to Queen’s

on sabbatical for a year and stayed on permanently – a move

encouraged by Dr. Ewan as well as Dr. Don Taylor, head of

Physics at the time. In 2006, he was named the inaugural

Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics,

a title he held until 2013.

“While I was at Chalk River, I was already working with

scientists from Queen’s who became the SNO team here,”

says Dr. McDonald. “And when I was at Princeton, I returned

to Chalk River in the summers to complete research. Our

SNO collaboration began in 1984 and I started to study low

radioactivity materials in our labs at Princeton.”

As project director at SNO, now known as SNOLAB,

Dr. McDonald was responsible for the development,

construction, commissioning and operation of the unique

underground site, as well as the analysis and presentation of

scientific results. It was his persistence, dedication and leadership

over many years that paved the way to the significant

scientific breakthroughs made by the team.

“We knew that we could make a significant measurement

on the property of neutrinos, if we could only complete

this very complex project and control radioactivity to an

enormous degree,” he says.

At SNO, Dr. McDonald’s leadership led to the creation

of the ultimate in a low-radioactivity instrument using 1,000

tonnes of heavy water as the heart of a solar neutrino detector.

Whereas previous experiments had primarily observed

electron neutrinos, SNO also observed the total flux of all

active solar neutrinos and could show decisively whether

©

®

THE

the electron neutrinos had changed into other types.

The results from the SNO experiment provided clear

evidence that the neutrinos from the core of the sun were

changing their type, a process arising from neutrinos of finite

mass undergoing oscillations. This result, coupled with results

for atmospheric neutrinos from Dr. Kajita’s experiment

in Japan, requires modifications to the Standard Model of

Elementary Particles to include massive neutrinos.

SNO results also provided a very accurate

confirmation of current models of the sun

and its energy-generation processes.

While Dr. McDonald says he’s retired,

he still comes into campus regularly and

is busy contributing to two experiments

at SNOLAB.

Of course, the Nobel changes things.

It’s a distinction he knows will shift his life

in exciting ways. At the same time,

he feels a responsibility to represent his colleagues,

university and country well when in the

spotlight that this prize brings.“It was a feeling of

amazement,” says Dr. McDonald. “I am so grateful, for the

award, and for all my colleagues and students who have been

alongside me throughout my career.”

EN GBLOM

LO VISA

P HOTO:

NOBEL FOUNDATION

The Prize

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded

jointly to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald

“for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which

shows that neutrinos have mass.”

The prize was established in 1901. Dr. McDonald

is the fourth Canadian, and first faculty member

of Queen’s University, to receive the Nobel

Prize in Physics. In December, Dr. McDonald travelled

to Sweden to receive the Nobel medal from

the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The medal depicts Alfred Nobel (1833–1896),

who left the bulk of his fortune to honour outstanding

contributions to humanity.

The inscription on the reverse of the medal

for physics, taken from Virgil’s Aeneid, reads:

Inventas vitam juvat excoluisse per artes which,

loosely translated, says, “And they who bettered

life on Earth by their newly found mastery.”

Arthur McDonald, representing the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory

(SNO) Collaboration, also received the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in

Fundamental Physics, which recognizes individuals who have made

profound contributions to human knowledge. The partnership

received the prize at a ceremony and gala on Nov. 8 at the NASA

Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California.

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 3


RESEARCHERS

IN THE

NEWS

Internal research awards

program to invest $1 million

in first year

Launched in September 2015, the Queen’s Research

Opportunities Funds will see major investments

being made in support of the research enterprise at

Queen’s. Developed in consultation with numerous

stakeholders across campus, the QROF represents a

strategic investment which will provide researchers

and scholars the opportunity to accelerate their

programs and achieve their research goals.

The QROF consists of four funds:

• Research Leaders’ Fund

• International Fund

• Arts Fund

• Post-Doctoral Fund

For more information, visit queensu.ca/vpr

Mark Daymond explains the accelerator’s ion source

Unique research facility opens

In September, Queen’s celebrated the official opening

of the $17 million Reactor Materials Testing

Laboratory (RMTL), an exciting research endeavour

for the Queen’s Nuclear Materials Group led by Dr.

Mark Daymond. The RMTL uses a proton accelerator

to introduce damage into materials at a microscopic

scale. By studying the effects of this damage on the

way that materials behave, we can gain insight into,

and draw parallels with, the way that materials are

damaged within a nuclear reactor. The goal of the

RMTL is to support the development of safe and

economical nuclear power for Canada.

4


Across faculties and departments, Queen’s researchers are capturing headlines in

Canada and around the world. Here are a few highlights from the past few months:

The world comes to Queen’s

Queen’s, a member of the Matariki Network of

Universities (an international group of leading, likeminded

universities), welcomed faculty and

librarians from all seven of the network’s international

partners to Religion Across the Humanities:

A Matariki Humanities Colloquium. Held in October, the

Colloquium fostered dialogue about the current state

of research and teaching in the study of religion, as

well as examined the resources and best practices at

other MNU institutions. Additionally, the group enjoyed

a full program of events that showcased the rich heritage

of Queen’s and Kingston, including

dinner at Fort Henry and The Haunted Walk tour.

DID YOU KNOW?

OUT OF THIS WORLD

One artist’s rendition of a young star system shows gas giants forming first, while the gas nebula is

present. Dr. Duncan and his co-authors at the Southwest Research Institute used computer simulations

to determine how Jupiter and Saturn evolved in our own solar system. These new calculations show

that the cores of gas giants likely formed by gradually accumulating a population of planetary pebbles

– icy objects about a foot in diameter.

Dr. Martin Duncan and co-authors Harold Levison

and Katherine Kretke (Southwest Research

Institute) have solved the mystery of how gas

giants such as Jupiter and Saturn formed in the

early solar system. In a recent Nature paper, they

revealed that the cores of gas giants are formed

through the accumulation of small, centimetre-to

metre-sized “pebbles.” This finding sits in contrast

to the “standard model” of planet formation, which

predicts that cores are formed by the accumulation

of much larger fragments, many kilometres across.

The model created by Dr. Duncan and his team

found that collisions and accumulation of the socalled

pebbles would have allowed the cores to

form much more rapidly than the timeline

predicted by the standard model. The team’s

simulations were able to produce multiple cores

within the predicted timeframe for the gas giants to

form. The model also predicts the formation of one

to four gas giant planets. This is consistent with

what we actually see in the outer solar system.

“DID YOU KNOW?” is a recurring feature in (e)AFFECT. If you know of a Queen’s research discovery you would like to see in an issue of the magazine,

contact research@queensu.ca

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 5


Congratulations

to research award recipients

The past few months have seen Queen’s researchers from a range of disciplines successfully

garner prestigious research awards from Queen’s, Canada, and around the world:

The Royal Roundup

Five Queen’s University professors have been elected as fellows to the Royal Society of Canada: Keith Poole (Biomedical

and Molecular Sciences), Elizabeth Eisenhauer (Oncology), Marjan Mozetich (School of Drama and Music), Suning Wang

(Chemistry) and Ugo Piomelli (Mechanical and Materials Engineering).

