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Health research projects receive federal funding

February 11, 2020 — 

Eight research projects led by faculty members of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences have received project grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, totalling $3.8 million in support.

‚ÄúCongratulations to the U of M applicants who were successful in this highly competitive national funding process,‚ÄĚ said Dr. Peter Nickerson, vice-dean research of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

‚ÄúThese projects represent a number of colleges and departments across the Rady Faculty. They demonstrate innovative and collaborative approaches to health research. Each of these exciting studies has the potential to advance health care in meaningful ways.‚ÄĚ        

Here’s a look at the projects:


Dr. Allan Becker, professor, pediatrics and child health, Max Rady College of Medicine; researcher with Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (CHRIM)

Dr. Meghan Azad, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease; assistant professor, pediatrics and child health; researcher with CHRIM

Project Grant: $1,220,940

Becker and Azad seek to understand why asthma is more common in boys than girls, but shifts to being more common in women than men. The researchers will assess 1,000 children who are part of an ongoing cohort study, measuring whether changes in body fat, inflammation or sex hormones in puberty explain the ‚Äúsex shift.‚ÄĚ This knowledge will contribute to better prevention and treatment of asthma in all children.


Dr. Christine Kelly, assistant professor, community health sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine

Project Grant: $726,750

Kelly will study directly funded (also known as ‚Äúself-managed‚ÄĚ) home care, which is expanding across Canada. Under this model, individuals receive government funds to pay for their own home care. Kelly will examine policy issues such as the role of home-care agencies in delivering these services and how this kind of home care can best be adapted to rural contexts. The aim is to generate insights about how directly funded home care can most equitably serve users, their families/supporters and home-care workers.


Dr. Gilbert Kirouac, neuroscientist; professor, oral biology, Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry

Project Grant: $707,625

Kirouac will study how a region of the brain called the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus interacts with other brain regions to produce excessive anxiety. Using rodent models, Kirouac will apply innovative techniques to better understand the neural circuitry of stress-induced anxiety. The goal is to gain knowledge that will lead to new treatments for anxiety disorders.


Dr. Lily Lim, assistant professor, pediatrics and child health, Max Rady College of Medicine; researcher with CHRIM

Project Grant: $321,300

Lim will study employment experiences and challenges among young adults aged 18 to 30 who have lupus. People with lupus often deal with fatigue, chronic pain and mental health issues that can make working difficult. Lim’s findings will contribute to developing new ways to help young people with lupus obtain and keep employment. Dr. Eleanor Pullenayegum of the University of Toronto is co-principal investigator.


Dr. Jillian Stobart, assistant professor, College of Pharmacy

Project Grant: $504,900

Stobart will use advanced fluorescence microscopes and genetic tools to study pericytes ‚Äď blood vessel cells ‚Äď and blood flow in animal models. Blood flow in the brain decreases with age, and this may cause cognitive decline and Alzheimer‚Äôs disease. Abnormal pericytes may account for these blood flow changes. Stobart‚Äôs objective is to understand how pericyte signaling changes with age or during Alzheimer‚Äôs disease, and how this affects blood flow.  


Dr. Dan Chateau, assistant professor, community health sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine; research scientist, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy

Priority Announcement Bridge Grant: $100,000

Chateau will use anonymized health data to investigate the effects of prescription opioid and psychotropic medication use during pregnancy. The study will look at patterns of prescription opioid use among pregnant women, short-term effects on children exposed in the womb (such as neonatal abstinence syndrome) and longer-term outcomes for these children, such as readiness for school.


Dr. Robert Lorway, Canada Research Chair in Global Intervention Politics and Social Transformation; associate professor, community health sciences, Max Rady College of Medicine

Dr. Lyle McKinnon, assistant professor, medical microbiology/infectious diseases and community health sciences; researcher with CHRIM

Dr. James Blanchard, Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology and Global Public Health; professor, community health sciences

Dr. Marissa Becker, associate professor, medical microbiology/infectious diseases and community health sciences

Priority Announcement Bridge Grant: $100,000

Lorway’s team will study human papillomavirus (HPV) infection among men who have sex with men in Nairobi, Kenya. Members of this group are stigmatized and are often diagnosed with HPV-related disease, including anal cancer, at a late stage of illness. This research will provide evidence to support a community-led early screening, prevention and treatment program.


Dr. Frederick Zeiler, assistant professor, neurosurgery, Max Rady College of Medicine

Dr. Jai Jai Shankar, professor, radiology, Max Rady College of Medicine

Priority Announcement Bridge Grant: $100,000

Zeiler and Shankar will research the use of an advanced type of brain scan, computed tomographic perfusion, to diagnose brain death in patients with severe traumatic brain injury at the time of hospital admission. Currently, patients with this kind of injury often receive intensive treatment because it is not recognized that their injuries are fatal. The goal is to better understand patients’ prognosis and optimize the use of health-care resources.


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