Dr. Tanya Dahms, University of Regina
Can you describe your area of research and how it is helping address a health-related issue in Saskatchewan?
Fungal infections, relatively common globally and in Saskatchewan hospitals, have high morbidity rates in immunocompromised patients. Invasive candidiasis from Candida species is most common, with patients who receive medication by catheter at increased risk. This research seeks target-specific combination therapies having novel gene targets and mechanisms that can prevent and inhibit candidiasis progression. Ultimately, this research aims to substantially reduce candidiasis morbidity and mortality, while simultaneously reducing healthcare costs in Saskatchewan.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
It is exceptionally rewarding to take part in training the next generation of scientists to ask important questions. It is really exciting to be able to facilitate the development of novel correlative microscopic assays for addressing these questions.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Advanced microscopy, using two integrated microscopes simultaneously to image tiny organisms, however, can be exceptionally challenging. In comparison to routine biochemical and microbiological assays, the correlative microscopy assays require complex instruments to be calibrated and aligned, along with a great deal of finesse to collect images.
How did you first become interested in this area of research? What inspires you to do the work that you do?
I first became interested in studying fungi and yeast through collaboration with my colleague at the University of Saskatchewan. This led to developing new advanced microscopic methods to study these organisms and their response to antifungals.
Where is your research headed in the next five years?
We have uncovered how plant-based essential oil components not only have killing action, but also impact the virulence mechanisms of the Candida opportunist pathogens. By finding compounds that target Candida virulence mechanisms at lower concentrations, we will be able to stop infection in its tracks. Ultimately, we hope to collaborate to develop catheter coatings that will prevent Candida from entering the body.
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