Two Queen’s University professors have won awards from the

Royal Society of Canada: R. Kerry Rowe (Civil Engineering)

won the Miroslaw Romanowski Medal and John Smol (Biology)

won the McNeil Medal.

Alice Aiken (School of Rehabilitation

Therapy) was named to the College

of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists

of the Royal Society of Canada.

6


Some of our recent accomplishments:

American Physical Society – Fellow

Andrew Pollard (Mechanical and Materials Engineering)

Canadian Academy of Health Sciences – Fellow

Chris Simpson (Medicine)

Canadian Association of Computer Science – Outstanding Young Computer Science

Researcher Prize

Ahmed Hassan (School of Computing)

College of Family Physicians of Canada – Top 20 Pioneers of Family Medicine Research

Richard Birtwhistle (Family Medicine)

Walter Rosser (Family Medicine)

Financial Management Institute of Canada – Alan G. Ross Award for Writing Excellence

Andrew Graham (School of Policy Studies)

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Fellow

Randy Ellis (School of Computing)

International Ecology Institute – ECI Prize

John Smol (Biology)

Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation

Alice Aiken (School of Rehabilitation Therapy)

Minister’s Medal Honouring Excellence in Health Quality and Safety – Individual Champion

Karen Hall Barber (Family Medicine)

Ontario Arts Council – Aboriginal Arts Award

Daniel David Moses (School of Drama and Music)

Order of Canada – Member

Ruth Wilson (Family Medicine)

Queen’s National Scholars

Qingling Duan (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences; School of Computing) – QNS in Bioinformatics

Keren Zaiontz (Film and Media) – QNS in Creative Industries in the Global City

Queen’s University Prizes for Excellence in Research

Jacalyn Duffin (History of Medicine)

Myra Hird (School of Environmental Studies)

Guojun Liu (Chemistry)

Mark Diederichs (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering)

Anne Croy (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences)

Royal Canadian Geographical Society – Massey Medal

Brian Osborne (Geography and Planning)

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council – Insight Award

David Lyon (Sociology)

Society for Music Perception and Cognition – Lifetime Achievement Award

Lola Cuddy (Psychology)

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015

7


STRENGTH

IN NUMBERS

The Canadian Cancer Trials Group at Queen’s plays

a central role in the progress of cancer care

BY TIM LOUGHEED

Patients facing a cancer diagnosis invariably have many questions,

but one tops the list – what is the best treatment? Answering that

question is the compelling goal of medical research that is testing

new treatments for similarly-diagnosed patients in carefully monitored

and controlled ways. Such studies, known as clinical trials, have been

instrumental in altering and improving the way cancer is now approached.

8

For Dr. Elizabeth Eisenhauer, head of the Queen’s

Department of Oncology, the link between clinical

trials and the progress of cancer therapy is all too clear.

She explains the differences between how a middle-aged

woman with breast cancer was treated in 1965, and how the

same condition is managed today. In 1965, a combination of

extensive and disfiguring surgery and radiation sometimes

did little to prevent the fatal spread of the disease. Fifty years

later, innovations such as implementation of breast cancer

screening, genetic insights, less aggressive surgical procedures,

chemotherapy, and targeted hormones and other

drugs have together dramatically increased survival rates

and quality of life.

“Over the last 50 years, we have seen about 5 to 10 new

approaches to breast cancer treatment now implemented in

practice,” Eisenhauer points out. “All of them are the result of

clinical trials and almost all are related to academic cooperative

group clinical trial findings.”

The emergence of academic cooperative groups – which

unite the efforts of investigators at many different universities,

hospitals, and cancer care centres – has become key

to the success of clinical trials. Any particular member of

these networks might have direct access to just a handful

of patients who would be suitable for testing some new drug

or other therapy; however, collaboration across the group

ensures the possibility of a trial with a sufficiently large

number of participants to make for a scientifically significant

research undertaking.

Continued


FEATURE

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015

9


Here in Canada, the bulk of this group work is facilitated

by a single body, the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (previously

known as the NCIC Clinical Trials Group), with its

central operations located on the Queen’s campus next to

Kingston General Hospital. Tucked in behind Botterell Hall

in the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute building, the

Group is home to more than 100 staff members who coordinate

the activities of approximately 2,000 investigators, a

group that includes oncologists, hematologists, radiologists,

surgeons, and nurses at some 80

separate member institutions in

all corners of the country. At any

given time, the Canadian Cancer

Trials Group may be overseeing as

many as 30 to 40 trials amongst

these far-flung sites, as well as others

even further afield in collaboration

with similar groups in other

countries.

“I don’t think you could identify

any cancer specialist in the country

who has not participated in our

clinical trials,” suggests Dr. Janet

Dancey, who became the Group’s

most recent director in 2014. She

describes the organization as the

hub of a wheel in which the participating

investigators and their

member institutions act as spokes.

Together, they mount the expertise

and resources necessary to

tackle the question that remains

conducting trials in Canada emulating the success of

American cancer cooperative groups. Dr. Joe Pater, then a

hematologist at KGH, became the first director of the Group.

“It seemed to me that Canada had some natural advantages

in carrying out applied clinical research – the organization

of the health care system as well as some notable

figures who had done clinical research here,” he recalls.

“We had strengths in clinical research, we had people

interested in it, and so it was an appealing opportunity.”

The then-named National

Cancer Institute of Canada wanted

to base this work in Toronto, but

Pater had grown fond of Kingston

and convinced them to let him set

up shop here. Among his earliest

initiatives was gaining permission

to test some of the latest, most

innovative drugs that were being

studied in the US. The American

government had tightened up the

regulations surrounding this work

and would only release such products

to designated cooperative

groups.

Pater hired Eisenhauer in 1982

to become one of the principal

liaisons to the US NCI, which gave

her a front-row seat to assess some

of the world’s most advanced cancer

therapies. She observed that

the development of these products

generally took place in academic

uppermost in a cancer patient’s

mind.

From left to right, Elizabeth Eisenhauer, Joe Pater, Janet Dancey

circles, since at that time the drug

industry had dismissed most cancer

“We always want to demonstrate patient benefit, that we

have a better treatment, but we also want to know about the

side effects of treatment, the costs of treatment, the impact

on quality of life,” explains Dancey. “These types of additional

studies are also incorporated into our trials.”

The Canadian Cancer Trials Group’s present size and

scope have been the result of a steady evolution that goes

back to the 1970s, when Canadian investigators began

treatments as expensive and largely ineffective. That attitude

had changed by the 1990s, as clinical trials began to highlight

game-changing agents like Herceptin, which has had a

major impact on breast cancer outcomes in patients whose

tumours harbour the HER2 protein.

The Group obtained funding from NCIC through a peerreview

process to establish an Investigational New Drug

Program, which has since conducted more than 200 early

10


FEATURE

trials of innovative therapies, including some that have gone

on to become the standard of care.

In addition to joining major American trials and sitting on

scientific panels overseeing these projects, members of the

Canadian Cancer Trials Group have also built similar bridges

to 40 other countries. “We are the conduit to international

scientific trial organizations,” Dancey notes.

Pharmaceutical companies subsequently began to partner

with the Group, but she is careful to distinguish these

partnerships from a purely contractual arrangement to carry

out clinical trials of a product that is being prepared for market.

Instead, such companies are

eager to take advantage of the

Group’s highly efficient operation,

which makes initial testing

of drug candidates much more

cost effective. And in contrast to

many contracted clinical trials,

the Canadian Cancer Trials

Group retains ownership of the data generated by this research,

which can then be published in scientific journals.

“It’s recognition that you can derive benefit by being

collaborative and partnering,” Dancey says. “And clinical

trials are, by necessity, the most collaborative of research

activities.”

“From 1930 to today, probably twice as many

people live following a cancer diagnosis,

and that will continue to improve.

Being part of that is a wonderful thing.”

– Dr. Janet Dancey

Even so, such industrial collaboration only accounts for

about a third of the Group’s revenue. The rest comes from

government agencies and dedicated charities, with the

largest single amount coming from a core program grant

from the Canadian Cancer Society (which integrated with

the National Cancer Institute of Canada in 2009). Specific

trials may be supported by other granting agencies such as

the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Prostate Cancer

Canada, or the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, while

infrastructure funding has also recently been obtained from

the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Pater recalls that for a long time the NCIC was not sure

how to deal with the Group, whose complex role did not fit

into the typical model for cancer research. It was not until

the late 1990s that the Group’s ongoing existence was

assured by an internal task force that confirmed the value

of that role.

Currently, many participating institutions are finding it

more difficult to contribute to that role, as tighter regulations

and funding shortfalls have left

many parts of Canada’s health care

system with fewer resources for

clinical trials. That prospect worries

Eisenhauer, who sees the need to

continue serving patients as much

as possible.

“The questions that are most

likely to affect patients are the same questions that people

who treat patients wonder about,” she says. “Do we need to

take off a whole breast or just the lump? Do we really need

to irradiate the whole brain, or just the spot where the

tumour is? Those are questions pharmaceutical firms will

never answer. Yet they are important questions that come

from the academic sector, from the people who see and treat

patients.”

At the same time, Eisenhauer remains confident that the

Canadian Cancer Trials Group has set new standards in patient

care. Patients practically anywhere in the country will

find a group member wherever they are being treated, but

even if they do not take part in a specific trial, Eisenhauer

maintains that they will still benefit from the expertise

that is cultivated at places where clinical trials occur.

“The Canadian Cancer Trials Group has created a

national culture of interest in improving cancer outcomes

and making trials part of the way we do business,” she says.

Dancey puts the matter even more passionately: “There

are still too many people who die of cancer,” she concludes.

“But from 1930 to today, probably twice as many people

live following a cancer diagnosis, and that will continue

to improve. Being part of that is a wonderful thing.”

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 11


Jim Biagi

TRIALS HELP CLINICIANS FACE EVEN

THE MOST

DAUNTING DISEASE

BY TIM LOUGHEED

12


INSIGHTS

For anyone who wonders whether cancer research

has yielded progress, Dr. Jim Biagi points out that

one of the emerging challenges in dealing with two

common forms of the disease – breast and prostate – is

the risk of over-treating them. During his own career as

a medical oncologist at Queen’s, he has seen diagnostic

procedures, drug regimens, and surgical methods become

so sophisticated that success is now a matter of managing

such resources to best effect, since patients routinely

recover from these serious conditions.

Unfortunately, he points out, other cancers have

remained problematic. Biagi, who specializes in gastrointestinal

and gynaecological cancer, has seen especially

little progress in the field of pancreatic cancer, where treatments

are few and recurrence after treatment is all too common.

He was therefore pleased to be able to initiate and

lead a promising international trial that could introduce a

new chemotherapy regimen to improve the survival rate

of patients undergoing surgery for this form of cancer.

The new treatment is made up of four separate drugs,

called FOLFIRINOX, which emerged from academic research

in France – and Biagi has been eager to give Canadian investigators

and their patients a chance to test it. That chance

came a few years ago, thanks to the Canadian Cancer Trials

Group, which has handled the logistics of finding suitable

participants from across the country. About 80 individuals

from Canada have entered the trial since it began in 2012;

the process wraps up next year, at which point Biagi and

his colleagues will begin analyzing their findings.

Biagi regards the role of the Canadian Cancer Trials

Group as essential to allowing clinicians like him to address

the difficulties around pancreatic cancer and find new ways

of confronting it. “Someone with an idea can bring it to the

Group and have it manipulated to the point where it can

become a viable trial,” he says.

Besides collaborating with newfound colleagues in

France, he is looking forward to the possibility of being

able to author a publication about the implications of this

trial’s findings.

As for his patients, he suggests that they stand to benefit

from any opportunity to take part in a clinical trial or simply

be treated at a centre where trial work is being done.

“There’s quality assurance there, more attention paid to

the patient, and there’s the thought process that goes into

the complications of the therapy or what’s next for the patient,”

says Biagi. “You’re always being challenged to think

more aggressively on any given cancer setting.”

He acknowledges that many trials in pancreatic cancer

therapy have offered only negative results, but that knowledge

just makes him all the more determined to carry on.

In an even larger context, he notes, such work with the

Canadian Cancer Trials Group has not only enhanced the

professional credibility of researchers like him, but likewise

has enhanced the reputation of their universities. Above all,

anyone entering oncology will be shown how factors such

as quality of life, cost-effectiveness, and other aspects of

patient care can be enhanced through clinical trial work.

“Everyone who touches this organization benefits,”

he concludes.

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015

13


How is quality of life determined?

A number of approaches are available to assess quality of life, including the

RAND Health Medical Outcomes Study (MOS), which asks questions such as:

• Has your health limited you in your ability to eat, dress, bathe, or use the toilet?

• Does your health keep you from working at a job, doing work around the house

or going to school?

• During the past month, how much of the time have you felt calm and peaceful?

Downhearted and blue?

The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy requests self-assessments of:

• physical well-being (e.g. I have a lack of energy)

• social/family well-being (e.g. I feel close to my partner)

• emotional well-being (e.g. I worry about dying)

• functional well-being (e.g. I am sleeping well)

Michael Brundage

14


INSIGHTS

FINDING QUALITY OF LIFE

AMIDST QUANTITY OF DATA BY

TIM LOUGHEED

For Dr. Michael Brundage, “quality of life” is one of

those tantalizing medical concepts that is easy to

grasp but very difficult to pin down. Nevertheless,

he has spent much of the last 30 years with the Canadian

Cancer Trials Group attempting to do just that, seeking

better ways to measure and communicate this elusive

aspect of a patient’s well-being.

“Quality of life is something we measure in clinical trials

to see how people actually feel as opposed to what their

chest X-ray or their CAT scan shows,” he explains. “Our

committee is responsible for the methods that are used

in those studies.”

In addition to serving as director of the Division of

Cancer Care and Epidemiology for the Queen’s Cancer

Research Institute, Brundage co-chairs a standing committee

that provides clinical trial investigators with expertise

and guidance on assessing the quality of life of participating

patients. He is forthright about the challenge posed by

this process, which asks doctors and patients to consider

numbers that neither of them may be able to place in a

familiar context.

