Category Archives: health

Of Health Myths and Trickster Viruses; a Who Cares? windup event on Friday, April 1, 2022 (+ more final Who Cares? events)

Toronto’s ArtSci Salon has been hosting a series of events and exhibitions about COVID-19 and other health care issues under the “Who Cares?” banner. The exhibitions and events are now coming to an end (see my February 9, 2022 posting for a full listing).

A March 29, 2022 Art/Sci Salon announcement (received via email) heralds the last roundtable event (see my March 7, 2022 posting for more about the Who Cares? roundtables), Note: This is an online event,

 
Bayo Akomolafe
Seema Yasmin


Of Health Myths and Trickster Viruses

Friday, April 1 [2022], 5:00-7:00 pm [ET]

Des mythes sur la santé et des virus trompeurs

Le Vendredi 1 avril [2022], de 17H à 19H A conversation on the unsettling dimensions of epidemics and the complexities of responses to their challenges.
~
Une conversation sur les dimensions troublantes des épidémies et la complexité des réponses à leurs défis.

Inscrivez- vous ici/Register here

Seema Yasmin,  Director of Research and Education, Stanford Health Communication Initiative. She is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, Pulitzer prize finalist, medical doctor and Stanford and UCLA professor.

Bayo Akomolafe Chief Curator, The Emergence Network.  He is a widely celebrated international speaker, posthumanist thinker, poet, teacher, public intellectual, essayist, and author ~

Seema Yasmin, Director of Research and Education, Stanford Health Communication Initiative. Elle est une journaliste lauréate d’un Emmy Award, finaliste du prix Pulitzer, médecin et professeure à Stanford et UCLA.

Bayo Akomolafe, Chief Curator, The Emergence Network. Il  est un conférencier international très célèbre, un penseur posthumaniste, un poète, un enseignant, un intellectuel public, un essayiste et un auteur.

There are the acknowledgements,

“Who Cares?” is a Speaker Series dedicated to fostering transdisciplinary conversations between doctors, writers, artists, and researchers on contemporary biopolitics of care and the urgent need to move towards more respectful, creative, and inclusive social practices of care in the wake of the systemic cracks made obvious by the pandemic.

We wish to thank/ nous the generous support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, New College at the University of Toronto and The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University; the Centre for Feminist Research, Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, The Canadian Language Museum, the Departments of English and the School of Gender and Women’s Studies at York University; the D.G. Ivey Library and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto; We also wish to thank the support of The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences

This series is co-produced in collaboration with the ArtSci Salon

The Who Cares? series webpage, found here, lists the exhibitions and final events,

Exhibitions
March 24 – April 30
[2022]

Alanna Kibbe – TRANSFORM: Exploring Languages of Healing. Opening March 31, 5 pm 
Canadian Language Museum, 2275 Bayview Avenue, York University Glendon Campus

in person. Virtual opening available

Camille Baker INTER/her. Opening April 7 [2022], 4 pm
Ivey Library, 20 Willcox Street, New College, University of Toronto

in person. Virtual opening available

Closing Presentation and Interactive Session
Karolina Żyniewicz – Signs of the time, Collecting
Biological Traces and Memories

Artist talk: April 8 [2022], 4:00-6:00 [ET]
online

Memory Collection: Apr 9 [2022], 2:00-4:00 [ET]

online and in person

Data Meditation and three roundtables: a collection of Who Cares? March 2022 events

You can find out more about Toronto’s Art/Sci Salon’s Who Cares? speaker series in my February 9, 2022 posting. For this posting, I’m focusing on the upcoming March 2022 events, which are being offered online. From a March 7, 2022 Art/Sci Salon announcement (received via email),

We’re pleased to announce our next two events from our “Who Cares?” Speaker Series

Nous sommes heureux d’annoncer notre deuxième événement de notre “Who Cares?” Série de conferences

March 10 [2022], 2:00-3:00 pm [ET]

Data Meditation: Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico

HER – She Loves Data 

Nuovo Abitare

Join us for a discussion about questions like: 

Why does data have to be an extractive process?

What can we learn about ourselves through the data we generate everyday?

How can we use them as an expressive form to represent ourselves?

Data Meditations is the first ritual designed with the new approach of HER: She Loves Data, which addresses data as existential and cultural phenomena, and the need of creating experience (contemporary rituals) that allow societies and individuals to come together around data generating meaning, new forms of solidarity, empathy, interconnection and knowledge.

Rejoignez-nous pour une discussion basée sur des questions telles que : 

Pourquoi les données doivent-elles être un processus d’extraction ?

Que pouvons-nous apprendre par rapport à nous, grâce aux données que nous générons chaque jour ?

Comment pouvons-nous les utiliser comme une forme expressive pour nous représenter ?

