Six U of S researchers awarded grants for improving respiratory health

SASKATOON – Six University of Saskatchewan (U of S) research teams each have been awarded Ideas That Inspire grants of $25,000 jointly funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) and the Lung Association, Saskatchewan (LAS) to improve respiratory health in the province.

The expertise in the teams ranges from medicine and clinical practice to computer science and pharmacy and nutrition. The awards support the new U of S interdisciplinary Respiratory Research Centre (RRC), which is housed within the College of Medicine and fosters innovative respiratory research in the health sciences.

“This research funding represents a significant investment in respiratory health. It’s a great start to building research capacity and making a difference,” said Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, U of S associate vice-president research. “It is also a testament to both the excellence of our scientists and investigators, and to the strong commitment by the SHRF and LAS in support of world-class research, right here at the U of S.” 

The researchers awarded grants are:

Dr. Mark Fenton, College of Medicine:

To better understand organ rejection involving lung transplant patients, Fenton’s team is developing and validating a lung transplant model in swine, whose airway is more similar to that of humans than mouse models. Advanced synchrotron imaging can provide high-resolution images of airway anatomy and the onset and progression of lesions in the airway that may be associated with graft rejection. This in turn may provide new insights into the immune mechanisms involved.

Shelley Kirychuk, Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture: 

Kirychuk’s team is evaluating if levels of particulate matter in Saskatchewan air have an impact on the respiratory health of residents. Researchers will assess the associations between respiratory outcomes in older adults (over age 50) and daily measurements of exposure to particulate matter smallerthan 2.5 microns (a micron is a millionth of a metre).

Joshua Lawson, Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture:

With a study involving children aged 6-7 years and 13-14 years, Lawson’s team will investigate exposure to smoke from conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Researchers will compare the reported smoke exposure and the level of cotinine (main metabolite of nicotine) in saliva. The results of the study can be used to identify groups at risk for taking up smoking, and to provide a baseline for follow-up studies.

Holly Mansell, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition: 

While lung transplant patients require anti-rejection drugs, they are among patients excluded from drug evaluations. Mansell’s team is examining the safety of the combined use of a new anticoagulant drug, apixaban, along with the anti-rejection drugs tacrolimus or cyclosporine in transplant patients. The team’s findings have the potential to reduce health complications in transplant patients, improve quality of life and reduce costs to the health system.

Dr. Erika Penz, College of Medicine: 

By using a smartphone app that surveys Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients daily after a recent flare-up, Penz’s team will gather and analyze information that provides a better understanding of the patients’ experience between visits to health care providers. In addition to identifying changes in symptoms and quality of life, the goal is to predict when a COPD patient might have a flare-up of their lung disease, and potentially develop an early intervention to treat patients before they require hospitalization.      

Dr. Robert Skomro, College of Medicine:

Skomro’s team will use synchrotron imaging to study changes in the lung physiology in mouse models with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a devastating chronic lung disease for which there’s no cure. The results will provide valuable information about the disease that may help the development of novel therapies to improve the outcome of IPF patients. 

For complete grants details, visit: SHRF media release


For more information, contact:

Jennifer Thoma
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan

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