Brooke Belanger

Graduate student - PhD

BRAIN CREATE



Biography

About me

Originally, my family is from Thunder Bay Ontario, but I have spent most of my life in Calgary. I completed a Bachelor of Science in Biological Science here at the University of Calgary and then continued my studies here in a PhD of Neuroscience.

My research

Brain aneurysms are small pockets caused by broken blood vessels in the brain. They affect 5% of the population. Treatments are only 70% effective, requiring patients to have multiple surgeries and take blood thinners forever. New-age stents combined with stem cells may be the solution. These stents are mesh tubes that the body absorbs, defeating the need for drugs. Stem cells turn into blood vessels and close the aneurysm, removing stroke risk. Tests show stem cells could benefit current treatments, but it is unknown how they work. I am trying to discover how stem cells repair aneurysms and reduce treatment time.

I have a background in plant research and basic research from my undergraduate career. I started in the master’s program at U of C but transferred into the PhD. My supervisor, Dr. Alim Mitha, is a neurosurgeon, and working with him gives our lab very interesting translational research capabilities. Currently he is working on a startup called Fluid Biotech which is moving on to patent the very first bioabsorbable brain stent on the market.

Supervisors: Dr. Alim Mitha, Dr. Arindom Sen, mithalab.com


BRAIN CREATE Program aspirations

I hope to attend some expeditions and/or academic exchanges that can help foster my love of research and learning. I hope that one day the neurosurgical innovation with stem cells I am working on will have the opportunity to be commercialized.

Commercialization

I work with adult stem cells, which are currently becoming commercialized in many different forms. Specifically in neuroscience, they are currently being tested clinically to help treat stroke survivors. With the current innovations surrounding stem cell treatments, I hope to push my project forward and see it commercialized during my time as a researcher. Most stem cell therapies are not used as an adjunct to current treatments and my goal is to combine a novel stent that is also being commercialized in my lab along with the cells to create a superior solution to brain aneurysm treatments.


Publications

Belanger, B.; Avery, M.; Mitha A. 2018. A Modification of the Rabbit Elastase Model to Produce More Relevant Aneurysm Sizes. J. Neurointervent Surg. 10 (Suppl 2): A30-A31.

Avery, MB.; Belanger, BL; Bromley A.; Sen, A.; Mitha, AP. 2019. Mesenchymal Stem Cells Exhibit Both a Pro-Inflammatory and Anti-Inflammatory Effect on Saccular Aneurysm Formation In a Rabbit Model. Stem Cells International, Volume 2019, 15 pages

Jamshidi, M.; Rajabian, M.; Avery, MB.; Sundararaj, U.; Ronsky, JL.; Belanger, BL.; Wong, JH.;Mitha, AP. 2019. A novel self-expanding primarily bioabsorbable braided flow-diverting stent for aneurysms: initial safety results. JNIS.

Muram, S.; Eesa, M.; Belanger, BL.; Almekhlafi, A.; Goyal, M.; Morrish, W.; Wong, JH.; Gomez-Paz, S.; Akamatsu, Y.; Salem, MM.; Robinson, T.; Moore, JM.; Thomas, AJ.; Ogilvy, CS.; Mitha, AP. 2021. Novel Parameter to Predict Supraclinoid Aneurysm Persistence After Flow Diversion with the Pipeline Embolization Device. WNS. 145: e216-e223.

Belanger, BL.; Avery, MB.; Eesa, M; Sen, A; Mitha, AP. 2021. Creating Clinically Relevant Aneurysm Sizes in the Rabbit Surgical Elastase Model (Under review)


Awards

NSERC BRAIN CREATE Graduate Scholarship

Graduate Awards Competition – 2021- $5000 – University of Calgary

Graduate Citizenship Award – 2020 - $2000 – Graduate Student’s Association

Professional Development Grant – 2019 - $750 – Graduate Student’s Association

Graduate Representative Council Initiative Award – 2019 - $1000 – Graduate Student’s Association

Profiling Alberta Graduate Students (Travel Award) – 2018 - $1500 – Government of Alberta

Travel Award – 2018 - $750 - Faculty of Graduate Studies

HBITO Art Competition - 2018 - $100 – Hotchkiss Brain Institute Trainee Organization

Silver President’s Circle Scholarship – 2013 - $1750 – Saint Mary’s University