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  • First in a series celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute

The Impact of Poor Sleep in Men with Prostate Cancer – Cancer Colleagues join forces from across the globe.

BHCRI Senior Scientist Dr. Sheila Garland and CRTP Alumni Dr. Erik Wibowo are collaborating on a project studying the impact of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) on sleep and other symptoms in men with prostate cancer. They are trying to identify what factors (e.g., exercise and sleep hygiene – behaviours that promote good sleep) influence sleep quality in these men and whether poor sleep makes some ADT symptoms worse. To date, the duo has completed a preliminary survey of prostate cancer patients and are hoping to validate the data with actual sleep-wake recordings of these patients. Their initial analyses showed that prostate cancer patients with insomnia symptoms have worse quality of life outcomes, and that some behaviour modifications may potentially help men improve their sleep. Though the results of this study have not yet been published, the two plan to present their findings at the International Psycho-Oncology Society meeting in Banff in September 2019.

Wibowo and Garland met through Dr. Richard Wassersug, a former faculty member at Dalhousie University and now Honorary Professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences at UBC. “He thought it would be good for us to collaborate”, says Wibowo, as the two share the same interest on sleep quality in cancer patients. 

Dr. Wibowo has travelled a long way since his time in the CRTP as a PhD student. He is currently a faculty member in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Dunedin, NZ, courtesy E. Wibowo

“My funded project through BHCRI was also on sleep function in androgen-deprived males, but in an animal model. Thus, the current project is a truly translational research project. The support from BHCRI definitely helped me start the preclinical research, and nurture my interest in hormone regulation of sleep in males. I am really grateful for the support from BHCRI.”


Dr. Garland didn’t have to travel across the globe to find her place. After completing a three-year CIHR-funded postdoc at the University Pennsylvania, Garland was looking to return to Canada. “I wanted a place where I could grow a program of research in psycho-oncology and behavioural sleep medicine. Almost all of the other provinces already had work being conducted in this area. Instead of joining an existing team, I decided to focus my energy on building my own program aimed at increasing access to psycho-oncology research and interventions in Newfoundland.” Garland has found success at Memorial University.  The recipient of a New Investigator grant from BHCRI in 2017, she also just received her first CIHR Project grant in the fall 2018 competition. Garland views collaboration as essential in research and values that BHCRI brings interdisciplinary researchers together for a common cause. “Dr. Wibowo’s basic science perspective is a great balance to my clinical experience and together I think we can do great translational work.”

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