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Queen’s Health Sciences researchers secure federal funding

QHS research programs secure federal funding

Eight successful Queen’s Health Sciences research applicants will receive a total of $5.94 million.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have released the results of their latest Project Grant competition. Six QHS researchers were awarded funds for projects spanning from cancer to autism and social determinants of health. Another two researchers were listed as Priority Announcements, that provide additional sources of potential funding to projects that are relevant to CIHR and partners.  

Learn more about the QHS funded researchers and their programs: 

Project Grant awardees 

Bruce Banfield (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is an expert on viruses, with a focus on the study of the herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Both viruses cause lifelong infections for which there is no cure, and which can be severe in people with compromised immune systems. Dr. Banfield’s research program aims to deepen our understanding of HSV replication with an aim to identifying new antiviral drug targets. Funding amount: $856,800. 

Christopher Mueller (Queen’s Cancer Research Institute) has been investigating new strategies to extend the lives of women with metastatic breast cancer. He led the development of a blood test that will be used to determine if a given patient is responding well to the treatment of choice within the first few weeks of therapy. This grant will allow the team to start a clinical trial in Kingston and Ottawa that will show if the new blood test can be used to guide clinical decisions and help physicians provide the most effective treatment for each patient. Funding amount: $891,226. 

Maria Ospina (Public Health Sciences) is an epidemiologist and population health researcher focusing on maternal and perinatal health. In this project in collaboration with the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, McMaster University, and Cork University (Ireland) she will recruit 600 pregnant persons and assess them and their babies up to three years after birth. The proposed research will evaluate whether mothers’ social living conditions influence the gut bacteria of the mother and child, and whether gut bacteria is a biological link that explains how maternal social circumstances influence their mental health and child’s neurodevelopment. Funding amount: $1,350,225. 

Patrick Stroman (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences,Centre for Neuroscience Studies) develops methods to apply Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to the study of the central nervous system. This research program will explore fMRI to investigate pain in patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that, while it affects roughly a million people in Canada, is poorly understood. The team will look at why people with fibromyalgia experience heightened pain, exploring the neurobiological basis of pain. Funding amount: $646,425 

Xiaolong Yang (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) researches how cancer initiates, progresses, and resists to drugs. This program will investigate the role of a group of genes called “Hippo” in breast cancer spreading and metastasis. The results will inform the development of new treatment strategies that target metastasis, which accounts for over 90% breast cancer fatality. Funding amount: $956,250  

Shetuan Zhang (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) focuses on the molecular mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. In collaboration with Drs. Baranchuk and El Diasty (Medicine), his current research is unravelling the role of inflammation enzymes in the most common complication following heart surgery: irregular heartbeat initiated in the atria (the two upper chambers of the heart). The goal is to explore novel ways to prevent and treat post-operative irregular heartbeat, which can cause adverse effects and even death. Funding amount: $1,048,050 

Priority Announcements 

Josee-Lyne Ethier (Oncology) conducts population-based research to evaluate the effectiveness of cancer therapies. In this program, she will examine data from patients that received ovarian cancer treatment in Ontario to identify if maintenance therapy after surgery and chemotherapy led to better long-term outcomes, delaying recurrence and prolonging survival. Funding amount: $100,000. 

Chandrakant Tayade (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is an expert on endometriosis, a disease in which the lining of the uterus – or endometrium – grows on other organs in the pelvic cavity, such as bowel, bladder, and ovaries. Endometriosis can lead to infertility, but there’s still no cure for it, and the diagnostic requires an invasive surgical procedure. This research program will study the use of interleukin 33 (IL-33), a protein associated with lesion growth, blood supply and pain in endometriosis, to develop new therapeutic and diagnostic strategies. Funding amount: $100,000. 

Get a complete breakdown of all Queen’s University researchers who received CIHR funding in this Queen's Gazette story.   

Learn more about the grants on the website →

Transitions in Care

CIHR also announced the results of its team grant Transitions in Care, in partnership with The Rossy Foundation. A multi-institutional team led by Queen's Professor Anne Duffy (Psychiatry) received $480,000 from CIHR, plus $480,000 from the funding partner, to further develop a novel translational research program. The team works in partnership with students to engage them, from entry to university and over the course of undergraduate studies, in a conversation about their mental health using a digital survey. Findings are translated into sustainable and scalable resources organized in a stepped care framework. The initiatives include a digital accredited mental health literacy course offered as an interdisciplinary elective and a digital wellbeing platform where students can access tailored wellbeing plans, wellbeing self-monitoring tools, and based on their entries, are signposted to wellness resources. This work is also being adapted and evaluated across six universities in the UK with the support of a large MRC grant, which allows the team to compare findings between universities and countries. Learn more.

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