fbpx Health Sciences researchers earn $1.7M in CIHR funding | Faculty of Health Sciences | Queen's University | Faculty of Health Sciences | Queen's University Skip to main content
portraits of all three CIHR award winners

Health Sciences researchers earn $1.7M in CIHR funding

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) recently announced results for their Fall 2021 Project Grant competition. The Project Grant program aims to identify ideas with great potential to advance basic and applied health research. Queen’s Health Sciences’ (QHS) researchers David Reed (Medicine), Mark Ormiston (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), and Imaan Bayoumi (Family Medicine) received a total of $1.7 million in support to advance their programs, which are addressing relevant public health challenges. 

“Congratulations to these outstanding Queen’s researchers who have been funded through the competitive CIHR Project Grants program,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). “I am excited to watch these projects unfold and realize benefit to Canadians and global citizens by advancing our understanding of human health and development.” 

Dr. Reed received $918,000 for a five-year program aiming to find new treatments for chronic abdominal pain, such as that experienced by people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other conditions. The precise mechanisms and causes of this pain are still unclear, which leads to a lack of effective treatments. Additionally, currently available medications have side effects that limit treatment options. Dr. Reed proposes a close look into gut microbiota – the trillions of bacteria that inhabit our bodies and are crucial to our health – in the search for solutions. 

In previous research, Dr. Reed and collaborators at Queen’s and McMaster University discovered that in some patients with IBS, gut bacteria produce high levels of histamine – a compound that activates pain sensing nerves. Using pre-clinical models, they now plan to elucidate mechanisms of gut pain induced by histamine release. The team will also assess the prevalence of high-histamine producing bacteria in a large cohort of IBS patients to establish how to effectively identify these cases. 

The molecular processes involved in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) are the object of study for Dr. Ormiston, a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Regenerative Cardiovascular Medicine, whose five-year research project received $750,275. In this disease, which targets young females and is sometimes fatal, loss of lung blood vessels leads to increase heart stress. Dr. Ormiston and his team have previously shown that immune cells known as Natural Killer cells are impaired in PAH patients – an impairment that might be driven by a protein called Transforming Growth Factor-b (TGFb). 

To confirm the role of TGFb in developing PAH, the team will investigate lung vascular development and the progression of lung vascular diseases in pre-clinical models modified to produce Natural Killer cells that are insensitive to TGFb. With this program, Dr. Ormiston expects to further understand the molecular processes by which immune cells can contribute to vessel remodeling in the lung and open new avenues for drug development. 

Dr. Bayoumi has been awarded $100,000 to develop a research program on poverty and child health. The team will assess the impact of community support worker assistance on parents’ ability to navigate the social service system and access income support and determine the effect of this intervention on health care utilization. 

The goal of the intervention is to reduce parental stress by increasing family income and, consequently, improving child development. Child poverty affects as many as 20 per cent of Canadian children and, if continued, can have lifelong impacts on health. Dr. Bayoumi hopes health care providers and policy makers can leverage these research results to make informed decisions about tackling child poverty in Canada. 

In addition to these Queen’s-led projects, ten QHS researchers who are members of multidisciplinary research teams being led out of other institutions received Project Grant funding totaling $6.7 million. These researchers include Dr. Beata Batorowicz (Rehabilitation Therapy), Dr. Jeannie Callum (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Dr. Kerstin de Wit (Emergency Medicine), Dr. Jennifer Flemming (Medicine), Dr. Michael Green (Family Medicine), Dr. Alan Lomax (Medicine), Dr. David Maslove (Critical Care & Medicine), Dr. Aynharan Sinnarajah (Medicine), Dr. Erna Snelgrove-Clarke (School of Nursing), Dr. Shervin Taslimi (Surgery), Dr. Stephen Vanner (Medicine), and Dr. Kevin Woo (School of Nursing).  

Queen’s Health Sciences takes immense pride in our researchers’ ability to collaborate on vital projects both at Queen’s and beyond. We hope to only further nurture these cross-institutional partnerships in light of our new strategic plan, Radical Collaboration for a Healthier World

Related topics