News & Events


Dr. Jason McDougall is exploring the potential of using green light therapy to alleviate osteoarthritis pain

Green light for osteoarthritis pain relief

Pain is often invisible – but its impact can be devastating. Almost two-thirds of people living with osteoarthritis report they don’t experience adequate pain relief.

“People are sometimes told to ‘just get on with it.’ Personally, I find this unacceptable,” says Dr. Jason McDougall, a pain management researcher at Dalhousie University.

With funding support from Arthritis Society Canada, Dr. McDougall is now investigating the potential of green light therapy as a “cheap, safe, non-invasive and easy-to-use” approach to arthritis pain management.

“Viewing a specific green light for one to two hours a day has been found to be effective for conditions like migraine and fibromyalgia, so we are going to test it with osteoarthritis pain,” he says.

Results from preclinical trials conducted on animal models have been promising – showing “dramatically reduced pain levels – even beyond what we would see with classic drug treatments,” says Dr. McDougall, who is especially interested in better understanding the precise mechanism whereby the green light perceived by the retina then affects the brain regions involved in managing pain. The next step is a small clinical trial for people with osteoarthritis.

Beyond helping patients for whom traditional pharmacological approaches haven’t been effective, Dr. McDougall says green light therapy could be used as an additional treatment to reduce reliance on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications or opioids.

He is also excited about evidence showing that green light therapy might improve an individual’s mood. Canadians with arthritis are nearly twice as likely to have a mood disorder like depression compared to those without arthritis.

“This research is innovative, and the rewards could be revolutionary,” adds Dr. McDougall.

This article originally appeared in a Globe and Mail sponsor content feature produced by RandallAnthony Communications.

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Dr. Victor Neira Brings First-of-its-kind Simulation to Department

Congratulations to Cardiac Anesthesiologist, Dr. Victor Neira, and members of the Crisis Management in Advanced Cardiac Care Project who received a much-anticipated high-fidelity simulation manikin this week. This manikin was purchased after Dr. Neira received a $38,782 grant through the Maritime Heart Centre Innovation Fund, which awards donor-provided funds to QEII physicians and researchers for innovative, life-changing initiatives.

This highly sophisticated manikin has a simulated beating heart, vessels, skin, and a chest wall, and can circulate artificial blood. The project aims to better prepare healthcare teams to respond to rare, emergency situations that arise during cardiac procedures through a newly developed training process.

“I believe we are one of the first institutions in Canada that will be obtaining this level of technology,” said Dr. Neira. “It’s very exciting.”

Well done team for bringing this advanced simulation research to the Department!

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Dr. Javeria Hashmi Receives Tier 2 Canada Research Chair!

Congratulations to our Department’s Dr. Javeria Hashmi who received a tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Pain Research! The Canada Research Chairs Program invests up to $311 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds.

Dr. Hashmi is the principal investigator for a brain-imaging study to understand how expectations interfere with chronic pain management. Dr. Hashmi has established her own research lab, Brain Networks and Neurophysiology Lab (NetPhys), where she continues her extensive involvement in areas of pain research.

Great work Dr. Hashmi!

Dr. Adrienne Carr Named Subspecialty Chief for Liver Transplantation

We are excited to announce that Dr. Adrienne Carr has accepted the position of Subspecialty Chief for Liver Transplantation effective September 1, 2022! A sincere thank you to Dr. Arnim Vlatten for his service as chief over the past number of years. Please join us in welcoming Adrienne to her new role!

Dalhousie anesthesiologist Dr. Patricia Livingston named Officer of the Order of Canada

By Sarah Zwaan

A few words at the right time can change the course of one's life. Dr. Patricia Livingston knows this to be true.

It all began in 2007 when Dr. Livingston attended grand rounds at Dalhousie University where Dr. Franco Carli was presenting about the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society International Education Foundation (CASIEF) program in Rwanda. He was charismatic, warm and inviting," Dr. Livingston recalled. "I had no experience whatsoever working in this context." Inspired by Dr. Carli's words, she signed up for the first Anesthesia Global Outreach Course. And her career in Global Health was launched.

Dr. Livingston has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada. Dr. Livingston is an Associate Professor of Anesthesia and Medical Director of Global Health in the Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management & Perioperative Medicine at Dalhousie University. She is also a well-respected anesthesiologist at the QEII Health Sciences Centre at Nova Scotia Health.

Dr. Livingston had just finished her day working in the pain management unit at the QEII when she received an email asking her to call the Governor General's office. "My first reaction was shock and also that there had been a mistake. Once the reality set in, I felt enormously honoured and grateful."

This honour, however, does not come as a surprise to colleagues who know and love Dr. Livingston.

"I can't even begin to imagine how many patients' lives have been saved in countries like Rwanda thanks to Dr. Livingston's work," said Dr. Janice Chisholm, Head of the Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management & Perioperative Medicine at Dalhousie University. "We are proud of all that she has accomplished."

In 2008, Dr. Livingston travelled to Rwanda to assist with teaching local residents on safe anesthesia practices. Once there, she quickly realized the curriculum of the program needed development. Dr. Livingston wasted no time and enrolled in a Master of Education program at Acadia University and worked with Rwandan partners to design a curriculum for anesthesia residency. Within a year, Dr. Livingston established the Anesthesia Global Health Office at Dalhousie University and became the lead for CASIEF's program in Rwanda. In 2013 Dr. Livingston successfully opened the Faculty of Medicine Skills and Simulation Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Currently, Dr. Livingston is working with partners to bring simulation-based education to resource-limited and remote locations globally.

Thanks to her work, many Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Health staff, fellows and residents have travelled to Rwanda to teach. The training and retention of even one skilled anesthesiologist in countries like Rwanda has had a lasting impact on thousands of lives. And, in turn, Rwandan residents have had the opportunity to come to Dalhousie for electives ranging from 3 to 6 months. It has been an opportunity of a lifetime for all involved.

Dr. Livingston credits her many mentors with shaping her career along the way. "These people often give you a little push or say just the right thing to change your perspective. A few words at the right time can be life changing."

And now she hopes she can inspire young anesthesiologists to follow in her footsteps.

"There are few joys in life as great as seeing keen learners learning. Some of my happiest days have been spent teaching residents in Rwanda. My greatest goal now is to mentor and empower younger people to continue with what our team has developed."