Canada has long been known as a major player in the field of medical research. Despite only ranking 38th worldwide in terms of population, it ranks 14th in medical research spending and 6th in research paper production. As a country, it is responsible for developing entirely new fields of medicine, more effective surgical methods, and innovative, life-saving treatments.
These medical developments could not have happened without the abundance of time, resources, ingenuity, and support provided throughout the medical community—from researchers to clinical trial operators to doctors, and including everyone in between.
If you’re interested in clinical research and drug safety, read on to discover some of the biggest medical developments in the history of Canada.
1. Students in a Clinical Research Program Might Know About the Origins of Insulin
One of the most commonly known Canadian medical developments is the discovery and extraction of insulin from a pancreas for use in the treatment of diabetes. A group of four scientists, led by Frederick Banting and J.J.R. Macleod, conducted tests on diabetic dogs to determine how to extract their insulin. Once they had successfully figured it out and enough clinical research had been conducted to confirm their results, they received the Nobel Prize in Medicine—an impressive achievement, but nothing compared to the difference they made in the lives of diabetic patients. Before the introduction of insulin treatments, having diabetes was an unmanageable disease that carried an extremely high mortality rate. Afterwards, it became a chronic, manageable condition with a much higher life expectancy rate.
2. Pros With Clinical Research Training Know Canada Paved the Way for Stem Cell Trials
Canada is also the first place that blood-forming stem cells were discovered, as any student with a clinical research diploma might tell you. The research conducted is still relevant today, as the entire concept of bone marrow transplants is based on the discovery, extraction, and injections of those same stem cells. That initial discovery led to an increased amount of resources and research conducted on stem cells. Since then, some of Canada’s most important stem cell-related discoveries have been the T-cell receptor in the early 1980s by Tak Mak and the generation of stem cells from adult skin cells by Andras Nagy in the late 2000s—both of which have important applications in clinical research trials and treatments to this day.
3. A Canadian is Responsible for Radical Advancements in Modern Heart Surgery
Heart surgery is a relatively recent type of operation that has become essential to helping improve the lives of millions of people suffering from cardiovascular issues. The main discovery that led to safe open-heart surgery was that of a Canadian named Dr. Wilfred Bigelow, who discovered that lowering body temperature (inducing hypothermia) limited blood flow and made it safer to work on internal organs without limiting the oxygen supply and damaging others.
Students in a clinical research program might also know that Dr. Bigelow was one of the first researchers to look into the viability of a pacemaker, which today has become an important device for cardiovascular patients.
The amount of clinical research that goes into developing these procedures is astronomical, but not inaccessible. Due to how invested the country is in medical research, working in clinical research or drug safety is a good career choice—one that has a tangible, long-lasting impact on the lives of millions of people each year.
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