Grad profile: The power of family support

Convocation profile: Robert Laprairie, Graduate Studies

- June 3, 2016

Pharmacology grad Robert Laprairie. (Tom Brodigan photo)
Pharmacology grad Robert Laprairie. (Tom Brodigan photo)

Robert Laprairie hasn’t gone through his studies alone. In the second year of his undergrad at the University of Saskatchewan, he married his high school sweetheart, Kim. A year later, they had their first son. Today, Robert has three young children and two more degrees under his belt.

It’s meant busy times, but he wouldn’t change a thing.

“I think a lot of people are nervous about starting a life or starting a family while they’re still doing their university because they worry about being too busy. I think I found kind of the opposite,” he says.

After his undergrad, he began looking at pharmacology programs and came across Dr. Eileen Denovan-Wright’s lab at Dal. After a few phone calls and a connection through shared research interests, she offered him a research position looking at using cannabinoids to treat movement disorders such as Huntington’s or Parkinson’s disease. Robert and his family made the move from Saskatoon to Halifax in 2010, and since then he’s completed a master’s in Pharmacology and Neuroscience and a PhD in Pharmacology, both with Dr. Denovan-Wright.

He’s presented his research at various national and international conferences, and at one conference in Boston, he was recruited to join The Scripps Research Institute. He now works with the organization in Florida developing new painkillers that avoid unwelcome side effects. Throughout the two degrees he’s completed at the university, Robert found the research atmosphere at Dalhousie very positive and supportive.

“Eileen always pushed me to be better and better and better, and I appreciated that,” he says. “The busier my family life got, the more efficient my work life got. I had amazing support from my wife and from my colleagues at work. I didn’t let my homework hours go to waste, and I still had three hours after dinner to play LEGO.”

The article is part of a series of profiles on members of the Class of 2016. Read all of our grad profiles. Spring Convocation takes place May 13 in Truro and from May 30 to June 4 in Halifax.


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