The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters

Researchers from different fields create innovative health solutions

August 28, 2022 The McGill University Health Centre Foundation Season 2 Episode 47
The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters
Researchers from different fields create innovative health solutions
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Health Matters, Tarah Schwartz speaks with Dr. Amine Benmassaoud about the challenges of liver disease and how an innovative piece of equipment could help diagnose it at an earlier stage. Dr. Irah King shares how MUHC researchers in different fields worked together to make a fascinating discovery and how the microbiome impacts immunity. And, Kelly Albert shares why you should follow the MUHC Foundation on social media.

Cette semaine dans Questions de santé, Tarah Schwartz discute avec le Dr Amine Benmassaoud des problèmes associés aux maladies du rein et d’un nouvel équipement novateur qui pourrait permettre de les diagnostiquer à un stade plus précoce. Le Dr Irah King explique comment des chercheurs du CUSM dans différents domaines ont collaboré pour faire une découverte fascinante et en quoi le microbiome influence l’immunité. Et Kelly Albert explique pourquoi vous devriez suivre la Fondation du CUSM dans les médias sociaux.

Support the show

Follow us on social media | Suivez-nous sur les médias sociaux
Facebook | Linkedin | Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

Tarah Schwartz:

Hi there. Thank you for joining us. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters on CJAD 800. On today's show, one of the really remarkable ways that medical research is advancing is through Multidisciplinary Studies. That's when doctors, clinician-scientists and researchers who study in different fields work together to find innovative solutions to some of the biggest health challenges impacting our society. Later in the show, we speak with a researcher who used this approach and found some promising results that can help treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other gut ailments. To begin, it is estimated that about one in 4 Canadians lives with some form of liver disease. It is a staggering number and doctors and researchers are working on diagnosing liver disease at an earlier stage in a less invasive way, Dr. Amine Benmassaoud is an Associate Investigator at the RI-MUHC; the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, and is a physician in the Gastroenterology Division at the MUHC. Dr. Benmassaoud, thank you so much for being here.

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

Hi, thank you for having me.

Tarah Schwartz:

So let's begin with what inspired you to pursue medicine and join the MUHC? Tell us a little bit about your history.

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

I come from a family that really valued education. My father, he's an engineer, and he teaches at university level. And my mother has dedicated her life to breast cancer research. So I really had a chance early on to be involved in two summer internships here and also abroad in the field of medical research. So I've really always been fascinated by the human body and learning its secrets. I can say that finally, after more than 10 years of medical education and training as a gastroenterologist and a liver specialist. I'm very humbled by the fact that I can help apply what I've learned to help people and really support them in their time of need. And what better place to do that but at the MUHC, an institution that truly values world class clinical care was always at the forefront of medical research. Two things that were important

Tarah Schwartz:

It is indeed. So let's get down to the nitty to me. gritty of the liver. Dr. Benmassaoud. What does the liver do in the body?

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

Oh, wow. So you know, the liver is actually the largest solid organ. It weighs about three pounds. It is located just beneath your ribcage on the right side of your body. It truly functions as a powerhouse, the body's powerhouse and carries hundreds of essential and vital functions. Some of these include the production of bile, which is critical to the digestion and absorption of fats. But also filters the blood and removes toxins and toxic substances such as alcohol, it produces proteins central to the well-being of the body, helps resist infection, stores vitamins and minerals. It really does a lot for us. So it's important to take care of it.

Tarah Schwartz:

No kidding. That is incredible. I think your description of powerhouse is a good one. What impact is liver disease currently have on our population?

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

It's huge. It's enormous. I'll actually say that about nearly one in four Canadians about 20 to 25%, will receive a diagnosis of liver disease. Often related to fatty liver or fat accumulation within it. We think that about 20% of them will progress to more; transform to where we start having scarring of the liver. The difficulty here is that liver disease is often asymptomatic, meaning that people often do not know that they have liver disease. And these are often picked up on blood tests and imaging tests that are done. So it's really crucial to be able to identify people that are at a higher risk of developing complications related to liver disease. And, these complicated could be very serious and include accumulation of fluid in the belly, bleeding from dilated veins in the esophagus, and developing confusion that the liver is no longer able to filter the blood.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're speaking with Dr. Benmassaoud, and we're talking about liver disease. I'm actually really surprised by what percentage of the population is affected by liver disease and when you say liver disease, what are we talking about really, are there many different kinds of problems with the liver? What encompasses the words liver disease?

