Lab Canada

Arthritis researchers, specialists get $5.5M infusion

Toronto, ON September 3, 2003 The Arthritis Society announced today that a select group of researchers and specialists will receive a funding infusion of C$5.5 million in 2003-2004, through the society’s research and career development program. A total of 33 new grants were awarded this year to scientists and physicians across Canada, adding to the 57 awards that continue to be funded from previous years.

“Our donors, many of whom have arthritis themselves, continue to send a clear message through their support: ‘we need to put an end to this debilitating disease,'” says Denis Morrice, president and CEO of the Arthritis Society. “More immediately, though, they know that their donations will be used to find ways to improve their quality of life – that’s what is at the core of this program.”

The society’s research and career development program has supported research and training of scientists and medical doctors in the area of arthritis for more than 50 years. “This program has contributed to tremendous improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis,” says paediatric rheumatologist Dr David Hawkins, a professor at the University of Ottawa and chair of the society’s scientific advisory committee.

One recent example of the impact of this program is the discovery of a new gene in psoriatic arthritis, identified by Dr Proton Rahman from Memorial University in Newfoundland. This discovery could pave the way for better diagnosis of disease, and potentially provide a therapeutic target for drug development. The society says it identified Dr Rahman as an exciting, up-and-coming researcher early in his career and has supported his work over the years through its research and career development program.

This year, the society says it received approximately 60 new applications for funding. Through a review process, panels of the applicants’ peers recommend which ones were worthy of funding. However, the society says that each year funds fall short of about 30% of the applications that are deemed meritorious – “a constant reminder of the need for increased financial support for arthritis research in Canada,” Morrice adds.