The Rh Awards recognize emerging and established researchers
This year’s Rh Awards recipients were recognized on Tuesday, April 29. As this year’s award recipient of the 2013 Dr. John M. Bowman Memorial Winnipeg Rh Institute Foundation Award, Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg also gave a free public lecture that evening in the Robert B. Schultz Lecture Theatre in St. John’s College. The Dr. John M. Bowman Memorial Winnipeg Rh Institute Foundation Award is given out each year to a senior faculty member with an established research career.
The Rh Awards were established in 1973 by the Winnipeg Rh Institute, now the Winnipeg Rh Institute Foundation, from funds set aside from the sale and production of medical formulae. These honours are given to academic staff members who are in the early stages of their careers and who display exceptional innovation, leadership and promise in their respective fields. Past winners have become internationally-known researchers, so this recognition of early success bodes well for our latest recipients. Each winner receives $12,000 toward their research program. Typically, one award is given in each of the following areas: applied sciences, creative works, health sciences, humanities, interdisciplinary studies, natural sciences and social sciences.
Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg, recipient of the 2013 Dr. John M. Bowman Memorial Winnipeg Rh Institute Foundation Award
Tremendous progress has been made over the past several decades in our understanding and treatment of ultra-rare genetic disorders. Several of such disorders are over-represented in Manitoba : Glutaric Aciduria type I (GA I), hypophosphatasia (a genetic bone disease), and Bowen-Conradi Syndrome.
Cheryl Rockman-Greenberg is an expert in genetic diseases who championed DNA-based diagnostics in Winnipeg. She was influential in establishing the first clinical lab specializing in the use of DNA testing to diagnose genetic disorders and her approach to research — involving her subjects in the clinical discovery process — is considered transformational.
Both a pediatrician and geneticist, Rockman-Greenberg is currently head of the department of pediatrics and child health, a professor within that department, a professor in the department of biochemistry and medical genetics, and the medical director of the child health program within the Winnipeg Health Region.
She and her colleagues have identified the molecular cause of some of Manitoba’s most devastating inherited diseases, including those most prevalent in the province’s Aboriginal, Mennonite and Hutterite communities. As a clinical geneticist at the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital, she is now the principal investigator of an international, multi-centre industry-sponsored clinical trial involving a new treatment for hypophosphatasia, a rare disorder worldwide yet common in Manitoba and select communities in Canada. Most infants born with the most severe form of this disease die shortly after birth. Dedicated to helping children and families in crisis, Rockman-Greenberg and her team successfully treated the disease in 2008 with a new investigational drug and promising clinical trials are continuing under her leadership.
With more than 5,487 citations of 166 published works in some of the field’s most prestigious journals, such as Nature, Nature Genetics, The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine and The American Journal of Human Genetics, Rockman-Greenberg is one of the most prolific academic clinicians in the School of Medicine. These citations are testament to the scientific impact her research has had on improving countless lives of children with rare diseases. In addition, her research has prevented or alleviated physical disability in affected populations around the globe.
Rockman-Greenberg graduated with her medical degree from McGill University in 1974, completed her residency in pediatrics and then fellowship in biochemical and clinical genetics at Montreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University. In 1979, she joined the department of pediatrics at the University of Manitoba.
These honours are given to academic staff members who are in the early stages of their careers and who display exceptional innovation, leadership and promise in their respective fields. Each winner receives $12,000 toward their research program. Typically, one award is given in each of the following areas: applied sciences, creative works, health sciences, humanities, interdisciplinary studies, natural sciences and social sciences.
Shawn Clark (civil engineering) investigates the design and planning of hydraulic structures. He gains understanding of several processes, including river ice formation and evolution, sediment transport, the hydrodynamics of lakes and turbulent flow characteristics in corrugated pipe culverts for fish passage. This knowledge is crucial to managing Manitoba’s water, as it has practical applications for companies such as Manitoba Hydro. Clark’s comprehensive studies of the Netley-Libau marsh will aid our ability to assess and protect Lake Winnipeg.
Minna Rose Chung (Desautels Faculty of Music) is the founder of Project Rio, an educational initiative that brings our Desautels faculty to the Rio International Cello Encounter for master classes and collaborative performances with musicians from around the world. In addition, her Azure String Quartet has performed with the Winnipeg New Music Festival and recently completed a world -premiere recording for the European music label, 4 Ton Music. Her creative work is rich with innovative artistic ideas, international performances, and an upcoming publication for cello technique with Professor Hans Jensen, Northwestern University Bienen School of Music.
Kirk McManus (biochemistry and medical genetics, Cancercare Manitoba) primarily studies genome stability and its implications in the molecular origins of colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada. Thus, knowing how the disease begins at the basic level is essential before new therapies can be developed to save or better lives. By studying the molecular determinants involved in this cancer, his research will help identify novel targets for drugs.
Hee-Jung Serenity Joo (English, film and theatre) studies how literature expresses, materializes, and negotiates the structural contradictions of late capitalism. She is particularly interested in the genre of speculative fiction and its relationship to the processes of racial formation. She reads literature alongside other cultural narratives that embody social anxieties and possibilities. Creating such a constellation of forms and concepts is highly innovative and her work has become influential in numerous fields.
Emmanuel Ho (pharmacy) develops and describes novel drug delivery strategies and medical devices to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS. Traditional vaccines and drugs are delivered into muscles, under the skin, or up the nose. Ho is investigating intravaginal delivery as an alternative. Medically, this may be more effective, and socioeconomically, it is inexpensive and needle-free, which should increase user adherence and reduce sterility concerns – factors that are significant to developed countries, but even more so to developing nations.
Belay Ayele (plant science) discovers novel genes in cereal crops that are important to Manitoba and Canada. He uncovers their functions, enabling breeders to manipulate them to achieve better yields and have crops that can better tolerate stress. For instance, he is developing gene technologies to increase wheat’s tolerance against preharvest sprouting, a major constraint to the production of high quality cereal grains. His work also benefits bioproducts, specifically; he’s working on altering genes to create cereals that are optimal for biofuels.
Hari Bapuji (business administration) focuses his studies on the junction of business and society. Many issues arise at this intersection, and to date, Bapuji has studied product safety and recalls, off-shoring, the financial crisis, and most recently, economic inequality. He examines these problems through the paradigm of organizational learning, enabling him to discern how management practices can enhance the harmony between business and society.