Researchers awarded $4 million in federal health funding

Learn more about the funded researchers and their programs:

Stephen Archer (Department of Medicine) received funding for further research into mitochondrial fission – how cells divide – and its role in pulmonary arterial hypertension, a fatal disease that exhibits cancer-like properties. This research proposal builds on previous work by Dr. Archer that showed that increased mitochondrial fission caused by the activation of the Drp1 enzyme creates an environment for cells to grow too rapidly, blocking blood vessels and contributing to the progression of the disease. The next phase of this research focuses on a new discovery related to how fission occurs and how after Drp1 narrows the mitochondrion, Dynamin 2 completes the division process. This project will determine these fundamental discoveries and explore potential therapeutic applications. 

Funding amount: $996,030

Janet Dancey (Canadian Cancer Trials Group, Department of Oncology) is leading a team researching how changing the gut microbiome can help improve health outcomes for people receiving immunotherapy treatment for melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer-related death in Canada. Dr. Dancey’s research project will involve a 128-patient randomized trial using a stool sample from healthy donors transplanted into patients via capsule, thereby changing the gut microbiota to help improve the results of immunotherapy to help kill more melanoma cells.

Funding amount: $1,786,273

Ian Gilron (Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine) received funding to conduct a clinical trial of a combination of two medications for the treatment of pain and sleep disturbance in people suffering from chronic widespread pain. It’s anticipated that Dr. Gilron’s trial will help inform future improvements in therapy to help people who experience chronic pain achieve a better quality of life.

Funding amount: $562,275

J Alberto Neder’s (Department of Medicine) project combines pulmonary functional imaging and clinical respiratory physiology to improve our understanding of the causes behind shortness of breath in persons at the initial stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Smoking-related COPD is a leading cause of death and disability in Canada. Dr. Neder’s project will debut a cutting-edge technique based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) coupled with a CAT scan to pinpoint the amount of airflow and blood in lung regions with and without emphysema. This innovative work may shift paradigms for early treatment of the fragile pulmonary vessels that are damaged by the harmful effects of cigarette smoking despite apparently minor disease.

Funding amount: $344,250

Sahar Saeed (Public Health Sciences) and Jennifer Flemming (Department of Medicine) will lead a five-year project examining patient, provider, and regional-level factors associated with liver fibrosis screening rates and to identify optimal fibrosis screening strategies to prevent liver disease progression for people living with type 2 Diabetes. It is estimated that one in four Canadians has Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Steatotic Liver Disease, which is caused by fat accumulating in the liver over time but shows no symptoms until advanced stages. Those with type 2 diabetes are at a high risk of advanced disease progression, which makes them ideal screening candidates. Ultimately, Drs. Saeed and Flemming hope to develop effective and equitable screening strategies to prevent liver disease progression in people living with diabetes.

Funding amount: $390,150

Robert Colautti (Biology) will lead a project addressing the growing threat of tick-borne diseases exacerbated by climate change, biological invasion, and urban sprawl. The project, part of the myLyme.ca convergence research program, proposes to employ modern genomic tools to enhance the detection and surveillance of tick-borne pathogens across Canada. By developing laboratory protocols, bioinformatic standards, and data visualizations, Dr. Colautti and team aim to empower healthcare professionals with accurate information for timely diagnosis and treatment. In collaboration with a U.S. partner, the research also seeks to predict future tick and pathogen invasions into Canada over the next decade. 

Priority Announcement: Health and Climate Change Competition
Funding amount: $100,000 (Health Canada)

Learn more about the grants on the CIHR website

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