Health researchers receive funding from CIHR
October 6, 2020
Seven members of the Faculty of Health Sciences have been awarded with a total of $5.76 million in funding from the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s federal agency for funding health research. The CIHR Project Grants are designed to support researchers at any career stage build and conduct health-related research and knowledge translation projects. All seven grants have been awarded to successful applicants of the CIHR Spring 2020 Project Grant competition, the results of which can be viewed at the CIHR’s website.
The successful researchers are: Mohammed Auais, Andrew Craig, Nader Ghasemlou, Charles Graham, Annette Hay, Martin Paré, and Lynne-Marie Postovit.
Dr. Auais is a registered physical therapist and assistant professor with the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. His research is focused on improving health outcomes for community-dwelling older adults who have suffered from hip fractures. As the number of hip fractures continues to grow, post-hip fracture care shifts from hospitals to community health services. Dr. Auais has been funded to test a novel rehabilitation program called Stronger at Home in a six-year clinical trial. The new program consists of a user-friendly patient toolkit and a new model of care that includes personalized, at-home physiotherapy, and evaluation of its impact and cost-effectiveness up to 12 months after discharge from the hospital.
Dr. Craig is associate head research in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences and a principal investigator at Queen’s Cancer Research Institute. His funded research program aims to improve responses of ovarian cancer to both chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canadian women, and advances in ovarian cancer therapies are needed. Dr. Craig’s research will use advanced genetic and pharmacological tools to identify new combinations of therapies that improve therapy responses in ovarian cancer patients and identify fundamental mechanisms of tumour biology.
Dr. Ghasemlou is an assistant professor in the departments of Anesthesiology and Biomedical & Molecular Sciences, and director of Queen’s Translational Research in Pain. His research is focused on better understanding neuro-immune interactions in post-operative pain. His recent work has found that immune cells in the skin produce specific signaling mediators that activate sensory neurons to cause pain. Additionally, he has determined that by blocking the receptors of these proteins, pain can be substantially reduced. Dr. Ghasemlou’s proposal will examine how these cells communicate with pain-sensing neurons, and to how this can be used to prevent and treat pain.
Dr. Graham is a professor with the Department of Biomedical & Molecular Sciences. His research is focused on the role of innate immune memory in the response to immunotherapy of bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, and the immunotherapy used to treat bladder cancer involves the administration of bacteria, which cause the patients’ immune system to fight the cancer cells. Unfortunately, up to half of patients do not respond fully and the cancer returns. Dr. Graham and his team of co-investigators are conducting research that aims to better understand how this immunotherapy works and why some patients don’t respond well. This work would lead to the development of new bladder cancer treatment methods.
Dr. Hay is a hematologist and associate professor with the Department of Medicine, and a senior investigator with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group. Dr. Hay is studying the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), an incurable blood malignancy, and aims to compare the effectiveness of two Ibrutinib dose strategies. Ibrutinib, while used to treat CLL, often results in negative consequences such as major bleeding and heart rhythm abnormalities. Recent work on dose reduction strategies confirmed that at lower doses these consequences are diminished, while the activity of ibrutinib can be fully maintained. This project will evaluate a lower dose (3-2-1 Strategy) against full dose of Ibrutinib, with the goal of reducing patients’ side effects and treatment costs.
Dr. Paré is a professor with the Department of Biomedical & Molecular Sciences. His research aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of the effects of drugs used in mental disorders to modify cognitive function. Dr. Paré’s project will evaluate task performance and memory to investigate how drugs used in the treatment of ADHD can impact their function. Findings from this study will help to better understand the neural mechanisms that are dysfunctional in mental disorders and become impaired in aging.
Dr. Postovit is a professor and head of the Department of Biomedical & Molecular Sciences. Her research interests involve improving treatment options for cancers whose observable characteristics commonly revert to more generalized conditions or structures. These cancers no longer look like the tissue from which they arise, but rather look more like tissue in an embryo, and as a result have a very poor prognosis. Dr. Postovit’s CIHR-funded study will determine the extent to which this phenomenon is promoted by the loss of components of the SWI/SNF protein complex. In addition, it will determine how to target and kill cancers which undergo this process.