Supporting health through research and education.

Grant Recipients » 2017

The Manitoba Medical Service Foundation has been awarding Research Grants to researchers since 1971, and over $14.7 million has been donated to furthering this cause, with over $20.6 million provided in support of all awards.

Go to Previous Awards Annual Brochures to view previous year's awards. Contact the Administrative Assistant for information on awards prior to 2009.

Please Note: Institutional Costs are not eligible expenses for MMSF Grants and Awards funding.

8-2017-02 – Dr. Danielle Defries – The Impact of Gestational Diabetes on Maternal Incretin Function – $32,000 (MMSF $16,000 / CHRIM $16,000)

  • PhotoDr. Danielle Defries

Award icon$32,000

Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a form of diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy that causes a woman’s blood sugar to rise above normal levels. GDM has an impact on the future health of both mother and child, increasing a woman’s risk of type 2 diabetes, and the chances that her child will develop obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.

Although there are many causes of GDM, some evidence from previous research suggests that improper functioning of hormones released by the intestine, called “incretins”, may be involved. Incretins communicate with the pancreas and trigger it to release insulin, the hormone that keeps blood glucose levels from going too high. We think that GDM may negatively affect this communication between incretin hormones and the pancreas. To test this, we will study incretin hormones in pregnant rats fed a high-fat, sugar-containing diet that causes GDM.

Our aim is to see if GDM reduces the number of cells in the intestine that make incretin hormones or if these cells don’t release sufficient amounts of incretin hormones. We will also determine if there is a problem with the ability of the pancreas to release insulin when treated with incretin hormones. If our results show there is a problem with any of these aspects of the incretin system, it will identify areas that could potentially be targeted through drug or nutrition treatments.

Hopefully these treatments can prevent future health problems for women with GDM and their children, as well as reducing costs to the Canadian health care system.

  • Dr. Danielle Defries – PhD (Human Nutritional Sciences) University of Manitoba 2013; MSc (Human Nutritional Sciences) University of Manitoba 2006; BSc (Human Nutritional Sciences) University of Manitoba 2004

    Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Applied Health, University of Winnipeg

8-2017-03 – Dr. Christina A. Kim – A Metabolomics Approach to Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Patients With Advanced Pancreas Cancer – $28,000 (MMSF $14,000 / VGHF $14,000)

  • PhotoDr. Christina A. Kim

Award icon$28,000

Pancreatic cancer is a rare but deadly disease. Most cases are diagnosed when disease is advanced, and the treatment of choice is palliative chemotherapy. An aggressive first-line chemotherapy treatment which offers the longest reported survival is FOLFIRINOX (5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan and oxaliplatin); however, this treatment is associated with severe side effects such as anemia, nausea, diarrhea and neuropathy. The neuropathy can be debilitating, limiting patients from doing daily tasks, such as doing up buttons, typing, tying shoes or walking. There is no way to predict which patients will develop severe neuropathy, and no way to prevent it.

Metabolomics is a novel approach in oncology, which aims to identify and characterize all of the metabolites, and their changes, within a biological system. In oncology, metabolomics has primarily been studied as a means to differentiate between benign and malignant conditions, and therefore diagnose cancer early.

We propose using a metabolomics method to see if changes in the metabolome, as measured by baseline and serial urine and plasma samples before each cycle of FOLFIRINOX, are associated with the onset of functionally limiting neuropathy. We will correlate this with response to treatment, as measured by regular CT scans.

This pilot study will lay the groundwork for future larger studies in collaboration with other Canadian centres to see if a metabolomics profile can predict the onset of functionally limiting neuropathy, or whether there is a threshold metabolomics profile which would suggest oxaliplatin-based treatment should be avoided in some patients to spare them debilitating toxicity.

  • Dr. Christina A. Kim – FRCPC (Medical Oncology) University of Alberta 2013; FRCPC (Internal Medicine) University of British Columbia 2010; MD (Medicine) University of Manitoba 2007; BSc (Biological Sciences) University of Alberta 2002

    Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba

    Medical Oncologist, Medical Oncology and Hematology, CancerCare Manitoba

    Medical Oncologist, Medical Oncology and Hematology, Victoria General Hospital

    Medical Oncologist, Medical Oncology and Hematology, St. Boniface General Hospital

8-2017-04 – Dr. Natalie Mota – The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy Classes in Reducing Suicidal Ideation in a Crisis Population – $23,000 (MMSF $11,500 / WF $11,500)

  • PhotoDr. Natalie Mota

Award icon$23,000

Although scientific research has shown that certain psychotherapies are effective in reducing suicidal thinking, plans, and attempts, there can be several barriers to access despite an urgency for treatment. The proposed study aims to examine the effectiveness of rapid access classes that teach introductory coping skills for reducing suicidal ideation and other mental health symptoms in a population presenting with a mental health crisis. The WRHA’s Crisis Response Centre currently offers two psychotherapy classes for patients who have recently presented with a mental health crisis -Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Managing Difficult Emotions- which is adapted from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills.

