University of Saskatchewan

September 19, 2014   


July 14, 1999

Six University of Saskatchewan researchers have been awarded a total of $1.4 million in the latest round of medical research grants announced today by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The six awards include projects that could help prevent farm accidents, lead to more effective leukemia treatment, and shed light on what happens to brain cells following an injury.

Of the 14 U of S funding applications, six were approved. That's a 43-per-cent success rate, one of the highest in the country. The national success rate for new applications is 30 per cent.

"Our success rate in this competition is our highest in a decade," said Dr. Louis Delbaere, a U of S biochemist and MRC Regional Director for Saskatchewan.

"This underscores the high quality of these research projects and the benefits of bridge funding provided by the MRC and the Saskatchewan government after the last competition."

He noted two of the researchers awarded grants today had received bridge funding from the MRC and the Saskatchewan government a few months ago. This allowed the researchers to carry out projects that were highly rated but not funded in last fall's 1998 MRC grant competition.

"Today's awards are proof that bridge funding really does work. It keeps researchers active and able to compete with the rest of the country," Delbaere said.

The six U of S award winners are:

John DeCoteau, $69,481 per year for three years

This study aims to discover why acute leukemia cells become resistant to a naturally occurring hormone in the body that limits cell growth. Acute leukemias are often-fatal cancers of the blood-forming cells that develop when genetic changes occur and cause a disruption of normal growth. A greater understanding of how abnormal growth occurs is expected to lead to the development of biological markers which then can be used to identify which patients will respond best to conventional drug therapy and which will require more aggressive treatment such as a bone marrow transplant.

James Dosman, $134,705 per year for three years

He will conduct a case-control study of 600 people in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba who are older than 16 and have been involved in a farm accident. Equipment, farm practices and other factors will be investigated to determine why some people are involved in accidents. The results could help farmers, the agricultural machinery industry and health professionals develop strategies to reduce the number of farm injuries.

Edward Hawes, $54,687 per year for three years, plus a one-time $9,628 equipment grant.

Most drugs administered to humans are attacked by naturally occurring enzymes to form metabolites, some of which may be active therapeutically or may be toxic. This research project is concerned with understanding the behavior of a newly discovered type of drug metabolite called N+- glucuronides and the extent to which the formation of these metabolites impacts on the clinical use of drugs. This knowledge may be particularly useful with regard to antidepressant drugs and antihistamines.

Rajendra Sharma, $44,100 per year for three years

Cellular events are often regulated by the modification of a specific protein. This research will study how one such enzyme, N-myristoyl-transferase, modifies cellular activity. The enzyme is of particular interest since it is implicated in the development of certain types of cancer.

Wolfgang Walz, $46,200 per year for three years

He will study the movement of chloride between cells in the brain, research that could help explain the swelling in the brain that occurs after an injury. He will also examine the properties of brain scar tissue and why formation of this scar tissue might interfere with regeneration of nerve cells after an injury.

Bruce Waygood, $91,575 per year for three years, plus a one-time $50,000 equipment grant

He will study interactions between proteins involved in the metabolism of bacteria, some of which cause disease. He will also investigate the molecular details of interactions between antibodies and their protein targets. This basic research will aid in understanding how to better design protein-engineered antibodies that could prove useful in drug therapies.

MRC is the major federal agency responsible for the funding of health research and training in Canada.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Louis Delbaere
MRC Regional Director
University of Saskatchewan Department of Biochemistry
(306) 966-4360

Kathryn Warden
Research Communications Officer
Office of the Vice-President Research
(306) 966-2506

Visit our U of S Research web site:

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