Communications - News at Medicine - July 2018 - High Impact

High Impact
July 18, 2018
Two Faculty of Medicine researchers got a major boost to their programs this week.
Improving access to primary health care, a better understanding of the hepatitis C virus and enhancing access to mental health programming within Indigenous communities were amoung the projects funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Hepatitis C research

Dr. Rodney Russell, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, Division of BioMedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, has received $535,500 for a project titled Analysis of Virus-Induced Mechanisms of Programmed Cell Death.
His recent research findings show that the hepatitis C virus could cause a relatively newly discovered form of cell death that stimulates inflammation, which can contribute to disease progression and severity, as well as the potential development of liver cancer.
Dr. Russell and his local and national collaborators want to better understand how viruses such as HCV cause multiple forms of cell death in virus-infected tissue.

“From a scientific perspective, the expansion of this project will allow us to study how viruses damage the cells they live in through lab-based, animal model and human disease studies,” said Dr. Russell, a Memorial alumnus whose research has been supported by the university and groups such as CIHR and the Canadian Network on Hepatitis C.
He credits an internal review process he implemented within his division for helping strengthen his application to CIHR. Dr. Russell says the new funding will allow him to expand his research activities.
“This funding is important because it secures support for the two graduate students we currently have working on this project and builds capacity for our future research.”

Mental health focus

Dr. Jennifer Shea, assistant professor in Aboriginal health, Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, received $100,000 for a project focused on mental health and addictions in communities comprising the NunatuKavut Community Council in Labrador.
A Memorial alumna whose research includes Aboriginal health and community-based participatory and decolonizing approaches, Dr. Shea says mental health and addictions is a critical issue in this province.
“This investment enables us to create and implement a culturally relevant and community-based mental health and addictions program to improve health and well-being for Southern Inuit peoples,” she told the Gazette.
Dr. Shea says her research is rooted in the local expertise from diverse stakeholders, including patients, families, health-care providers and community leaders.
“The lived experience and local knowledge within NunatuKavut’s territory will guide all aspects of the project,” she said, adding that community leadership and governance is critical to the work.
“Community members are the experts on the reality of mental health and addictions in NunatuKavut communities. They know first-hand what is available, what works and doesn’t work, and what is needed to close the gaps.”
In total, three Memorial-led research projects are receiving a major boost from the federal government. CIHR is investing a total of $727,300 into projects led by researchers from the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Nursing. The results of CIHR’s spring 2018 competition were released on July 11.