Funding: 2021 NSERC competition results in more than $1M for research initiatives

Researchers from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry secured funding — collectively more than $1,000,000 — through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) 2021 Discovery Grant competition. 

Zia Khan, PhD, Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, received $140,000 to investigate the relationship between ageing, associated blood vessel damage and the consequent impacts on the body – such as on bone vitality – and the potential for stem cell preservation to prevent these changes. 

Lisa Cameron, PhD, Associate Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, is researching hormonal regulation of immune responses thanks to a $160,000 grant. 

Through the development of computational and machine learning models, Parisa Shoostari, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, hopes to understand the biological mechanisms that underlie complex phenotypes - physical characteristics of an organism. Through the Discovery Grant program, she received $120,000 in funding to support her research.

Anatomy and Cell Biology Professor and Robarts Research Institute scientist Marco Prado, PhD, was also a recipient of a 2021 Discovery Grant. His research program tackles the question of how neurotransmitters and neuromodulators regulate high-level cognition. Prado received $275,000 for his research, which will observe behaviour changes in animal models in response to environmental conditions, known as behavioural flexibility.

By measuring behavioural flexibility and recording neurochemical activity, Prado will be able to determine how neurochemical modulation happens in the brain to establish new behavioural strategies based on changes to the external environment.

Brian Corneil, PhD, Professor, Physiology and Pharmacology and a scientist at Robarts Research Institute, successfully obtained funding for project, Assessing the contribution of a subcortical circuit for express visuomotor responses, receiving $200,000.

Also within the department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Daniel Hardy, PhD, Associate Professor, was awarded $140,000 to study mitochondrial dysfunction and how it effects the development, function and ageing of the liver. 

Medical Biophysics Assistant Professor, Lisa Hoffman, PhD, received $165,000 for her project, Muscle homeostasis: role of the microvascular niche.

NSERC is a federal funding agency, whose mission is to help promote and maintain a diversity of research across Canadian universities and research institutions. Across Western University, 43 projects were supported through the 2021 Discovery Grant competition.