Patients will complete several measures prior to beginning the classes that will assess suicidal ideation, as well as current symptoms of depression, anxiety, and emotional difficulties. Upon completion of the classes, participants will complete the same outcome measures. Participants who do not attend all classes will be contacted and administered the measures by phone. Changes in suicidal ideation will be examined from before taking the classes to afterwards, as well as examining changes in other areas of mental health. We will also examine whether certain patients benefit more or less from class participation than others.

The proposed study will be the first to examine the effectiveness of large psychotherapy classes on reducing suicidal thinking. If effective, these classes could provide a low-resource, rapid access, introductory and brief psychotherapy option for individuals who are at higher risk of dying by suicide and have time-sensitive mental health needs.

  • Dr. Natalie Mota – Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University School of Medicine/Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD 2015; PhD (Clinical Psychology) University of Manitoba 2014; MA (Clinical Psychology) University of Manitoba 2009; BA (Hons) (Psychology) McGill University 2006

    Assistant Professor, Clinical Health Psychology, University of Manitoba

    Staff Psychologist, Crisis Response Centre, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

8-2017-05 – Dr. Thomas Murooka – Characterizing the Dynamics and Molecular Mechanisms of HIV Capture by DCs – $30,000

  • PhotoDr. Thomas Murooka

Award icon$30,000

Our immune system has an extraordinary task of protecting the body from a constant barrage of microbial infections, while sparing excessive damage to our own tissues. However, pathogens, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), have evolved to effectively evade our immune response, and establish an incurable chronic infection. HIV-1 has infected over 75 million people worldwide, of which more than 35 million have died from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related complications.

The development of various anti-retroviral drugs has been effective at significantly prolonging the life span of infected individuals and reducing AIDS-related mortality. However, anti-retroviral drugs do not completely clear the infection, often leading to a rebound in virus after therapy interruption. Clearly, a more complete understanding of how HIV spreads within the body, and why anti-retroviral drugs fail to completely clear HIV-1 from the body, is needed.

Here, we will use high-resolution microscopy to study one such mechanism, whether HIV can be directly transferred between cells, thereby shielding itself from the immune system. Using new reporter HIV-1 strains and experimental conditions, we will characterize how cells can capture and transfer HIV-1 between cells, and why these mechanisms work in the presence of anti-retroviral drugs. Our observations have important implications on our understanding of HIV-1 dissemination in tissues, and may uncover new molecular targets to therapeutically target to help curb virus replication.

Ultimately, our goal is to outline an eradication cure strategy that can eliminate the need for infected individuals to take daily anti-retroviral drugs, without the fear of viral rebound and disease progression.

  • Dr. Thomas Murooka – Postdoctoral Fellowship (Immunology) Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School 2014; PhD (Immunology) University of Toronto 2009; BSc (Microbiology / Immunology) University of British Columbia 2003

    Assistant Professor, Immunology, University of Manitoba

    GSK Chair in Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba

8-2017-06 – Dr. Vanessa Poliquin – Individual and Provider Factors Associated With Differential Uptake of the Influenza Vaccine Among Pregnant Women in Manitoba, Canada – $30,000 (MMSF $15,000 / WF $15,000)

  • PhotoDr. Vanessa Poliquin

Award icon$30,000

Pregnant women and their infants are at higher risk of complications from the flu than other healthy individuals. Research has demonstrated that vaccinating a pregnant woman against the flu can not only reduce her risk of getting the flu, but it also reduces her infant’s risk of flu-related illness. The latter is especially important because we have no licensed flu vaccine to offer infants under 6 months of age. Despite the known benefits of vaccination, the recommendation that all pregnant women should be vaccinated and the availability of the vaccine free-of-charge in Manitoba, the rate of flu vaccine uptake among pregnant women is thought to be low.

Using several administrative databases available at the Manitoba Center for Health Policy, we intend to calculate how many pregnant women are currently being vaccinated against the flu. We then intend to identify individual (e.g. age, socio-economic status, family size, vaccination history) and health care provider factors (e.g. type of prenatal care provider, type of vaccinating provider) that are associated with the likelihood of being vaccinated during pregnancy. The results will be helpful in targeting future initiatives to pregnant women with the greatest need of improved flu vaccine uptake.

