Discoveries

Discoveries

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University has a long tradition of excellence, beginning with founding of the medical school in 1881 and continuing through the last 130 years.

Our reputation has been built by dedicated teachers and researchers. Their breakthrough discoveries have shaped healthcare and saved countless lives. Below you’ll find a chronology of these discoveries, though we realize the list is not complete. If you know of a medical discovery to add please email us at deansoffice@schulich.uwo.ca

Chronology

1920 – Dr. Frederick Banting was appointed to the faculty. While at Western, Banting conceived the idea that led to the discovery of insulin.

1927 – Dr. F.W. Luney pioneered human blood transfusions at St. Joseph's Hospital.

1948 – Dr. Murray L. Barr discovered the sex-chromatin, now known as the Barr body, launching the field of genetics.

1951 – World's first delivery of cancer radiation therapy to patients using 'cobalt bomb', or cobalt 60 teletherapy machine.

1957 – Dr. Robert Noble and Dr. Charles Beer discover vincaleukoblastine, the first of a series of chemotherapy drugs used in cancer care.

1958 – Dr. Charles Drake pioneered a surgical procedure to correct cerebral aneurysms.

1978 – Dr. Henry Barnett leads the Canadian study that demonstrated aspirin could prevent stroke, opening the door to the use of aspirin to prevent heart disease.

1981 – Dr. Fred Possmayer discovers a method of extracting and purifying natural surfactant from a cow's lung to help premature infants breathe, saving millions of infants worldwide.

1982 – Canada's first human brain MRI is conducted in London. Throughout the 80s and 90s advances are pioneered across London in neuroscience, cardiovascular, orthopaedic and neonatal MRI.

1983 – First heart-lung transplant in Canada is done in London.

1987 – World's first pacemaker cardioverter defibrillator (PCD) is implanted at University Hospital.

1988 – Multi-Organ Transplant Program at University Hospital performs the first successful combined liver and bowel transplant in the world.

1989 – First cardiac stent insertion in Canada performed at University Hospital.

1990 – First multi-organ transplant (liver, small bowel, stomach, and pancreas) in Canada is done at University Hospital.

1990 – First measure of neurotransmitter concentration in schizophrenia by Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy at St. Joseph’s.

1991 – World's first use of Ytterbium-169 isotope for interstitial radiation therapy of cancer. 

1991 – While working for Western University, Dr. David Bailey discovered that taking grapefruit juice with medication causes inhibition of drug metabolism in humans, the first discovery of a food producing this effect.

1996 – The first 4 Tesla MRI system in Canada is installed at Robarts Research Institute.

1997 – London researchers are among the first to develop 3D-computed rotational angiography used to see blood vessels in the brain, including aneurysms.

1997 – A 5-month old infant receives a liver, bowel, stomach and pancreas transplant at LHSC, becoming the world's youngest recipient of multi-organ transplant.

1999 – World's first closed-chest robotic-assisted beating heart coronary artery bypass performed at LHSC.

1999 – First neonatal brain imaging in the world performed using a 3-Tesla MRI.

2000 – The first adult-to-adult living liver transplant in Canada is done at LHSC.

2000 – First use of functional MRI (fMRI) in the world to show brain timing done at Robarts Research Institute.

2001 – World first robotic-assisted and mentored surgery using videoconferencing technology at LHSC.

2002 – Canada's first PET/CT scanner is opened at LHSC, providing researchers with a powerful tool for detecting the spread of cancer and studying the impact of treatment.

2002 – First artificial cervical disc replacement in North America is done at LHSC.

2003 – Canada's first robotic surgery in urology is performed in London.

2004 – Dr. David Spence pioneers a technique using ultrasound to measure the growth of plaque in arteries.

2005 – Canada's first - minimally invasive robotic-assisted double bypass surgery is performed at LHSC.

2006 – First SPECT/low-dose 4-slice CT installed in North America at South Street Hospital in the department of Nuclear Medicine providing nuclear medicine physicians and researchers with a hybrid machine for a ' one-no-stop ' anatomic and functional imaging.

2007 – A landmark study by Robarts Research Institute and the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic shows the common arthroscopic surgery of the knee is ineffective for patients with osteoarthritis.

2008 – First 7T MRI system in Canada arrives at Robarts Research Institute.

2008 – Paula Foster of the Robarts Research Institute is the first in the world to demonstrate that single cells can be detected by MRI.

2008 – Dr. Brian Feagan, Robarts Clinical Trials, demonstrates a safer and more effective treatment for Crohn's disease.

2009 – Robarts Research Institute is the first in the world to show that MRI can be used to track the development of metastases from individual cancer cells.

2009 – LHSC opens world's first virtual-reality based simulators for providing training in otoscopy and myringotomy, common treatments for ear disease and infections.