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

As the liver is very central to the functioning of the body, it's also unfortunately, susceptible to injury. Often, we'll go with the most common one right now, which is really the epidemic of fatty liver disease. This is often related to excess weights; our diets and lifestyle. This is really becoming the number one cause of liver disease. But there are also other causes including harmful use of substances; including alcohol, viruses such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C, which can cause significant liver disease. And other genetic forms or metabolic causes which can also lead to progressive liver problems.

Tarah Schwartz:

You had mentioned earlier that it was important to be able to identify who would be at risk, since there are no symptoms or signs, which is a problem. Who have you discovered? Is it men, women, a particular age group?

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

All ages, all sizes, gender and sex. Unfortunately, everyone could be affected. Now, like I said, about 20 to 25% of the population. I mostly deal with the adult population, but we can see people very young to older age as well.

Tarah Schwartz:

So if there are no signs and symptoms, and it can affect everybody, what can we do as a people to protect our liver; to give it the best possible chance of not getting liver disease or being one in this four people that are touched by it?

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

It's very good question. Important- healthy lifestyle, and diet, making sure to avoid excess fats. Having a diet that's rich in fruits and vegetables, but also being active, and that's also unfortunately, consequences of our lifestyle. We are more sedentary as people and so exercising is very important. The goal is really to maintain a healthy body weight. That's the most common cause of liver disease, and avoiding harmful things, specifically thinking about alcohol consumption.

Tarah Schwartz:

It's interesting, because I find a lot of things. When I do ask this question to doctors, it often comes down to the same things, doesn't it, Dr. Benmassaoud? Eating well, staying active, taking care of yourself, it can impact a huge number of things in terms of our health.

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

And it really works. It's hard to do obviously, because we are talking about lifestyle changes. But the reward is immense.

Tarah Schwartz:

We are speaking with Dr. Benmassaoud, and we are talking about liver disease. The MUHC Foundation is fundraising for a special piece of equipment. Tell us about that, and how it will help patients.

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

So I think this is really amazing. So thanks for the support of the foundation, as you mentioned, we're trying to raise money for really innovative and cutting edge medical device. That will help us in the fight to identify people early and start preventative measures for our treatments. What this medical device would do is- as the liver becomes diseased, it starts to scar. Those scars within the liver make it to be more stiff. Similarly, as this progresses further, the spleen becomes involved and we start seeing stiffness of the liver become abnormal. This device would allow us to do that with a non-invasive approach by using a little bit of a jelly, a bit of a probe on the abdomen. It's a test that would only take about 10 minutes, and would give us a lot of information on the liver health in general.

Tarah Schwartz:

And is this something that would be available to people who go visit their family doctors eventually?

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

That's a great question. Obviously, we have to be able to prioritize and identify people. Sometimes, simple blood tests can be done to what we call risk stratify individuals. And of course if there are red flags are raised. That's when we often in direct communication with family doctors and GPs for assessing their patients for these diseases.

Tarah Schwartz:

How important is it to continue to purchase these innovative new pieces of equipment for the hospital; for your department for other departments. How important is that?

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

I think it's crucial that that's really what allows us to improve the care that we provide. That's also something that's very important here at the MUHC. This device, what it will do, is basically challenge the way we've done things for nearly 60 years. Where we are relying on invasive techniques, including some of them that require poking a hole through the neck to access a vein, and then use various instruments to measure pressures and take liver biopsies. Things that could take 30 minutes but can also have complications associated with them. To now move to a new era where we would favor this new device which would be non-invasive just require a bit of a probe on the skin surface and a bit of jelly and give us an answer within 10 minutes. It's a breakthrough.

Tarah Schwartz:

We are speaking with Dr. Benmassaoud; he is a liver specialist. And as we close our interview today, I'm wondering what is your Big Dream? Dr. Benmassaoud, what do you hope to solve or come close to solving during your career?

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

My big dream? (laughs)

Tarah Schwartz:

Big question.

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

I've been on a personal level. I've seen liver diseases when things get really difficult. Unfortunately, with my grandmother, may she rest in peace. I can see the toll this can have obviously on people, but also their loved ones. If we can prevent that from happening, prevent the disease from getting too advanced and, identifying people but also tailoring prevention treatments and reversing the disease process, so that they never have to get there. And that's what I want to do.

Tarah Schwartz:

That's beautiful. And I no doubt your work and your commitment is a testament to your grandmother. And that leaves a beautiful legacy behind. So that's lovely. Dr. Amine Benmassaoud, I want to thank you so much for joining us on the show today.