Better uptake of the flu vaccine among pregnant women may translate to fewer cases of the flu among pregnant women and their infants, as well as fewer flu-related complications, hospitalizations and associated health care costs.

  • Dr. Vanessa Poliquin – FRCSC (Obstetrics and Gynecology) University of Manitoba 2014; MD (Medicine) Western University 2008; BHSc (Health Sciences) McMaster University 2004

    Fellow, Clinician Investigator Program, University of Manitoba

    Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Department of Obstetrician & Gynecology, Winnipeg Regional Authority

8-2017-07 – Dr. Katherine Pundyk – Frequency of Clinic Attendance in Patients With Youth-Onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Before and After Transition to Adult Care – $7,200 (MMSF $3,600 / CHRIM $3,600)

  • PhotoDr. Katherine Pundyk

Award icon$7,200

Youth-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a significant health care concern. Associated serious health issues can include renal failure, blindness and amputation which can impact future education and employment, and incur high health care costs.

The goal of this study is to determine the success of the transition of patients with T2DM to adult care from the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg, comparing them to patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). We will examine the frequency of attendance at diabetes clinic appointments two years before and two years after transition, and will describe socioeconomic factors related to these patients to evaluate if these characteristics are related to the success of transition to adult care.

The Population Health Research Data Repository at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy includes patients with youth onset diabetes in Manitoba. Medical and socioeconomic data will be collected. Patient postal codes will enable us to determine the socioeconomic status of the area they are living in based on Canada Census data such as income and employment rates.

There is very little research available regarding youth with T2DM and their transition to adult care. The valuable information obtained from this study will enable us to assess the success of transition at present, which will direct future research to assess barriers to transition and identify the characteristics of those who need additional support. Additionally, this information can be used to develop transition and young adult care programs most appropriate for this population.

  • Dr. Katherine Pundyk – FRCPC (Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism) University of Ottawa 2016; FRCPC (Pediatrics) University of Manitoba 2014; MD (Medicine) University of Manitoba 2010; BSc (Science) University of Manitoba 2006

    Clinical Research Fellow, Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Manitoba

8-2017-08 – Dr. Shailly Shrivastav – Understanding the Role of Akt/mTOR/N-Myrisotyltransferase1 Signaling in the Regulation of IGF-1R Expression in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma – $30,000

  • PhotoDr. Shailly Shrivastav

Award icon$30,000

Despite the decline in smoking since the 1980s, Canada and many EU countries have seen an increase in the rate of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Alcohol, tobacco consumption (snuffing) and human papilloma virus infection all increase the risk of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx. The male to female ratio of developing HNSCC is 2:1 to 4:1. The five-year survival rate of HNSCC is approximately 50 per cent and has remained unchanged in the past 35 years despite multi-modality treatments. Early detection of HNSCC is key; therefore, studies involving the discovery of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers are important not just for diagnosis but also for therapeutic interventions.

Using samples from the Manitoba Tumor Bank at CancerCare Manitoba, we will build on our earlier studies of NMT1 which established that NMT1 recruits at the DNA level and regulates the transcription of the igf-1r gene. The IGF-1R (insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor) is hyperactivated in HNSCC leading to overexpressed and hyperactivated Akt (protein kinase B) and mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) signaling. mTOR exists in two complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, each with different roles in cellular processes. The specific roles of mTORC1, mTORC2 and NMT1 in HNSCC have not been studied. Using HNSCC samples from the Manitoba cohort, we would investigate the roles of mTORC1, mTORC2, NMT1 and IGF-1R in HNSCC.

This study would help in establishing whether mTOR complexes and NMT1 can serve as a diagnostic or prognostic biomarker for HNSCC and as an intervention for targeted therapy against HNSCC thus significantly impacting the patient health and lifestyle.

  • Dr. Shailly Shrivastav – PhD (Biochemistry) The University of Hyderabad 2004; MSc (Biochemistry) The University of Hyderabad 1999; BSc (Botany, Zoology, Chemistry) St. Francis Degree College for Women, Hyderabad 1997

    Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, The University of Winnipeg

    Research Associate, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba

    Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Chemistry, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

    Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biotechnology, Lund University

8-2017-09 – Dr. Kathryn Sibley – Implementing Core Outcome Sets in Fall Prevention and Balance Research and Practice: Understanding Past Experiences to Plan for the Future – $32,500

  • PhotoDr. Kathryn Sibley

Award icon$32,500

Falls, and the injuries they cause, are a major health problem for seniors. Good balance is essential for avoiding falls. Many research studies have investigated how to reduce falls through balance exercises. Most of these studies measure falls and balance differently, making it difficult to compare results and summarize the effects of the research.

