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Dr. Meaghan O’Reilly awarded Canada Research Chair

July 4, 2024

Dr. Meaghan O’Reilly, senior scientist in the Physical Sciences and Holland Bone and Joint Research Programs at Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI), has received a renewal for her Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Biomedical Ultrasound.

Tier 2 CRC’s are awarded to exceptional emerging researchers in their field for a five-year term, renewable once. The Canada Research Chair Program recently announced its latest appointees to Canada’s highest research honour.

“I’m honoured to receive this Canada Research Chair renewal. Holding this chair has enabled our lab to attract talented trainees and deliver key advances in the future of ultrasound-mediated drug delivery to the spinal cord,” says Dr. O’Reilly. “We’re looking forward to the next five years that we anticipate will offer the critical steps towards first-in-human trials.”

The funding from the renewal will enable Dr. O’Reilly and her research team to further advancements in the study of focused ultrasound (FUS) technology in the central nervous system and in musculoskeletal applications in the spine.

FUS is an emerging technology that uses sound waves to generate beneficial effects in tissues and has been shown to non-invasively and successfully treat some other conditions, as well as to help deliver medication to the brain by temporarily opening the blood-brain barrier.

“We’ve seen the exciting advances this technology has had in targeting other areas like the brain and we are aiming to bring the use of FUS to the spine, in an effort to improve outcomes and reduce recovery times for patients with spinal cord problems,” says Dr. O’Reilly, who is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

“More specifically, we’re looking to evaluate the effects of FUS on spinal cord tumours, as well as assess the safety of FUS in preparation for use with patients as a clinical therapeutic (or treatment) tool. We are also aiming to continue to advance the use of FUS in the brain by studying novel applications, such as promoting healing of injured brain tissue, and will continue to seek out new collaborations leveraging FUS in spine, brain and musculoskeletal health.”

Dr. O’Reilly is grateful for the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the New Frontiers in Research Fund, Brain Canada/EU Joint Programme - Neurodegenerative Disease Research, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, and the Ontario Research Fund - Research Excellence Program.

At SRI, other existing CRC’s include:

Tier 1 chairs: Dr. Isabelle Aubert, Dr. JoAnne McLaurin, Dr. Donald Redelmeier, Dr. Greg Stanisz, Dr. Bojana Stefanovic, Dr. Graham Wright, Dr. Burton Yang, Dr. Natalie Coburn and

Tier 2 chairs: Dr. Iacovos Michael, Dr. Jesse Chao, Dr. Mark Chiew, Dr. Maged Goubran, Dr. Walter Swardfager, Dr. Chao Wang, and Dr. Harindra Wijeysundera.