Dr. Amine Benmassaoud:

Well, thank you, Tarah. Thank you for having me. It was an honour.

Tarah Schwartz:

Next up on Health Matters, we're going to talk about your gut and how you can take care of it. I'm Tarah Schwartz, welcome back to Health Matters on CJAD 800. There are so many different areas of the human body that researchers study and continue to learn new things about. This is true for Dr. Irah King's research into the microbiome and the gut. He has joined us on the show before and continues to share new and incredible findings from inside our guts. Dr. Irah King is the Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Canada Research Chair in Barrier Immunity and he joins us now to discuss a really interesting new study for researchers at the Research Institute of the MUHC. Thanks so much for being with us today.

Dr. Irah King:

It's great to be back, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

All right. Dr. King, we get the impression that researchers like you are learning new things about the human body on a regular basis. How accurate is that?

Dr. Irah King:

I would say that research has advanced so quickly in the last 10 years. Simply through advances in genomics, medicine and technology. It's almost that technology has advanced so quickly, it's hard for us scientists to keep up. So yes, that's the best part of my job learning something new every single day that is coming hot off the press in the scientific world.

Tarah Schwartz:

Wow, that is amazing. Now you worked on a really interesting new study. Tell us about these parasitic worms known as helminths? Am I pronouncing that right? How do they impact our health?

Dr. Irah King:

Part of my research program, which involves the microbiome, which is the bacteria, the fungi, the viruses that lives on or in us that you contribute greatly to our health, but you can't see them. Another type of infection that we can get is by these helminths. And this is part of what I like to call our macrobiome. Because these are parasites that you can actually see with the naked eye. Just like our microbiome, we have been evolving with these parasitic helminths or worms. Literally worms, for eons and eons. And that's another important part of my research program is to understand how these helminths that can live in our intestine or gut impact or health.

Tarah Schwartz:

Now, I read that these helminths affect a quarter of the world population, I find that stunning. Why so many? Why are so many people affected?

Dr. Irah King:

Unfortunately, helminths infections are really a neglected disease. The reason that they are is because they're most prevalent in developing countries or low to middle income countries. And you're right, Tarah, over a billion people are infected with helminths, and maybe even multiple different species of helminths. Because there are hundreds or 1000s of species of helminths; just as there are hundreds of different species of bacteria. We need to understand how these are impacting- regardless of where these people that are being affected live- how they impact our health. In fact, it's greatly appreciated now that if you get infected with a very heavy worm burden early in life; it really can have detrimental effects on child health. From cognitive development, growth stunting, and other disabilities. But remarkably, if you have a low worm burden, it has been associated with health; particularly in adulthood. And so in some cases, it may actually regulate our immune system to prevent it from overreacting and causing diseases that are more common in the developed world, like autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. And so there seems to be this balance of the benefits of how much infection but also the detrimental effects. And so I think it's really important that we understand how our immune systems in our bodies react and tolerate these types of infections to really maximize health.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're speaking with Dr. Irah King, and we're talking about research into treating parasitic worms. What makes these worms so difficult to treat?

Dr. Irah King:

Oh, well, that's part of the million-dollar question. So these worms, as I mentioned, they're multicellular organisms. They're really large parasites, to the point where you can pull them out. When you extract them from the human intestine, you can literally pull them out with your hands.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh... when you say large, what's large to you? Because that's a bit of a scary

Dr. Irah King:

Some of these helminths can grow up to two meters in length. So they are they're really long. And, therefore they can have a huge impact on our health and the way that our body functions when they're living and growing inside of us.

Tarah Schwartz:

Oh my goodness.

Dr. Irah King:

The reason that they are so powerful is because they can release or secrete factors that have a profound effect on the physiology of our own bodies, including our immune system. Of course, they want to live and they thrive inside us, just like many just like other forms of microbes. They need us for their survival and continuation of their lifecycle. And so they don't want to be expelled by our immune response. And so they released factors that actually limit the potency of our immune response to dampen that response.

Tarah Schwartz:

I was also fascinated to learn that in order to study these worms, you essentially built like a mini gut model. Tell us about that process of creating this this gut model a model of a gut,

Dr. Irah King:

These worms, they are in very close proximity, they live within our intestine, and they are basically intertwined with the epithelial layer. That is a single cell layer that separates our own body tissues from the outside world. We wanted to understand how these worms may be regulating this epithelial barrier to promote their persistence in us. One way to do that is to take a reductionist approach, where we grow these epithelial cells in a culture dish. We call these mini guts, because and how we grow those is we take the stem cells from our intestine, and we give them different growth factors in a culture dish. It stimulates the growth of these cells such that it almost looks like a real intestine within a dish. And then when we take when we take that tissue, we can then expose it to the factors that the worm secretes to see how it then changes the intestine itself.