That process begins with a seemingly simple survey of

questions, such as whether a patient can carry a bag of

groceries or interact with friends. Through a complex

scoring algorithm developed by administering this questionnaire

to thousands of people, an individual’s responses

are ranked between 0 and 100.

“My job is to figure out how to translate this knowledge

from clinical trials into practice,” says Brundage, who points

out that most physicians would have trouble figuring out

why a patient who received a new drug had a quality of life

measure of 85 while one who did not receive the drug

scored only 80.

Nevertheless, he regards it as crucial to ensure that this

information ranks with the “hard” data generated by the

trial, such as the traditional physical measures of a patient’s

health. According to Brundage, quality of life can serve as

an effective tool for assessing difficult trade-offs in cancer

care, including whether to administer an agent that is

essentially toxic to most patients but can reap huge rewards

for some of them. While the limited prospect of those

rewards might initially appear to be outweighed by the

suffering of so many people, a formal trial comparing the

quality of life for those who did and did not undergo that

treatment can help clarify the short-term and long-term balance

between potential gains and unpleasant side effects.

“We can tell from those data that there are short-term

consequences but in the fullness of time people look the

same from a quality of life perspective, whether or not

they got the drug,” he concludes. They recovered, in other

words, from the unpleasant side effects.

Brundage sees these insights as critical to making the

most of cancer therapies, many of which are fraught with

these kinds of trade-offs. And however comfortable he has

become with the numbers that are assigned to quality of

life, he remains sympathetic to medical practitioners who

have been trained to regard this notion in more general,

subjective terms.

By way of analogy, he points to bone density scans that,

when first introduced, were new to most physicians, so

they had trouble attaching the numbers to a specific state

of patient health. Eventually, however, physicians became

familiar with integrating these measurements and could

easily determine which readings represented mild as

opposed to more serious problems.

Brundage hopes that quality of life measures will become

just as familiar, and that by taking stock of factors, such as

patient fatigue, additional meaning will be brought to decisions

about patients, and yield more effective treatment.

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 15


Calculating

the real

value of

clinical trials

BY TIM LOUGHEED

Annette Hay

At the beginning of her career as a hematologist in

the United Kingdom, Annette Hay was constantly

reminded of the high priority assigned to clinical trial

work within the national health care system. “As a trainee

in the UK, every week we had to present the files of new

patients that we’d recently seen to the multidisciplinary

team,” she recalls. “If there was ever a clinical trial opportunity

that you should have offered the patient but didn’t,

you were in trouble.”

She has brought this perspective with her to the

Queen’s Cancer Research Institute, where she joined the

Cancer Clinical Trials Division as a senior investigator in

2014. Here she is dedicated to demonstrating the virtues

of conducting this work to help patients directly and to

advance the cause of medical research.

“While there are up-front costs to conducting a clinical

trial,” she acknowledges, “there may well be benefits and

savings.”

By way of example, she points to the fact that many

patients obtain drugs and pathology testing through their

participation in a trial rather than through the public

health care system. In a formal study of Canadian clinical

trials from 1999 to 2011, she and her colleagues estimated

the resulting reduction in fees, predominantly to the health

care system, at more than $32 million.

“This is cost-saving for the government,” she argues.

In addition, Hay suggests that a great deal of information

collected through a clinical trial might already have

been filed in administrative databases elsewhere.

She points to Ontario’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative

Sciences (ICES), a not-for-profit organization that assembled

this kind of data for research purposes. The contents

of the ICES database could mirror the personal details that

doctors and other staff take from trial participants, which

can be among the most time consuming and expensive

parts of the clinical trial process.

According to Hay, much of this work could be eliminated

by matching trial patient records to those already

filed with ICES. When she explored the possibility of using

identifying details such as year of birth to correlate these

records, she discovered that it was possible to combine the

two in about 90% of cases. And, she maintains, that rate

could be further improved if even more identifiers can

be employed.

Such research represents much more than an academic

exercise in cost-accounting and streamlining bureaucratic

procedures. Hay meets every week with patients at the

cancer centre – encounters that put a very human face on

her efforts. Even technicians who handle lab work behind

the scenes, she says, will closely follow the progress of

patients they have never met.

“It keeps the research real,” she concludes. “There’s a

rationale for what you’re doing.”

“It's the culture and the ethos that patients should be

given the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, where

they can access emerging treatments and contribute to

advances for future generations.”

16


INSIGHTS

WHERE

MEDICAL SCIENCE

MEETS P ATIENTS

David Berman

BY TIM LOUGHEED

When Dr. David Berman’s father was diagnosed with

prostate cancer in the mid-1990s, the news struck

him in both a personal and a professional capacity.

Berman was still a pathology resident at Johns Hopkins

University, but he closely followed his father’s course of

radiation and hormonal therapies, which appeared to beat

back the cancer. He was therefore surprised by his father’s

sudden death earlier in 2015, which an autopsy subsequently

traced to prostate cancer that had spread to, and

almost completely compromised, the vital function of

the liver.

For Berman, such a finding goes to the heart of his current

work, which is dedicated to unravelling the challenges

of dealing with prostate cancer. All too often this disease

can be present without causing any serious symptoms or

requiring any active treatment; yet this relatively benign

form can coexist with a much more aggressive form that

will grow and spread to other parts of the body. He and his

laboratory team are therefore seeking molecular markers

that would serve as the basis for the kind of tests pathologists

need in order to assess the risks associated with each

man’s form of the cancer. These new tests should help doctors

and patients choose the most appropriate course of

action without subjecting them to unnecessary treatment.

Last year, Berman was part of a group of researchers that

received a five-year, $5 million Movember Team Grant from

Prostate Cancer Canada for this work on novel prognostic

markers. Such success is emblematic of the work he oversees

as director of the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute,

which is populated by researchers seeking to introduce new

levels of precision and effectiveness to cancer therapy. This

four-storey facility is home to a full range of activities, from

understanding the fundamentals of the cell or the immune

system to developing applications in fields such as pharmacology,

epidemiology, and community health. Above all,

this broad spectrum of activities means that investigators

working on ideas in the laboratory can interact directly

with colleagues who may be trying to adapt those same

ideas for patient populations.

“We’re providing a service to the people who work in

every area of this research cycle,” he explains. “We give

bench scientists an opportunity to talk to the people who

are implementing a new treatment, so that they each know

how to best use their time and energy to adapt their ideas

to something useful.”

Berman is especially pleased by the presence of

the Canadian Cancer Trials Group within this process.

Although his current research has not yet reached the point

where it could be subjected to this kind of careful, methodical

scrutiny, he has already seen examples of clinical trials

that reveal promising options for enhancing the quality

of patients’ care along with the quality of their lives.

“We have basic scientists who dream up new ways to

interfere with, measure, and characterize cancer,” he says.

“The best ideas from our scientists and other scientists

around the world get tested by the Canadian Cancer Trials

Group, which is the most exciting application of anybody’s

bench research.”

