One of the things that I love about my job is getting the opportunity to talk to researchers whose interest in and passion for their chosen area of expertise is contagious. Another? During practically every assignment I take on, I learn something new.
A piece I was asked to write for a special Globe and Mail supplement celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Foundation for Innovation gave me a generous dose of both of those things. (Thank-you to Randall Anthony Communications for the opportunity to participate in this project.)
I got to learn about existing, and possible future medical applications for mRNA technology from someone who was then part of the UK team that was responsible for developing and testing the Oxford/Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine. I had no idea, for example, that prior to COVID, an mRNA based therapy for a rare disease had already been in use for some time.
I also had to learn something about exactly what quantum materials and quantum matter are, and how superconductors work. That’s way outside of my wheelhouse. I did manage to at least get a sense of just how transformative these technologies have the potential to be. I also learned that we have scientists right here in Canada who are working on high-profile projects like LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory), and collaborating with NASA to build devices capable of detecting the radiation emitted by black holes.
You can find out a bit about what I learned in this piece I wrote for a special Globe and Mail supplement on Research and Innovation: ‘From mRNA to Superconductors’.
My heartfelt thanks to the two (very patient!) interviewees who so generously shared their time and expertise:
- Dr. Anna Blakney, an assistant professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and School of Biomedical Engineering at UBC in Vancouver.
- Dr. Andrea Damascelli, scientific director of the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute and professor in the Department of Physics at UBC.