The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have released the results of their Fall 2023 Project Grant competition. Six Queen’s Health Sciences (QHS) researchers were awarded more than $4 million for five projects spanning from chronic pain and cancer therapy to chronic pain and sleep disruption.
“Congratulations to our researchers on their CIHR Project Grant results,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). “These projects are investigating chronic diseases and health challenges that millions of Canadians battle each day, and it’s exciting to think about the potential of this research to positively affect health and well-being.”
Learn more about the funded researchers and their programs:
Dr. 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 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. Dr. Archer acknowledges the important contributions of his co-principal investigator Dr. Asish Das Gupta.
Funding amount: $996,030
Dr. Janet Dancey (Canadian Cancer Trials Group, Department of Oncology) is leading a team researching how changing the gut microbiome can help improve outcomes for people receiving immunotherapy treatment for melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer-related death in Canada. The 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 results of immunotherapy to help kill more melanoma cells.
Funding amount: $1,786,273
Co-Principal Applicants: Arielle Elkrief, Bertrand Routy (Université de Montréal); John Lenehan (London Health Sciences Centre); Saman Maleki, Michael Silverman (Western University)
Dr. 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 this 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
Dr. J Alberto Neder (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. His 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
Co-Principal Applicants: Giles Santyr (University of Toronto); Miranda Kirby (Toronto Metropolitan University)
Dr. 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, their goal is to develop effective and equitable screening strategies to prevent liver disease progression in people living with diabetes.
Funding amount: $390,150
Learn more about the grants on the CIHR website.