Data Méditations est le premier rituel conçu avec la nouvelle approche de HER [elle] : She loves Data , qui parle des données en tant que phénomènes existentiels et culturels , mais également , la nécessité de créer des expériences [ rituels contemporains ] qui permettent aux sociétés et aux individus de se réunir autour de données générant du sens , de nouvelles formes de solidarité , empathie ,  d’interconnexion et de connaissance. 

Register HERE/Inscrivez-vous ici

[Beyond triage and data culture roundtable]

March 11, 5:00-7:00 pm [ET]

Maria Antonia Gonzalez-Valerio,
Professor of Philosophy and Literature, UNAM, Mexico City.
Sharmistha Mishra,
Infectious Disease Physician and Mathematical Modeller, St Michael’s Hospital
Madhur Anand,
Ecologist, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph
Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico,
Independent Artists, HER, She Loves Data

One lesson we have learnt in the past two years is that the pandemic has not single-handedly created a global health crisis, but has exacerbated and made visible one that was already in progress. The roots of this crisis are as cultural as they are economic and environmental.  Among the factors contributing to the crisis is a dominant orientation towards healthcare that privileges a narrow focus on data-centered technological fixes and praises the potentials of technological delegation. An unsustainable system has culminated in the passive acceptance and even the cold justification of triage as an inevitable evil in a time of crisis and scarcity.

What transdisciplinary practices can help ameliorate the atomizing pitfalls of turning the patient into data?
How can discriminatory practices such as triage, exclusion based on race, gender, and class, vaccine hoarding etc.. be addressed and reversed?
What strategies can we devise to foster genuine transdisciplinary approaches and move beyond the silo effects of specialization, address current uncritical trends towards technological delegation, and restore the centrality of human relations in healthcare delivery?

L’une des leçons que nous avons apprises au cours des deux dernières années est que la pandémie n’a pas créé à elle seule une crise sanitaire mondiale, mais qu’elle en a exacerbé et rendu visible une qui était déjà en cours. Les racines de cette crise sont aussi bien culturelles qu’économiques et environnementales. Parmi les facteurs qui contribuent à la crise figure une orientation dominante en matière de soins de santé, qui privilégie une vision étroite des solutions technologiques centrées sur les données et fait l’éloge du potentiel de la délégation technologique. Un système non durable a abouti à l’acceptation passive et même à la justification froide du triage comme un mal inévitable en temps de crise et de pénurie.

Quelles pratiques transdisciplinaires peuvent contribuer à améliorer les pièges de l’atomisation qui consiste à transformer le patient en données ?
Comment les pratiques discriminatoires telles que le triage, l’exclusion fondée sur la race, le sexe et la classe sociale, la thésaurisation des vaccins, etc. peuvent-elles être abordées et inversées ?
Quelles stratégies pouvons-nous concevoir pour favoriser de véritables approches transdisciplinaires et dépasser les effets de silo de la spécialisation, pour faire face aux tendances actuelles non critiques à la délégation technologique, et pour restaurer la centralité des relations humaines dans la prestation des soins de santé ?

Register HERE/Inscrivez-vous ici

We wish to thank/ nous [sic] the generous support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, New College at the University of Toronto and The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University; the Centre for Feminist Research, Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, The Canadian Language Museum, the Departments of English and the School of Gender and Women’s Studies at York University; the D.G. Ivey Library and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto; We also wish to thank the support of The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences

There are two more online March 2022 roundtable discussions, from the Who Cares? events webpage,

2. Friday, March 18 – 6:00 to 8:00 pm [ET]
Critical care and sustainable care

Suvendrini Lena, MD, Playwright and Neurologist at CAMH and Centre for Headache, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto
Adriana Ieraci, Roboticist and PhD candidate in Computer Science, Ryerson University
Lucia Gagliese – Pain Aging Lab, York University

(online)

3. Friday, March 25 – 5:00 to 7:00 pm [ET]
Building communities and technologies of care

Camille Baker, University for the Creative Arts, School of Film media and Performing Arts
Alanna Kibbe, independent artist, Toronto

(online)

There will also be some events in April 2022 and there are two ongoing exhibitions, which you can see here.

Who Cares? a series of Art/Sci Salon talks and exhibitions in February and March 2022

COVID-19 has put health care workers in a more than usually interesting position and the Art/Sci Salon in Toronto, Canada is ‘creatively’ addressing the old, new, and emerging stresses. From the Who Cares? events webpage (also in a February 8, 2022 notice received via email),

“Who Cares?” is a Speaker Series dedicated to fostering transdisciplinary conversations between doctors, writers, artists, and researchers on contemporary biopolitics of care and the urgent need to move towards more respectful, creative, and inclusive social practices of care in the wake of the systemic cracks made obvious by the pandemic.

