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Health and Wellness

lab scientistWhen Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin in 1928, the discovery occurred because of Fleming’s drive to help the sick get well. When a mother tells her children to ear their broccoli, she does so to keep them healthy. The inventions devised to benefit human health and wellness can be as significant as next-generation antibiotics or as commonplace as tartar-preventing toothpaste. The health and wellness inventions to come from Alberta over the 20th century are no exception.

In the first half of the 20th century Alberta was making the transition from an outlying region to scientific destination. Albertan, Raymond Lemieux may have studied and conducted research across the continent but when he returned to Alberta after having successfully synthesised sucrose, he not only brought his skills as a chemist, but his reputation to the province. Lemieux’s breakthrough took medical science and transplant technology to new heights and is profiled in the section.

The tradition of attracting cutting-edge research and researchers continues. Recently, Edmonton was chosen to host the National Institute of Nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the study and creation of the products measured in atomic particles and billionths of metres. Such minuscule objects could operate within the human body and offer medical procedures previously confined to fantasy. Alberta will benefit from hosting the National Institute of Nanotechnology and its facilities and the incoming expert talent. In early 2003, Dr. Jillian Buriak and Dr. Hicham Fenniri, top researchers in their fields, joined the institution. They were attracted to the Institute and Alberta because of such high quality facilities and support.

New and Improved

Fleming's Halitosis DetectorWhile innovative efforts in Alberta's past have had results that have been life-changing, not all the health and wellness inventions have been so serious. For example, in the late 1930s, Mary Fleming of Banff patented her Halitosis Detector  and a patent was issued to Victor Tobiasson of Fort Macleod for his Blackhead Remover.  Additional inventions, such as the Hair Dye Dispensing Gun,  patented in 1969 by Keith Johnson of Edmonton, were certainly not lifesaving, but, nevertheless, make up a group of inventions that have a place in our history, just as teeth whiteners and mud masks have a place on drugstore shelves.

ARC It is the lifesaving innovation being developed in Alberta that will always make the greatest impact, however. Recent examples constitute a long and impressive list. The tally includes research undertaken through the Alberta Research Council (ARC),  which helps develop many inventions in the province. One current project is Telehealth, a process for electronic sharing and distribution of health records between health professionals. By making the delivery of patient information more efficient, healthcare providers can save money and lives.

In the end, the health and wellness inventions that have spanned a century in our province try to make life better. Whether offering clean drinking water, treatment for diabetics, safer blood transfusions, or inventions designed to keep us active and fit, the benefits of Alberta innovative efforts extend well beyond the borders of the province.

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