Campus Life - Kamloops  

TRU opens state-of-the-art health-care building

Nursing building

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is thrilled to open the Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health to train in-demand health-care workers in BC. The building has state-of-the-art practice environments and technology to keep up with changing health education.

The $37.2-million project was made possible through the support of the provincial government ($8 million), private donors ($3.6 million), the university’s capital reserves and ongoing fundraising.

“TRU will have capacity to improve access for students, improve transition into the labour market, enrich research opportunities and simulate the full spectrum of health-care environments. For this, I am proud of today’s opening,” said TRU President and Vice-Chancellor Brett Fairbairn.

The innovatively designed Chappell Family Building prioritizes student needs. With it, lab space for the School of Nursing has tripled from 16 to 48 beds. The three-storey building includes high-tech patient simulation labs, a home-visit lab, seminar rooms, student lounges, research space, breakout rooms and a 60-person classroom. It supports collaborative learning for interdisciplinary teams while fostering creativity and innovation.

“This new building will transform how my classmates and I learn to be the future health-care workers in BC. We are excited to use this new facility,” said fourth-year TRU nursing student Lisa Bonang.

Critical to student success is the Dr. Sherman Jen High-Fidelity Simulation Centre, made possible through a donation of $1.5 million from Dr. Sherman Jen. Four simulation labs equipped with computerized mannequins and reflecting real health-care settings will better prepare students for working conditions and support research designed to improve health outcomes.

Faculty member Wendy McKenzie said TRU’s new lab facilities are unique in nursing education. Faculty will have unprecedented resources and technology to simulate a wide range of scenarios and observe student responses.

“This new space for the TRU School of Nursing will help us continue to educate and develop world-class health-care workers. This space will enable students to be work ready once they are done their program,” said TRU School of Nursing Dean Rani Srivastava.

The Dr. Sherman Jen High-Fidelity Simulation Centre is also home to Super Tory, a lifelike infant mannequin newly purchased this summer with dollars raised at the TRU Foundation Gala in February. For the first time at TRU, Super Tory will allow nursing students to experience simulated pediatric emergencies.

By providing a home for the School of Nursing, the new facility brings together under one roof students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Health Care Assistant and Master of Nursing programs. Though COVID-19 prevents full in-person instruction, limited groups of students will use lab space this fall.

“This new state-of-the-art training facility will be a game changer for health care students at TRU. Our government is committed to student success and providing education and training close to home. By investing in advanced health care technology and education, we are equipping the next generation of health professionals with the skills needed to provide British Columbians with the highest standard of health care services,” said BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark.

Funding Partners and Donors

In addition to an $8-million investment from the Province of British Columbia, these donors have contributed significantly toward this new building. TRU is deeply grateful for this generous and impactful support and thanks the many other donors who have contributed, and continue to help fund this building.

  • Dr. Sherman Jen
  • The Stollery Charitable Foundation
  • Spencer and Janet Bryson
  • Ken and Maureen Lepin
  • Kamloops Rotary Clubs
  • TRU Foundation Gala donors

About the Chappell Family

With the Chappell Family name, TRU is honouring a private donation of $1.5 million and celebrating the legacy of Catherine and Edward Chappell. Catherine and Edward met in Kamloops and were married in 1938. Catherine completed her nurse training at Royal Inland Hospital and worked as registered nurse in the BC communities of Kamloops, Michel and Fernie and became a public-health nurse. Edward worked for the Crowsnest Coal Company and was a passionate community volunteer.

3MT winner takes a critical look at mountain biking

Typically, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition is held every March, but this year university campuses closed before the event could take place.

However, the show must go on, as they say, and last week it did, when seven TRU graduate students presented their research virtually before a panel of non-expert judges. The judges, which included Acacia Pangilinan, executive director of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, Christopher Foulds, editor of Kamloops This Week, and Katie Neustaeter, interim executive director of the United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo, deliberated and returned with their winners. 

And the winner is…

Ted Morton, Master of Science in Environmental Science, was awarded first place, along with a $1,000 prize, and will advance to the Western Canadian regional competition, hosted virtually on Wednesday, Sept. 23, by the University of Alberta.