2010 – Dr. Gideon Koren and Dr. Stan VanUum's study of cortisol levels in hair proves the link between stress and heart attack.

2010 – Dr. Stephen Lomber proves that the brain re-wires itself to heighten senses when one sense is lost.

2010 – Stephen Ferguson, Robarts Scientist, discovers a biological link between stress, anxiety and depression

2010 – Using gene sequencing, Dr. Robert Hegele identifies the genetic variations leading to hypertriglyceridemia and is a member of a consortium that identified the genes that control HDL, LDL and triglycerides

2010 – Dr. James White develops a new 3-D imaging technigue to identify scar tissue in the heart 

2011 – Dr. Geoffrey Pickering discovers "fibroblast growth factor 9" helps the body regenerate blood vessels after heart attack or stroke.

2012 – Dr. Amit Garg demonstrates that kidney donation does not put donors at higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

2012 – Dr. Cheryle Séguin and her colleagues develop a one-of-a-kind genetically engineered mouse that enables researchers to observe and manipulate an embryonic tissue called the notochord, which makes it possible to study how notochordal cells to turn into chordoma.

2012 – Dr. Rennian Wang and his team demonstrate that overexpression of c-Kit leads to increased insulin production and counteracts the early diabetic effects of a high-fat diet.

2012 – Research led by Dr. David Spence shows that regular consumption of egg yolks is two-thirds as bad as smoking cigarettes for accelerating atherosclerosis.

2012 – A team of researchers led by Dr. Charles Weijer create the world’s first ethics guidelines for cluster randomized trials.

2012 – Research performed by Nicole Lauzon, a PhD candidate in the laboratory of Dr. Steven Laviolette at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry discover a way to actively suppress the spontaneous recall of aversive and traumatic memories associated with PTDS, without permanently altering memories.

2013 – Dr. Michael Strong and his colleagues identify a new genetic mutation for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

2013 – Dr. Richard Kim finds that in addition to patient-specific genetic factors, lack of exposure to vitamin D during the long winter months affects the body’s ability to metabolize tamoxifen, a commom drug used in the treatment and prevention of reoccurring breast cancer.

2013 – Shawn Li, PhD, and his team identify that a protein called Numb functions to promote the death of cancer cells.

2013 – Dr. Miguel Valvano and first author Omar El-Halfawy, PhD candidate, show that the more antibiotic resistant cells within a bacterial population produce and share small molecules with less resistant cells, making them more resistant to antibiotic killing.

2013 – An international clinical trial led by Dr. Brian Feagan of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry finds that the investigational antibody vedolizumab is an effective treatment for those suffering from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

2013 – Dr. Robert Gros and Dr. Marco Prado, along with graduate student Ashbeel Roy find the heart is regulated not only by nervous systems, but also by heart cells sending messages to each other through the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

2013 – Research by the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Lawson Health Research Institute and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Western shows that the safety of one of the most common surgical procedures is unaffected by modest sleep deprivation.

2014 – First author Dr. Greta Bauer conducts the first study of its kind to investigate transgender patients' experiences in emergency departments, and shows that the majority of transgender patients have had negative experiences receiving emergency department care.

2014 – A study led by Dr. Elizabeth Osuch shows that there are functional differences in the neurocircuitry between people who deliberately self-harm and those who don’t.

2014 – A study led by Dr. Ross Feldman identifies a common gene variant in women for the G-protein coupled estrogen receptor 30 (GPER) that makes them significantly more likely to have high blood pressure.

2015 – Dr. Wang Xi and Dr. Vikram Dalal complete the first study demonstrating that medical residents are associated with reduced emergency department wait times and fewer patients leaving without being seen in a medium-volume community hospital.

2015 – Dr. Brian Feagan completes the first randomized cluster trial studying Crohn’s disease treatment, demonstrating that early combined immunosuppression (ECI) treatment in community practices can alter the natural progression of the debilitating disease.

2015 – Dr. Michael Rieder and his team have create a new rapid-test system to detect E. coli 0157.

2015 – Dr. Vladimir Hachinski and Dr. Luciano Sposato and their team of researchers publish the world’s first study showing a decline in the incidence of dementia at a whole population level.

2016 – Dr. Peeyush Lala and his team of researchers discover that over-production of DCN by the pregnant uterus is associated with preeclampsia.

2016 – Neuroscientists at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry have develop a new virtual reality ‘toolbox’ that can be used to build video games with a unique capacity for teaching and testing both humans and animal models.

2016 – Dr. Steven Laviolette and his team conduct a first-of-its-kind study that demonstrates that a chemical found in marijuana called cannabidiol affects the brain in a way that makes it an ideal treatment option for schizophrenia.

2016 – An international study co-led by Dr. Eric Arts discovers that HIV-1 subtype C, the most dominant subtype, is also the weakest of all HIV subtypes.