Rebecca Bonham-Carter Wins Kaura Award

The Institute of Applied Mathematics is pleased to announce that the 2021-22 Dr. Deepak Kaura Award in the Mathematics of Medicine has been awarded to Rebecca Bonham-Carter, an IAM member and MSc student in the UBC Department of Mathematics, in recognition of their highly interdisciplinary work to advance mathematical and computational methods for modeling single-cell development.

As part of the research group of Professor Geoffrey Schiebinger, Becca participates in research on developmental trajectory inference and methods related to the mathematical theory of optimal transport. The work seeks to uncover mathematical theories underlying development, including the processes of disease and aging, and to develop new tools to aid biologists in understanding these processes. Becca’s primary project is conducted in close collaboration with the Peter Zandstra Lab (UBC, Biomedical Engineering) to better understand the process of T-cell development as well as learn how to induce T-cells to develop from a population of progenitors (hematopoietic stem cells) in vitro. T-cells are lymphocytes which play an important role in immune response. Hematopoietic stem cells differentiate into a number of different cell types including T-cells, mast, myeloid, and endothelial cells; understanding how these cell types arise and how to induce differentiation into specific cell types, such as T-cells, has important applications in  medicine. Applications include the development of emerging treatments such as blood stem cell or T-cell transplants, engineering T-cells to treat specific diseases, and better understanding blood diseases and disorders. T-cell transplants are used to treat cancers and chronic infections.

Becca will receive a $1,600 unrestricted award to support their research.

This prize, awarded annually, is made possible by a generous endowment from Deepak Kaura. Dr. Kaura is a pediatric radiologist and Chief Medical Officer of 1QBit, a Vancouver-based quantum computing software company. He leads the development of ground-breaking advanced artificial intelligence solutions in health and life sciences. As a leader in the industry, he has built health enterprise partnerships for data, developing and clinically validating several machine learning products for radiology, and working with Health Canada to develop and refine regulations for machine learning tools in health. He is also the Vice-Chair of CAN Health Network, a marketplace designed to unlock the economic potential of the Canadian health care system. He joined the Advisory Council on Deep Space Healthcare for the Canadian Space Agency in November 2019.

Prior to these appointments, Dr. Kaura was the Chair of the Board of Joule, a Canadian Medical Association subsidiary. He also spent five years in Qatar with the Sidra Medical and Research Center, most recently as the Executive Chairman of the Foundational Clinical Services Management Group, where he helped to set new standards in patient care for women and children and led ground-breaking work in the application of machine learning to health care. Dr. Kaura has also served several medical and scientific societies, including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada as a Subspecialty Chair in Pediatric Radiology and has established a number of start-ups in the health care industry.  He received his MBA from HEC Paris, FRCPC following training in Calgary, and his MD from the University of Manitoba. He has held faculty appointments as Associate Professor at Cornell University and the University of Calgary. Dr. Kaura has also published several academic papers and articles and holds two health care-related patents.