Left: Jason Guriel
Jason Guriel, York’s new NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) SPARK student (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge), has sent Y-File an article about Prof. David Hood, School of Kinesiology and Health Science and Canada Research Chair in Health Sciences . A first-year graduate student in English, Guriel will be interviewing and writing stories on York NSERC-funded researchers throughout the academic year.
One of the more insidious threats to the health of the average Canadian may just be his or her everyday, sedentary lifestyle. North Americans in general are exercising less than ever, taking the elevator, for example, when they could just as easily manage one or two flights of stairs. Such rampant and increasing inactivity has led to an increase in health problems such as obesity, which has attracted the attention of researchers such as Prof. David Hood, Faculty of Arts/Faculty of Pure & Applied Science.
Hood’s attention is currently focused on muscle adaptation. Mitochondria, housed in muscle cells, provide those cells with necessary energy. Whenever we exercise, our body adapts and our muscle cells produce more mitochondria, providing our muscles with more energy sources. Inactivity (as well as diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes), however, disrupts the normal activity of mitochondria, curtailing the production of energy and causing muscle cells to die.
Hood’s research may prove useful in expanding our extremely limited knowledge of just how exercise creates mitochondria and would, in turn, have far-reaching implications for overall health. His specific study is arguably the only one of its kind currently being undertaken in Canada, demonstrating the innovative, unconventional spirit of York University’s researchers – researchers not content with the limits of existing knowledge. Typical of York, his work is also interdisciplinary, drawing boldly on the fields of biochemistry, physiology and molecular biology.
By focusing on real-world issues like the health of Canadians, and by exploring these issues in a new way, from a new perspective, York is once again redefining the pursuit of innovation. And redefining the possible.
SPARK stands for, a program that was launched in 1999 at 10 universities across Canada. Through SPARK, students with an aptitude for communications are recruited, trained and paid to write stories based on the NSERC-supported research at participating universities.