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2014 CIHR Funding Recipients

February 11, 2014
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It is our pleasure to congratulate the CFRI members who were recently awarded grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) through the fall 2013 Operating Grants competition

In this highly competitive competition, more than $4.5 million was awarded to 11 CFRI investigators. This success denotes the high-caliber of research at CFRI, the strength of our teams, and our shared commitment to improving the health of children and families in B.C. and beyond.  

We’d also like to congratulate Dr. Dawn McArthur, Head, Research & Technology Development and the Research & Technology Development Office (RTDO) team. Many of the investigators who were successful in these competitions worked closely with the RTDO team and benefited from their expertise. 

2014 CIHR Funding Recipients

DEVLIN, Angela M; LAHER, Ismail

Project: “Developmental Exposure to Maternal Obesity and Programming of Vascular Disease.”
Co-investigators: BERISTAIN, Alexander G; GREEN, Tim
Amount: $444,324/5 years

Dr. Devlin’s study will investigate the relationship between obesity in pregnant mothers and adverse cardio-metabolic complications in their children using mouse models to determine whether mild exercise during pregnancy can alleviate those complications.

ELANGO, Rajavel

Project: “Amino Acid Metabolism in Pregnancy.” 
Operating Grant-PA: INMD Start Up Funds (bridge funding) - Assistant Professors. 
Amount: $100,000/1 year

Dr. Elango and his team have developed a safe, non-invasive way to study amino acid needs in pregnant women. Using this new approach, they’ll be studying the different conditionally essential amino acid needs of women during each stage of pregnancy to improve maternal and fetal nutrition. 


Project: “Assessing the clinical utility of DECIDE: A novel e-counselling aid for clinical genome-wide sequencing.” 
Co-investigators: BANSBACK, Nicholas; LEHMAN, Anna M. 
Amount: $528,057/3 years 

Genetic counselling is necessary before clinical genome-wide sequencing is performed, but this counselling is often complex and time-consuming. Dr. Friedman and his team have developed an online counselling aid for clinical genome-wide sequencing. This tool, called "DECIDE" (Decision aid and E-Counselling for Inherited Disorder Evaluation), will be tested in a randomized controlled trial of families who have been offered genome-wide sequencing to find the cause of a serious genetic disorder in their child.

HOLSTI, Liisa 

Project: “Calmer: A Novel Approach for Treating Infant Pain.”
Co-investigators: BRANT, Rollin F; COLLET, Jean-Paul; MACLEAN, Karon E; SUTO, Melinda; SYNNES, Anne R. 
Amount: $218,434/ 2 years 6 months 

Dr. Holsti’s team has developed a new device for use in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Called Calmer, this device may reduce pain and stress in preterm infants, which may reduce hospital length of stay, and improve long-term health outcomes for Canadian infants.

MARC, Isabelle; FRASER, William D; LACAZE-MASMONTEIL, Thierry; LAVOIE, Pascal; MASSE, Benoît R.; NUYT, Anne Monique

Project: “Maternal Omega-3 supplementation to reduce Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia in very Preterm Infants : A Randomized Controlled Trial (MOBYDIck Trial).”
Co-investigators: JULIEN, Pierre; LAVOIE, Jean-Claude; LUCAS, Michel; PIEDBOEUF, Bruno; SYNNES, Anne R.; WALKER, Mark C.
Amount: $100,000/1 year (bridge-funding) 

This collaborative project involves developing a pan-Canadian clinical trial to reduce inflammatory lung disease in infants born extremely pre-term by supplementing the diets of their mothers with DHA, an omega-3 lipid, which will help extremely pre-term babies meet their dietary requirements from their mothers’ breast-milk.

MAXWELL, Christopher A.

Project: “Understanding the mitotic and non-mitotic roles of RHAMM, a novel regulator for aurora kinase A.”
Co-investigator: PANTE, Nelly
Operating Grant - Priority Announcement: Breast Cancer Research (AVON)
Amount: $631,358/5 years

Some breast tumours are more difficult to kill because they do not express on their surface the targets for standard treatments. These stealth breast cancer cells rely more heavily on an enzyme called Aurora kinase A and, thus, may be more susceptible to new drugs that target this enzyme. Research from the Maxwell lab will enable the best use of these new drugs, which may improve overall cancer survival rates.


Project: “Developmental origins of autism: A population level linked data study of prenatal antidepressant medication exposure.”
Co-investigators: HANLEY, Gillian E; LANPHEAR, Bruce P.; MINTZES, Barbara J; ZWAIGENBAUM, Lonnie. 
Amount: $285,768/3 years. 

Using population level data, Dr. Oberlander’s study will examine possible links between prenatal antidepressant exposure and risks for childhood Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Dr. Oberlander’s work will focus on knowing if or how such prenatal medication exposure increases the incidence of ASD. It is expected that this should add to our understanding of the early origins of ASD and shape the treatment of antenatal maternal depression in ways that improves child mental health and risks for ASD.

RODRIGUES, Brian B. (CFRI affiliated member) 

Project: “Endothelial heparanase regulation of cardiac metabolism.” 
Amount: $684,420/5 years

In people with diabetes, inadequate pharmaceutical management predisposes the patient to heart failure, which is the leading cause of diabetes related deaths. Dr. Rodrigues’ study will help in gaining more insight into the mechanism(s) by which this cardiac disease develops. 

SLY, Laura M.

Project: “Macrophages in intestinal disease.” 
Amount: $636,605/5 years

Dr. Sly’s team has found that macrophages, a specialized type of white blood cell, can cause inflammation and can cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They are currently working on defining the mechanism that macrophages use to cause disease and block it to prevent inflammation and disease.

STEWART, S. Evelyn

Project: “Neural Correlates in Childhood-onset Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”
Co-investigators: HONER, William G; MILLER, Lynn D; WOODWARD, Todd S. 
Amount: $526,454/3 years 

Childhood-onset OCD (CO-OCD) is the form of OCD that is most strongly influenced by genetic factors, yet risk genes have not been identified despite many costly and large genetic studies. Predicting who will develop the illness and whether they will respond to treatment remains challenging. Dr. Stewart’s study will be the first study of its kind in CO-OCD, and aims to find risk predictors by evaluating brain performance abnormalities.  

TURVEY, Stuart E.

Project: “Understanding the Novel Human Primary Immunodeficiency Caused by MALT1 Mutations.”
Co-investigators: FUNG, Shan-Yu; PRIATEL, John J; TAN, Rusung 
Amount: $401,337/3 years 

Dr. Turvey cares for B.C. children who are born with primary immune deficiency diseases (PIDs), which place these children at very high risk for severe infections. Very recently, Dr. Turvey and colleagues at CFRI found that mutations in a gene called MALT1 cause a new form of PID, and they have identified the only known living person in the world with MALT1 mutations. In the proposed research they will carefully work to understand how the mutations in MALT1 disable normal protective immune function.