To help fix this problem, researchers recently developed a 'core outcome set' of recommended ways to measure balance to be consistent across studies. However, there remains a gap in how best to promote these recommendations to be used by researchers and clinicians. This study will investigate how previous core outcome set recommendations for measurement of falls were promoted and adopted. Interviewing core outcome set developers to understand how they promoted use of the recommendations, this project will survey how fall prevention researchers considered and used the recommendations in their studies. The information learned in this study will be used to design a promotion and adoption strategy for the balance core outcome set, and will be beneficial to other areas of health science.

The long-term goal of this line of research is to improve understanding of how exercise can be used to improve balance, enhancing the ability of people to be active, mobile and reduce their risk of falls.

  • Dr. Kathryn Sibley – Post-Doctoral Fellowship (Integrated Knowledge Translation) Toronto Rehabilitation Institute - University Health Network 2014; PhD (Medical Sciences) University of Toronto 2009; MSc (Rehabilitation Science) University of Toronto 2005; BSc (Hons) (Kinesiology) University of Waterloo 2003

    Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

    Scientist, Knowledge Translation Platform, George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation, University of Manitoba/Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

    Research Affiliate, Health, Leisure and Human Performance Research Institute, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba

    Research Affiliate, Centre on Aging, University of Manitoba

8-2017-10 – Dr. Ruey-Chyi Su – The Molecular Mechanisms Underlying the Environmental Influences on the Regulation of Innate Immunity in Female Genital Tract – $32,000

  • PhotoDr. Ruey-Chyi Su

Award icon$32,000

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been a major global cause of acute illness, infertility, long-term disability and death. STIs pose serious medical and psychological consequences for millions of men, women and infants and continue to be a significant Canadian public health issue. Manitoba has the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Canada amongst 15-24 year olds and both are added-risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infection.

While bacterial STIs are curable, viral STIs are lifetime infections and can cause morbidity and mortality. Given that the STI dissemination between individuals typically occurs in the female genital tract (FGT), the best option for preventing the establishment of STIs at the female vaginal mucosa is in the early stages of infection.

The female vaginal mucosa is a highly dynamic environment, distinct from the mucosae of the respiratory tract and gut, in respect to the type of cells and immune regulation. It is only recently that researchers began to examine the regulation of immune function in the female genital mucosa. There are many environmental factors, such as the products of commensal bacteria that reside at the genital mucosa and sex hormones that could alter the regulation of the immune function. However, our knowledge of such effects is still lacking, especially of the female genital mucosa.

We believe that this knowledge is critical for the development of vaccine and other preventative measures, such as microbicide for STIs, to be administrated at the vaginal site to prevent the acquisition and the spread of infections.

  • Dr. Ruey-Chyi Su – PhD (Immunology) University of Toronto 2000; BSc (Hons) (Medical Biophysics) University of Toronto 1995

    Research Scientist, National Laboratory for HIV Immunology / National HIV and Retrovirus Laboratories/ Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada

    Adjunct Professor, Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba

8-2017-11 – Dr. Taranjit Tung – Hip Hemiarthroplasty - Survivorship and Predictors of Revision – $29,000

  • PhotoDr. Taranjit Tung

Award icon$29,000

There are an increasing number of hip fractures in Canada as the baby boomer population ages. These fractures are generally repaired with partial hip replacement, known as hemiarthoplasty. After receiving this surgery, a certain percentage of people require one or more additional surgeries or procedures to correct or completely replace the first surgery. These additional procedures result in increased suffering and health risk to the patient and add further cost to the already strained health care system.

The goal of this study is three-fold. First, determine the percentage of hemiarthroplasty patients who require an additional corrective surgery. Second, identify patient traits or characteristics prior to their hemiarthroplasty surgery using information obtained from local health databases to highlight common trends and markers within this population. Third, develop recommended changes to standard medical practice aimed at decreasing the number of additional procedures in the elderly population.

The results of this study will significantly impact the quality of life in elderly patients who break their hip as well as help to decrease the burden on Manitoba’s health care system.

  • Dr. Taranjit Tung – Adult Reconstruction Fellowship (Orthopaedics) University of Manitoba 2017; Trauma, Foot 7 Ankle, and Lower Extremity Arthroplasty Fellowship (Orthopaedics) University of Toronto 2013; FRCPC (Orthopaedics) 2012; Residency (Orthopaedics) University of Manitoba 2012; MD (Medicine) University of Saskatchewan 2007

    Adult Reconstruction Fellowship, Division of Orthopaedics Surgery, University of Manitoba

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