The first recipients of the Innovative Solutions for Planetary Health: Seed Grants for interdisciplinary research seed grants have been announced!
Co-PIs: Dr. Andrew G. Kirk, James McGill Professor and Department Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Dr. Mark Trifiro, Associate Professor, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism of the Department of Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine.
High speed, portable PCR system for rapid and in-situ water quality testing
Reliable, simple and rapid detection of E. coli bacterial contamination is essential in ensuring the provision of clean drinking water. Traditional approaches based on bacterial culturing methods require hours or even days to obtain an answer. An alternative approach is to employ genetic amplification. Bacterial DNA or RNA is amplified many millions of times using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) process, providing very high sensitivity and specificity. Current commercial PCR machines are bulky and often take an hour or more to provide a result. We have recently demonstrated an optically driven PCR system that can provide an answer in less than five minutes. In this project we will adapt that system to deliver a portable, low-cost and easy-to-use testing system for water samples that will provide operators with on-the-spot results. This will lead to more rapid intervention, resulting in fewer incidents of water-borne bacterial infection and should help to allow boil-water advisories to be lifted earlier. The project will be carried out in collaboration with a First Nations community through the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC).
Co-PIs: Dr. Jill Baumgartner, Assistant Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health in the Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Omid Rouhani, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering.
A pilot study of the acute cardiovascular impacts of exposure to traffic-related air pollution and its oxidative potential among adults in urban Colombia
Motor vehicle traffic is a significant and increasing source of urban air pollution in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Latin America and Asia. Traffic-related air pollution is emitted from both combustion (i.e., tailpipe emissions) and non-combustion sources (i.e., tire wear, brake wear, and resuspended road dust). Many epidemiologic studies associate exposure to traffic-related air pollution with increased cardiovascular hospitalization and death. However, the importance of different combustion and non-combustion sources of traffic pollution on human health are unknown, posing a barrier to the formulation of transportation infrastructure planning and policy to mitigate the health risks of traffic. Particularly little is known about the health impacts of traffic-related air pollution in low- and middle-income countries where the chemical composition and dispersion of traffic pollution differs from high-income countries due to differences in vehicle fleets and maintenance, road infrastructure, and city planning (i.e., the proximity of homes to traffic). We propose to leverage existing research infrastructure in urban Bucaramanga, Colombia and conduct a pilot study that combines novel air pollution exposure metrics and biological monitoring in retired adults to investigate the most harmful PM components and sources of traffic-related air pollution.