UBC researcher Jenny Bruin works on cell-therapy treatment
Jenny Bruin was not your average finger-painting toddler. “I was the only student in my kindergarten class that had an experiment at the science fair,” she recalls. “I received a participation ribbon, as did everybody, but I thought it was the best prize ever!”
Years later, the Gravenhurst, Ontario, native is onto bigger and more prestigious achievements. As postdoctoral fellow since 2010 at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, Bruin recently snagged one of two prestigious Research Excellence Fellowships of $20,000 from the L’Oréal Canada For Women in Science program with the support of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.
Marie-Josée Lamothe, CMO and CCO at L’Oréal Canada, says, “We are proud to support promising research by women who are models for future generations.”
In Bruin’s case, her award-winning work could eventually improve the control of blood sugar levels in diabetics. She says, “We are trying to develop a cell therapy to transplant in patients with type 1 diabetes,” she says. Her findings thus far in mice have been promising. The importance of such a discovery, explains Bruin, is that, first, patients wouldn’t have to inject insulin every day and, second, the new cell would know when and how much insulin to make and when, whereas patients today have to decide on insulin doses and their timing.
Aside from the monetary benefits, the 31-year old values the impact the award will have on her career, in which her ultimate goal is to make faculty. “It’s such an amazing mix of teaching, mentoring and researching, but there are just so few positions available,” she says. “So to have this distinguished award sets me apart. Others may have similar backgrounds in funding or published articles, but there will be only be two women in Canada who have this award on their resumé.”