Tarah Schwartz:

Wow. We are speaking with Dr. Irah King and we're talking about research into treating a parasitic worm called a helminth. Now, this team is composed of researchers in different fields. I'm curious about how this sort of multidisciplinary approach helped and continues to help with this project.

Dr. Irah King:

Because there's so much knowledge to learn in all different scientific domains, we really can't be successful these days without collaborating with different scientists that has different expertise. And so this project was really possible because of actually a cancer researcher in at the RI named Dr. Alex Gregorieff. And he's a new investigator in the cancer program and he is an intestinal stem cell expert. So we teamed up with him to develop this mini gut system in vitro, and understand how the worms may be changing the stem cells in our gut to promote their persistence and chronic infection.

Tarah Schwartz:

You've got the first sort of findings from this study, what did it help you discover?

Dr. Irah King:

It helped us discover that these worms are master manipulators of our gut stem cells. What we found was that they actually reprogram our stem cells, they change the genes that are expressed within our stem cells. Rather than to differentiate or mature from these stem cells as the gut matures. Instead of maturing, it actually induces the epithelial stem cells into a fetal like state. And this fetal like state actually prevents the activation of these epithelial cells to become all the different cell types in the gut. And we think the reason, in part, that the one does this is to prevent its expulsion from the host by the epithelium. Really the job of the gut is to expel the worms and so the worm is counteracting the activation of these epithelial cells to induce a very futile, primitive state.

Tarah Schwartz:

So fascinating. All right. Well, Dr. Irah King, good news. He's going to stay with us. And after the break, we talk about your gut, and what you need to know. I'm Tarah Schwartz, and this is Health Matters. We just spoke with Dr. Irah King about a fascinating study from his lab about intestinal worms. It relied on scientists and researchers from different fields who came together to work on this study. We continue our conversation with Dr. King now to learn about another incredible part of his research the microbiome. Dr. Irah King is the Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Canada Research Chair in barrier immunity. Thanks for staying with us, Dr. King.

Dr. Irah King:

My pleasure, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

All right, I'm sure you must get asked this a lot. But how do you explain what the microbiome is to the average person?

Dr. Irah King:

That's actually a really great question to answer. The answer to that question sort of evolve the more that we study this. But I think the easiest way to explain it is that just as your body is made up of trillions of cells, and you can't really visualize or appreciate that with a naked eye, the microbiome, which are the viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc, that lives inside of our intestine, but also on our skin, in our lungs, in our mouth, they have trillions of cells that we can't see. But together, they form a community that has an incredible impact on our health, and disease. Just as it's important to understand how all the cells that are generated from our DNA function together; it's equally important to understand the community of microbes that live on or in us- the microbiome, how that also impacts our health.

Tarah Schwartz:

I really like how you describe it as a community because I find it easier to visualize. So how can having a healthy microbiome community help us when it comes to our general overall health?

Dr. Irah King:

The microbiome is like an ecosystem where different kinds of microbes, different kinds of bacteria, viruses, help or control the growth of each other. And it's sort of a balance. And this is just like in the forest where you have all these different species of animals, and flora and fauna and trees, etc. And if you cut out, if you eliminate one part of the tree of one species of tree or one species of animal, it completely changes the ecosystem in which we live. And so that's what happens in the microbiome. If we change or alter one of these things, or a collection of the community members, it changes the way that our microbiome functions as a whole. And we can change this in many different ways. But the most potent way to change our microbiome is through diet. And so we know that changing the diet, what we eat has a huge impact on the microbiome. Not only what is in the microbiome, but also how it functions.

Tarah Schwartz:

Our guest today is Dr. Irah King, we're talking about the microbiome and gut health. And obviously, I have to ask you now that you've just answered that question. What is it that we should be eating, that you mentioned, can impact our gut health significantly? What is it that we should be putting in our bodies?

