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Award recognizes researchers of musculoskeletal, oral and skin diseases


Quebec City, QC – The Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research announced the winners of its prestigious Quality of Life Research Award at an Open Researcher/Stakeholder Forum at Universit Laval on March 3.

“Today, half-way through the bone and joint decade, we need to step up our efforts to address the economic burden of illness (approx 16.4 billion) associated with a broad range of musculoskeletal, oral and skin disorders,” said Dr Cy Frank, IMHA’s Scientific Director. “Our Quality of Life Research Awards were created two years ago to recognize the efforts of researchers who are conducting investigations across our six foci and three strategic themes towards the ultimate eradication of the pain, suffering and disability caused by these diseases and conditions.”

The six winners of IMHA’s 2004 – 2005 Quality of Life Research Awards are as follows:

– Dr. Barry Sessle, (overall award winner) from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Dentistry, is working to help clarify the role of the sensorimotor area of the cerebral cortex in adaptive mechanisms associated with an altered oral environment. His efforts will hopefully lead to new and improved clinical rehabilitative approaches for individuals suffering from orofacial sensorimotor deficits.

– Dr Lucie Germain, Canada Research Chair in Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering at the Universit Laval, has initiated a study that will examine regeneration of human skin and the mechanisms of post-natal stem cell differentiation. A long-term objective of the study will be to understand how stem cells can be used to effectively facilitate gene therapy, and may ultimately lead to new approaches to treat hereditary diseases.

– Dr Jeff Dixon and his team from the University of Western Ontario will examine the ways in which extracellular nucleotides act through P2 nucleotide receptors to regulate the activity of osteoclasts (cells that remove bone) and osteoblasts (cells that form bone). This work may result in the development of new drugs to prevent removal and promote formation of bone in osteoporosis and inflammatory bone diseases.

– Dr Jrme Frenette from the Universit Laval is conducting a study to examine the impact of immobilization or the absence of gravity on skeletal muscles. This research will hopefully lead to a better understanding of how inflammatory cells are recruited, what role leukocytes play in muscle injury and the identification of new molecules to prevent muscle dysfunction. This research also holds out promising new avenues for the treatment of muscle atrophy and dysfunction.

– Dr Graham King and Dr Jim Johnson from the University of Western Ontario have established a comprehensive program to study motion and stability of the elbow and forearm. Using their upper limb testing device, they will evaluate common soft-tissue and bone disease and reconstructive procedures of the elbow not completely understood. The results of their work should contribute to an improved understanding of disorders of the upper limb leading to more effective patient treatments.

– Dr James Wright from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is conducting a study that will examine how a patient’s gender affects a physician’s decision-making behavior. In so doing, men and women with comparable levels of arthritis will be sent to physicians to establish their recommendations for total knee arthroplasty. This study will hopefully provide the information necessary to design and test strategies to improve the delivery of total joint arthroplasty.