CHIN UP Christmas Challenge Raises $2,000

Erol Komina and Henry Vehovec celebrated 32 chin-ups and $2,000 raised with CHIN UP Adjudicator Mark Razon.

Erol Komina and Henry Vehovec celebrating their 32 chin-ups together with CHIN UP adjudicator, Mark Razon.

December 27, 2011 – Toronto, ON – Personal Trainer (PT) Erol Komina and Henry Vehovec combined to do 32 chin-ups to launch the CHIN UP Challenge event and in doing so raised $2,000. Sponsors had pledged $100 per chin-up up to a maximum of $2,000 for twenty chin-ups of the combined effort.

Funds raised in this event will be used to build awareness and support three specific charities related to health and fitness: The Campaign to Cure Arthritis at Toronto Western Hospital, University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport which will house the expanded David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic as it continues to evolve as an internationally recognized national centre for excellence in sports medicine, and the CHildren’s Injured Nerve (CHIN UP) Fund at the Hospital for Sick Children.

The CHIN UP team chose the chin-up as an ideal symbolic event to help raise awareness for the importance of health and fitness in the general population. Health systems around the world are under pressure as people age and require increased care as function is reduced and joints and organs fail or need replacement. The Campaign to Cure Arthritis seeks to find cures and preventative measures that will lower the need for surgeries and joint replacements. Findings in sports medicine are prolonging personal productivity and useful living thereby reducing medical costs. Nerve research with children is providing breakthroughs with respect to attributes of healthy function and holds promise for progress in regenerative medicine. Universally, physical fitness is recognized for its importance in general wellness and reducing the requirement and need for medical intervention. The CHIN UP team through the CHIN-UP Challenge is seeking to build awareness for the importance of fitness using basic exercises that will help keep participants out of hospitals. In doing so, the team also helps to raise funds for the mentioned programs.

If you are interested in helping or responding to the CHIN UP Challenge please contact us at Beyond creating an active personal fitness regimen, the CHIN UP Challenge reminds us that we all have to chin ourselves up to challenge and support the hospitals that have helped us all.


Scientist discovers new way to repair damaged nerves

Link to Globe and Mail article

by Anne McIlroy

From Friday’s Globe and Mail

After she arrived in Canada from Jamaica, 18-year-old Patrice Smith repeated her final year of high school in hopes of winning a university scholarship.

It was a humble beginning to a career in neuroscience that led to the University of Ottawa and Harvard University, and the discovery, announced Thursday, of a new way to coax damaged nerves to repair themselves.

Her experiments, which build on the growing understanding of how a baby’s brain is different from that of an adult, could lead to novel therapies for brain or spinal cord injuries.

Until about the age of two, the neurons in the human brain are still growing, stretching out long arms known as axons to form connections and build networks and circuits. After that, experience and learning shape those connections largely through pruning, said Dr. Smith, now 32 and running her own lab at Carleton University. Superfluous connections are trimmed; those used more frequently are strengthened in a variety of ways that don’t involve the growth of axons.

This suggests that a mechanism must kick in during the toddler years to prevent neurons from growing and forming new connections, said Dr. Smith, who moved back to Canada in 2008 after doing post-doctoral work at Harvard University.

“There are signals from the brain saying, ‘Okay, the connections are formed, there is no need for you to grow.’ ”

Dr. Smith suspects this could be what prevents injured neurons in the brains and spinal cords of adults from repairing themselves.

Now, she and colleagues at Harvard have a found a molecule that appears to put the brakes on neuron growth in adult mice.

It is called SOCS3. When the scientists blocked it in adult mice with crushed optic nerves, the damaged neurons began to sprout.

Some of the new growth reached as far as the brain. The next step is to see if this is enough to restore the vision of the blind mice, said Dr. Smith, who reported her findings Thursday in the journal Neuron.

Baby mice with the same injury to the optic nerve repair the damage without intervention. The immune system sends signals to start the healing process, and there is a quick response.

But it is different in adults.

“We are beginning to uncover that adults are not responsive to the immune signals that are turned on after we are injured,” she said. “We are actively suppressing our ability to respond to these immune signals.”

The work it is an important advance toward understanding why axons of adult nerve cells don’t regenerate, said William Snider, a neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina.

He wrote an article assessing the impact of Dr. Smith’s findings for Neuron. He said that new approaches being developed by Dr. Smith and other scientists must be tested in primates.

Dr. Smith said she is thrilled to be back in Canada trying to answer a question that first seized her when she was doing a doctorate at the University of Ottawa on diseases of the aging brain like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“Why is it that the young brain is so much more resilient? Why is it that as adults we have such a hard time repairing ourselves, where as for kids it is so much easier?”

Understanding those differences could lead to new treatments, she said.

She finished her PhD at the University of Ottawa, winning scholarships and working part-time at lab jobs to pay her way. She went to Harvard as a postdoctoral fellow to pursue her interest in the differences between young and old brains.

Dr. Smith said the ideal treatment will probably involve delivering drugs to an injured area of the brain or spinal cord.

Sometimes, with the right kind of therapy, people can recover at least in a limited way from a brain injury if neurons that haven’t been damaged can provide an alternate route for signals, Dr. Smith said.

She wants to get the damaged cells to repair themselves.

But she also wants people to know that her journey is proof that Canada is a land of possibility.

“I am not from a background of privilege,” she said. “But if you want to do something, you can do it.”

Hello world!

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