About the Series

Critiques of the health care sector are certainly not new and have been put forward by workers and researchers in the medical sector and in the humanities alike. However, critique alone fails to consider the systemic issues that prevent well-meaning practitioners to make a difference. The goal of this series is to activate practical conversations between people who are already engaged in transforming the infrastructures and cultures of care but have few opportunities to speak to each other. These interdisciplinary dialogues will enable the sharing of emerging epistemologies, new material approaches and pedagogies that could take us beyond the current crisis. By engaging with the arts as research, our guests use the generative insights of poetic and artistic practices to zoom in on the crucial issues undermining holistic, dynamic and socially responsible forms of care. Furthermore, they champion transdisciplinary dialogues and multipronged approaches directed at changing the material and discursive practices of care. 

Who cares? asks the following important questions:

How do we lay the groundwork for sustainable practices of care, that is, care beyond ‘just-in-time’ interventions?

What strategies can we devise to foster genuine transdisciplinary approaches that move beyond the silo effects of specialization, address current uncritical trends towards technological delegation, and restore the centrality responsive/responsible human relations in healthcare delivery?

What practices can help ameliorate the atomizing pitfalls of turning the patient into data?

What pathways can we design to re-direct attention to long lasting care focused on a deeper understanding of the manifold relationalities between doctors, patients, communities, and the socio-environmental context?

How can the critically creative explorations of artists and writers contribute to building resilient communities of care that cultivate reciprocity, respect for the unpredictable temporalities of healing, and active listening?

How to build a capacious infrastructure of care able to address and mend the damages caused by ideologies of ultimate cure that pervade corporate approaches to healthcare funding and delivery?

The first event starts on February 14, 2022 (from the On care, beauty, and Where Things Touch webpage),

On care, beauty, and Where Things Touch

Bahar Orang (University of Toronto, Psychiatry)

Feb. 14 [2022], 10:30 am – 12-30 pm [ET]

This event will be online, please register HERE to participate. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 

A Conversation with Bahar Orang, author of Where Things Touch, on staying attuned to the fragile intimacies of care beyond the stifling demands of institutional environments. 

This short presentation will ask questions about care that move it beyond the carceral logics of hospital settings, particularly in psychiatry. Drawing from questions raised in my first book Where Things Touch, and my work with Doctors for Defunding Police (DFDP), I hope to pose the question of how to do the work of health care differently. As the pandemic has laid bare so much violence, it becomes imperative to engage in forms of political imaginativeness that proactively ask what are the forms that care can take, and does already take, in places other than the clinic or the hospital? 

Bahar Orang is a writer and clinician scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Her creative and clinical work seeks to engage with ways of imagining care beyond the carcerality that medical institutions routinely reproduce

Here’s the full programme from the Who Cares? events webpage,

Opening dialogue
February 14, 10:30-12:30 pm [ET]
On care, beauty, and Where Things Touch

Bahar Orang, University of Toronto, Psychiatry

( Online)

Keynote
Thursday March 10, 1:00-3:00 pm [ET]
Keynote and public reveal of Data meditation

Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico
independent artists, HER, She Loves Data

(Online)

Roundtables
1. Friday, March 11 – 5:00 to 7:00 pm [ET]
Beyond triage and data culture

Maria Antonia Gonzalez-Valerio, Professor of Philosophy and Literature, UNAM, Mexico City.
Sharmistha Mishra, Infectious Disease Physician and Mathematical Modeller, St Michael’s Hospital
Madhur Anand, Ecologist, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph
Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico, independent artists, HER, She Loves Data

(Online)

2. Friday, March 18 – 6:00 to 8:00 pm [ET]
Critical care and sustainable care

Suvendrini Lena, MD, Playwright and Neurologist at CAMH and Centre for Headache, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto
Adriana Ieraci, Roboticist and PhD candidate in Computer Science, Ryerson University
Lucia Gagliese – Pain Aging Lab, York University

(online)

3. Friday, March 25 – 5:00 to 7:00 pm [ET]
Building communities and technologies of care

Camille Baker, University for the Creative Arts, School of Film media and Performing Arts
Alanna Kibbe, independent artist, Toronto

(online)

Keynote Conversation
Friday, April 1, 5:00-7:00 pm [ET]
Seema Yasmin,  Director of Research and Education, Stanford Health Communication Initiative [Stanford University]
Bayo Akomolafe,  Chief Curator of The Emergence Network

(hybrid) William Doo Auditorium, 45 Willcox Street, Toronto

Exhibitions
March 24 – April 30

Alanna Kibbe – TRANSFORM: Exploring Languages of Healing. Opening March 31, 5 pm 
Canadian Language Museum, 2275 Bayview Avenue, York University Glendon Campus

(Hybrid event. Limited in person visits by appointment)

Camille Baker INTER/her. Opening April 7, 4 pm [ET]
Ivey Library, 20 Willcox Street, New College, University of Toronto

(Hybrid event. Limited in person visits by appointment)

Closing Presentation and Interactive Session
Karolina Żyniewicz – Signs of the time, Collecting
Biological Traces and Memories

Artist talk: April 8, 4:00-6:00 [ET]
Memory Collection: Apr 9, 2:00-4:00

* The format of this program and access might change with the medical situation

We wish to thank the generous support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada,  New College, the D.G. Ivey Library, and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto; the Centre for Feminist Research, Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, The Canadian Language Museum, the Departments of English and the School of Gender and Women’s Studies at York University. We also wish to thank the support of The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences

This series is co-produced in collaboration with the ArtSci Salon

Hopefully, one of those times works for you.

Resisting silver’s microbial properties?

Yes, it is possible for bacteria to become resistant to silver nanoparticles. However, that yes comes with some qualifications according to a July 13, 2021 news item on ScienceDaily (Note: Links have been removed),

Antimicrobials are used to kill or slow the growth of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. They can be in the form of antibiotics, used to treat bodily infections, or as an additive or coating on commercial products used to keep germs at bay. These life-saving tools are essential to preventing and treating infections in humans, animals and plants, but they also pose a global threat to public health when microorganisms develop resistance to them, a concept known as antimicrobial resistance.

One of the main drivers of antimicrobial resistance is the misuse and overuse of antimicrobial agents, which includes silver nanoparticles, [emphases mine] an advanced material with well-documented antimicrobial properties. It is increasingly used in commercial products that boast enhanced germ-killing performance — it has been woven into textiles, coated onto toothbrushes, and even mixed into cosmetics as a preservative.

The Gilbertson Group at the University of Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania, US} Swanson School of Engineering used laboratory strains of E.coli to better understand bacterial resistance to silver nanoparticles and attempt to get ahead of the potential misuse of this material. The team recently published their results in Nature Nanotechnology.

Caption: A depiction of hyper-motile E.coli, a strain of bacteria found to resist silver nanoparticles’ antimicrobial properties after repeated exposure. Credit: Lisa Stabryla/University of Pittsburgh.

A July 13, 2021 University of Pittsburgh news release (also on EurekAlert), which originated the news item, provides more insight into the research,

“Bacterial resistance to silver nanoparticles is understudied, so our group looked at the mechanisms behind this event,” said Lisa Stabryla, lead author on the paper and a recent civil and environmental PhD graduate at Pitt. “This is a promising innovation to add to our arsenal of antimicrobials, but we need to consciously study it and perhaps regulate its use to avoid decreased efficacy like we’ve seen with some common antibiotics.”

Stabryla exposed E.coli to 20 consecutive days of silver nanoparticles and monitored bacterial growth over time. Nanoparticles are roughly 50 times smaller than a bacterium.

“In the beginning, bacteria could only survive at low concentrations of silver nanoparticles, but as the experiment continued, we found that they could survive at higher doses,” Stabryla noted. “Interestingly, we found that bacteria developed resistance to the silver nanoparticles but not their released silver ions alone.”

The group sequenced the genome of the E.coli that had been exposed to silver nanoparticles and found a mutation in a gene that corresponds to an efflux pump that pushes heavy metal ions out of the cell.

“It is possible that some form of silver is getting into the cell, and when it arrives, the cell mutates to quickly pump it out,” she added. “More work is needed to determine if researchers can perhaps overcome this mechanism of resistance through particle design.”

The group then studied two different types of E.coli: a hyper-motile strain that swims through its environment more quickly than normally motile bacteria and a non-motile strain that does not have physical means for moving around. They found that only the hyper-motile strain developed resistance.

“This finding could suggest that silver nanoparticles may be a good option to target certain types of bacteria, particularly non-motile strains,” Stabryla said.

In the end, bacteria will still find a way to evolve and evade antimicrobials. The hope is that an understanding of the mechanisms that lead to this evolution and a mindful use of new antimicrobials will lessen the impact of antimicrobial resistance.

“We are the first to look at bacterial motility effects on the ability to develop resistance to silver nanoparticles,” said Leanne Gilbertson, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Pitt. “The observed difference is really interesting and merits further investigation to understand it and how to link the genetic response – the efflux pump regulation – to the bacteria’s ability to move in the system.

“The results are promising for being able to tune particle properties for a desired response, such as high efficacy while avoiding resistance.”

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Role of bacterial motility in differential resistance mechanisms of silver nanoparticles and silver ions by Lisa M. Stabryla, Kathryn A. Johnston, Nathan A. Diemler, Vaughn S. Cooper, Jill E. Millstone, Sarah-Jane Haig & Leanne M. Gilbertson. Nature Nanotechnology (2021) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-021-00929-w Published: 21 June 2021

This paper appears to be open access.