Morton’s presentation, “The narcissist of land-use management,” poses some critical questions about the multi-million-dollar mountain biking industry and the challenges that arise, generally, from commodifying the outdoors.

As the owner of the Canadian Enduro Series, which stages mountain biking events across Canada, Morton has a unique insider’s view into the sport, and said he began graduate school as a way of devoting time to answer questions that kept surfacing.

“I had a feeling that mountain biking wasn’t as good as I originally thought it was for communities, and whenever I brought up my concerns, nobody seemed to have the answers I was looking for,” he said. 

The goal of his research is to ensure that the sport he has devoted so much of his life to thrives, but not at the expense of other land users, the environment and communities.

Morton opted to tackle the three-minute communication competition to increase his comfort with public speaking. 

“I’m pretty comfortable in the mountain biking world, and in talking to other mountain bikers, but on the academic side, I don’t have as much experience expressing my thoughts and speaking in front of that crowd. I wanted to take a subject that was really close to me and display it in a manner that is really relevant,” he said.

And the runners up are…

Taking second place and a $500 cash prize was Kyley Drach for her presentation, “Hidden chemicals impacting the menstrual cycle,” and in third place, receiving a $250 prize, was Aramide Taiwo, for “How harmful are poultry farms close to lakes?”

Despite not having an opportunity to judge the event in person, the judging panel was nevertheless impressed by what they saw.

Judges suitably impressed

“This was my first time judging the competition and I would do it again in a heartbeat — hopefully in person when this pandemic finally departs,” said Foulds. “I like it, and I think the community at large would too, because it gives laypeople like myself a good summary of more complex issues that are part of the participants’ research. They are only three minutes long, but you can learn a heck of a lot in that time frame,” he said.

“The judging experience was fantastic, and an impressive group of candidates made for challenging deliberations,” said Pangilinan. “A job well done to each of the participants, and congratulations!”

“The opportunity to learn from the work of these engaged students was an honour. Their commitment to research and their effort to make a positive impact on the world through their field of interest was inspiring and encouraging,” said Neustaeter.

Morton is now be one of 17 graduate students competing in the Western Regional 3MT. The winner of that competition moves forward to the National 3MT, hosted by the Canadian Association for Graduate Students later this fall.

The 3MT is an international academic competition that assists graduate students with fostering effective communication skills. Students have just three minutes and a single static slide to explain the breadth and significance of their research to a non-specialist audience.

Firm supports next generation of lawyers

Donor presents scholarship to TRU Law student.

Curiosity led Paige Mueller to law school. Even before becoming a juris doctor (JD) candidate, she was fascinated with the art of the court case, access to justice and problem solving—a passion she continues to chase at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) thanks to financial support from a donor-funded scholarship.

“It was seeing how a lawyer builds a case and the fact-finding mission of litigation and the law that really drew me to it,” said the third-year law student.

Mueller is the first person to receive the Doug Eastwood Q.C. Maclean Law Scholarship, a faculty-judged award created in memory of the senior litigator with a $65,000 donation from Vancouver-based firm MacLean Family Law.

In many cases, financial awards mean the difference for students just getting by in their academic studies as they also hold down paid jobs. The Faculty of Law wants to increase annual distribution of scholarships and bursaries to $500,000 by 2023.

Student support is one of the priorities of TRU’s Limitless campaign to raise $50 million coinciding with the university’s 50th anniversary this year. It’s creating more financial aid for students who need it most.

“It’s allowed me to dedicate myself to my studies and continue being active in the TRU Law community,” Mueller said of her scholarship. “TRU Law is known for being very collegial and the mentorship I received from third-year students during my first year has really propelled me to become more involved.”

MacLean Law invests in students 

MacLean Family Law was driven to invest in current law students after working with several TRU alumni, creating the Doug Eastwood Q.C. Maclean Law Scholarship and also sponsoring the MacLean Law Prize in Family Law.

