McMaster PhD Richard Alsop receives a congratulatory handshake from Doug Welch, acting Associate Vice-President and Dean, Graduate Studies. Alsop will represent the University at the International Falling Walls Lab in Berlin this November. Photo by Maxine Gravina
McMaster PhD Richard Alsop receives a congratulatory handshake from Doug Welch, acting Associate Vice-President and Dean, Graduate Studies. Alsop will represent the University at the International Falling Walls Lab in Berlin this November. Photo by Maxine Gravina

August 10, 2015

PhD focused on testing Alzheimer's drugs to represent McMaster in Berlin

Physics and astronomy graduate student Richard Alsop will represent McMaster University at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin this November.

Alsop's presentation, Breaking Down the Wall of Developing Anti-Alzheimer's Drugs, won him the opportunity to compete against 100 of the brightest young researchers and innovators from around the world.

Working under the supervision of associate professor Maikel Rheinstadter, Alsop is looking at a fast, safe and effective way to test Alzheimer's drugs in synthetic tissues, with molecular precision.

"Research from John's Hopkin's University suggests that by 2050, 1 in 86 people globally will have Alzheimer's disease – that is four times the current rate," Alsop says.

Right now, there is no cure, nor effective treatment for the disease, so new drug discovery techniques will be needed to meet the rapidly growing need for medication, he says.

Falling Walls a great way to share research

This second year PhD is looking forward to competing at the international Lab.

"I'm excited to represent McMaster in Berlin! Presenting at Falling Walls is the perfect way to get others as excited as we are, about the research being done in our lab."

The win includes travel and accommodation to the Lab Finale competition, entry to the two-day international Falling Walls Conference and $1,000.

Placing second at this year's lab was Erinn Van Wynsberghe for his presentation, Breaking Down the Wall of Climate Change Technology. Van Wynsberghe will begin a PhD at McMaster. Third place went to Wade Genders, a PhD in civil engineering, who is Breaking Down the Wall of Talking Cars. Second and third place presenters receive $500 and $250 respectively.

Twelve graduate students and postdoctoral fellows recently competed at the second annual McMaster Falling Walls Lab. The participants had three minutes to present their innovative research or idea and its broader impact, using only two presentation slides. They included:

  • Arjun Sehgal – Breaking Down the Wall of Social Isolation through Telemedicine
  • Nicolas Harster – Breaking Down the Wall of Urban Farming
  • Omid Dadoo – Breaking Down the Wall of Medication Non-Adherence
  • Sana Anbuhi – Breaking Down the Wall of BioLab in Pills
  • Aadil Bharwani – Breaking Down the Wall of Microbiome-Host Symbiotic Relationship
  • Marie-Josee Perrier – Breaking Down the Wall of Health Information
  • Roksana Khalid – Breaking Down the Wall of Immune Privilege
  • Sarah Beatty – Breaking Down the Wall of Science Communication
  • Kelly Biagi – Breaking Down the Wall of Research Communication

The top three presenters were chosen by an adjudication panel featuring:

  • Kristel Bulthuis, editor of urbanicity magazine and manager of operations for urbanicity Omnimedia
  • Tammy Hwang, client services at the Innovation Factory and business development officer at the City of Hamilton
  • Alyssa Lai, vice-chair of Hamilton HIVE and McMaster alumna
  • J. Cameron Nolan, broker, ReMax Escarpment Realty Inc., and producer and host of Real Estate Made Simple (formerly on 900 CHML) and past president of Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington
  • Ehima Osazuwa, president of the McMaster Students Union

McMaster is one of only two Canadian universities to be represented at Falling Walls Lab, November 8-9.