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Lawson's top 12 research stories of 2021

Lawson researchers impact the lives of people not just locally, but around the world with groundbreaking studies and translational research that enhances care, health and wellbeing.
Here are some of the research highlights of 2021.

Differences in walking patterns could predict type of cognative decline in older adults

Canadian researchers are the first to study how patterns in the way older adults walk could more accurately diagnose different types of dementia and identify Alzheimer’s disease. A new study by a Canadian research team, led by London researchers from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University, evaluated the walking patterns and brain function of 500 participants currently enrolled in clinical trials. Read more.

COVID-19 shown to leave a unique lung fingerprint

Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute have developed and tested an artificial neural network for diagnosing COVID-19. The AI system was trained to learn and recognize patterns in ultrasound lung scans of patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and compared them to ultrasound scans of patients with other types of lung diseases and infections. Read more.

Kidney transplant patient experiences positive recovery with the help of a simple device

Getting the gift of life was an amazing moment for 68-year-old Ruben Garcia who was in late-stage kidney disease and starting dialysis when his daughter Ruby donated one of her kidneys to him. The father of four underwent transplant surgery this past March and remained in hospital for nine days recovering.  Following his surgery, Garcia found it difficult to get out of bed due to pain and swelling, leaving the function of his new kidney at a very low level. Read more.

Air pollution exposures contributes to childhood asthma, population-based study shows


New findings from Ontario have shown that children born in Sarnia have a higher risk of developing asthma compared to neighboring cities. A research team from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University, using provincial data from ICES, found that higher air pollution exposure in the first year of life very likely contributed to this higher risk. Read more.

Getting the data on homelessness

At a virtual event, a research team led by Lawson Health Research Institute announced details of a new project aimed at better understanding how many people in Canada are homeless and who they are. Developing more accurate sources of data related to homelessness helps ensure the proper supports and services are available. Read more.

Clinical trials begin to treat COVID-19 patients with sepsis

It’s a discovery that has been more than ten years in the making: the use of a human protein to potentially treat patients with sepsis. Lawson Scientist Dr. Qingping Feng noticed that a human protein called annexin A5 showed positive results with sepsis back in 2007. Fast forward 14 years later to now, and this discovery could very well be the first ever viable treatment for sepsis patients, including severe COVID-19 patients who develop sepsis. Read more.

Examining the health impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on mothers and their new babies

It has been a challenging year for many with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic creating changes to people’s lifestyles, education, employment and health care. The impacts of these changes may be posing a health risk to women who have given birth during this trying time, and for their babies. Read more.

New therapeutic tool proven effective for MS patients with mental health challenges


It was a diagnosis that came as a shock for 28-year-old Mitch Kuska who found out he had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 26.  “I went from being a young 26-year-old doing regular things, to having to learn about this disease and everything that goes along with it and how it will affect my life.” Kuska, an avid cyclist, says knowing that one day he may not be able to physically do the things he loves has been the hardest part of his MS journey so far. Read more.

Researchers using MRI scans to pinpoint moral injury effects in health care workers

Moral injury refers to an injury to an individual’s moral conscious, which can produce profound emotional guilt and shame. Recognizing this is a growing concern, a London research team from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry is examining moral injury amongst health care workers by imaging the effects on the brain. Read More.

Scientists studying carbon monoxide as a possible treatment for sepsis

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection triggers excessive inflammation. The inflammatory response can cause damage to organs such as the heart, liver, lungs and brain. While there are currently limited treatments for sepsis, researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute are working to change that by examining the use of carbon monoxide-releasing molecules to treat patients. Read more.

Global study on heart valve repair surgery will improve patient outcomes around the world

Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University had a leading role in a new global study that will change the way surgeons repair leaky valves in the heart. It’s one of the most common heart valve conditions, affecting around two per cent of the population, where many patients don’t even realize they have a leaky valve and are asymptomatic, often presenting to doctors once they are late stage into the disease. Read more.

New study will assess fecal transplants in treatment of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease that affects up to six-thousand Canadians a year and is the third leading cause of cancer deaths. In a new study a multidisciplinary team of scientists at Lawson Health Research Institute are examining the microbiome in the gut, as a possible gateway to improving treatment outcomes. Read more.