Profile and Department: Professor, Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa
Lab: Slack Lab
Acute brain injury is a major cause of mortality and permanent disability in Canada especially in people under the age of 34. Presently, $3 billion are spent every year on approximately 200,000 Canadians living with stroke-related disabilities. With rising statistics every year, it is understandable that developing effective treatment strategies to facilitate functional recovery after acute brain injury is a health priority. Recognized by her peers for the quality and potential impact of her work, Ruth Slack endeavours to find such strategies.
“The damage incurred by both traumatic brain injury and stroke occur by similar mechanisms involving two waves of cell death,” explains Dr. Slack. “First, there is a rapid irreversible mode of cell death causing the death or decay of tissue, especially due to inadequate blood supply. Secondly, there is a delayed mode of cell death that takes two to four days to occur through the process of apoptosis.”
Dr. Slack’s work examines the molecular mechanisms regulating neurogenesis, and it has far reaching implications both in the field of basic developmental biology, and in stem cell research for the development of cell replacement therapies following brain injury. Understanding such mechanisms is essential for the development of stem cell based therapies to repair the injured nervous system. This type of research is crucial for the development of effective therapies for the treatment of acute brain injury.
Dr. Slack will address the possibility of regeneration following damage caused by tissue loss immediately upon impact or infarction. She hopes to exploit the knowledge she gains to facilitate neuronal regeneration after injury.
Dr. Slack is a professor in the Department of Cellular Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa. She is an active member of the Canadian Stroke Network and the Centre for Stroke Recovery.