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015

17


CAPTURING THE

BEAUTY OF RESEARCH:

ART OF RESEARCH

PHOTO CONTEST

When people think of research, they sometimes

think of academic journals filled with technical

descriptions of proposals, processes, and conclusions,

or experiments in the lab. Whether analyzing cancer

cells or Renaissance sculpture, this type of scholarship

rarely captures the beautiful moments or scenic views

experienced by those involved hands-on with the research.

To showcase those magical moments, we recently

hosted a photo contest for members of the Queen’s

research community (faculty, students and staff), with

the only limit being the elasticity of the imagination.

Over 50 submissions were received illustrating the fascinating

fields of study at Queen’s. After a difficult deliberation,

an internal committee narrowed the submissions

down to ten – four selected as winners and six shortlisted.

Each photo has an amazing story to tell. The descriptions

provide a unique and meaningful background for the

significance of the photo to its creator and illustrate that

research is truly a beautiful and creative endeavor.

1st Prize

Perfusion of Light

Raymond Sturgeon

PhD Student, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences

This perfusion array allows for quick changing of solutions. Solutions with different drugs are applied to nerve cells while recording their bioelectrical activity. The handmade array, roughly

the size of a matchbook and very fragile, is essential for helping determine drug effectiveness at the level of a single protein.The image was taken with an iPhone 4, with no editing.

18


2nd Prize

Pietro Torrigiani, a competitor of

Michelangelo, carved this bust of a saint out of

marble and then painted it so that blood

seems to run in this determined young girl's

veins. This lively piece, made over five hundred

years ago, is an example of the kind of

naturalistic sculptures that have been little

studied, as most scholars focus on

monochrome “high art” statuary.

The sculptures I am studying were not

confined to museums, but were a part of the

social lives of Italian men and women, who

talked to, touched, kissed, worshipped,

attacked, and dressed sometimes

uncannily realistic colored sculptures.

Santa Fina

Dr. Una Roman D’Elia, Professor of Art History

Location: Musei Civici, San Gimignano, Italy

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015

19


3rd Prize

Gemini Mirror Reflections

Dr. Stéphane Courteau

Professor of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy

Location: Mauna Kea, Hawaii

The Gemini telescope and dome are ablaze in the setting sun's golden light. The reflections on the 8m monolithic primary mirror are especially intricate and distorted. The shadow of the

extinct 4200m Mauna Kea volcano can also be seen in the background upon a sea of clouds over the city of Hilo. The vertical shutters around the dome are usually opened at sunset to

ensure that the inside and outside temperatures are the same throughout the night for greater image stability.

20

Honourable Mention

In Search of Byzantium

Dr. Theodore Christou

Professor, Faculty of Education

Location: Simonopetra Monastery, Mount Athos

My search for Byzantium (330-1453) led me to the remote monastic communities of Mount Athos. Since the 9th century, 20 Orthodox Christian communities have developed and currently

reside there. These monasteries have preserved libraries, with holdings between 15,000 and 60,000 monographs. While access to Athos is highly restricted, typically to four days, I spent

12 days here working in five monastic libraries. I held and photographed several dozen texts that were otherwise ‘lost to the world,’ and I lived the monastic life throughout my time spent

there. Shown is the monastery of Simonopetra.


Shortlisted Images

Buried Alive, by Melanie Jansen

Coded, I Am, by Stéfy McKnight

Borders. What borders? by Dr. John McGarry

The Last Tree, by Courtenay Jacklin

Leaving home, by Eric Y. Lian

For full descriptions of shortlisted images, please visit queensu.ca/research

At a Snail’s Pace, by Alamjeet Kaur Chauhan

21


FOCUS

READING

BETWEEN

THE LINES

BY ANDREW CARROLL

Peter Thompson

22


FOCUS

Sometimes when approaching a subject, more great

insight can be found in the cracks and crevices,

the small details, than in the big picture.

For Dr. Peter Thompson, a professor in the

Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

specializing in the literature of the Spanish Golden Age,

more information about everyday life in 17th-century

Spain can be found in the short theatre pieces, or interludes,

that were performed during the intermissions

of longer theatre performances.

And, as he points out, if you are talking about short

theatre in Spain, you have to talk about Juan Rana

(the stage name of actor Cosme Pérez), who was the

focus of many short comedic pieces during

the era.

It was a time of contrasts in Spain, a

country in ascendancy but at the same

time falling into decadence; a time of

cultural creativity as well as stifling

conservatism. Short theatre,

Thompson explains, is where the

issues of the day were brought up,

and that is what drew his attention.

“The reason that this is interesting

is because it was comedy, because it

was very exaggerated, because it was

sort of a throwback to the medieval

period in some ways, like street plays,

everything subversive could be done there,”

he says.

These are no simple comedy sketches. The short

pieces are complex and the writing is intricate, with

words and phrases often carrying double and triple

meanings. But because of this the writers and actors,

such as Rana, were able to address issues of the day –

political and social issues, including sexual identity.

Rana himself is a man of contrasts. A favourite of the

kings and nobility, he was also a known gay man at a

time when homosexuality was a crime. He would be arrested

in 1636 for “nefarious sin,” but unlike others who

would be tortured and burned alive, Rana escaped death

because of his popularity amongst those with power.

His career would be affected but not negatively.

Instead, the roles he would play changed and sexuality

became a key element.

“From then on in most of the plays he was dressed as

a woman. He was a pregnant man in one,” says Thompson.

“There's a lot of women’s issues involved, a lot of sexual

issues involved and there’s a lot of homosexual or queer

things.”

It’s this aspect of Rana’s life, the fact that the Golden

Age’s most popular comedic actor was gay, that Thompson

would find was wholly unexplored despite the fact that

much scholarly research had been devoted to the interludes

and Rana.

“Either they ignored it, they denied it or they refused to

deal with it,” he says.

Take for example the actor’s stage name, Rana, which

means frog. “There’s a play on words on being amphibious,

ambiguous, and in one of the plays he’s described

as neither fish nor fowl,” Thompson explains. “Even

in his name they're playing with his sexuality.”

Thompson’s investigation on this subject

resulted in a number of articles and the books:

The Triumphant Juan Rana: A Gay Actor of the

Spanish Golden Age (2006) and The Outrageous

Juan Rana Entremeses: A Bilingual and Annotated

Selection of Plays Written for this Spanish Golden Age

Gracioso (2009). Short theatre continues to be his

main area of research.

Perhaps not surprisingly, researching such complex

pieces is a difficult task, an effort compounded

by the fact that Thompson approached the interludes

in their original 17th-century Spanish. In fact,

most of the short plays had not been republished since

the time they were written. He would eventually translate

14 of the pieces into English.

While the plays may be short – around six pages – each

translated piece could have up to 30 footnotes due to the

intricacies of the language and the history surrounding the

given topic.

“What's interesting is if you give these plays to a

Spaniard to read, they won’t necessarily be able to get the

full gist of it. It really has to be studied with a knowledge of

all the double meanings of the period. I used dictionaries,

I used glossaries and I used very specific dictionaries about

medical terms, about slang, in order to get all the meanings

that I could,” he says, adding that he could spend a full day

on just three words. “It’s very intense research.”

