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Aviva employee exploring whether those with ‘22q’ are safer on the road

By Aviva Canada on


That’s one of the questions Aviva Canada employee Jeremy Paulus is asking as he pursues a PhD at the University of Waterloo.

When interviewing adults with 22q, a genetic disorder, Paulus observed that, generally, they are risk-averse and prefer consistent routine and structure. “They would be more likely to drive with purpose than for pleasure or recreation,” he said.

“They may also be safer drivers when compared to the general population because of their resilience and propensity to be more cautious. That’s something I’m interested in exploring.”  

A PhD with a purpose

Over a decade ago, Paulus’s oldest son was diagnosed with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q), a genetic condition that affects as many as 1 in 4,000 births worldwide. He set out to learn everything he could about it.

Paulus quickly discovered that people with 22q may have one or more of over 40 clinical features, including congenital heart difficulties, hearing challenges, immune deficiency issues, learning disabilities and anxiety disorders.

Part of his PhD research will focus on whether there is a link between the condition and any interventions or treatment people could receive that help them drive safely.

“As a parent, I’m really interested in thinking about ways for my son to be a contributing and active member of society as he gets older. I know driving plays an important role in being independent, especially in the Western world,” he said.

Paulus research will explore the experiences of people with 22q who were able to get their driver’s licences and learn about the factors that facilitated that.

“One of my working hypotheses is that people with 22q who are able to have a driver’s licences are lower risk to get into accidents because they have been able to overcome challenges their whole lives… They’re very risk averse and wouldn’t be driving for the sake of it. I’m reaching out to various places where there are large sets of data in Ontario and beyond.” - Jeremy Paulus, Business Continuity Manager and University of Waterloo PhD Candidate

To learn more about Paulus’s research, visit his website.


The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice.