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Ottawa neurosurgeon named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40

June 7, 2010

An Ottawa neurosurgeon developing new approaches to repair the spinal cord has been named a recipient of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40TM for 2009. Dr. Eve Tsai is a neurosurgeon at The Ottawa Hospital, an associate scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Tsai specializes in complex surgeries, such as removing spinal tumours and treating spinal cord injury. She has also developed a novel MRI imaging technique that allows surgeons to easily visualize spinal cord nerve fibres and identify those that are healthy and those that are disrupted. This has enabled more targeted surgeries with less damage to surrounding tissues. The Ottawa Hospital was the first hospital in the world to apply this technique clinically for patient management, and patients are now being referred from around the world to receive this treatment.

Dr. Tsai has also established a multidisciplinary research group focused on investigating stem cells, nanotechnology and tissue engineering for spinal cord repair. This group has developed tube-like structures to help stabilize damaged areas of the spinal cord and stimulate regeneration. Results in laboratory models have been promising, and after further research, Dr. Tsai hopes to eventually test these tube structures in humans as well.

Dr. Tsai is also a very active mentor, having supervised more than 30 trainees so far, including a large number of local high school students. Indeed, students working in Dr. Tsai’s group have represented Eastern Ontario at the Canada Wide Science Fair for the last two years in a row.

Dr. Tsai joined The Ottawa Hospital in 2006 after completing a fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. She completed her medical degree, neurosurgery residency and PhD at the University of Toronto. Dr. Tsai has won numerous prestigious awards, including the 2007 Young Clinician Investigator Award from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

“I am excited to receive this award and bring attention to how supporting research can help patients in the future,” said Dr. Tsai. “I would like to thank all the wonderful mentors I’ve had throughout my career, and also thank the many people who have supported spinal cord injury research. With your support, we are making incredible progress.”

Dr. Tsai’s research has been supported by a number of sources, including The Ottawa Hospital Foundation (neurosurgery research fund), the Rick Hansen Foundation, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Canada’s Top 40 Under 40TM is a prestigious national award program, which annually honours 40 Canadians in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors under the age of 40. Dr. Tsai was selected from over 1,200 nominees by an independent Advisory Board, comprised of 25 business leaders from across Canada. The program, now in its 15th year, is managed by founding sponsor, The Caldwell Partners International. In addition to The Caldwell Partners, national sponsors include Deloitte, National Bank Financial Group, The Globe and Mail, and WestJet. The 2009 Recipients of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 TM are featured in The Globe and Mail on June 7, 2010.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the University’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The OHRI includes more than 1,500 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. www.ohri.ca

Media contact
Jennifer Paterson
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 ext. 73325
jpaterson@ohri.ca