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 23


MINING

SECURITY:

Stéfanie

von Hlatky

BY ALEC ROSS

To create their products, mining and oil and gas companies

must first establish operations where the raw

materials are located, and then dig or drill. Sometimes

this means venturing into areas populated by people who

may object to the company’s presence – and who express

their displeasure through vandalism or violence. Keeping

their property and employees safe is a concern for every

large multinational resource company.

To shed more light on the subject, political studies professor,

Dr. Stéfanie von Hlatky, the director of the Queen’s

Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP), is

heading a three-year, multi-sectoral research project to

learn more about security threats in the extractive sector

and how companies deal with them. Since the threats vary

from firm to firm and from place to place, the project’s 13

researchers will travel to several mining and oil and gas

operations in volatile parts of Asia, Africa and Latin

America to interview security managers and others about

the conditions they face at their site.

24


GLOBAL REACH

“We’re looking specifically at high-risk cases, where it’s

urgent to come up with a sustainable solution for engaging

either with the community or better managing a preexisting

conflict,” says von Hlatky.

Not surprisingly, the sort of objective empirical field data

the researchers seek is hard to obtain – and not only because

the contentious mine sites are usually remote and

difficult to access. “Private firms, when it comes to cyber-security

or more conventional security, don’t necessarily tend

to be in public forums discussing what their security practices

are,” says von Hlatky. “For scholars of security studies,

it’s one of the areas that we know a little bit less about.”

However, industrial security is a complex business that

involves far more than padlocks, surveillance cameras and

steely-eyed armed guards at the mine gates. Creating a

holistic view of security requires intelligence from other

areas. For instance, what is happening politically, socially,

and economically in the community and country where the

mine is operating? What international security and human

rights guidelines must the company bear in mind when it

deals with conflict situations? How do different divisions

within a mining or oil and gas company work with community

relations experts, security professionals, and corporate

management to sort out critical security challenges?

This is where the multi-sectoral nature of von Hlatky’s

SSHRC-funded study comes into play. The other stakeholders

in the study include the UK mining giant Rio Tinto,

academics from Queen’s CIDP, the McGill-Université de

Montréal Centre for International Peace and Security

Studies, and non-governmental organizations such as the

Switzerland-based Geneva Centre for the Democratic

Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and the International

Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Each private, public,

and NGO partner has a specified role and brings specialized

approaches, knowledge, and skill sets to the table.

They each have the background and expertise to ask the

right questions at the site, as well as at regional and international

levels.

“They’re ball carriers for this project as much as I am,”

says von Hlatky.

Although the project only began last summer and some

of the researchers have yet to make their site visits,

von Hlatky has already gathered some interesting insights.

“My big ‘aha’ moment was to realize that the risk tolerance

of companies when deciding on whether or not to be

involved in the country is a lot higher than a government

or state, because they’re in it for the long haul,” she says.

“Politicians are scared of suffering losses and [want to be]

successful in the context of interventions abroad. For big

multinationals, it’s rare to find a case where security

concerns were the reason why operations ceased or forced

their withdrawal.”

Ultimately, says von Hlatky, the researchers hope their

case studies and impartial investigations will help large

mining and other companies not only to better handle

existing security threats, but to take meaningful steps

to work with local communities and other stakeholders

so that conflicts are minimized or prevented altogether.

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 25


The Importance

of Perspective

BY IAN COUTTS

In the same way that for an artist trying to sketch an

object, it’s best if you look at it from more than one

angle – maybe by closing each eye in turn – Dr. Brian

Cumming, the former director of the Queen’s School of

Environmental Studies, believes that we can learn more

about sustainability and environmental problems when

we look at them from different perspectives.

This fall, the first students from Shanghai’s Tongji

University arrived at Queen’s as part of what is being called

a “two-plus-two” university program. After two years of

study in their school’s College of Environmental Science

and Engineering, the students, seven in number this year,

will enter third year at Queen’s working towards a bachelor’s

degree in environmental science. Ultimately, the goal

is to bring about fifteen students each year to Queen’s.

Perhaps it’s their locations on, or near, culturally and historically

important rivers – the St. Lawrence for Queen’s and

the Yangtze for Tongji – that have led these schools to have

complementary academic strengths in the study of aquatic

ecosystems, their conservation, the remediation of badlypolluted

lakes and rivers, and the connection between

water systems and human health.

The Tongji students will gain an understanding of how

we deal with these issues in North America, and in particular

at Queen’s. But as Cumming is quick to point out, it

won’t be a one-way exchange.

“By having the Tongji students here,” he says, “we’re

going to open their eyes to what’s going on in North

America. But they are going to bring very different perspectives

to their classes reflecting their own country and the

provinces where they grew up.”

The new program is the culmination of a decade-long

cooperation between Queen’s and various Chinese universities,

notably Tongji, but also Fudan (also in Shanghai),

Beijing Normal, Southwest (Chongqing), and Zhejiang

University (Hangzhou). The groundwork was laid, says

Cumming, by Queen’s biology professors Yuxiang Wang

and Stephen Lougheed, who established the Canada-China

Field Course in Aquatic Biodiversity and Environmental

Assessment with partner Chinese universities in 2005.

Held each summer, the course alternates year by year

between the Queen’s University Biological Station and

locations along the Yangtze River.

“It’s pretty much a trip along the length of the Yangtze,”

26


GLOBAL REACH

says Cumming of the Chinese portion of the course. “In

2014, for example, we started at 600 kilometres above the

Three Gorges Dam at the city of Chongqing, then traveled

down towards Shanghai. We look at issues of biodiversity,

water pollution and water usage, as well as political and

socioeconomic challenges. We try to look at successful conservation

and sustainable initiatives, not just dire stories of

environmental degradation. At the same time, we are trying

to have a true exchange between the Ontario students

(drawn from universities associated with the Ontario

University Program in Field Biology consortium) and the

Chinese students.”

“It’s all about getting another vantage,” he says. “Look at

the Three Gorges Dam for instance. If you ask the Chinese,

they might say – ‘Sure, we had to move some people, and

there was some environmental fallout, but overall it was a

good thing for the economy and employment.’”

“The Canadians on the other hand might go – ‘The age

of big dams is over. You’ve caused the extinction of the

river dolphin, profoundly degraded the habitat of the

finless porpoise and caused ecological harm.’”

“Then they start to listen to each other, and realize

that it’s not all one way or the other. That’s the key.”

Building on the success of this multi-institutional field

program, Queen’s and Tongji signed a Memorandum of

Understanding in 2012, and signed another memorandum in

2013, creating the “Sino-Canada Network for the Environment

and Sustainable Development.” The two schools hope the

network will encourage cooperative research with a particular

emphasis on informing governments and NGOs on the best

ways to achieve economic success without damaging the environment.

This is an ambitious undertaking, and Cumming is

quick to share the credit with many other people at Queen’s

and Tongji, including Zhiyao Zhang (Queen’s China Liaison

Officer in Shanghai), Jianfu Zhao (Jiaxing-Tongji Institute for

the Environment) and Wenwei Ren (Director of the Shanghai

Conservation Program, WWF), in addition to those already

mentioned.

The network will also create transformative educational

opportunities for students, including the two-plus-two

program.