“The Immune System: Our Great Protector Against Dangerous Stuff” talk at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Café Scientifique on Thursday January 27, 2022 from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm PST

This is from a January 13, 2022 SFU Café Scientifique notice (received via email),

Happy New Year! We are excited to announce our next virtual SFU Café
Scientifique!

 Thursday January 27, 2022, 5:00-6:30 pm

 Dr. Jonathan Choy, SFU Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

The Immune System: Our Great Protector Against Dangerous Stuff

Our bodies are constantly in contact with material in the environment,
such as microbes, that are harmful to our health. Despite this, most
people are healthy because the immune system patrols our bodies and
protects us from these harmful environmental components. In this Cafe
Scientifique, Dr. Jonathan Choy from the Department of Molecular Biology
and Biochemistry will discuss how the immune system does this.

Register here to receive a zoom invite:

 
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/sfu-cafe-scientifique-january-2022-tickets-227344733217

I found Dr. Choy’s profile page on the SFU website and found this description for his research interests,

T Cell Biology 

T cells are specialized cells of the immune system that protect host organisms from infection but that also contribute to a wide array of human diseases. Research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms by which T cells become inappropriately activated in disease settings and how they cause organ damage. We have provided particular attention to how innate immune signals, such as cytokines secreted by innate immune cells and vascular cells, control the outcome of T cell responses. Within this context, processes that inhibit the activation of T cells are also being studied in order to potentially prevent disease-causing immune responses. Our studies on this topic are applied most directly to inflammatory vascular diseases, such as transplant arteriosclerosis and giant cell arteritis.

Nitric Oxide Signaling and Production 

Nitric oxide (NO) is a bioactive gas that controls many cell biological responses. Dysregulation of its production and/or bioactivity is involved in many diseases. My laboratory is interested in understanding how NO effects cell signaling and how its production is controlled by NO synthases. We are specifically interested in how NO-mediated protein S-nitrosylation, a post-translational modification caused by NO, affects cell signaling pathways and cellular functions.

I gather from the Café Scientifique write up that Dr. Choy’s talk is intended for a more general audience as opposed to the description of his research interests which are intended for students of molecular biology and biochemistry/

For those who are unfamiliar with it, Simon Fraser University is located in the Vancouver area (Canada).

INTER/her, a talk with Camille Baker about an immersive journey inside the female body on Friday, December 3, 2021

Before getting to the announcement, this talk and Q&A (question and answer) session is being co-hosted by ArtSci Salon at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences and the OCAD University/DMG Bodies in Play (BiP) initiative.

For anyone curious about OCAD, it was the Ontario College of Art and Design and then in a very odd government/marketing (?) move, they added the word university. As for DMG, in their own words and from their About page, “DMG is a not-for-profit videogame arts organization that creates space for marginalized creators to make, play and critique videogames within a cultural context.” They are located in Toronto, Ontario. Finally, the Art/Sci Salon and the Fields Institute are located at the University of Toronto.

As for the talk, here’s more from the November 28, 2021 Art/Sci Salon announcement (received via email),

Inspired by her own experience with the health care system to treat a
post-reproductive disease, interdisciplinary artist [Camille] Baker created the
project INTER/her, an immersive installation and VR [virtual reality] experience exploring
the inner world of women’s bodies and the reproductive diseases they
suffer. The project was created to open up the conversation about
phenomena experienced by women in their late 30’s (sometimes earlier)
their 40’s, and sometimes after menopause. Working in consultation
with a gynecologist, the project features interviews with several women
telling their stories. The themes in the work include issues of female
identity, sexuality, body image, loss of body parts, pain, disease, and
cancer. INTER/her has a focus on female reproductive diseases explored
through a feminist lens; as personal exploration, as a conversation
starter, to raise greater public awareness and encourage community
building. The work also represents the lived experience of women’s
pain and anger, conflicting thoughts through self-care and the growth of
disease. Feelings of mortality are explored through a medical process in
male-dominated medical institutions and a dearth of reliable
information. https://inter-her.art/ [1]

In 2021, the installation was shortlisted for the Lumen Prize.

 Join us for a talk and Q&A with the artist to discuss her work and its
future development.

 Friday, December 3,

6:00 pm EST

 Register in advance for this meeting:

https://utoronto.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rcO6rpzsvGd057GQmTyAERmRRLI2MQ4L1

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing
information about joining the meeting.

This talk is  Co-Hosted by the ArtSci Salon at the Fields Institute for
Research in Mathematical Sciences and the OCAD University/DMG Bodies in
Play (BiP) initiative.

