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Ottawa medical researchers awarded close to $20M by CIHR

OTTAWA, February 23, 2011 - Researchers affiliated with the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) and the CHEO Research Institute (CHEO RI) are about to embark on exciting new research projects that could lead to better therapies for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions.

The projects have been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) through the agency’s most recent operating grant competition. A total of 33 research teams from the Faculty of Medicine and affiliated hospital-based research institutes have been awarded grants worth nearly $20M in the competition. Such success highlights both the high level of research intensity at uOttawa’s Faculty of Medicine and our institution’s leading position nationally.

Some of the projects being funded:

  • Dr. Ilias Cagiannos, Prof. Dean Fergusson and Dr. Rodney Breau (OHRI and uOttawa) will lead a clinical trial to determine if cooling the kidney area during the surgical removal of kidney tumours can improve the recovery of kidney function and reduce complications.
  • Dr. Darryl Davis (UOHI and uOttawa) will explore novel strategies to enhance the regenerative capacity and retention of cardiac progenitor cells.
  • Prof. Andrew Makrigiannis (uOttawa) will investigate how the immune system recognizes unhealthy cells that need to be destroyed. In particular, he will study how natural killer cells spot the Ly49 MHC protein receptor, a marker of cellular health that is lost when cells become cancerous or infected by viruses.
  • Prof. Robert Screaton (CHEO RI and uOttawa) will investigate a gene called Lkb1, which plays an important role in regulating insulin production in the pancreas. His research could lead to novel approaches for the prevention and treatment of diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin.
  • Dr. Rhian Touyz (OHRI and uOttawa) will study how metabolic byproducts called free radicals possibly contribute to high blood pressure, kidney disease and cardiovascular problems. In particular, she will investigate how “Nox” proteins give rise to free radicals and how they can be harnessed for new therapies.
  • Prof. Barbara Vanderhyden (uOttawa and OHRI) will study the development of ovarian cancer and the role of reproductive factors, such as estrogen, in this process. A second project led by Dr. Vanderhyden will look at stem cells in the ovary and how they might contribute to cancer.

Full descriptions of the CIHR’s 2011 Decisions and Funded Projects are available at

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