Professional expertise, personal passion

Dr. Leigh O’Brien can recall the moment when her professional life melded with her personal life: when her three-year-old daughter, Lydia, was identified with having special learning needs. As an expert in inclusive education, Dr. O’Brien knew she would have to act as her daughter’s fiercest advocate to avoid her being marginalized in the school system.

Dr. O’Brien is a Professor of Education at State University of New York at Geneseo and a Fulbright Visiting Specialist to UPEI. She is delivering a public talk Thursday, March 1 at 7 pm at Murphy’s Community Centre in Charlottetown, entitled: “I love Lydia: Mother as Early Childhood Teacher.”

“I still remember the moment when someone at Lydia’s school told me that I was ruining her life by insisting on her inclusion,” says Dr. O’Brien. “Throughout her early schooling, I had to actively advocate for her participation in what was considered a normal classroom.”

Dr. O’Brien will present a 30-minute talk about what she has learned about inclusion in education: a system that ensures students of all abilities are educated together and have equal access to learning and achievement.

“Lydia is now 18,” explains Dr. O’Brien. “Her current school is set up to expect diversity in students, and as a result, she is thriving. She’s preparing to go to college next year, which is something we were told early on not to expect.”

Lydia will also speak briefly about her own journey through the education system, and there will be time for members of the audience to share their own stories.

“Having a daughter with special needs didn’t change my beliefs about inclusive education, but it certainly solidified my understanding that people in all fields of education need to step up to be advocates for every child’s rights.”

Dr. O’Brien’s public talk is presented by the PEI Literacy Alliance and is limited to 30 participants. To register, call (902) 368-3620.

Watch: Bikers, blueberries and prostate cancer

Twenty leather-clad bikers crammed into a biology lab in UPEI’s Duffy Science Centre. Far from rowdy, these bikers listened politely as Dr. Rob Hurta explained his research into the effects of blueberry extracts on prostate cancer cells.

The bikers are participants in the TELUS Motorcycle Ride for Dad: an annual fundraiser to support research and awareness projects for prostate cancer.

Dr Hurta is an Associate Professor of Biology. Members of the Ride were on campus the morning of February 16 to donate money that will allow Dr. Hurta’s lab to hire a student and procure materials to further his research.

“Prostate cancer cells exist within a network of different matrix proteins,” explained Dr. Hurta. “In order for them to spread, cancer cells need to activate certain enzymes which allow them to break down this protein network to which they are tethered and which enables the cancer cells to potentially migrate to other parts of the body.”

CBC TV cameras were on hand for the announcement. Watch their report, originally aired on CBC Compass.

At Thursday’s announcement, Dr. Katherine Schultz, Vice-President of Research and Development at UPEI, thanked each participant in the ride for their contribution.

“We’re extremely proud of Dr. Hurta’s research, and grateful for the contribution of each participant in the TELUS Motorcycle Ride for Dad. This contribution allows Dr. Hurta to hire a student to aid him in his research. To each person who took part in the Ride, and to everyone who donated, UPEI offers sincere thanks.”

"There has to be a better way"

“When a dog comes into the veterinary teaching hospital with knee problems, I tell my students: it’s a CCL rupture until proven otherwise,” says Dr. Trina Bailey. “CCL stands for cranial cruciate ligament, and it’s a common and expensive problem in dogs. Pet owners in the United States spend more than 2-billion dollars a year in CCL-related treatments.”

Dr. Bailey is an assistant professor and surgeon at UPEI’s Atlantic Veterinary College. She’s working with Dr. Laurie McDuffee to develop stem-cell-based therapies to repair and even regrow damaged ligaments in dogs.

“The CCL is an important ligament inside the knee,” explains Dr. Bailey. “It’s important, because it holds together the two main bones of the leg—the femur and tibia—and prevents them from sliding apart during movement.”

Dr. Bailey says the CCL’s tendency to rupture is due to several factors. In younger dogs, the rupture often occurs because of a trauma to the knee. In older dogs, it’s often caused by a combination of minor trauma and natural degeneration over time.

No matter what the cause, Dr. Bailey says it’s a painful experience.

“To which I can attest first-hand,” she says. “The equivalent ligament in humans is the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. A few years ago, as I hopped from rock to rock while hiking at Peggy’s Cove, I heard a popping sound, and felt immediate pain in my knee. I knew right away I’d damaged my ACL.”

In humans, the most common treatment is a surgery that uses the hamstring tendon as a graft to replace the ACL. In dogs, it is much more complicated.

“A lot of that is because of the many different sizes of dog. It just isn’t a practical surgical option,” says Dr. Bailey. “The most common treatment now is a surgery called the tibial plateau-leveling osteotomy. We reshape the end of the tibia, to make it less likely to slip out of alignment with the femur. It works, but the dog almost always develops arthritis. There has to be a better way.”

Dr. Bailey and Dr. McDuffee are experimenting with injecting stem cells into damaged or deteriorated ligaments, to see whether it’s possible to not just stop the rupture from becoming worse, but to even regrow the ligament.

“There are veterinary surgeons who currently provide this service, but there has never been research to confirm it’s actually doing any good,” says Dr. Bailey. “If we can explain what’s happening and refine the techniques, it would mean a much higher quality of life for our companion animals.”

Save a tree. Use our new fillable PDF forms.

It’s not every day that you can get excited about forms. Get ready. Today is that day.

The staff of Research Services, formerly ORD, knows about forms. We know about compliance forms. We know about accounting forms. We know about administrative forms. We know about all the forms.

There are dozens of forms that can help you meet the many requirements surrounding research. While we couldn’t make the forms go away, we were able to make them easier for you to use.

Today, Research Services is proud to launch a revision of our forms. We’ve joined the twenty-first century and turned them all into fillable PDFs.

Find the form you need on our forms website. Download it to your computer. Save it to your hard drive. Work on it as you gather the required information. In some cases, the form even does the math for you. When it’s complete, follow the submission process. It really is that easy.

A few forms still require a printed copy with signatures. If this is the case, there are simple instructions at the top of the form on how to do this.

The new fillable Research Services forms will decrease the amount of paper used to support researchers on campus. It will also streamline the process for accessing the support of Research Services.

If you need help with our new forms, please read this page of instructions that we’ve prepared, or contact Donna Lawless at 628-4308.



Donna Lawless
Administrative Assistant, Research Services

The ORD becomes Research Services

 Effective today, the University of Prince Edward Island’s Office of Research Development has a new name. Dr. Katherine Schultz, Vice-President of Research and Development, is proud to reintroduce her office as Research Services.

“The name ‘Office of Research Development’ stretches back more than thirty years at UPEI,” said Dr. Schultz. “When the office opened, its name was unique in Canada, and its presence showed a real vision for a future when research would spring from every corner of the campus.”

Funding for the university’s first research officer was allocated by the provincial government in 1980, and the first officer was hired the next year. The Office of Research Development continued as a one-person office until 1984, when it closed briefly before being reopened in 1986.

Research growth after 1986 was impressive; the university celebrated more than two-million dollars in annual funded research in the early 1990s. The first Vice-President of Research and Development, Dr. Katherine Schultz, was appointed in 2001.

“We’re proud of the history of the Office of Research Development,” said Dr. Schultz, but given UPEI’s growth and the range of support the office provides to researchers, the name ‘Research Services’ betters reflects the work of the office.”

Annual funding for research at UPEI is now over $18-million in grants and contracts. The staff of Research Services currently works with more than $55-million in active research accounts.

For out more about how Research Services can support your efforts, visit our Where to Start page, or direct any of your questions to our staff.



Dave Atkinson
Research Communications Officer