“Other universities have tried to do this, and we are

drawing lessons from their experiences,” says Cumming

about the program. “We’re making sure the students get the

support they need to ensure their success. We’re trying to

have very small groups coming over. We’re working with

the School of English here at Queen’s and with the Great

Panda Society, a group on campus dedicated to intercultural

exchange. Queen’s is trying to get this right.”

Students and instructors in both China and Canada

In November 2015, Queen’s entered into a new phase of its collaboration with Tongji University that will

see Queen’s researchers participate in the International Research Laboratory of Yangtze River Ecology

and the Environment, or InteLab-Yangtze for short. This international initiative aims to create the

world’s foremost research centre on the ecology of the Yangtze River basin. Other partners include the

Helmholtz-Forschungszentrum Juelich, based in Germany, and Stockholm University in Sweden.

27


Defining

air Share

FBY MEREDITH DAULT

When Oluwatobiloba (Tobi) Moody decided he

wanted to pursue a PhD in law, he knew he wanted

to do it in Canada. It was a realization the Nigerianborn

law scholar came to while pursuing his master’s degree

in South Africa, where he was specializing in international

trade and investment law. That is when he first learned about

the Nagoya Protocol – an initiative administered by a secretariat

based out of Montreal – and knew he had found a

focus for his doctoral research.

An international agreement intended to ensure that

everyone benefits when non-human genetic resources, like

plants and animals, are used in scientific and commercial

research, the Nagoya Protocol ultimately seeks to protect

genetic resources and the traditional knowledge associated

with them.

“Picture a community of indigenous people who have

used a particular resource for a long time, one that is symbolic

of a way of life for them,” says Moody, explaining that

a longstanding battle has existed between industry and

developing countries around the use of genetic resources,

many of which make their way into pharmaceuticals.

“For example – imagine they had a plant that people

chewed on and could then walk for days without eating.

And then industry, drawing inspiration from their knowledge

of it, used that same plant to create a slimming drug.”

Under the Nagoya Protocol, the company that created

that drug is required to share benefits in some mutually

agreeable way with that indigenous group – which could

include both monetary and non-monetary benefits.

“It’s really about the redistribution of wealth,” Moody

explains. “Developing countries and indigenous groups are

saying: We want our rights to be acknowledged. We want our

role in such inventions based on the use of our traditional

knowledge to be recognized. We want royalties paid, or we

want to be joint owners of intellectual property rights with

industry.’ Or sometimes they want an intangible benefit,

like social recognition, or institutional capacity building.”

As a lawyer, Moody is interested in looking at how the

Nagoya Protocol, which only formally entered into force in

2014 (it was first adopted in October 2010), is being implemented

internationally. “I am looking at how effective it will

be,” he says. “Because if it can’t be effective, then it’s just

theoretical. It will add to the number of international agreements,

but will it really address the problem it was created

to resolve?”

For Moody, who started his degree at Queen’s in

September 2012 under the supervision of Professor Bita

Amani, it is a question that resonates on a personal level: his

father grew up assisting a traditional healer in Nigeria – one

who used traditional plants as medicine – and then went on

to become a pharmacist. “When my father talks about drug

development, he also has traditional knowledge,” he says.

“He knows almost all the plants by name.”

Awarded a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, one of

the country’s most prestigious academic awards, in 2014,

Moody is quick to stress that his research is focused on the

legal, rather than the ethical, issues around the Nagoya

Protocol. He remains fascinated by the challenges inherent

in balancing the needs of both indigenous groups and industry.

That’s why he opted to spend almost two years at the

World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva,

Switzerland as part of his research in a bid to better understand

the intersection between the intellectual property

system and the Nagoya Protocol.

“Corporations are empowered by the intellectual property

system to do their research and have traditionally had a monopoly

over the benefits that come,” he says. “But for many

indigenous groups, knowledge is not associated with one

person – it grows in a group. So it hasn’t been protected

with a Western system of intellectual property. The Nagoya

Protocol represents an effort to rebalance things.”

Moody, who is aiming to wrap up his degree by 2016, is

eyeing an international career in policy work and ultimately

hopes to move into an academic teaching position. For now,

he is grateful for the opportunities he has had at Queen’s.

“I wouldn’t trade being here for anything,” he says warmly.

“The university has supported my research and permitted me

to spend time off campus. They understand what I need to

make this research better.”

28


Oluwatobiloba Moody

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015

29


If corporations

can have legal

personhood, why

can’t they also

have a religion?

BY ATIF KUKASWADIA

Spirituality is a concept that refers to how we relate

to our place within the universe; our meaning and

purpose in life. At the corporate level, companies may

adopt policies and practices that nourish spirituality, which

may have direct consequences for both employees and

customers of that company in terms of engagement,

employee satisfaction, and even profitability. Michelle

Rowland is a fourth year student in the Queen’s School

of Religion who has studied the role of spirituality and

religion in business as part of her Undergraduate Student

Summer Research Fellowship.

Rowland started her undergraduate training in the

Department of Global Development Studies, and became

interested in cultural differences between people. However,

while she was in her classes, she found herself being drawn

to the study of religion. For more than three quarters of the

world’s population, religion forms an important part of their

lives, and can have important consequences on their perspectives

and attitudes. Her interest was piqued in a third

year course titled “Religion and Business Ethics.” In this

course, Dr. Richard Ascough (School of Religion), her current

supervisor, asked the class, “If corporations can have

legal personhood, why can’t they also have a religion?”

Rowland was hooked, and decided she wanted to further

explore the role that religion and spirituality play in the

workplace.

One issue Rowland thinks about is how the negative

side of religion tends to get a lot of publicity – reflected

in conversations with her friends and family when she

describes her work. “Recently, Hobby Lobby [a retail chain

of craft stores] was in the news,” Rowland says, “as the

company didn’t want to pay for birth control for its employees

because it was against the company’s religion.” She

describes how this negativity has become synonymous

with workplace religion, and so the topic of religion in the

workplace has become almost taboo. This is further exacerbated

by how much current business research is focused on

the 2008 recession – research theorizing that the lack of

morals among business leaders, and their pursuit of greater

30

and greater profit margins, led to mass layoffs and the market

crash. The research has focused on whether a spiritual

connection for executive employees would have helped

direct and guide companies, and whether this may have

mitigated some of the negative effects of the crash on midand

low-level employees.

By contrast, Rowland describes how religion and spirituality

can also be a force for good in the world. She speaks of

the example of Southwest Airlines. “Southwest follows the

policy of ‘servant leadership,’ where everyone is considered

equal, and everyone ‘serves’ everyone else, including coworkers

and customers,” she explains. “Servant leadership”

is an ancient philosophy, and is one that forms a core tenet

of many major religions. However, the spiritual nature of

this philosophy isn’t mentioned in their mission statement,

which Rowland finds odd, given the spiritual history of

the concept.

In a final example, Rowland describes a recent trip she

took to the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

While there, she noticed the presence of a meditation room

adorned with quotes about the health benefits of meditation.