This event will be recorded and archived on the ArtSci Salon Youtube
channel

Bio

Camille Baker is a Professor in Interactive and Immersive Arts,
University for the Creative Arts [UCA], Farnham Surrey (UK). She is an
artist-performer/researcher/curator within various art forms: immersive
experiences, participatory performance and interactive art, mobile media
art, tech fashion/soft circuits/DIY electronics, responsive interfaces
and environments, and emerging media curating. Maker of participatory
performance and immersive artwork, Baker develops methods to explore
expressive non-verbal modes of communication, extended embodiment and
presence in real and mixed reality and interactive art contexts, using
XR, haptics/ e-textiles, wearable devices and mobile media. She has an
ongoing fascination with all things emotional, embodied, felt, sensed,
the visceral, physical, and relational.

Her 2018 book _New Directions in Mobile Media and Performance_ showcases
exciting approaches and artists in this space, as well as her own work.
She has been running a regular meetup group with smart/e-textile artists
and designers since 2014, called e-stitches, where participants share
their practice and facilitate workshops of new techniques and
innovations. Baker  also has been Principal Investigator for UCA for the
EU funded STARTS Ecosystem (starts.eu [2]) Apr 2019-Nov 2021 and founder
initiator for the EU WEAR Sustain project Jan 2017-April 2019
(wearsustain.eu [3]).

The EU or European Union is the agency that provided funding for S+T+Arts (Science, Technology & the Arts), which is an initiative of the European Commission’s. I gather that Baker was involved in two STARTS projects, one called the WEAR Sustain project and the other called, the STARTS Ecosystem.

A smart shirt at the Canadian Space Agency

Caption: Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques tries the Bio-Monitor, a new Canadian technology, for the first time in space (January 16, 2019). The innovative smart shirt system is designed to measure and record astronauts’ vital signs. Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA

Here’s a biosensor announcement from an April 27, 2021 Experimental Biology (annual meeting) news release on EurekAlert,

A technology-packed tank top offers a simple, effective way to track astronauts’ vital signs and physiological changes during spaceflight, according to research being presented at the American Physiological Society annual meeting during the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting, held virtually April 27-30.

By monitoring key health markers over long periods of time with one non-intrusive device, researchers say the garment can help improve understanding of how spaceflight affects the body.

“Until now, the heart rate and activity levels of astronauts were monitored by separate devices,” said Carmelo Mastrandrea, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging in Canada, and the study’s first author. “The Bio-Monitor shirt allows simultaneous and continuous direct measurements of heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen saturation in the blood, physical activity and skin temperature, and provides a continuous estimate of arterial systolic blood pressure.”

The Bio-Monitor shirt was developed for the Canadian Space Agency by Carré Technologies based on its commercially available Hexoskin garment. In a study funded by the Canadian Space Agency, a team of researchers from the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging oversaw the first test of the shirt in space for a scientific purpose. Astronauts wore the shirt continually for 72 hours before their spaceflight and 72 hours during spaceflight, except for periods of water immersion or when the device conflicted with another activity.

The shirt’s sensors and accelerometer performed well, providing consistent results and a large amount of usable data. Based on these initial results, researchers say the shirt represents an improvement over conventional methods for monitoring astronauts’ health, which require more hands-on attention.

“By monitoring continuously and non-intrusively, we remove the psychological impacts of defined testing periods from astronaut measurements,” said Mastrandrea. “Additionally, we are able to gather information during normal activities over several days, including during daily activities and sleep, something that traditional testing cannot achieve.”

In flight, the astronauts recorded far less physical activity than the two and a half hours per day recorded in the monitoring period before takeoff, a finding that aligns with previous studies showing large reductions in physical activity during spaceflight. In addition to monitoring astronauts’ health and physical activity in space, Mastrandrea noted that the shirt could provide early warning of any health problems that occur as their bodies re-adapt to gravity back on Earth.

The commercial version of the Bio-Monitor shirt is available to the public, where it can be used for various applications including assessing athletic performance and monitoring the health of people with limited mobility. In addition to spaceflight, researchers are examining its potential use in other occupational settings that involve extreme environments, such as firefighting.

Mastrandrea will present this research in poster R2888 (abstract). Contact the media team for more information or to obtain a free press pass to access the virtual meeting.

###

About Experimental Biology 2021

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting comprised of thousands of scientists from five host societies and multiple guest societies. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping clinical advances, the meeting offers an unparalleled opportunity for exchange among scientists from across the U.S. and the world who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research. http://www.experimentalbiology.org #expbio

About the American Physiological Society (APS)

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work. http://www.physiology.org

Mastrandrea’s abstract offers details explaining what makes this particular biosensor a new technology (from the ‘(R2888) Tracking astronaut physical activity and cardiorespiratory responses with the Bio-Monitor sensor shirt‘ abstract at the Experimental Biology (EB) 2021 meeting,

Carmelo Mastrandrea (Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging)| Danielle Greaves (Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging)| Richard Hughson (Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging)

