Ukraine connections solidified

The University of Lethbridge has formalized linkages with two Ukrainian research institutions to perform collaborative research in the area of occupational and environmental effects of ionizing radiation.

Earlier today, Vice-President (Research) Dan Weeks signed, on behalf of the U of L, a memorandum of understanding with the R.E. Kavetsky Institute of Experimental Pathology, Oncology and Radiobiology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine (RCRM).

Research performed under the agreement will include studying the epigenetic effects* of ionizing radiation on the workers at the Chernobyl power plants, including resultant cancer occurrences.

In addition to research linkages, future collaborations could also include the exchange of faculty and students between the three institutions.

Weeks is currently participating in a mission in Ukraine led by the Canadian Bureau for International Education aimed at formalizing linkages between Canada and Ukraine, and their post-secondary sectors. The trip includes Canadian University Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Deans representing Universities from across Canada.

The U of L is a demonstrated leader in epigenetic research. Last week, U of L researcher Dr. Olga Kovalchuk was the recipient of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Chair dedicated to examining the effects occupational radiation exposure has on men and women working in nuclear industries. Learn more here.

* Epigenetics (which means 'beyond genetics' in Latin) is the study of how individual genes and components of individual genes can change in response to environmental conditions or other factors. In addition to the hard-wired traits in DNA, epigenetic changes can occur in response to a change in lifestyle or other trigger (in this case, radiation exposure) and can be passed from one generation to another.