However, there was no mention of the spiritual benefits,

an issue Rowland found surprising. The lack of open

spirituality in the workplace can have consequences for a

person’s spiritual health, and in turn, their productivity and

engagement at work. Being unable to express both their

secular and spiritual selves can leave people feeling unable

to bring their “full selves” to work. As a result, work is just a

place to earn money, but not a place where individuals feel

they can really contribute to society. She elaborates: “As a

result of this divide, employees cannot engage fully with

their workplace.” This is an issue that becomes more difficult

for those with clear religious symbols such as

yarmulkes, hijabs, turbans, or crosses.

Following graduation in 2016, Rowland next wants to

pursue a degree in urban planning. With her background

in religious studies, and her interest in the well-being of

people, Rowland hopes to further create environments

where we can maximise our human potential and embrace

both our spiritual and secular selves.


A taxing issue

Q&

WITH KATHLEENALAHEY

In keen pursuit of social justice, law professor

Kathleen Lahey focuses much of her scholarship

and teaching around how law impacts people and

their well-being. In a recent report for the Parkland

Institute, The Alberta Disadvantage: Gender,

Taxation, and Income Inequality, Lahey revealed a

critical shortfall in women’s economic well-being

created largely by discriminatory employment and

tax laws. Now she is working with a multinational

cluster of researchers to determine what

government policies may best support a healthy,

equal society. Tejay Gardiner sat down with

Professor Lahey to discuss this work.

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 31


Q&A

Q: Your Parkland Institute study revealed some surprising

findings around the impact of income tax cuts and other

tax provisions on women’s economic independence. Can

you explain what you mean by the “Alberta Disadvantage”?

A: Since the mid-1990s, many government officials have

promoted the idea that tax cuts make for faster and better

economic growth. The federal government implemented

“Canada’s Tax Advantage” tax cut program, and Alberta

later followed with the more extreme “Alberta Advantage”

in the form of one flat 10% tax rate for everyone,

companies and people alike. That left Alberta heavily

dependent on oil revenues, and it overtaxed those with

low incomes at the same time that it gave huge tax cuts

to the wealthiest.

In the Parkland Study, I was able to take a snapshot of how

the combined federal and provincial tax/transfer system

and the provincial economic focus on oil and gas revenues

had affected women over the last fifteen years. I discovered

that the “Alberta Advantage” had produced the largest

gender gap in terms of both pretax and after tax incomes

in Canada, and that the total tax system in Alberta

redistributed much less to women – whose average

incomes everywhere are still much lower than men’s –

than the tax systems in the rest of Canada.

Compared with the years before the “Alberta Advantage”

was implemented, women in Alberta had become much

more economically dependent on spouses and partners,

and, since the early 2000s, have married earlier, and have

had more children, lower rates of post-secondary

education, lower incomes, less access to employment

insurance and pensions, and higher poverty rates.

Q: What are some of the problems you have identified

with respect to income splitting?

A: Income splitting, which is a type of joint tax or benefit

provision, can create fiscal disincentives to paid work for

an amazingly large number of people in all walks of life.

In Alberta specifically, with the large demand for highly

skilled predominantly male labour and professions such

as engineering and industrial technologies, demand for

women’s labour had fallen quite significantly in the

absence of any employment or pay equity laws. So the

spread between average men’s and women’s incomes

creates a bias in favour of women doing unpaid domestic

and care work. In that situation, income splitting gives

supporting partners tax credits for theoretically sharing

their income with their partners. These tax benefits or tax

credits are quite attractive – up to $2,000 per year – and

help justify women continuing to concentrate on unpaid

work and spending less time in paid work.

In a very real way, with these income splitting tax benefits,

women’s work “does not pay,” and it is then seen as natural

and logical for women to put less time in on paid work

than in unpaid work.

Not surprisingly, one of the findings in the Alberta study

is that Alberta women spend more hours on unpaid work

each week than women elsewhere in Canada, and double

that of men. With an average of 35 hours of unpaid work

each week and no affordable quality child care, it makes it

very difficult for women to work full-time, particularly in

demanding careers.

Q: What is the goal of implementing an income splitting

policy?

A: Income splitting and joint tax or benefit provisions are

a quick way to give people the impression that their

government cares about them. But it also appeals to those

who think that the 1950s style “Leave it to Beaver” family

is a good thing.

Unfortunately, this image is outmoded. Relatively few

families can afford to live on just one income and the much

smaller part-time earnings of a second worker. Also,

relationships typically do not last forever in contemporary

societies. When women who may have thought that

income splitting is a good arrangement run up against the

cold realities of divorce, separation, or bereavement, and

realize that they failed to protect their own human capital,

they learn often too late that they have become

economically disadvantaged by adopting that lifestyle.

Q: So what policies do work?

A: I’m involved in a set of multinational projects right now

where we are trying to see which cluster of tax and benefit

packages tend to produce the greatest human well-being in

the long run. For quite a long time people were saying the

Scandinavian countries really have it solved, but they have

now started doing what other advanced economies have

been doing: cutting taxes, cutting spending, passing

budgetary austerity laws, privatizing public services, and

increasing education costs. As a result, they are starting to

experience the same problems that Canada is having.

32


Q&A

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

These research projects focus on how tax and spending laws affect

different groups of people, and have identified several key points.

First, income inequality between the richest 10% and the rest of

the population is growing rapidly, and this is particularly difficult

for women, racialized individuals, Aboriginal communities,

immigrants, and disabled persons. Second, government revenues

as a percentage of GDP have been shrinking everywhere, and it is

becoming clear that this makes it hard to maintain solid health

care, education, income security, and pension programs.

Privatization of these programs does not work. People cannot

possibly live on their earnings and expect to be able to save

enough to weather all of life’s challenges – health crises, adequate

education and training, unemployment, and retirement planning –

just with their own personal savings.

Human beings are extremely adept at working collectively to

maintain community stability. The goals of my research are to

identify revenue and spending policies that can best ensure that

no one has to face those challenges on their own. Government

revenues are essential to maintaining durable public services and

public workers, high quality education, health services, etc. High

levels of health and education correlate with economic durability

at all levels – individual, household, and national.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m very pleased to have formed some exciting international

working relationships with colleagues from around the world.

I recently participated in a grant application under the European

Commission Horizon 2020 competition, which raised €2.5 million

to analyze how the EU has been handling issues of taxes, benefits,

social inclusion, economic development policies, and gender

equality issues. This will result in making recommendations on a

range of issues, from environmental and corporate taxation to tax

compliance issues and tax competition between countries, as well

as how the EU itself can raise enough revenue to fund its own

governance activities.

Another project, funded by the Swedish Wallenberg Foundation,

will look specifically at factors affecting women's access to paid

work and capital. Both projects are a four year commitment and

involve more than a dozen countries.

(e)AFFECT Issue 8 Fall/Winter 2015 33


office of the vice­principal (research)

Queen’s University

Kingston, Ontario, Canada k7l 3n6

Tel 613­533­6933

Fax 613­533­6934

queensu.ca/research

office of the vice­principal (research)

Queen’s University

Kingston, Ontario, Canada k7l 3n6

15-0415 Queen’s University Marketing

PHOTO CREDITS: Andrew Hitchcock, Creative Commons 2.0; NASA/JPL-Caltech; Yuxiang Wang,

Bernard Clark, Greg Black

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