Patient inspired research
Inspired by the students he teaches and the patients who benefit from his research, Dr. Peter Cadieux, the inaugural Miriam Burnett Research Chair in Urological Sciences at Lawson Health Research Institute, loves his work and the value it brings to people’s everyday lives.
Cadieux has been affiliated with Lawson for more than eleven years. After completing his masters degree, he started working as a technician with Dr. Gregor Reid, a world leader in probiotic research. Within six years, he had gone back to school and completed his PhD, was awarded the prestigious Polanyi Prize, which was presented to him personally by the King and Queen of Sweden, and started a two year fellowship under the supervision of Drs. John Denstedt and Bing Siang Gan.
Today, in addition to his Chair position, Cadieux is an assistant professor of Surgery/Division of Urology, and Microbiology and Immunology, and is a scientist at the LHRI and Canadian R&D Centre for Probiotics.
Whether it’s in a volunteer capacity as a judge for the Canada wide science fair, doing the “Big Bubbles” presentation for Let’s Talk Science, teaching undergraduate and graduate students or supervising fellows and residents, Cadieux is leading the next generation of scientists.
When he is not teaching, he is working in the lab at Lawson. For Cadieux, one of the greatest benefits to working at Lawson is its commitment to the “bench to bedside” philosophy. Being attached to St. Joseph’s, this means he has direct interaction with doctors and patients.
“Every experiment we do,” says Cadieux, “has the purpose of solving problems that will be translated into patient benefits.” The close connection to the clinical program means a close connection to patient problems. “The physicians will come to us with concerns they are having with their patients’ conditions, we meet with experts in the area and think about how we can solve them; then we just do it.”
One such project is connected to improving lithotripsy outcomes.
“After some brainstorming with Dr. Hassan Razvi and several urology fellows at St. Joseph’s,” says Cadieux, “we thought about how we could make artificial kidney stones and surround them with various clinically utilized fluids to improve the results of the lithotripsy procedure.”
The logic followed that if a fluid could be found that worked, it could be injected into the kidney, improving shockwave treatment such that the stone could be broken down to a greater degree, becoming easier for the patient to pass.
To do this the team generated artificial stones, developed a ballistics gel-based mold, which mimicked human tissue, and then tested the effectiveness of lithotripsy on stones which were in the presence of various patient-safe fluids. Thus far the team has had great success, determining that degassed contrast fluid used for x-ray analysis significantly improved stone fragmentation. The group is currently looking into the potential mechanism(s) for this effect and is planning on expanding the work for additional testing in the future.
And while it could be a few years until patients will directly benefit from this stone research, Cadieux has already seen the benefit of some of his other work in patients. In the growing field of probiotics, alongside Dr. Gregor Reid, Cadieux has worked on multiple studies where probiotics were applied to patients and there was strong evidence of its effectiveness to kill HIV and prevent and treat infections.
As The Miriam Burnett Research Chair in Urological Sciences, Cadieux is funded through an endowed fund established through St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation in 2009. The fund was created in part by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and named in honour of the late Mrs. Miriam Burnett a member of the Weston Family and chair of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation for more than 30 years. Funding hospital-based medical research through the Lawson Health Research Institute remains a core mandate of the Foundation’s work.