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Transformative investment

Health-related studies benefit from nearly $3.7-million federal investment

By Jeff Green

Research ranging from how to treat fatal neurodegenerative diseases to better understanding the affects of type 2 diabetes are among six critical health-related studies receiving nearly $3.7 million in new funding.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has announced its Project Grant: Fall 2018 competition results. In total, Memorial is receiving $3,698,777 in funding to support the work led by principal investigators based in the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Science.

“As one of the top 20 research universities in Canada, Memorial plays a central role in driving innovation and cultivating new research ideas,” said Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research).

“Our teams of multidisciplinary health-related researchers are addressing health-care challenges directly affecting our communities and improving health outcomes for all Canadians. Memorial is grateful to the Government of Canada and CIHR for investing in this work, particularly as we intensify our research activities and attract new faculty and students. Congratulations to the faculty who will benefit from this latest transformative investment.”

Medical funding

Within the Faculty of Medicine, five researchers are receiving funding.

Dr. Sheila Garland, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science, who is cross-appointed to the Discipline of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, is receiving $493,424 for a project titled A randomized controlled trial of cognitive behaviour therapy for insomnia and perceived cognitive impairment in cancer survivors.

Dr. Sheila Garland
Dr. Sheila Garland
Photo: Michael Ritter

Dr. Garland’s study will take place in Newfoundland and Labrador, which has the highest incidence rate for cancer in Canada. About 75 per cent of cancer patients have difficulty remembering things, concentrating and paying attention after completing cancer treatments.

“This interdisciplinary project brings together a team of experts in psychology, oncology, sleep medicine, biostatistics and the patient experience of cancer,” Dr. Garland told the Gazette.

“The research will tackle two of the most prevalent and distressing long-term effects of cancer: insomnia and cancer-related cognitive impairment. It has huge implications for increasing access to evidence-based treatments for insomnia across the province and improving psychological and physical recovery from cancer.”

Critical research

Dr. Stuyvers’ research focuses on the triggering process of sudden cardiac death (SCD), which takes 40,000 lives a year in Canada and is a major cause of mortality in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Bruno Stuyvers
Dr. Bruno Stuyvers
Photo: HSIMS

The origin of SCD has been localized in the internal electric system of the heart; however, the exact conditions and mechanism that trigger SCD remain unknown, says Dr. Stuyvers.

“As a consequence, individuals with high-risk of SCD cannot be identified and cannot be protected by specific drug treatments or implantable medical devices. My objective is to understand how cells of the cardiac electric system initiate the process leading to SCD and to identify indicators predicting the risk of SCD.”

CIHR is Canada’s federal funding agency for health research. Composed of 13 institutes, it collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve the health of Canadians and strengthen the country’s health-care system. It made its most recent announcement on Jan. 24.

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