Astronauts develop insulin resistance, and are at risk for cardiovascular deconditioning, during long-duration missions to the International Space Station (ISS) despite their daily exercise sessions (Hughson et al. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 310: H628–H638, 2016). Chronic unloading of the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems in microgravity dramatically reduces the challenge of daily activities, and the astronauts’ schedules limit them to approximately 30-min/day aerobic exercise. To understand the physical demands of spaceflight and how these change from daily life on Earth, the Vascular Aging experiment is equipping astronauts for 48-72h continuous recordings with the Canadian Space Agency’s Bio-Monitor wearable sensor shirt. The Bio-Monitor (Bio-M), developed from the commercial Hexoskin® device, consists of 3-lead ECG, thoracic and abdominal respiratory bands, 3-axis accelerometer, skin temperature and SpO2 sensor placed on the forehead. Our utilisation of this equipment necessitated the development of novel processing and visualisation techniques, to better interpret and guide subsequent data analyses [emphasis mine]. Here we present initial data from astronauts wearing the BioM prior to launch and aboard the ISS, demonstrating the ability to extract useful data from BioM, using software developed ‘in-house’.

Astronauts wore the Bio-M continually for 72-h except for periods of water immersion or when the device conflicted with another activity. After physical exercise, astronauts changed to a dry shirt. First, we assessed the key data-quality metrics to provide initial appraisals of acceptable recordings. Mean total recording length pre-flight (60.5 hours) was similar to that in-flight (66.5 hours), with a consistent distribution of recorded day (44% vs 45%, 6am-6pm) and night (56% vs 55%, 6pm-6am) hours (pre-flight vs in-flight respectively).

For each recording, quality assessment of ECG signals was performed for individual leads, before combining signals and cross-correlating R-waves to produce reliable heart-rate timings. Mean ECG quality for individual leads, represented here as the percentage of usable signal to total recording duration, was somewhat lower in-flight (92%) when compared to pre-flight (96%), likely caused by poor skin contact or dry shirt electrodes; combining lead signals as mentioned above improved the proportion of usable data to 97% and 98% respectively. Accelerometer recordings identified a significant reduction in high-force movements over the 72-hour recordings, with just over 2.5 hours/day of high-force activity in astronauts pre-flight vs 50 minutes/day in-flight. It should be noted however that accelerometer measurements in zero-gravity are likely to be reduced, and future refinement of activity data continues. Average heart rates in-flight showed little difference when compared to pre-flight, although future analyses will compare periods of sleep, rest, and activity to further refine this comparison.

We conclude that utilisation of the BioM hardware with our own analysis techniques produces high-quality data allowing for future interpretation and investigation of spaceflight-induced physiological adaptations.

As for Hexoskin (Carré Technologies inc.), I found out more on the About Us webpage of the Hexoskin website (Note: Links have been removed),

Hexoskin (Carré Technologies inc.)

Founded in 2006 in Montreal [Canada], Hexoskin is a growing private company, leader in non-invasive sensors, software, data science & AI services. The company headquartered in the bustling Rosemont neighborhood, provides solutions and services directly to customers & researchers; and through B2B contracts in pharmaceutical, academics, healthcare, security, defense, first responders, aerospace public & private organizations.

Hexoskin’s mission has always been to make the precise health data collected by its body-worn sensors accessible and useful for everyone. When the cofounders Pierre-Alexandre Fournier and Jean-François Roy started the company back in 2006, the existing technologies to report rich health data continuously didn’t exist. Hexoskin took a different approach to non-portable and invasive monitoring solutions by releasing in 2013 the first washable Smart Shirts that captures cardiac, respiratory, and activity body metrics. Today Hexoskin’s main R&D focus is the development of innovative body-worn sensors for health, mobile, and distributed software for health data management and analysis.

Since then, Hexoskin has designed the Hexoskin Connected Health Platform, a system to minimize user setup time and to maximize vital signs monitoring over long periods in a non-obstructive way with sensors embedded in a Smart Shirt. Data are synced to local and remote servers for health data management and analysis.
The Hexoskin Smart Garments are clinically validated and are developed involving patients & clients to be comfortable and easy to use.

The system is the next evolution to improve the standard of care in the following therapeutic areas: respiratory, cardiology, mental health, behavioral and physiological psychology, somnology, aging and physical performance, physical conditioning & wellbeing etc.

Next Generation Biometric Smart Shirts

Hexoskin supported the evolution of its 100% washable industry-leading Hexoskin Smart Garments to offer an easy and comfortable solution for continuously monitoring precise data during daily activities and sleep. Hexoskin is a machine washable Smart garment, designed and made in Canada that allows precise long-term monitoring of respiratory, cardiac and activity functions simultaneously, as well as sleep quality. 

