WINNER 2022 Canadian Podcast Award: 'Outstanding Science Series'
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A podcast about the people behind world-leading research at UHN

Behind the Breakthrough enters its fourth season of showcasing groundbreaking medical research and people behind it at UHN. This season features an all-star cast of award winning scientists, including Scientist Emerita Dr. Eleanor Fish whose research into a naturally occurring protein in our bodies called interferons shows they are a highly effective therapeutic for the treatment of viruses, and Dr. Shaf Keshavjee and the story of how he invented a perfusion machine that can sustain and repair damaged lungs outside the body, making them healthy for transplantation.

Listeners will hear world-renowned stem cell scientist Dr. Gordon Keller reveal how his early years growing up on a mixed farm in rural Saskatchewan and returning to help his parents with the fall harvest throughout his undergrad years helped shape his work ethic in the lab. Dr. Lorraine Kalia trained for years with Canada's National Ballet School and rose to the corps de ballet of the National Ballet of Portugal before pivoting her career to the pursuit of an early intervention treatment for Parkinson's disease. And Dr Jonathan Irish speaks to how he was a five-time provincial canoeing champion on a path to competing for Canada at the Olympic Games when he decided helping patients conquer cancer was to be his chosen path.

Listen for new episodes of Behind the Breakthrough every Wednesday starting October 12.

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Dr. Rama Khokha

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Episode 8 – Dr. Rama Khokha on her breakthrough to map the biology of pancreatic cancer

Air Date: November 30, 2022 | Length: 34:50 | Download the transcript

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive cancer with poor survival rates. Huge contributors to the dire outcome is the fact it is typically diagnosed at an advanced stage, has only limited treatments, and no cure. This is what makes the recent breakthrough discovery of Dr. Rama Khokha and her lab so profound. In this episode of Behind the Breakthrough podcast, the UHN senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre walks us through her recent world-first discovery of successfully mapping the biology of a pancreatic cancer tumor. Dr. Khokha found three distinct tumour microenvironments [TME's] for pancreatic cancer – Resistant; Deserted; and Intermediate. The Resistant TME for example was found to be the most aggressive, while the Deserted MTE was found to resist – and grow – during chemotherapy.

Dr. Khokha's mapping now gives researchers a clear understanding of the behaviour of pancreatic cancer. And her discovery will have far-reaching impact – contributing to more research for precise new treatments, the potential for earlier diagnosis, as well applying her mapping technique to other cancers such as colorectal and lung cancer.

Dr. Khokha also speaks to her drive to make discoveries where there is unmet need in cancer research, including breast cancer prevention and new treatment and prevention of osteosarcoma – the cancer Terry Fox had.

Also in the podcast, Dr. Khokha talks about the qualities she believes are integral to a successful medical researcher, the emergence of her love of science while growing up in Delhi, India, and, setting out on her own at just 21 years of age to start anew in Canada to follow her dream - the pursuit a PhD and becoming a world-class medical researcher.

Learn more about Dr. Khokha 

Listen to the full episode and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Season 4 Episodes
Dr. Lorraine Kalia

Episode 7 – Dr. Lorraine Kalia and a promising new treatment for Parkinson's Disease
Air Date: November 23, 2022 | Length: 41:54

Learn more about Dr. Kalia & listen to the episode 

Dr. Eleanor Fish

Episode 6 – Dr. Eleanor Fish on therapeutic benefit of interferons against viruses
Air Date: November 16, 2022 | Length: 31:49

Learn more about Dr. Fish & listen to the episode 

Dr. Jonathan Irish

Episode 5 – Dr. Jonathan Irish and augmented reality in cancer surgery
Air Date: November 9, 2022 | Length: 46:54

Learn more about Dr. Irish & listen to the episode 

Dr. Carmela Tartaglia

Episode 4 – Dr. Carmela Tartaglia and pioneering a diagnosis for CTE
Air Date: November 2, 2022 | Length: 43:57

Learn more about Dr. Tartaglia & listen to the episode 

Dr. Andrea Iaboni

Episode 3 – Dr. Andrea Iaboni and a new toolkit for LTC to help care of residents during an outbreak
Air Date: October 26, 2022 | Length: 33:56

