Funding: CIHR Project Grant recipients announced

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced more than $7.4 million in research funding through their project grants competition for 12 research projects at Western University.

Ten projects from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry received funding. A collaborative project with researchers at the School and the Faculty of Science also was successful in this round, as was one at Lawson Health Research Institute.

“The funding from CIHR provides a strong endorsement of the research excellence within our School,” said David Litchfield, PhD, Vice Dean of Research & Innovation at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

“The grants will support a number of innovative research studies, including collaborations between basic scientists and clinicians that offer the ultimate promise of improvements in patient care.”

One of the funded projects leveraging collaboration between basic and clinical science researchers is led by Alison Allan, PhD, Chair, Anatomy & Cell Biology.

Allan’s pre-clinical research project studies breast cancer lung metastasis — the ability for cancer to spread between the two organs. The lung is one of the most common sites of breast cancer metastasis, especially in patients with the particularly aggressive triple-negative (TN) breast cancer subtype.

“Breast cancer is a leading cause of death in women, mainly due to its ability to metastasize to distant organs. Our project aims to understand how tiny particles called extracellular vesicles released from TN breast tumors can signal the lung to produce or attract specific factors that support breast cancer metastasis,” Allan explained.

To test the hypothesis, the research team will be utilizing animal models, human patient samples, innovative 2D and 3D simulated lung environments and genomic profiling.

“This will lay the critical groundwork needed for identifying new biomarkers or therapeutic targets that would prevent or reduce lung metastasis, and translating this knowledge to the clinic,” Allan said.

Congratulations to the all the successful CIHR Project Grant applicants:

  • Alison Allan (PI), David Litchfield and Karla Williams - Influence of breast cancer-derived extracellular vesicles (BCEVs) on lung metastasis of triple negative breast cancer
  • Michael Boffa (PI) , John Ronald and David Hess- Development of a Novel Therapy to Prevent Breast Cancer Metastasis: Modulation of TAFI, a Master Regulator of Extracellular Proteolysis
  • Maria Drangova (PI) and Allan Skanes - Contact-force controller to eliminate the effects of motion during cardiac radiofrequency ablation
  • M. Mansour Haeryfar(PI) and Tina Mele - Mobilizing the Antiviral Capacities of MAIT Cells to Combat COVID-19: From Fundamental Immunology to Vaccine Optimization and Immunotherapy
  • Steven Kerfoot - Defining novel, non-classical roles for tissue-infiltrating B cells in chronic CNS autoimmunity
  • Sisira Sarma (PI), Maria Mathews, Amit Garg, Mohammad Hajizadeh, Michael Hong, Greta Bauer, Shehzad Ali, Saverio Stranges, Rose Anne Devlin, Amardeep Thind and Kelly Anderson - Primary care reform and inequalities in the utilization of healthcare services and health status: Analyses using Canadian Community Health Surveys linked with the Ontario health administrative data
  • Taylor Schmitz (PI), Marc-Andre Bedard, Robert Spreng and Marco Prado - Linking preclinical mechanisms of neurodegeneration to individual risk profiles of Alzheimer's disease
  • Trevor Shepherd (PI) and Jim Petrik - Interrogating the critical requirement of intact LKB1-NUAK1 signaling during the ovarian tumorigenic program
  • Marnin Heisel (PI) and David Conn - Screening for Suicide Risk among Older Long-Term Care Residents: Assessing the Prevalence and Correlates of Suicide Ideation in an at risk Demographic
  • John Ronald (PI), Gregory Dekaban, Paula Foster, Timothy Scholl, Jonathon Thiessen, Justin Hicks and S.M. Mansour Haeryfar - Development of Molecular Imaging Tools to Monitor the Fate of an Off The-Shelf Chimeric Antigen Receptor Natural Killer (CAR-NK) Cell Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer
  • Andrew Pruszynski and Joern Diedrichsen - Genetic Frontotemporal Dementia Initiative in Canada: Combined Investigation of Clinical, MRI, Genomic and Epigenomic Biomarkers
  • Keith St. Lawrence (PI), Adrian Owen, Derek Debicki, Mel Boulton and John Murkin - Development of a non-invasive optical device to guide individualized neurointensive care (Funded through Lawson Health Research Institute)