Strengthening Health Goal of $2-Million Federal Investment

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Improving Canadians’ health is the goal for three University of Guelph professors who have received more than $2 million in federal funding, it was announced last week.

Tami Martino

Profs. Tami Martino, Jim Uniacke and Jess Haines received project grant competition funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

“This is excellent news, underscoring the high calibre of research conducted by Professors Martino, Uniacke and Haines,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).
“These researchers will examine unique strategies that could significantly benefit the health of Canadians and improve life. Their research spans multiple colleges, highlighting how health-related research permeates the fibre of U of G’s research enterprise.”

Martino, Department of Biomedical Sciences, will receive $937,125 for a five-year study of how incorporating day-night rhythms could improve treatment of heart disease patients.

Director of the U of G Centre for Cardiovascular Investigations, she will study treatment of mice with heart attacks.

“This will involve timing drug therapies to the body’s circadian rhythms to benefit treatment of patients after a heart attack, and building a better intensive care unit, where we minimize sleep and circadian disruption in the first few days after a heart attack to improve long-term outcomes,” said Martino.

“Our preclinical translation centre and state-of-the-art imaging relevant to humans will lead to real outcomes. Reconsidering how we practise medicine is a fundamental new approach to understanding and treating heart disease.”

Jim Uniacke

In his four-year, $688,500 study, Uniacke, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, will use model cancer cell lines to look at targeted treatment of hypoxic, or low oxygen, tumour regions.

He plans to use nanoparticles to deliver genetic material to hypoxic human tumours grafted onto mice.

“Receiving funding from the CIHR is both exciting and encouraging,” he said.

Explaining that he aims to learn how hypoxic cancer cells make the proteins they need to survive and spread, Uniacke said, “These mechanisms could then be targeted in cancer therapy to impair the ability of a cancer cell to make the tools it requires, essentially disarming the cell.”

Haines, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, will test the impact and cost-effectiveness of home interventions in a childhood obesity prevention strategy.

Jess Haines

Her four-year, $408,512 study will look at how adjusting household routines — family meals, sleep, physical activity and screen time — will affect young children.

The research will involve home visits, weekly emails and equipment to promote physical activity.

“Our team is thrilled to receive this funding as it will help sustain the Guelph Family Health Study and will answer important research questions related to family health,” said Haines.

“This research could provide a sustainable model for early life obesity prevention, leading to long-term improvements in health and reductions in costs to the health-care system and society as a whole.”