Dr. Irah King:

Again, this is such a rapidly evolving area of research that you may be surprised to find out that things that we thought were good for us years ago, are maybe not so good for us. Nowadays, for example, many fad diets that tell you to exclude certain parts of your diet, in order to lose weight, gain weight, whatever, are not really so informative, and not very helpful and can be detrimental. But I can tell you this. And like I said, this is a rapidly evolving field, but variety is the spice of life. Eating a wide variety of feeds from different sources, and of course, in moderation, is probably the best advice that I can give you. However, I will tell you that the newest data suggest that there's two important components that you need to eat, that seems to have a healthful impact on your microbiome. One is a high fiber diet, not eating processed grains, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. And the second part is an emerging field, which is really understanding the health benefits of fermented foods. And I'll be happy to come back and talk to you more about that when larger studies come out. But I can tell you that early data suggests that eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, these type of things, actually have quite anti-inflammatory properties, and really change the microbiome and how it affects our health.

Tarah Schwartz:

Okay, well, we are definitely going to do that. Because I have no doubt that our listeners myself, we're all very interested. Picking up on that we often hear from, you know, different people that prebiotics and probiotics are good, and that we should be taking them in pill form or this form or that form. Can you explain how that's all connected with our guts? Because as you mentioned, it's rapidly changing. But there's also so much information out there that it's hard to know what to listen to and what to believe.

Dr. Irah King:

I think everybody needs to be clear a little bit about the terminology. So probiotics are bacterial species that you eat, in order to add or change the composition of your microbiome. Prebiotics are essentially food; essentially your diet and that change the function, or the composition of your microbiota indirectly by feeding those bacteria. I'm not a medical doctor, I'm a research professor. So we have to take what I'm saying with a grain of salt, no pun intended. But I think it's important to understand how these different components whether it's probiotics, or prebiotics, can affect your health. Again, believe it or not, this is still rapidly growing, and really we're in the early days of understanding this. But I can say that both of these and even sometimes in combination, which is a whole other field giving a combination of pre and probiotics can have distinct impacts on the way that your microbiome functions and your health.

Tarah Schwartz:

So much to learn; so much to grasp. Our guest is Dr. Irah King, we're talking about the microbiome and gut health. What do you do to take good care of your gut? I basically want to do what you're doing. So what do you do?

Dr. Irah King:

Well, basically, I'm trying to practice what I preach, right? So I think that eating a real diverse diet. Trying to do my best eat seasonally with what is the freshest foods, avoiding processed foods, avoiding fast food. Eating good fats; fats that are probably less in meat, but more in other sources of fat, even in vegetables have small amounts of fat, cheeses etc. And, making sure that I get a real healthy dose of vegetables in order to enhance my fiber intake. But again, starting to move towards more ferment fermented foods, because of the early indications of health benefits of these foods. Another exciting topic is also how much and when you eat. You should probably have somebody on here that is either a nutritionist or a dietitian, because I think that these fields of microbiome research, immune response, immunology, and diet are really tightly-connected. All of these components are going to be important, not only what you eat, and how much you eat.

Tarah Schwartz:

Always happy for the suggestion. And I think it's a good one, because I think people really are interested in this subject. And I think that people want to be doing better. But as I mentioned, there's so much out there, and it's really hard to know what to believe, what to do, what to get on board with. So we'll do that. Dr. Irah King, I want to thank you for your time today. I really think it's super interesting what you talked about first, your research, and now helping us understand our gut better. It's always a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you so much for joining us on the show.

Dr. Irah King:

Thanks for your time, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

Coming up on Health Matters. Do you want to learn more about the MUHC foundation and what it does that's next? I'm Tarah Schwartz, and you're listening to Health Matters. There are many different ways you can learn about the incredible research and achievements from the MUHC and the Research Institute at the McGill University Health Center that the MUHC Foundation supports. One of the ways is on social media. It is on social media that we feature a lot of the wonderful stories and members of our community. Kelly Albert is the Senior Communications officer with the MUHC Foundation. She manages our social media channels, and she joins me now. Thanks for talking with us, Kelly,

Kelly Albert:

It's my pleasure.

Tarah Schwartz:

So what are some of the fun things you can find on our social media channels?

Kelly Albert:

Our social media is really fun, because we share a lot of really wonderful stories and announcements from the MUHC foundation. So if there is a family that's working on a fundraising campaign that's grassroots, you can see about it there. If we've been featured on different reports that we do have. There's a CTV report that was aired yesterday about one of the wonderful projects that we support at the MUHC Foundation. There's really fun announcements that we have, big donations that we have on our social media. It's a really great place to kind of see how our community is responding and what our community is doing.

Tarah Schwartz:

So if you don't follow us on social media, Kelly is giving you a whole bunch of reasons why you should. Now our listeners may have seen, those who already do follow us an MUHC Foundation quiz that's on Facebook or Instagram recently. I think this quiz is so exciting. So tell us a little bit about this.

