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Cystic Fibrosis Canada Commits over $2.1M in New Research Funding 

May 10, 2022

TORONTO (May 10, 2022) – Today, Cystic Fibrosis Canada announced it will fund 10 new Canadian research projects aimed at addressing the priorities and improving the health outcomes of people impacted by cystic fibrosis (CF). The projects were awarded through Cystic Fibrosis Canada’s 2021 Grants & Awards Competition and the funding totals over $2.1M.

Funding for the projects began on April 1, 2022 and includes support for five basic research projects studying fundamental aspects of cystic fibrosis, one clinical cystic fibrosis research study, two years of funding for an early career researcher to support a developing career in cystic fibrosis research, and three postdoctoral research fellows who will be supported for the next two years.

In anticipation of the 2021 Grants & Awards Competition, Cystic Fibrosis Canada worked with people impacted by cystic fibrosis in Canada to determine patient needs to help guide our research focus. The research project applications were assessed for scientific merit and alignment to the priorities of the Canadian CF community, with multiple high-ranking proposals vying for funding.

“It is important that the research we fund addresses the top concerns of Canadians living with cystic fibrosis,” said Dr. John Wallenburg, Chief Scientific Officer, Cystic Fibrosis Canada. “This year, together with our expert scientific panel, eight members of the Canadian cystic fibrosis community evaluated the research proposals. These community reviewers provided the needed link between the science and the lived experience and not only helped us to select the best science, but also the proposals that most closely aligned to the needs of our community.”

Basic Science Research Grants

Five basic science research grants have been awarded, valued at up to $ 100,000 per year for up to three years:

Initial grants:

Dr. Christine Bear of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto has received funding for two years to lead a collaborative project entitled “Multi-site collaboration to validate use of patient-derived nasal cultures for expanding access to CFTR Modulators”.
CF community priority this research addresses: Reduce the treatment burden; Relevance to Canadian CF community
Cathleen Morrison Research Impact Award Winner
Senior Scientist Research Award Winner

Dr. Emile Levy of Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine in Montreal has received 3-year funding for a project entitled “Therapeutic efficacy of polyphenols in experimental cystic fibrosis: their role in intestinal inflammation, oxidative stress and microbiota dysbiosis”.
CF community priority this research addresses: Reduce the treatment burden
Cystic Fibrosis Canada Named Award Winner

Dr. Thomas Waddell of The University Health Network in Toronto was funded for 3 years to study “The use of immune-modified pluripotent safe cells in cell replacement therapy for Cystic Fibrosis”.
CF community priority this research addresses: Cure CF with gene or stem cell therapies

Renewal grants:

Dr. Yossef Av-Gay of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has received new funding to continue his research for an additional 3-years for a project entitled “Hit to lead: Novel agents against Mycobacterium abscessus”.
CF community priority this research addresses: Improve airway infection detection and treatment

Dr. Justin Nodwell of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine will be funded for an additional three years to study “Therapeutics for CF Pathogens”.
CF community priority this research addresses: Eradicate chronic pseudomonas aeruginosa infections; Improve airway infection detection and treatment

Clinical Research Grants

In the clinical research category, Dr. Bradley Quon of St. Paul’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia will receive funding for a new 3-year research project studying “Inflammatory and Immune Biomarkers of Response to Elexacaftor/Tezacaftor/Ivacaftor in People with CF”.
CF community priority this research addresses: Predict and prevent pulmonary exacerbations; Reduce the treatment burden; Relevance to Canadian CF community
Robbie Award Winner for Most Promising New Research Project
Cystic Fibrosis Canada Named Award Winner

Early Career Investigator Awards

Dr. Cara Haney has received 2-years of research funding for her work at the University of British Columbia on “Pseudomonas aeruginosa environmental sensing to establish chronic infection”.
CF community priority this research addresses: Eradicate chronic pseudomonas aeruginosa infections
Marsha Morton Early Career Investigator Award Winner

Research Fellowship Awards

Three impressive researchers have been awarded 2-year Research Fellowships:
Dr. Aswin Sundarakrishnan, under supervision by Dr. Amy Wong will examine the impacts of sleep cycle on the cystic fibrosis lung in a stem cell model.
Sturgess Fellowship Award Winner

Dr. Amanda Morris, supervised by Dr. Valarie Waters will study co-infections of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis patients.
Fusion Gala Research Fellowship Award Winner

Dr. Jin-A Lee will examine the role of the TMEM16A channel in normal and CF epithelial cell development with Dr. Amy Wong.

“We are committed to ensuring all Canadians living with cystic fibrosis have longer and healthier lives. Research is needed so that we can alter the course of this disease and leave no one behind,” said Kelly Grover, President and CEO, Cystic Fibrosis Canada. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we are supporting promising research projects that will have outcomes that benefit patients sooner rather than later, particularly for those with limited treatment options.”

Cystic Fibrosis Canada has a history of funding research that has led to outstanding progress, including the discovery of the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis. The discovery changed the future of the disease and enabled researchers and clinicians around the world to target the cause of the disease and not just the symptoms. Research continues to be a driving force behind helping people with cystic fibrosis live longer, healthier lives and over the last 60 years, Cystic Fibrosis Canada has invested over $275 million in research and healthcare.

“Congratulations to all of our funding recipients, and especially to our Early Career Investigator and Research Fellowship winners,” said Dr. Paul Eckford, Program Director, Research “We can continue to achieve the outsized research impact that Cystic Fibrosis Canada has been known for by supporting innovative young researchers and fostering a continued interest in cystic fibrosis research. We are looking forward to some tremendous research progress from all of our funding recipients”.

Cystic Fibrosis Canada will launch its new research strategy in the fall of 2022. The strategy will be informed by and aligned with the priorities of Canadians living with cystic fibrosis, focus on funding projects with near-term impact that complement global research efforts and invest in areas that provide options for people who will not benefit from modulator therapies.

About Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. There is no cure. Of the Canadians with cystic fibrosis who died in the past five years, half were under the age of 37. Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, degenerative multi-system disease that affects mainly the lungs and digestive system. In the lungs, where the effects are most devastating, a build-up of thick mucus causes severe respiratory problems. Mucus and protein also build up in the digestive tract, making it difficult to digest and absorb nutrients from food. In addition to the physical effects of the disease, mental health concerns are emerging; anxiety and depression are common among this population. Double lung transplants are the final option for patients with end-stage disease; most fatalities of people with cystic fibrosis are due to lung disease.

About Cystic Fibrosis Canada

Cystic Fibrosis Canada has dramatically changed the cystic fibrosis story. We have advanced research and care that has more than doubled life expectancy. Since being founded by parents in 1960, Cystic Fibrosis Canada has grown into a leading organization with a central role engaging people living with cystic fibrosis, parents and caregivers, volunteers, researchers, and healthcare professionals, government, and donors. We work together to change lives for the 4,332 Canadian children and adults living with cystic fibrosis through treatments, research, information, and support. Despite our remarkable progress together, we are not yet done. Not when half of the Canadians with cystic fibrosis who died in the past five years were under the age of 37. We will keep pushing, keep going further until all people with cystic fibrosis can and do experience everything life has to offer —and enjoy everything life has to offer.

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