Connections >> November 2012

22 November 2012

Connections is MSFHR’s monthly e-newsletter. Each issue highlights the top MSFHR news from the past month and showcases the impact of research we’ve funded.

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In this issue:

MSFHR announces first partnered scholar awards

MSFHR announces its first three partnered scholar awards, collaborations with the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (NCCAH) in Prince George and the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation in Vancouver.

Through these partnerships, three more scholars have been funded for 2012; Dr. Kora DeBeck (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS), Dr. Sarah de Leuuw (Northern Medical Program, University of Northern British Columbia) and Dr. Art Poon (BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS).

BC’s application to CIHR’s strategy for patient-oriented research underway

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) is working with the BC Ministry of Health on BC’s application to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units. Stakeholders from BC’s health care and health research communities will be invited to participate in the process in the coming weeks.

Let us know what you think about Connections

MSFHR has been publishing Connections monthly since March 2012. To ensure we’re meeting the needs of our readers, we’d like your opinion. Please take a few minutes to give us feedback that will help us refine our newsletter and ensure we are giving you stories you want to read. As a small token of our appreciation, we will draw for five $10 Starbucks cards. To enter the draw, follow the instructions at the end of the survey. Your contact information is collected separately so rest assured your survey responses are anonymous. The survey is open until December 14.

BC health research strategy update

The planning phase for BC’s health research strategy is complete, including key informant interviews and the establishment of a planning team, advisory board and reference group. A framework document that outlines background on the province’s health research enterprise and considerations for maximizing BC’s health research enterprise is nearing completion and will serve as the basis for consultations beginning in January 2013.

The BC government requested the development of a health research strategy aimed at achieving greater coherence across BC’s health research enterprise. Health research leaders (health authorities, universities, research institutes) met in April 2012 and agreed to participate; they endorsed MSFHR to facilitate the strategy’s development. A preliminary planning phase, including key informant interviews and the establishment of a planning team, advisory board and reference groups, is complete.

Government has requested a document this fall that provides:

  • Background on BC’s health research enterprise, including some of the impacts arising from the last decade of investment.
  • Directions for consideration towards maximizing BC’s health research enterprise.
  • A framework for a more comprehensive provincial health research strategy.

To learn more about the project, contact Bev Holmes, VP, External Relations & Business Strategy or Balraj Bains, Business Strategy.

Partnership opportunities available for 2013 trainee competition

MSFHR is looking for organizations that are interested in partnering with us on our 2013 trainee competition. If you’re a not-for-profit, foundation, or similar organization, this your opportunity to jointly fund a BC health research trainee award in your area of interest. To learn more visit the Partners section on our website or contact Samantha Rogers at

Risky play activities help children’s development

Risky play activities are important in helping children learn to take and manage risk, according to research by Dr. Mariana Brussoni (2008 MSFHR Scholar) highlighted this month in the Wall Street Journal. Brussoni’s study suggests that protecting children’s safety must be balanced with opportunities for child development through risky play. Parents’ increasing emphasis on mitigating childhood risk overlooks the important role of play in healthy child development, the study contends.

Unlocking cause of cystic fibrosis

An MSFHR-supported study led by Dr. Stuart Turvey (2011 MSFHR Scholar) has identified the cause of inflammation in cystic fibrosis lung disease, potentially opening the door to new drug treatments that could save lives. The study, published this month in the Journal of Immunology, found that a process called “unfolded protein response” is more highly activated in cystic fibrosis lung cells than in regular cells and produces an excessive immune response that causes inflammation. Treating cystic fibrosis cells with a special chemical normalized the unfolded protein response and stabilized the cells’ immune response. The research team included investigators and trainees based at the Child & Family Research Institute, UBC, and the Institute for Heart and Lung Health.

MSFHR People

  • Dr. Faisal Beg (2008 MSFHR Scholar) has received a Meritorious Achievement Award from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC. The award recognizes his work in improving early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Beg is an associate professor in the School of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University.
  • Dr. Neil Eves (2011 MSFHR Scholar) has been named co-director of the new Centre for Heart, Lung and Vascular Health at UBC’s Okanagan campus. The centre, which officially opened this month, is an interdisciplinary clinical research facility that will establish networks with Interior Health, provincial, national, and international researchers, and other centres focused on heart, lung, and vascular research.
  • Dr. Laura Sly (2012 MSFHR Scholar) has received the G. Jeanette Thorbecke Award from the Society for Leukocyte Biology. The award, named in honour of an internationally recognized immunologist, is presented annually to an outstanding young female investigator nominated by colleagues. Sly is an assistant professor and principal investigator in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, at the Child & Family Research Institute and UBC.
  • A research team led by Dr. Peter von Dadelszen (2006 MSFHR Senior Scholar) has received a $17 million grant from the Gates Foundation to study pre-eclampsia, an often-fatal onset of high blood pressure during pregnancy. The grant will support trials involving 130,000 pregnant women in four countries — Nigeria, Mozambique, Pakistan, and India — that will test a simple method for diagnosing pre-clampsia and assessing degree of risk. The research team includes researchers based at UBC and the Child & Family Research Institute.