Five University of Guelph researchers have been awarded nearly $1.6 million in project grant funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for preclinical studies intended to advance treatments for mental illnesses, antifungal resistance and cancers.  

“This generous funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is a vital investment in excellence and expertise,” said Dr. Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research). “Using innovative approaches, these five exceptional University of Guelph researchers aim to improve life by exploring fundamental questions of importance to human health and well-being.” 

“The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is Canada’s federal funding agency for health research, composed of 13 focused institutes where researchers and their partners collaborate to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system,” said Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph. “I am very pleased to see five researchers at the University of Guelph being recognized with funding for research improving the health of Canadians.” 

Dr. Melissa Perreault

Dr. Melissa Perreault 

Pharmacological treatments are based mainly on what we know about men, said Perreault, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). She will receive $994,500 to explore a newly identified receptor in the brain that may contribute to stress sensitivity and depression susceptibility in women. 

In previous research with rodent animal models, Perreault identified a brain receptor and showed that stimulating it induces anxiety- and depression-like behaviours in female subjects. This receptor also becomes more active in specific brain regions following chronic stress in female subjects. 

“Understanding the mechanisms that underlie stress and depression vulnerability in women is important if we are to develop more personalized treatment strategies,” she said. 

a person poses for a portrait
Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister

Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister

A professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB), College of Biological Science, Geddes-McAlister will receive $300,000 to study ways to interrupt the processes that make fungal infections resistant to treatment.

The research will help lead to new treatments and make existing antifungals effective again. 

Dr. Jennifer Murray smiles for a portrait outside
Dr. Jennifer Murray

Dr. Jennifer Murray 

A professor in the Department of Psychology, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, Murray will receive $100,000 to study the impact of sex hormones on the risk of relapse for people trying to stop using cocaine.

She hopes the research will help provide new sex-specific treatment options for people struggling with cocaine addiction. 

Dr. Siavash Vahidi smiles for a portrait
Dr. Siavash Vahidi

Dr. Siavash Vahidi  

ahidi, a professor in MCB, and his collaborators have received $100,000 to investigate the cellular processes that lead to acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a blood and bone marrow cancer with poor outcomes for most older patients.

The research will help in designing therapies that disrupt these processes and improve remission rates for AML patients. 

Dr. Sam Workenhe smiles for a headshot
Dr. Sam Workenhe

Dr. Samuel Workenhe

Workenhe, a professor in the Department of Pathobiology, OVC, studies how dying cancer cells interact with the immune system. He and his collaborators have received $100,000 to study how the controlled self-destruction of cells, or programmed cell death, can trigger the body’s defense system to attack cancers.

The research will help in developing safe and effective treatment for cancers that resist immunotherapy.