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Cutting-edge projects at Memorial University gain support

From left, Dr. Dake Qi, Dr. Craig Moore, federal Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Dr. Francis Bambico talk about their projects at the MUN research facility on Wednesday.
From left, Dr. Dake Qi, Dr. Craig Moore, federal Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Dr. Francis Bambico talk about their projects at the MUN research facility on Wednesday. - Joe Gibbons

Medical researchers awarded $1.9 million for innovative work

The host of cutting-edge research projects in progress at Memorial University in St. John’s got a booster shot Wednesday.

Federal Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor was on hand as funding was announced for three researchers at MUN totalling $1.9 million at the event held in the Frank and Eileen Gronich Lecture Theatre at the faculty of medicine.

“Canada is blessed with so many world-class scientists and some of those are here today,” Petitipas Taylor said.
She said the government is supportive of science, research and innovation and believes the breakthroughs in all those fields come from the ground up and if you approach old problems with new ways of thinking, great things are achieved.

In announcing the grants for these projects, Petitpas Taylor said there are 16 teams receiving funding in Atlantic Canada, with three of those in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Health research is one of the most important investments we can make. It saves lives,” Petitipas Taylor said.

“This investment will fund research that will lead to new treatments, breakthroughs and fundamental advances in health science. We are proud of our researchers, and will continue to support them in their efforts to help keep Canadians healthy and continue their research right here at home.”

Following the announcement, Petitpas Taylor toured the 5th floor lab of the faculty of medicine to see where all the groundbreaking work carried out by Memorial researchers is done.

Grants for five years
Dr. Craig Moore is a researcher at Memorial University who studies multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system for which there is no cure.
He will use the $600,000 his team was awarded over five years to develop new strategies to protect the brain from MS.

“This research makes contributions to the overall health of Canadians,” Moore said.

“Through research, we will gain a better understanding of how the brain responds to injury and makes repairs.”

A second grant went to Dr. Francis Bambico and his team that was awarded $650,000 over five years to better understand why some people are more vulnerable to contracting illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In addition, Dr. Dake Qi and his team received $650,000 in grant funding over five years for their work exploring how to limit the side effects of drugs to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“The Government of Canada is one of Memorial University’s most important partners in cultivating and mobilizing the talent needed to foster innovative research,” said Dr. Neil Bose, MUN’s vice-president of research.
“Through the continued support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Memorial will lead critical health-related studies that will benefit all Canadians. I applaud the federal government for today’s investment, as it will strengthen our university’s research capacity and enhance our reputation for pioneering health research.”

Feds spend $372M

The $1.9 million awarded to Memorial is just a portion of the federal expenditure of $372 million to support hundreds of health researchers from coast to coast. Those funds have been targeted for projects that include research on mental health studies, multiple sclerosis and Indigenous health initiatives.

Dr. Anne Martin Matthews, the acting vice-president, research, knowledge translation and ethics with CIHR, spent three hours with Moore on a flight to St. John’s early Wednesday, and said learning and hearing what he is doing was enlightening.

“His passion and commitment for what he does totally reinforces what we are here for today,” she said.

“The projects we support are a pipeline of innovation.”
This support, through the CIHR, will help Canadian researchers study the full spectrum of health issues affecting the lives of Canadians.
CIHR is Canada’s health research funding agency with a mission to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system.

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