Quest, Particle Accelerators & Pharmacogenomics — what?!

This past week I travelled to Vancouver with my class, ‘Drugs, Vitamins & Antibiotics’ to learn more about some pretty cool science!

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The first half of the field trip was spent at TRIUMF, at the south end of the UBC campus. TRIUMF is a nuclear particle accelerator. This spins negatively charged hydrogen at 75% of the speed  of light.

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What is the purpose of this accelerator? Well, it can do a number of things! Besides just helping to develop theories of physics and chemistry, the particles can be used to treat cancers, make medical isotopes to help diagnose diseases and an array of industrial purposes.

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The amazing facility felt like it was NASA. In the control room there were computers upon computers upon computers. It was amazing to see such applied science!

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For the second half of the day we went to an amazing place called CDRD (Centre for Drug Research & Development) to test our prior knowledge that we learned in the course on how to design drugs.

Seeing the labs and the research potentials really solidified everything that I had learned over the past month and confirmed that it is a crazy process!

While at CDRD we had the chance to hear the Chair of Paediatrics in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC talk about pharmacogenomics in children. This was such an inspiring talk!

In summary, he talked about how adverse drug effects are almost never reported, are a huge cause of death and children can take a lot of the fall for this as drugs are almost never test in children. He talked about how we need to have personal medicine and showed how he has developed strategies to treat patients individually.

This was the best field trip I have ever participated in at Quest and I am so glad I got the opportunity to participate!

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