Supervisor: Edmond Lou
Project: Using bone quality to predict the progression of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
Master of Science in Biochemistry
Why did you choose this program?
Upon entering my undergraduate program I had a strong interest in many fields of science, and biochemistry was recommended to me as a program that covered biology, chemistry and physics. As I progressed through my degree, I had the opportunity to work in labs in a variety of fields, including biochemistry, engineering and biomedical research environments. I enjoyed the research environment and so decided to continue my studies in biochemistry and pursue a Master's degree.
What was it like to continue your research project when much of the country was in a lockdown or faced major restrictions?
While my research itself was not severely impacted, as it was largely computer based and could be completed from home, it was different not being in the lab environment surrounded by others also doing research, and on occasion would make troubleshooting problems more difficult.
What's been the best part of your experience so far?
It was interesting to see how different laboratories and research environments came together to adapt and respond to the novel challenges posed. It has also been amazing to see the renewed public interest in health research and to see its value more greatly appreciated.
What interested you in the summer studentship program?
I have participated in a variety of summer studentship programs in the past and in WCHRI's Research Day where I had the opportunity to see the variety of work done in the field of women and children's health, so I was interested in applying to this summer's research program.
What has the support from WCHRI and the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation meant to you?
The support provided by WCHRI and the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation has allowed me to continue with valuable work in the field of health research and given me the opportunity to continue to work towards a career that I hope will benefit others.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the lateral curvature of the spine coupled with axial vertebral rotation. It affects approximately 3% of children and most are adolescent girls. Since the progression of scoliosis is difficult to predict, clinicians always request an X-ray during the clinic to determine if the curves have progressed or not. However, researchers have reported that only 14.7% of scoliotic cases progress, which means most patients receive unnecessary ionizing radiation. Although the EOS imaging system being used for imaging scoliosis in Edmonton is a low-dose radiation system, the effect of the accumulated ionizing radiation is still believed to increase the risk of cancer.
Dr. Lou's team has developed a novel method based on ultrasound imaging to diagnose and monitor scoliosis. Recently, he developed a new approach based on the bone quality information from the spine to predict the progression of scoliosis. A preliminary study and the results have demonstrated a potential non-invasive method to predict progression of scoliosis. This study is to determine the reliability and accuracy of measuring bone quality information from the collected ultrasound data using an in-house developed software. The correlation of the risk of progression with the bone quality measurement will be performed in order to determine whether bone quality information from ultrasound can be used to non-invasively and accurately predict the risk of scoliosis curve progression.