Gateway Gazette

University Receives $39.1 Million for Health Research

Pediatric stroke project at Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute gets a boost from federal announcement
July 28, 2015

Rona Ambrose, federal minister of health, announced the funding Tuesday under the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Archive photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
Rona Ambrose, federal minister of health, announced the funding Tuesday under the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Archive photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Research dedicated to better health for Canadians is getting a $39.1-million boost at the University of Calgary through the Government of Canada’s Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). A total of $25.8 million will be awarded as part of the Foundation Grants, the first round of a new streamlined and enhanced CIHR program, and another $13.3 million for the currently running Open Operating Grant program.

The Honorable Rona Ambrose, federal minister of health, made the announcement today at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. As part of the national announcement, more than $600 million is being awarded through 650 grants to researchers working at universities and hospitals across Canada.

“The new Foundation Grants and Open Operating Grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are a tremendous investment in our leaders in health research,” says President Elizabeth Cannon. “They not only support the outstanding academics and clinicians who help solve some of Canada’s most critical health issues, they also support our emerging research stars.  The University of Calgary is home to some of the world’s leading experts in health research, especially in the areas of brain and mental health and infections, inflammation and chronic diseases.

“Our entire university community is honoured to be recognized by the CIHR for our research excellence and to be among the first recipients of these new grants,” Cannon says.

New Foundation Grants target high-impact research

A total of 12 research projects were awarded under the new Foundation Grant program — many of them in the university’s priority areas of Brain and Mental Health and Infections, Inflammation and Chronic Diseases, two of the six strategic research priorities guiding the University of Calgary toward its Eyes High goals.

Half of the Foundation Grants announced today will focus on Brain and Mental Health research targeted at the signaling and regulation of stress and anxiety, imaging of brain structure and function, concussion assessment for youth, and optimizing outcomes for perinatal stroke.

Research in the Infections, Inflammation and Chronic Diseases Research Strategy is focused on chronic kidney disease, arthritis care for indigenous populations and the interplay of cells and platelets in infection.

This funding will support the multidisciplinary and groundbreaking research in the Cumming School of Medicine, the Schulich School of Engineering, and the faculties of arts and kinesiology.

“Canada is home to exceptional health researchers. Our new Foundation Grants will provide stable, long-term support to some of these top minds so that they have the time and resources needed to find new ways of preventing disease, managing chronic conditions and enhancing health-care delivery,” says Dr. Alain Beaudet, CIHR president. “The investment being announced today means better prevention, better treatment, and better health care now and for future generations.”

An additional 24 grants were awarded under the Open Operating Grants.

Alberta perinatal stroke program

Dr. Adam Kirton, a pediatric neurologist with the university’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI), is receiving $2.8 million for the Alberta Perinatal Stroke Program (APSP).

Fetal and newborn strokes affect thousands of Canadian children and are a leading cause of cerebral palsy and lifelong physical disability. The APSP provides affected children and their families with state-of-the-art diagnosis, treatment, and support while executing leading-edge clinical research.

Using advanced technologies such as brain imaging and non-invasive brain stimulation, the internationally recognized program is showing how the developing brain recovers from such early injuries. This has led to new clinical trials of brain stimulation and other methods that may enhance function, improve quality of life, and facilitate future success in life.

“Our ultimate goal is to improve outcomes from stroke for children and their families,” says Kirton, a researcher and associate professor in the departments of paediatrics and clinical neurosciences and ACHRI member in the Cumming School of Medicine.

Today’s announcement includes funding for the following 12 researchers receiving Foundation Grants:

  • Cheryl Barnabe ($575,209): “Arthritis Care for Indigenous Populations.” Member of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Richard Frayne ($1,293,565): “Quantitative MR Imaging of Vascular Contributions to Aging, Cognitive Decline and Stroke.” Member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) and the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, Professor in the departments of radiology and clinical neuroscience, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Walter Herzog ($2,420,841): “Cellular and Molecular Biomechanics of the Musculoskeletal System.” Member of ACHRI and the McCaig Institute, professor in the faculties of kinesiology, engineering and the Cumming School of Medicine.
  • Matthew Hill ($754,662): “Corticolimbic Endocannabinoid Signaling and the Regulation of Stress and Anxiety.” Member of the HBI, assistant professor in the departments of cell biology and anatomy and psychiatry, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Matthew James ($855,843): “Better Prediction and Decision Support Tools to Improve Care and Outcomes for Patients with Acute Kidney Injury.” Member of the Libin and O’Brien institutes, assistant professor in the departments of community health sciences and medicine, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Adam Kirton ($2,823,521): “Alberta Perinatal Stroke Program: Neuromodulation to Optimize Outcomes.” Member of ACHRI, associate professor in the departments of paediatrics and clinical neurosciences, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Paul Kubes ($3,847,470): “Interplay Between Subtypes of Neutrophils, Monocytes, Macrophage, iNKT Cells and Platelets in Infection, Sterile Injury and Metastasis in the Liver and Other Organs.” Member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, professor in the departments of physiology and pharmacology, medicine, and  microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Christopher Naugler ($1,056,420): “Misutilization of Laboratory Tests: Pathways to Correction.” Member of the O’Brien Institute and the Southern Alberta Cancer Research, assistant professor in the departments of pathology and laboratory medicine and family medicine, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Bruce Pike ($2,430,713): “Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Brain Structure and Function.” Member of HBI, professor in the departments of radiology and clinical neurosciences, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Marcello Tonelli ($2,941,008): “Patient-Centred Care of Comorbidity for People With Chronic Kidney Disease.” Member of the O’Brien and Libin institutes, professor in the Department of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine
  • Keith Yeates ($3,717,142): “Advancing Concussion Assessment and Treatment in Children and Youth.” Member of ACHRI and HBI, professor in the Faculty of Arts
  • Gerald Zamponi ($3,136,722): “Voltage Gated Calcium Channels: Molecular Targets for Pain Therapeutics.” Member of ACHRI and HBI, professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Cumming School of Medicine

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