“We have several passionate TRU Law alumni who are key contributors at our firm,” said Fraser MacLean, a TRU alumnus himself. “We also wanted to support a school that provides lawyers for both metropolitan and rural communities. We have offices in West Kelowna and Fort St. John, and we see the need for lawyers there.” 

TRU alumni Gurdeep Khosa and Sunny Chiu took their family law education into practice at MacLean, where they’ve been fortunate to represent clients from Vancouver to northern British Columbia. For Khosa, the most memorable experience has been successfully reuniting a parent with their children in Fort St. John. For Chiu, it has been the opportunity to develop litigation and negotiation skills alongside a skilled and supportive group of lawyers.

Now, thanks to the firm, more students interested in family law will have an opportunity to experience the rewards of helping families face their most challenging obstacles.

“Family law touches more Canadians than any other area of law,” said Lorne MacLean, QC. “It’s important that lawyers help judges make the best decisions possible.”

For more on TRU’s Limitless campaign, visit tru.ca/limitless.

Can CBD and nitric oxide prevent the spread of COVID-19?

What can veterinary medicine, analytical chemistry and microbiology teach us about COVID-19? A trio of Thompson Rivers University researchers expect that answer to be: plenty.

Supported by a $50,000 NSERC Alliance Grant, Drs. John Church, Joanna Urban and Kingsley Donkor are working toward the development of an antiviral nasal spray and mouthwash using high-cannabidiol (CBD) extracts, terpenes, and nitric oxide with the goal of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

As part of the research, the scientists have partnered with SaNOtize Research and Development, a life-science biotech firm based in Vancouver, and Avicanna Inc., a Canadian biopharmaceutical company that develops medical cannabis-based products. The research at TRU will be conducted using state-of-the-art 3D tissue models to simulate human testing. 

“The coronavirus is not going away. I wish it was. And it might be a long time before we get a vaccine, so coming up with a novel treatment is something the world desperately needs,” said Church.

What we know about how the virus works

In the seven months that the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus has gripped the world, scientists have made significant strides in understanding how the virus works by isolating its receptor cells, said Church. The idea behind this research is to block the entry of the virus into the body, and several CBD extracts have already shown promise. Scientists have also found that patients infected with COVID-19 benefit from the use of inhaled nitric oxide (NO). Since 2004, Church has been successfully using NO as an antiviral therapy for the prevention of bovine respiratory disease in feedlot cattle, and it has also proven effective against bovine coronavirus.

“We’ve always had silos where we look at diseases in isolation, but we need to take a multidisciplinary approach and start to combine veterinary medicine and human medicine,” said Church, who is the BC Regional Innovation Chair in Cattle Industry Sustainability. “Many of these new viruses start in animals first and transfer to humans.”

A multidisciplinary team

While Church brings his knowledge of veterinary medicine to the team, Donkor, a professor of chemistry, uses ultra-high performance liquid chromatography and capillary electrophoresis to conduct the chemical analysis of the CBD extracts and terpenes, while Urban conducts molecular and microbiological tissue testing to measure effectiveness. 

Without a vaccine, it is hoped the knowledge gathered through this research can inform some of the treatment and prevention options, as so far, there is no effective treatment and traditional antiviral drug therapies have been ineffective.

“We could use this product in nursing homes, as it also has anti-inflammatory properties. This could be huge, and not just for the one year of the project, but for many more years to come as we investigate and see how cannabinoids can help us prevent virus spread,” said Urban. 

Treatment may be in a nasal spray or mouthwash

Church sees this project as an extension of the research he began with Donkor several years ago to prevent shipping fever in cattle. 

“I envision a device — a nasal spray or a mouthwash — that you can put in every purse or pocket. If you have been in close contact with someone who has the virus you could use this pre-treatment to potentially block the infection,” he said.

“We are trying to provide knowledge,” said Donkor.

“We are going to investigate this mechanism and get information about how this mechanism blocks virus receptors, and we will share this information with the scientific community,” he said, adding that he hopes other researchers will use this knowledge and move this research through various stages of testing.

“These products we are using are generally regarded as safe. They have all had approvals from Health Canada, and can actually get into the hands of people quite quickly,” he said.

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