Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden wins uOttawa Award for Excellence in Research

Jessica Sinclair
Research Writer

Distinguished Professor Barbara Vanderhyden has won the highly-coveted University of Ottawa Award for Excellence in Research in the Sciences stream for 2019-2020 academic year.

Dr. Vanderhyden is Corinne Boyer Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research at the Faculty of Medicine and a senior scientist in the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute’s Cancer Therapeutics Program. From a bedrock interest in the basic biology of reproduction, she has built an impressive program to address ovarian cancer.

The fifth most common cancer in women, ovarian cancer is particularly deadly because of late detection. Dr. Vanderhyden has investigated the early identification of tumors by observing the stiffness of ovarian tissue, a phenomenon that tends to arise with age through a gradual scarring process. This process seems to be averted in patients who take the diabetes drug metformin, according to her research. Dr. Vanderhyden’s hope is that one day women who have a high risk of ovarian cancer will be able to use a drug like metformin to protect against it, as an alternative to having their ovaries removed.

Dr. Vanderhyden’s lab was the first to create an in vivo model—a transgenic mouse—that allows for therapeutic testing of the rarest form of ovarian cancer, and it has worked in immunotherapy approaches to fighting tumours.

A strong believer in science communication, Dr. Vanderhyden has given approximately 150 public lectures and stewarded uOttawa’s Let’s Talk Science program for 25 years. She expanded it with a new program called Science Travels, which delivers science workshops to remote and Indigenous communities in northern Ontario.

The University of Ottawa Award for Excellence in Research is given by the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa, and  recognizes two members of the University of Ottawa’s teaching staff who have earned distinction both for themselves and the University through exceptional and important research work. One researcher is selected from the sciences and another from the humanities. The prize comes with an honorarium and a promotional campaign from the APUO.

Congratulations Dr. Vanderhyden!

Photo: The Ottawa Hospital


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