“I had thought about coming to Canada before, but not so suddenly,” explains Dmytro Tymoshenko. “Due to the beginning of the full-scale war, I didn’t know what would happen to my studies and future academic pursuits.”
Dmytro arrived in Nova Scotia in August 2022 to be a Research Assistant with Dr. John Archibald, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Director of the Institute for Comparative Genomics at Dalhousie University.
Dr. Archibald’s colleague, Dr. Craig McCormick, had introduced him to Dmytro, a talented scientist in Ukraine, and asked if there was an opportunity for him at Dalhousie. Dr. Archibald invited him to come to Nova Scotia to work in his lab after completing his master’s in Ukraine and they were successful in their application to Research Nova Scotia’s Ukrainian Emergency Research Support Program.
“Most students, including myself, had to deal with the decisions encompassing personal and family safety, contributing to our nation, and advancing studies, simultaneously,” explains Dmytro. “Thanks to my master’s supervisor, Bogdan Morgun, from the Institute of Cell Biology and Genetic Engineering, we found a way to collect data despite it being hard.”
“I was overjoyed to meet John and know his lab is involved with genomics and bioinformatics. That was indeed an area I dreamed about being involved in, and coming to Nova Scotia would be a great opportunity to continue my research interests.”
Dr. Archibald’s lab uses genetic and genomic tools to study microorganisms. They want to understand them, how they adapt to new environments, and how they may cause problems for humans.
“Dmytro’s ability to speak the language of computers and biology stood out,” says Dr. Archibald. “Computer science skills help write scripts and move data around, but you also have to be able to understand the biological significance of those long strings of letters that represent DNA and protein molecules.”
One of the microorganisms Dmytro is studying is the Lyme Disease-causing bacteria found in an increasing number of ticks in Nova Scotia. They collaborate with clinicians who are interested in understanding the underpinnings of complications from Lyme Disease.
The relationship between the bacteria in nature and the bacteria that cause harm to humans is unclear. Dmytro and Dr. Archibald sample the genetic diversity of the bacteria in nature and compare them to the bacteria that comes from biopsies of people who had serious Lyme Disease.
“This exploratory project can lead to better tools, diagnostics, and downstream treatments,” explains Dr. Archibald.
The Ukrainian Emergency Research Support Fund supported Dmytro’s research, including required equipment, as well as his stay in Nova Scotia.
“Moving between different economies is always difficult, but thanks to Research Nova Scotia and John, it was easier for me,” says Dmytro. “With the funding from Research Nova Scotia, I can focus on the research and not have to take on a part-time job as many students do.”
“Dmytro’s research is timely and important, and he has established lasting connections,” says Stefan Leslie, CEO of Research Nova Scotia. “That is the purpose of this program. To support Ukrainian researchers’ stay here, their impactful research, and the establishment of lasting relationships with our research community in Nova Scotia.”
Dmytro and his wife feel supported by the community here and plan to stay in Nova Scotia for a while. He will start his PhD at Dalhousie in September.
“When I met with John, I wasn’t sure I was ready for a PhD,” says Dmytro. “After working here for a few months, I was inspired by a lot of people, especially John. With this team around me, I’m confident in my possibilities.”
Dmytro’s enthusiasm about his research clearly demonstrates the impact this opportunity has had on him.
“We’re grateful to have the award from Research Nova Scotia,” says Dr. Archibald. “It’s a difficult situation in his country, but our job is to support him as best we can, and I think this award is a big part of making that happen.”
“Dr. Archibald, Research Nova Scotia, and Canada have gone beyond enabling continued studies; They have provided an opportunity for continued life and perspectives on potential future directions,” says Dmytro.
The Ukrainian Emergency Research Support Program offers immediate research support funding for Ukrainian students and researchers who are relocating to Canada, either temporarily or permanently, as a result of the Russian invasion. This program is as part of its commitment to equitable, safe, and inclusive research in the province. Learn more.
Learn more about Dr. Archibald’s research lab: Archibald Lab