More than $23M awarded to SBMS researchers in the latest Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant Competition

On February 2, 2023, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced the results of the Fall 2022 Project Grant competition, which provided 382 research grants, plus 93 bridge grants, for a total investment of approximately $325M across Canada. Of these, 72 projects are based at McGill University or an affiliated institution, for a total investment of more than $45M. 

Of the 72 McGill-affiliated projects that received CIHR funding, 50% are based out of the School of Biomedical Sciences (SBMS), which secured more than $23M in research funds. In total, 23 projects were awarded project grants, and 13 more secured bridge funding. These funds will support a wide range of research, from preventing and treating human diseases to uncovering the therapeutic potential of RNA and pandemic preparedness.  

“I wish to congratulate all the researchers in the School of Biomedical Sciences whose projects received funds from the CIHR in the last project competition” said Alba Guarné, PhD, Associate Dean and Director of the SBMS. “This tremendous success recognizes the incredible talent of our world-class researchers and the cutting-edge research being carried out at the School.” 

Some highlights include Arjun Krishnaswamy, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology, who secured two project grants totalling almost $2M to study visual circuit functions. William Muller, PhD, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and investigator at the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Institute, secured one grant and bridge funding for another project to study breast cancer. Ajitha Thanabalasuriar, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, received her first project grant and was awarded the Bhagirath Singh Early Career Prize in Infection and Immunity. This award recognizes the highest-ranked new investigator in the field of infection and immunity in 2022. 

New investigators Maria Vera Ugalde, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Mike Strauss, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, and Natalie Zeytuni, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, also received their first grants in the Fall competition to pursue research in heat shock response, picornavirus infection and bacterial secretion systems, respectively. 

“This CIHR funding will continue to support my labs research to unravel the molecular basis of periodontal disease and associated systemic diseases,” notes Prof. Zeytuni, As an early career researcher, this bridge funding will allow me to not only further the research performed in my lab, but also help set the foundation for future research directions and funding.”  

Associate members of the SBMS were also highly successful at securing funds in this competition. Sara Mahshid, PhD, Associate Member in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Dao Nguyen, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, secured a Bridge Grant for their joint project. “Our CIHR project hopes to achieve a rapid and portable antibiotic susceptibility testing device for applications in clinical and low resource areas,” says Prof. Mahshid. 

Congratulations to all our researchers, associate members and their research teams! 

Complete list of CIHR funding grants to SBMS members  

Project grants:

  • Marcel Behr, MD. Project title: Differential virulence within the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. 

  • Daniel Bernard, PhD. Project title: Function of immunoglobulin superfamily, member 1 in health and disease. 

  • Nancy Braverman, MD, MSc. Project title: Enabling commercialization of retinal gene therapy for Zellweger Spectrum Disorder. 

  • Claudio Cuello, MD, PhD. Project title: Microdose lithium as a treatment for brain tauopathy. 

  • Alex Gregorieff, PhD, Defining the role of fetal reprogramming in the gut epithelium in health and disease. 

  • Arjun Krishnaswamy, PhD. Project title: Molecular Codes Assemble Visual Thalamic Circuits. 

  • Arjun Krishnaswamy, PhD. Project title: Dorsal Raphe neuromodulation of visual circuit function, behavior, and ASD. 

  • James Martin, MD. Project title: Determinants of susceptibility to influenza infection in pregnant mice. 

  • Heidi McBride, PhD. Project title: Uncovering the mechanisms and meaning of Mitochondrial Derived Vesicles. 

  • Luke McCaffrey, PhD. Project title: Characterizing tissue-intrinsic barriers to malignant transformation in the breast epithelium. 

  • Maureen McKeague, PhD, and Nathan Luedtke, PhD. Project title: Small activating RNAs targeting transcription factors as a therapeutic approach for acute myeloid leukemia. 

  • Georgios Mitsis, PhD, and Richard Hoge, PhD. Project title: Investigation of the long-term autonomic effects of COVID-19 using multimodal physiological monitoring and neuroimaging. 

  • William Muller, PhD. Project title: The multifaceted role of c-Src tyrosine kinase in breast cancer progression. 

  • William Pastor, PhD. Project title: Establishing the role of ZMYM2 in mediating transcriptional silencing and DNA methylation during mammalian embryonic development. 

  • Jerry Pelletier, PhD. Project title: Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 4F - A Strategic Driver of the Cellular Information Network. 

  • David Rudko, PhD. Project title: Unraveling Silent Progression in MS Using Advanced Quantitative MRI, PET Molecular Imaging and Computational Neuroanatomy. 

  • Erwin Schurr, PhD. Project title: Epigenetic factors affecting the anti-mycobacterial immune response of people living with HIV. 

  • Peter Siegel, PhD. Project title: Defining the Immunomodulatory Role of GPNMB in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. 

  • Mike Strauss, PhD. Project title: Biophysical studies of uncoating and encapsidation in Picornaviruses. 

  • Ajitha Thanabalasuriar, PhD. Project title: Immune determinants of injury-induced susceptibility to respiratory bacterial infection. 

  • Jean-François Trempe, PhD. Project title: Structural studies and development of chemical probes for PINK1, a mitochondrial ubiquitin kinase implicated in Parkinson's disease. 

  • Maria Vera Ugalde, PhD. Project title: Defining the molecular mechanisms that direct Heat Shock Proteins to neuronal projections in response to proteotoxic damage. 

  • Ian Watson, PhD. Project title: Identification of biomarkers using single cell technology that inform on optimal duration of immunotherapy treatment in melanoma. 

Bridge grants:

  • Xiaoqian Chai, PhD. Project title: The development of memory and mentalizing networks in autism. 

  • Allen Ehrlicher, PhD. Project title: Nuclear mechanotransduction of YAP in breast cancer metastasis. 

  • Sara Mahshid, PhD, and Dao Nguyen, MD. Project title: Phenotypic Profiling of Antibiotic Susceptibility via a Multiplexed Colorimetric Fluidic Assay. 

  • William Muller, PhD. Project title: Chi3L1 (YKL-40) plays a multifaceted role in modulating tumor immune microenvironment during breast cancer progression. 

  • Gerhard Multhaup, PhD. Project title: Investigation of amyloid seeding in Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy. 

  • Anastasia Nijnik, PhD, and David Langlais, PhD. Project title: Deubiquitinase MYSM1 as an essential epigenetic regulator of hematopoiesis. 

  • Arnim Pause, PhD. Project title: Characterization of human TFE3 isoforms as drivers in breast cancer. 

  • Masha Prager-Khoutorsky, PhD. Project title: Cytoskeletal regulation of vasopressin neuron activity in health and salt-dependent hypertension. 

  • Michael Reed, PhD. Project title: A Genome-Wide Approach for Restoring Antibiotic Susceptibility to Drug-Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. 

  • Christian Rocheleau, PhD. Project title: Regulation of C. elegans EGFR trafficking and signaling by Rab and Arf GTPases. 

  • Jose Teodoro, PhD. Project title: Targeting the RNA translatome to enhance anti-mitotic chemotherapy. 

  • Natalie Zeytuni, PhD. Project title: Regulating the Response: Targeting Virulence Factors Secretion by the Type IX Secretion System. 

  • Ji Zhang, Ji Zhang, MD, PhD. Project title: Exploring the potential of systemic contribution to altered pain behavior in aging mice. 



Fall 2022 Project Grant Competition Results 

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