Learn more about Dr. Iaboni & listen to the episode 

Dr. Gordon Keller

Episode 2 – Dr. Gordon Keller on his groundbreaking research to advance stem cell-based therapies
Air Date: October 19, 2022 | Length: 43:23

Learn more about Dr. Keller & listen to the episode 

Dr. Andrea Furlan

Episode 1 – Dr. Andrea Furlan on groundbreaking new treatments for chronic pain
Air Date: October 12, 2022 | Length: 1:01:41

Learn more about Dr. Furlan & listen to the episode 

Episode Information: Seasons 1 to 3
Dr. Angela Cheung

Episode 10 – Dr. Angela Cheung pioneers research on the symptoms and treatment for long-hauler COVID patients
Air Date: December 14, 2021 | Length: 40:56

Learn more about Dr. Cheung & listen to the episode 

Dr. Andres Lozano

Episode 9 – Dr. Andres Lozano on investigating DBS to treat Alzheimer's disease
Air Date: December 7, 2021 | Length: 38:35

Learn more about Dr. Lozano & listen to the episode 

Dr. Babak Taatia

Episode 8 – Dr. Babak Taati on pioneering the use of computer vision to help seniors live safer, healthier lives
Air Date: November 30, 2021 | Length: 34:36

Learn more about Dr. Taati & listen to the episode 

Dr. Joan Wither

Episode 7 – The 'Biomarker Hunter' – searching for the genetic and immune system abnormalities that lead to systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases
Air Date: November 23, 2021 | Length: 37:58

Learn more about Dr. Wither & listen to the episode 

Dr. Gang Zheng

Episode 6 – Dr. Gang Zheng on harnessing the promise of nanotechnology for the detection and treatment of cancer
Air Date: November 16, 2021 | Length: 52:10

Learn more about Dr. Zheng & listen to the episode 

Dr. Jordan Feld

Episode 5 – Dr. Jordan Feld on shifting from discovering a pill that cures Hepatitis C to investigating a treatment for mild COVID
Air Date: November 9, 2021 | Length: 53:10

Learn more about Dr. Feld & listen to the episode 

Dr. Catherine O'Brien

Episode 4 – Dr. Catherine O'Brien on the world-first discovery that colorectal cancer cells hibernate like bears to evade chemotherapy
Air Date: November 2, 2021 | Length: 44:44

Learn more about Dr. O'Brien & listen to the episode 

Dr. Deepali Kumar

Episode 3 – Dr. Deepali Kumar on world-first discovery that third COVID-19 vaccine dose significantly boosts protection for transplant patients
Air Date: October 26, 2021 | Length: 28:05

Learn more about Dr. Kumar & listen to the episode 

Dr. Beate Sander

Episode 2 – Dr. Beate Sander on the economics of infectious diseases and guiding public health policy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Air Date: October 19, 2021 | Length: 47:21

Learn more about Dr. Sander & listen to the episode 

Dr. Brad Wouters

Episode 1 – UHN's world leading COVID-19 research; the triumph of basic science in creating the vaccine; and when will the pandemic end?
Air Date: October 12, 2021 | Length: 54:52

Learn more about Dr. Wouters & listen to the episode 

Dr. John Dick

Episode 10 – Dr. John Dick on his famous discovery of cancer stem cells, and the puzzle of research
Air Date: November 26, 2020 | Length: 1:15:06

Learn more about Dr. Dick & listen to the episode 

Dr. Mansoor Husain

Episode 9 — Dr. Mansoor Husain on a breakthrough drug for diabetes and heart disease
Air Date: | Length:

Learn more about Dr. Wither & listen to the episode 

Dr. Alex Mihailidis

Episode 8 – Dr. Alex Mihailidis on helping us live at home longer
Air Date: November 19, 2020 | Length: 45:02

Learn more about Dr. Mihailidis & listen to the episode 

Dr. Ralph DaCosta

Episode 7 – Dr. Ralph DaCosta on a better way to visualize cancer and his serendipitous invention
Air Date: November 17, 2020 | Length: 41:48

