2022 Grant Recipients

We fund innovation in Manitoban health care.

2022 HSC Foundation Grant Recipients

The HSC Foundation is proud of the researchers we fund. The work they do ultimately leads to improved patient care at Manitoba’s flagship hospital. Research is the key to deepening our understanding of health matters, and often leads to new technology, medicine, or practices.

 

The HSC Foundation 2022 grants were awarded through four different competitions and applications were reviewed by experts in their fields from HSC.

Mindel & Tom Olenick Award in Immunology

Courtney Marshall, $5,000: “Sex-related differences in airway inflammation: Immunomodulation by innate defense regulator peptides”

Synopsis: Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory disease. Nearly 3 million Canadians suffer from asthma, and more than 10% of patients do not respond to available steroid therapies. These non-responders represent the major burden of asthma and account for annual healthcare costs of around $2B in Canada. Also, commonly used steroid treatments for asthma can increase the risk of lung infections, which can make asthma worse. This research will focus on new molecules known as innate defence regulator (IDR) peptides, which can control both inflammation and infection. Asthma also affects females differently than males, with females experiencing more severe forms of asthma and represent ​most patients that do not respond to current treatments. Therefore, effective development of new treatments must consider the differences in disease and response to therapy between females and males.  This research will directly support the development of a new IDR peptide-based therapy for asthma by examining its effect in male and females separately, using animal models and human lung cells. It is entirely possible that we will need to develop sex-specific treatment protocols to provide the most efficient care for asthma sufferers.

 

Stella Onwah, $5,000: “The role of metabolic enzymes in the virulence and immunopathogenesis of Leishmania infection”

Synopsis: Leishmaniasis is an often a fatal disease that is caused by various species of the protozoan parasite that belongs to the genus Leishmania. The clinical disease manifests in various forms, ranging from disfiguring skin ulcers to life-threatening disease that affects the spleen, liver and bone marrow. Current treatment modalities against the disease are not very effective and are associated with severe side effects and increasing incidence of drug resistance. Therefore, there is urgent need to develop novel therapies including vaccines against the disease. We previously showed that two Leishmania metabolic enzymes, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPCK) and dihydrolipoyl dehydrogenase (DLD) are key targets of immune response in infected hosts. This current research hopes to determine the role of these enzymes in the ability of Leishmania parasites to cause disease in their infected hosts. We will further aim to understand how these enzymes influence the host immune responses during Leishmania infections. We will do this by genetically modifying the expression of these enzymes in the parasites. The findings from this research could help determine whether parasites deficient in expression of these enzymes can be used as a live attenuated vaccine against Leishmaniasis.

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