Dr. Shalina Ousman

Associate Professor, Clinical Nuerosciences

photo of Dr. Shalina Ousman

Dr. Ousman is a Associate Professor in the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and, Cell Biology & Anatomy at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary. She completed my PhD in Neurosciences in 2001 with Dr. Samuel David at McGill University and then completed two postdoctoral fellowships, the first with Dr. Iain Campbell in the Department of Neuropharmacology at The Scripps Research Institute (2001-2004) and the second with Dr. Lawrence Steinman in the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University (2007-2008). Dr. Ousman joined the Hotchkiss Brain Institute as an Assistant Professor in 2008. Her interest lies in identifying endogenous protective mechanisms in multiple sclerosis and peripheral nerve regeneration. Her research is funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Learn more about Dr. Ousman

How did you become interested in MS research? What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?

I am fascinated about how interactions between the immune system and nervous system are not only beneficial but how they can also lead to neurological diseases such as MS. I am dedicated to doing research in MS because I have met many patients who despite their daily challenges, have an incredible positive outlook on life. That has been inspiring not only as a researcher but as a human being dealing with the many obstacles of life. I would like to contribute in a positive way to humankind and MS research is my way to hopefully accomplish that.

What do you enjoy most about doing research and what are some of the challenges you face?

The creativity and independent thinking; the unknown, and the thrill to be the first person to discover something that can advance knowledge and/or be a potential therapy; the opportunity to work with bright people from across our planet.

The main challenge is finding funding to run a research lab.

Describe the importance and level of collaboration in your research?

MS is too complicated a disease to work in isolation. One needs to work with a diverse group of researchers, both basic and clinical, to devise the best ideas and perform the best experiments. In my lab, if we discover something interesting, I forge collaborations with my clinical colleagues to see if the finding has relevance to the human disease eg. testing on MS blood cells.

How important is the support from the MS Society in enabling you to conduct research?

I have been funded by the MS Society as a PhD student, postdoctoral fellow and now as a PI. I am extremely appreciative of the funding that I have and do receive since it not only allowed me to train with some of the best MS researchers in Canada and the US but I can now train the next generation of MS researchers. Also, with the funding I received, I have been fortunate to make a discovery that has made it into Phase 1 and Phase 2a trials which is surreal to me sometimes.