translating data into human stories

TB Research Profiled on CTV London

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Jan Sims of CTV London came to visit the Bioarchaeology Lab at Western University this week to learn more about my PhD research, as I try to catch a killer of another sort – the bacterial pathogen second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent: Tuberculosis. Watch the clip here.

CTVReneeIn addition to my investigative role on To Catch A Killer, I study the impact of Tuberculosis and how it has changed over time by analyzing the internal structure of human bone using medical and micro-CT imaging. By examining the skeletal remains of individuals who suffered from Tuberculosis in the pre-antibiotic era, my research is contributing to our understanding of the past movement of people and pathogens by identifying the effects of disease-causing bacteria that persist in the archaeological record. This increased understanding of the past experience of TB is crucial to contextualize the present experience of the disease and potentially anticipate future trends in its spread.

My research is conducted in collaboration with the Huron-Wendat Nation, whose ancestors I study, to investigate their health history. By examining The Ancestors’ remains, we hope to learn more about the type of illnesses that affected them, and how trade relations with European explorers impacted their health in the 17th century. Using detailed 3D images acquired using medical and micro-CT, I can conduct qualitative and quantitative analyses that isn’t accessible through macroscopic, or conventional microscopic methods of analysis. In addition to shedding light on the impact of TB on the human skeleton, this research will preserve a permanent digital record of irreplaceable human remains, that can be printed in 3D for future teaching, research, and ongoing heritage preservation.


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