VIU graduate and budding scientist receives national scholarship

December 14, 2010 - 7:36am

Vancouver Island University graduate Riley Glew is hoping to discover how to prevent the onset of diabetes.

Glew graduated from VIU with a Bachelor of Science degree, major in Biology and is working on his masters degree in public health at the University of Saskatchewan thanks to a $17,500 Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada graduate scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Glew’s research focus is looking at preventative measures for delaying the onset of diabetes. His master’s thesis topic is socio-economic determinants of Type 2 diabetes and barriers to healthcare for diabetic patients, with a Canadian perspective.

“Riley was a great student,” said Dr. Allan Gibson, VIU Biology professor and Glew’s supervisor during his fourth-year undergraduate research project. “His success is yet another example of the value of the Biology department’s Biology 491 course, the independent senior research opportunity we offer to our students. Students who complete this course really learn what’s meant by scientific rigor; an excellent preparation for the next step in their pursuing a research career.”

Glew, who grew up in Alberta, spent five years playing baseball for VIU while completing his undergraduate degree.

“Now that I am at a larger university with students who hold degrees from all over Canada, and the world, I can see that my choice to attend a small university was a good one,” he said. “I am well prepared to succeed at graduate school. I believe the reason for this is because the professors that I was instructed by in VIU’s biology, psychology, and chemistry departments stressed problem solving and the application of knowledge whenever possible.”

Glew’s masters research will focus on the at-risk population for Type 2 diabetes, the socio-economic determinants of diabetes, and the barriers toward access of healthcare services by diabetic patients.

“I’m going to compare the status of diabetes and its determinants in the Saskatoon Health Region with equivalent data at the national and provincial levels,” he said.

“In addition, my research will make comparisons between similar health regions in terms of population size. The results of the quantitative component of the study will allow us to determine the at risk population for diabetes, as well as important risk factors for the disease.”

Glew is collaborating with the Saskatoon Health Region which he said is in immediate need of the research findings. “The findings will have an impact on current policies and the services to the at risk population with the ultimate goal of preventing and controlling diabetes and providing optimal healthcare services to the at risk population,” he said.

Asked why he’s chosen to study diabetes Glew said, “because it’s a disease that is becoming an increasing burden to the Canadian, and world, population. It is also a very complicated disease that overlaps with many other chronic conditions. By preventing diabetes, we can also have a positive influence on diseases such as heart disease, renal failure, blindness, obesity, and hypertension.”

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