Aerial view of the University of Saskatchewan. (Photo: USask)

Innovative USask health research projects receive $4.86 million from CIHR

Health care research projects at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) ranging from breast cancer treatments to pandemic preparedness have been awarded funding in the latest round of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grants.

Thirteen projects led by USask researchers and research teams were awarded funding through the CIHR Project Grant from the Fall 2023 competition. The projects received a total of $4,862,701 in funding.

The CIHR Project Grant program is intended to support ideas to advance health research across all potential subject areas, led by individual researchers or research teams at any stage of their careers.

Researchers from the USask College of Medicine, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), the Vaccine and Infections Disease Organization (VIDO), and the Canadian Centre for Rural and Agricultural Health (CCRAH) received funding.

USask had a 42 per cent success rate for this competition, compared to the national success rate of 24.3 per cent.

USask’s 13 awarded projects also mark the most successful projects in a single round of the CIHR Project Grant competition in at least the last 15 rounds, as well as the second-highest amount of funding received in a single round.

“USask continues to achieve high levels of success in the field of health research. USask researchers are advancing new and innovative health projects that are recognized across Canada and around the world.”

Peter Stoicheff, USask President

“It is heartening to see the work of so many excellent USask researchers recognized and supported by the CIHR. The many recipients of this funding shows how USask researchers are continually finding ways to be what the world needs in the areas of health care and health research.”

Baljit Singh (PhD), USask Vice-President Research

USask researchers who received funding and their projects:

  • Dr. Deborah Anderson (PhD), Saskatchewan Cancer Agency – $ 504,900 for two-year project – Targeting metastatic breast cancer
  • Dr. Arinjay Banerjee (PhD), Vaccine and Infections Disease Organization (VIDO) – $300,000 for three-year project - Characterizing bat interferon stimulated genes as novel next generation therapy against highly pathogenic coronaviruses
  • Dr. Arinjay Banerjee (PhD), VIDO – $ 100,000 for a one-year project – Investigating the role of SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV transcription regulatory sequence (TRS) in viral gene expression and virulence
  • Dr. Jeffrey Chen (PhD), VIDO – $100,000 for a one-year project – Characterizing the novel virulence functions of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Type-7 secretion system ESX-1 effectors
  • Dr. Neeraj Dhar (PhD), VIDO – Pending – $100,000 for a one-year project – Role of phenotypic heterogeneity in mycobacterial persistence to antibiotics: Prospects for more effective treatment regimens
  • Dr. Andrew Freywald (PhD) et al., College of Medicine – $100,00 for a one-year project –Targeting the EGFR/EphA2 crosstalk in triple negative breast cancer
  • Dr. Angelica Lang (PhD), Canadian Centre for Rural and Agricultural Health – $348,076 for four-year project – Shoulder dysfunction and breast cancer treatment: biomechanical analysis of the impact of reconstruction and mastectomy
  • Dr. Adelaine Leung (PhD), Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) – $627,300 for five-year project – Elucidating the Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Sex-Specific Regulation of Energy Metabolism through NUCB1 in Drosophila melanogaster
  • Dr. Antonio Ruzzini (PhD), WCVM – $841,500 for five-year project – Discovery and characterization of overlooked antimicrobial resistance genes and mechanisms
  • Dr. Jessica Sheldon (PhD), College of Medicine – $868,275 for five-year project – Defining key players at the host-pathogen interface during Acinetobacter baumannii infection
  • Dr. Joyce Wilson (PhD) et al., College of Medicine – $100,000 for a one-year project –Unraveling the Evolution of COVID-19: The Impact of Variant Mutations and ORF8 on Virus Replication and Pathogenesis to Enhance Pandemic Preparedness
  • Dr. Changting Xiao (PhD), College of Medicine – $ 772,650 for five-year project – Regulation of intestinal lipid storage and release in metabolic health and disease
  • Dr. Yan Zhou (PhD), VIDO – $100,000 for a one-year project – Regulation of RIG-I mediated antiviral response upon influenza A virus infection


Together, we will undertake the research the world needs. We invite you to join by supporting critical research at USask.