Ottawa, ON – Dr Jeff Dilworth, a scientist at the Ottawa Health Research Institute, has become the first recipient of the Muscular Dystrophy Canada-Stem Cell Network New Investigator Grant. The award carries a value of $100,000 over two years.
Dr Dilworth was selected based on the originality and scientific excellence of his proposal to look at what makes embryonic stem cells become muscle cells at the genetic level. The hope is that by understanding which genes are turned on and off in muscle cells, stem cell science will move closer to the discovery of a therapy for muscular dystrophy and related diseases.
Upon winning the award, Dr Dilworth, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, also becomes a principal investigator in Canada’s Stem Cell Network, a national network of university- and hospital-based researchers.
“Stem cell research holds great promise in the fight against neuromuscular disorders. By their very nature, stem cells give us hope that we might rebuild muscles, nerves, and other tissues," says Wyn Chivers, national executive director of Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
“Dr Dilworth uses his knowledge of muscle growth and development to study some of the ways by which stem cells could be coaxed into changing from simple, unshaped cells into new muscles," says Wyn Chivers, national executive director of Muscular Dystrophy Canada. "This process, called myogenesis, is regulated by a complex series of hormones and genetic triggers. By further understanding and learning to replicate these molecular signals in the laboratory we may also learn how to better grow new muscles in people."
Dr Dilworth recently came to Ottawa after completing post-doctoral research with Dr Stephen Tapscott at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle. Prior to that, he pursued post-doctoral research with Dr Pierre Chambon at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Strasbourg, France.