Kelly Albert:

Yeah, it's a really wonderful campaign that we've launched, where you can actually see the research that interests you. So there's a variety of questions and you can punch in the different answers that appeal to you or that interests you. You can see the research projects that you would have helped solve or the medicine that you would have participated in, or the projects that you would have helped to research were you in the shoes of a researcher or doctor at the MUHC. It's really fun. What's great about it is there's actually a matching donation so you don't have to donate to do this quiz. What happens is that $1 gets donated to the MUHC Foundation just for filling up the quiz. You get your answers. Everything comes through to you without making a donation, without a single dollar. This really generous donor is giving us a donation just so that you can see what wonderful research projects we're working on.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, it's a really fun campaign. So if you follow us, you should totally fill out the quiz because you'll learn about amazing research being done by specifically women researchers, and you've got a chance to win a great prize. So it's a win win situation. So you should definitely do it. Kelly, let's talk next about a fundraising page. What is a fundraising page?

Kelly Albert:

One of the really interesting things that we have available through the MUHC Foundation is something called a personal fundraising page. So this is a way for you to start a very grassroots fundraising campaign for something that really inspired you or a cause that is close to your heart at the MUHC Foundation. One of the great ways that works is that you actually can create the page yourself. We have an online portal, on our website, it's really easy to navigate, I've made a couple pages myself. And you can pick any cause that the MUHC Foundation support. So if it's cancer that you want to fundraise for, if it's a specific type of cancer that you would like to support, if it's research, if it's eye health, we have a variety of pages right now. You know, some of our doctors actually create pages for themselves to fundraise for the MUHC Foundation as well.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yes, Dr. Saheb just put up his PFP. Tell us a little bit about that one, Kelly, because I find that one is quite unique and fun.

Kelly Albert:

Absolutely Dr. Saheb will actually be on to talk more about this next week. So that's something to look forward to on Health Matters. He is an ophthalmologist and a glaucoma specialist who is going to be participating in a blindfold run. He's running 50 kilometers blindfolded with a sighted guide. And the last five kilometers will be happening on October 7. So Dr. Saheb Is actually fundraising to support Glaucoma Research at the MUHC Foundation to help you know combat glaucoma and bring awareness to blindness and how much it impacts a patient's life.

Tarah Schwartz:

So a doctor has set up his own PFP. So how easy is it for the average person to just go in and set it up?

Kelly Albert:

It is incredibly easy. It really is very user-friendly. If you want to email your friends, you can actually do that within the page itself. And of course, we have a great team here at the Foundation. So if you have any questions, you could just call us. One of us will call you back and will help you set it up. I've done that a number of times too. So you get to speak with one of us and really kind of customize the page for a way that makes sense for you.

Tarah Schwartz:

And it's wonderful because you can add photos. If you're fundraising for breast cancer, and you either fundraising for someone who's fighting it or someone who's passed away from it. You can add pictures; you can really make these fundraising pages incredibly personal. So why are these fundraising pages a good tool Kelly, for a cause that's really close to your heart? How much can people raise on these on these fundraising pages?

Kelly Albert:

I mean, I don't think there's a limit, actually, to what you can raise. We have some really amazing pages that are going right now. The Goren family, Mark Goren has been on Health Matters before to talk about his campaign to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. His page is doing super well. He's over $15,000 at this point. We have Vicky Brikas who came on the show to talk about raising money for Social Services. She has a page going on right now. So it's really a special way for you to showcase exactly how your life has been changed by the doctors and researchers at the MUHC. It's really personal because you can share your story, your experiences of what happened to you, your health care journey and why this experience convinced you to support the hospital and to give back in this way.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, it's a really lovely way. And I like how you phrase it, it's just so personal and there's no limit. And I think everyone we've ever spoken to on Health Matters that is talked about giving back says that it is incredibly meaningful. Again, another win-win. Everything we're doing here is win-win at the moment. Kelly Albert is our Senior Communications Officer at MUHC Foundation. She does many, many things and we are so grateful to have you Kelly. Thank you for coming on and for sharing all this information about our social media and also the ways that people can get back.

Kelly Albert:

Thank you so much, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

I'm Tarah Schwartz. Thank you for tuning in. What would you like to hear about on the show? Write to us at Health Matters at MUHC Foundation dot com. You can also follow us on social media, which you now know is a wonderful thing or if you prefer email, you can sign up to our newsletter and MUHC Foundation dot com. I hope you'll join me again next Sunday. Thanks so much for listening and stay healthy.