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$5.5M funding for Nova Scotia health research projects


Halifax, NS – April 2, 2004 – The federal government has announced funding of $5.5 million to for 13 health research projects in Nova Scotia. The projects funded will be conducted at Dalhousie University, with studies being carried out over three to five years and covering a wide spectrum of health research.

The funding highlighted today is part of a larger package recently announced by Pierre Pettigrew, federal minister of health.

The researchers and projects include:

1. Paola Marignani, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – Determining the function of tumour suppressor serine-threonine kinase LKB1 in cancer. Dr Marignani is investigating how otherwise-normal signaling pathways in this gene become aberrant, to better understand the molecular basis for PJS.

2. Roger McLeod, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – Regulation of liver apolipoprotein B in metabolism. Dr McLeod is investigating how the liver regulates how much lipoprotein it produces, by studying the role of the protein portion of the lipoprotein, called apolipoprotein B.

3. Neale Ridgway, Pediatrics and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – Regulation of cellular lipid synthesis and transport. Dr Ridgway is learning more about how the lipids and cholesterol travel from the interior of a cell, where they are made, to different regions within the cell or to neighbouring cells, where they function, by studying the proteins regulating this process.

4. Balwantray Chauhan, Ophthalmology – Detecting progression of glaucoma. Dr Chauhan and his team are researching strategies to detect early progression of glaucoma. They will investigate a variety of new glaucoma tests and compare the progress of patients using the new tests with conventional methods to determine whether the new tests are quicker at picking up advances in the disease.

5. Andrew French, Physiology & Biophysics – Mechanisms of sensory transduction and adaption. Dr French and his team are investigating the fundamental processes that detect mechanical stimuli, and how information from such stimuli is coded and transmitted to the central nervous system.

6. Michael Gray, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – A biochemical and genomics investigation of the mitochondrion. Dr Gray ‘s comparative studies of the structure, function and evolution of mitochondria are providing new insights into how this important subcellular structure functions, and how it differs in various eukaryotes (animals, fungi, plants, protozoa and algae).

7. KS Joseph, Pediatrics and Obstetrics & Gynecology – An alternative approach to the creation of fetal growth standards. Dr Joseph ‘s preliminary work shows that current fetal growth standards yield contradictory findings in terms of mortality patterns. Using various databases, his team aims to develop new fetal growth standards by identifying the birth weight at which rates of mortality and morbidity are the lowest, and then obtaining new criteria for determining small- and large-for-gestational ages based on patterns of mortality and morbidity.

8. Christopher McMaster, Pediatrics – The role of lipids and fats in the regulation of cell growth. The experiments proposed by Dr McMaster will substantially increase knowledge of the biologies regulated by lipids. He will primarily focus on the molecular basis of several human diseases that are regulated by lipids, especially cancer and inherited disorders of lipid metabolism.

9. George Robertson, Psychiatry and Pharmacology – Neuroprotective signal transduction in a neonatal model of hypoxic/ischemic brain injury. Dr Robertson ‘s team will use an animal model of neonatal hypoxic/ischemic (H-I) brain injury to identify potential treatments for degenerative brain disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke.

10. Harold Robertson, Pharmacology – Dopamine D3 receptors and neurogenesis: A potential therapy for Parkinson’s disease. Dr Robertson and his team have put a chemical that activates D3 receptors into the brain and shown that this increases the number of new dopamine cells in an area of the brain where stem cells are found. They have demonstrated that this chemical will also increase behaviours concurrent with increased numbers of dopamine cells, and that D3 drugs will modulate dopamine cell numbers, thereby raising the possibility that these drugs may be useful in treating Parkinson’s disease.

11. Ben Rusak, Psychiatry and Psychology – Brain mechanisms affecting daily rhythms. Dr Rusak’s research studies the pathways and chemicals in the brain that are involved in conveying information about light cues or non-light cues to our internal clock mechanism in order to understand how they can reset our internal clocks and synchronize them to environmental time.

12. Kazue Semba, Anatomy and Neurobiology – Sleep deprivation: Modulation of cellular and behavioural impact by female sex steroids. Dr Semba ‘s team will investigate how estrogen and progesterone influence gene expression in neurons in response to acute sleep deprivation, as well as the quality of rebound sleep after sleep deprivation, in rodents. In particular, they will study how hormones influence the impact of acute sleep loss on cognitive functions like learning and memory.

13. Charles Weijer, Bioethics – Conceptual problems in research ethics III. Dr Weijer will examine and refine elements of the moral foundations of research.