Dr. Murray E. Mickleborough Research Chair
Hope for the Future
Almost 400 Albertans are diagnosed with head or neck cancer annually (approximately 5% of all diagnosed cancers). Due to their relatively small numbers, these patients are often poorly represented in healthcare systems compared to other cancer groups, especially given that these patients have extremely complex care pathways and treatment needs. Even treatments that are considered successful from a disease management perspective can mean a serious reduction in patients’ quality of life.
Consider someone who has to have half an upper jaw, the eye and part of the nose removed for cancer, and a treatment protocol that also involves radiation therapy. The radical alteration to physical appearance, impact on speech, swallowing, chewing, taste, smell and saliva production can be devastating. The treatment and the long duration of their care mean they will frequently lose employment and have significant disruptions in their family and social networks.
Albertans are fortunate to have access to iRSM, a collaborative initiative of the University of Alberta, Covenant Health and Alberta Health Services. iRSM is a leader in research, innovation and clinical care for head and neck reconstruction and is sought out for its unique expertise by institutions world-wide. The Institute provides reconstructive care to patients across Alberta, Canada and from around the world (more than 70% of these patients have undergone treatment for cancer). iRSM’s formalized interdisciplinary approach to patient care and biomedical research has spawned collaborations between health care providers, engineers and researchers in biomedical sciences.
A core emphasis for iRSM’s treatment and research activities is on the use of osseointegrated (bone anchored) implants. Osseointegrated implants have extensive application for rehabilitation of patients after ablative and reconstructive surgery of the head and neck; implants are used to secure facial and dental prosthetics to reestablish ability to eat, speak and swallow and to improve appearance so that patients can return to a productive existence and better quality of life. iRSM, along with the University of Alberta’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, is considered an international leader in research related to the interface between the human body and osseointegrated implants.
The Dr. Murray E. Mickleborough Research Chair in Interfacial Biomechanics
In 2002, the Caritas Hospitals Foundation established a $500K endowment at the University of Alberta to support research activities in Interfacial Biomechanics. This enabled the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine (iRSM®) and the University of Alberta’s Department of Mechanical Engineering to build an effective interdisciplinary research and educational partnership to benefit our patients, most of whom are being treated for cancer.
Dr. Mickleborough was inspired, through his experience with head and neck cancer, to build upon this initial investment. His founding donation of over $1M led to a unique partnership between iRSM, the University of Alberta, the Alberta Cancer Foundation, and the Caritas Hospitals Foundation to create the "Dr. Murray E. Mickleborough Research Chair in Interfacial Biomechanics." We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Mickleborough’s vision and founding gift, which was matched by Alberta Cancer Foundation donors and has resulted in a further commitment of $500K from the Caritas Hospitals Foundation.
Alberta Cancer Foundation
Caritas Hospitals Foundation