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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. Lorraine Kalia

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Episode 7 – Dr. Lorraine Kalia and a promising new treatment for Parkinson's Disease

Air Date: November 23, 2022 | Length: 41:54 | Download the transcript

Parkinson's disease affects over 100,000 Canadians, and that number is growing each year. The economic burden is estimated to be $1.2 billion in direct and indirect costs associated with the neurodegenerative disease–for which we have no cure.

Could worms be the answer to developing potential therapies? Caenorhabditis elegans is a small round worm that has been used to model Parkinson's disease. These worms share 40% of their genes with humans and have dopamine-producing neurons, the neurotransmitter that's dysregulated in the disease.

Dr. Lorraine Kalia's research looks at testing different compounds in C. Elegans and how it can lead to a better understanding of Parkinson's disease and new therapeutic targets. The best part: some of these compounds are already approved for use in humans. Through Dr. Kalia's research we may be able to repurpose these compounds for the neurodegenerative condition.


Learn more about Dr. Kalia 


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



Season 4 Episodes
Dr. Eleanor Fish

Episode 6 – Dr. Eleanor Fish on therapeutic benefit of interferons against viruses
Air Date: November 9, 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 16, 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