Emerging MiNDS

Hey MiNDS Students!

AUTHOR: Steven Mancini

As an interdisciplinary program, MiNDS has students involved in multiple research disciplines. To foster collaborations within the program and to learn more about one another’s studies, this article chronicles the research current MiNDS students are conducting.

SAWAYRA OWAIS


Who are your supervisors?

Dr. Frey and Dr. Van Lieshout


What is your research question? 

Is an in-hospital post-delivery sleep protection intervention effective in improving postpartum maternal mental health?

What are the main methodologies/techniques that you use to address this research question? 

I am completing a prospective cohort study that will utilize data from patients’ charts, self-report  questionnaires and actigraphy (an actigraph is a wrist-worn activity monitor which measures sleep-wake patterns). 


What are the most important potential implications of your research?  

Despite nearly 20 years of administering this in-hospital sleep intervention in 11 facilities across Southwestern Ontario and positive feedback from users, the effectiveness of this intervention has yet to be formally tested. It is exciting to know that the results of the study will either support the continued practice of this in-hospital intervention, or elucidate features that may need to be modified in order to result in positive outcomes for mothers, their families, and the healthcare system. 

 

How can students get in touch with you if they have more questions? 

My email is owaiss3@mcmaster.ca.


KRISTIE POOLE

Who are your supervisors?

Drs. Louis Schmidt and Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout


What is your research question? 

What factors play a role in the development and maintenance of shyness and social anxiety?

 

What are the main methodologies/techniques that you use to address this research question? 

I use a longitudinal, multi-level approach to examine trajectories of shyness and social anxiety across development. I examine the interaction of factors from various levels of analysis including individual motivational tendencies (e.g., social approach and avoidance), biological vulnerabilities (e.g., frontal EEG asymmetry, cortisol reactivity), and contextual influences (e.g., parents) on developmental trajectories using growth curve modelling. These data are collected through behavioural observation and psychophysiological recording during socially threatening tasks, as well as through questionnaires from various informants (e.g., parent-report, teacher-report, and self-report). I address my research question at various developmental stages (e.g., early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, and adulthood) in typically developing individuals as well as clinical populations (e.g., children with social anxiety disorder and/or selective mutism).


What are the most important potential implications of your research? 

Through identification of potentially modifiable risk factors for persistent social fear across development, we are better able to establish targets for intervention where appropriate. Importantly, this will be useful in placing children on a positive developmental trajectory in early life and possibly prevent negative secondary downstream consequences associated with a socially fearful temperament including psychopathology. 

 

How can students get in touch with you if they have more questions?

I can be reached by email at poolekl@mcmaster.ca



JELENA POPOV

Who is your supervisor? 

Dr. Elyanne Ratcliffe

 

What is your research question?  

My broad research question is: To what extent does the intestinal microbiome influence enteric nervous system (ENS) development during embryogenesis?

 

What are the main methodologies/techniques that you use to address this research question? 

To answer this question, I am constructing an in vitro model using immunoselection to isolate the progenitor cells of interest and culture them. I compare the differences between germ-free and specific pathogen-free mice using immunohistochemistry, and the effects of bacterial derivatives in vitro cell fate (differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis, and specific downstream pathways involved). Also, RNA expression of mesenchymal factors known to influence their growth, and mechanisms by which the bacteria interact with these cells.


What are the most important potential implications of your research?  

The most important implication would be to quantify how much of gut development is influenced or programmed before birth by our microbiome. Recent literature has demonstrated that significant differences exist between the ENS of germ-free and specific pathogen free mice in the early postnatal period. I am furthering this line of research and will be answering the question of how much the microbiome influences these differences prenatally. While this is clearly a basic science project, by virtue of the lab belonging to the department of pediatric gastroenterology, this research may also be translatable into very early microbiome-influenced diseases that we see so much of in our clinics!

 

How can students get in touch with you if they have more questions? 

I suppose by email would be best (popovj2@mcmaster.ca). I think gastrointestinal prenatal development is rare in the MiNDS program, so it will be neat to see whether anyone is interested in hearing more about it!