Users are provided access the Hexoskin Connected Health Platform, an end-to-end system that supplies the tools to report and analyze precise data from the Hexoskin & third-party body-worn sensors. The platform offers apps for iOS, Android, and Watch OS devices. Users can access from anywhere an online dashboard with advanced reporting and analytics functionalities. Today, the Hexoskin Connected Platform is used worldwide and supported thousands of users and organizations to achieve their goals.

In 2019, Hexoskin launched the new Hexoskin ProShirt line for Men and Women with an all-new design to withstand the most active lifestyle and diverse daily living activities. The Hexoskin ProShirtcomes with built-in textile ECG & Respiratory sensors and a precise Activity sensor. The ProShirt works with the latest Hexoskin Smart recording device to offer uninterrupted continuous 24-hour monitoring. 

Today, the Hexoskin ProShirt are used by professional athletes for performance training, police & first responders for longitudinal stress monitoring, and patients in clinical trials living with chronic cardiac & respiratory conditions. 

Connected Health & Software Solutions

Hexoskin provides interoperable software solutions, secure and private infrastructure and data science services to support research and professional organizations. The system is designed to reduce the frequency of travel and allow remote communication between patients, study volunteers, caregivers, and researchers. Hexoskin is an efficient and precise solution that collects daily quantitative data from users, in their everyday lives, and over long periods of time. 

Conscious of the need for its users to understand how the data is collected and interpreted, Hexoskin early took a transparent approach by opening and documenting its Application Programing Interface (API). Today, part of Hexoskin’s success can be attributed to its community of developers and scientists that are leveraging its Connected Health Platform to create new applications and interventions not possible just a few years ago. 

Future Applications—remote health to space exploration

Since 2011, Hexoskin collaborated with the Canadian Space Agency on the Astroskin, a cutting edge Space Grade Smart Garment, now used in the International Space Station to monitor the astronauts’ health in Space. The Astroskin Vital Signs Monitoring Platform is also available to conduct research on earth.

Hexoskin hopes to bring the innovations developed for Space and its Hexoskin Connected Health Platform to support the growing need to provide patients’ access to affordable and adapted healthcare services remotely. Future applications include healthcare, chronic disease management, sleep medicine, aging at home, security & defense, and space exploration missions.

Hexoskin shirts, as noted earlier, are available commercially while inquiries about Astroskin shirts are welcomed (Note: Links have been removed),

Thinking that Astroskin will be perfect for your next study or project? Contact us  to discuss how Astroskin can support your next project. You can also request a demo of the Astroskin Vital Signs Monitoring Platform here.

Finally, I noticed that the researchers on this project were from the Schlegel-UW [University of Waterloo] Research Institute for Aging. I gather this was all about aging.

How do viruses and physics go together? Find out at a Nov. 4, 2020 Perimeter Institute (PI) virtual lecture

I got this announcement from an Oct. 29, 2020 Perimeter Institute (PI) Emmy Noether newsletter (received via email),

Catherne Beauchemin

A Physicist’s Adventures in Virology WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4 at 7 pm ET [4 pm PT]

In recent years, there has been a rise in cynicism about many traditionally well-respected institutions – science, academia, news reporting, and even the concepts of experts and expertise more generally. Many people’s primary – or only – exposure to science is through biological or health science, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In health research, rising cynicism has spawned the anti-vaccine movement, and a growing reliance on advice from peer networks rather than experts. In part, such movements are fuelled by several examples of provably false, so-called “scientific results,” coming about either through fraud or incompetence. While skepticism is crucial to science, cynicism rooted in a lack of trust can devalue scientific contributions.

In her lecture webcast, physicist Catherine Beauchemin will explore the erosion of trust in health research, presenting examples from influenza and COVID-19. …

I went to the A Physicist’s Adventures in Virology event and livestrream page to find this,

Two essential ingredients of the scientific method are skepticism and independent confirmation – the ability to glean for oneself whether an established theory or a new hypothesis is true or false. But not everyone has the capacity to perform the experiments to obtain such a confirmation.

Consider, for example, the costs of constructing your own Large Hadron Collider, or your ability as a non-expert to critically read and understand a scientific publication. In practice, acceptance of scientific theories is more often based on trust than on independent confirmation. When that trust is eroded, issues emerge.

Catherine Beauchemin is a Professor of Physics at Ryerson University and a Deputy Program Director in the RIKEN Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Program in Japan. For the last 18 years, she has been developing mathematical and computational descriptions of how viruses spread from cell to cell, a field she calls “virophysics.”

In her November 4 [2020] Perimeter Public Lecture webcast, Beauchemin will highlight some of the issues that have eroded trust in health research, presenting examples from influenza and COVID-19. She will show why she believes many of these issues have their root in the fact that hypotheses in health research are formulated as words rather than mathematical expressions – and why a dose of physics may be just the prescription we need.

Enjoy!