Funding: CIHR Foundation Grants awarded to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry researchers

Two research projects based at Robarts Research Institute focused on improving treatment for mental illness and cancer received backing from the Canadian government this month. Congratulations to Lena Palaniyappan and Aaron Fenster, recipients of a total of $3 million in research funding as part of the recently announced Foundation Grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Palaniyappan’s research focuses on the brain mechanism that leads to treatment failure in schizophrenia. Using state-of-the-art imaging facilities Robarts and Lawson Health Research Institute, Palaniyappan and his team will be looking for clues in the brain to explain why many patients fail to respond to conventional treatments for schizophrenia and experience significant social decline.

“A sad truth about mental health is that despite being the leading cause of medical burden, disproportionately small number of dollars are spent on mental health research,” said Palaniyappan. “Large grants such as this will help us not only to continue our research efforts, but also help us to train individuals to pursue mental health research.”

Aaron Fenster will be using the funds from his grant to develop mechatronic robotic systems to guide minimally invasive interventions for gynecologic and liver cancers. Using their patented 3D ultrasound imaging technology and software, the team expects their systems for treatment to be more accurate, efficient and have fewer complications than current systems.

Across the country, the 2016-2017 competition approved 76 research grants, for a total investment of almost $200 million.