Learn more about Dr. DaCosta & listen to the episode 

Dr. Sonya MacParland

Episode 6 – Dr. Sonya MacParland on developing the world's first map of the liver
Air Date: November 12, 2020 | Length: 42:52

Learn more about Dr. Wither & listen to the episode 

Dr. Heather Baltzer

Episode 5 – Dr. Heather Baltzer on pioneering hand trauma treatment
Air Date: November 10, 2020 | Length: 31:26

Learn more about Dr. Baltzer & listen to the episode 

Dr. Pamela Ohashi

Episode 4 – Dr. Pamela Ohashi on treating cancer with immunotherapy
Air Date: November 5, 2020 | Length: 28:05

Learn more about Dr. Ohashi & listen to the episode 

Dr. Taufik Valiante

Episode 3 – Dr. Taufik Valiante invents computer chip designed to monitor and stop epileptic seizures
Air Date: November 3, 2020 | Length: 52:27

Learn more about Dr. Valiante & listen to the episode 

Dr. Stephanie Protze

Episode 2 – Turning stem cells into pacemaker cells, with Dr. Stephanie Protze
Air Date: October 29, 2019 | Length: 30:27

Learn more about Dr. Protze & listen to the episode 

Dr. Brad Wouters

Episode 1 – Dr. Brad Wouters on leadership during the pandemic, COVID-19 research, and anti-vaxxers
Air Date: October 27, 2020 | Length: 46:35

Learn more about Dr. Wouters & listen to the episode 

Dr. Donald Weaver

Episode 11 – Beating back Alzheimer's, one poem at a time, with Dr. Donald Weaver
Air Date: December 17, 2019 | Length: 37:14

Learn more about Dr. Weaver & listen to the episode 

Dr. Michael Hoffman

Episode 10 — Using computers to understand cancer with Dr. Michael Hoffman
Air Date: December 10, 2019 | Length: 31:00

Learn more about Dr. Hoffman & listen to the episode 

Dr. Kristin Musselman

Episode 9 — Pioneering research by UHN's Dr. Kristin Musselman is designed to get spinal cord injured patients mobile
Air Date: December 3, 2019 | Length: 30:22

Learn more about Dr. Musselman & listen to the episode 

Dr. Valerie Wallace

Episode 8 — Reversing blindness and the serendipity of science, with Dr. Valerie Wallace
Air Date: November 26, 2019 | Length: 35:04

Learn more about Dr. Wallace & listen to the episode 

Dr. Michael Laflamme

Episode 7 – Repairing broken hearts with stem cells, with Dr. Michael Laflamme
Air Date: November 19, 2019 | Length: 28:22

Learn more about Dr. Laflamme & listen to the episode 

Dr. Jennifer Campos

Episode 6 – Overcoming 'imposter syndrome' and helping the elderly live well, with Dr. Jennifer Campos
Air Date: November 12, 2019 | Length: 40:02

Learn more about Dr. Campos & listen to the episode 

Dr. Mathieu Lupien

Episode 5 – Meet the cancer codebreaker, Dr. Mathieu Lupien
Air Date: November 5, 2019 | Length: 47:38

Learn more about Dr. Lupien & listen to the episode 

Dr. Milos Popovic

Episode 4 – Robotics, rehabilitation therapy and learning from failure, with Dr. Milos Popovic
Air Date: October 29, 2019 | Length: 32:03

Learn more about Dr. Popovic & listen to the episode 

Dr. Camilla Zimmermann

Episode 3 – Challenging the meaning of palliative care, with Dr. Camilla Zimmermann
Air Date: October 22, 2019 | Length: 43:20

Learn more about Dr. Zimmermann & listen to the episode 

Dr. Karen Davis

Episode 2 – Chronic pain and scientific baseball, with Dr. Karen Davis
Air Date: October 15, 2019 | Length: 34:56

Learn more about Dr. Davis & listen to the episode 

Dr. Heather Ross

Episode 1 – Dr. Heather Ross on heart failure, artificial intelligence and a near-death experience
Air Date: October 8, 2019 | Length: 42:07

Learn more about Dr. Ross & listen to the episode