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CFI awards $854,098 to University of Montreal and partners

This release is available in French.

Montreal, April 8, 2009 Research infrastructure at the Universit de Montral and two of its affiliated research centres has received a boost, thanks to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and matching funds from the Government of Quebec and the private sector. The CFI has awarded $854,098 to support the four projects submitted by the Universit de Montral, the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and the Centre Hospitalier de l'Universit de Montral's research centre (CRCHUM). The Government of Quebec has provided equal contributions, while the private sector has pledged significant support for the following projects:

Reducing Type 2 diabetes

Dr. May Faraj, a scientist at the Department of Nutrition of the Universit de Montral's Faculty of Medicine and an invited researcher at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montral, received $131,284 in CFI funding or a total of $328,209 including contributions from the Government of Quebec and the private sector. She will study the number of particles that carry cholesterol in the blood, otherwise known as low density lipoproteins (LDL), as a risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.

"My research explores a novel hypothesis that high concentrations of LDL particles may be a promoter rather than a consequence of Type 2 diabetes," says Dr. Faraj, adding she will investigate whether decreasing LDL particles by behaviour modification or drug interventions can reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes. "The hope is to improve the quality of life of Canadians, particularly those who are obese as they are more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes, which may lead to enormous savings to the Canadian health-care system."

Nutrigenomics to offset cardiovascular diseases

Dr. Emile Levy, a nutrition and pediatrics professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Universit de Montral, and J.A. de Sve Chair in Nutition Research and scientific Director of the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Unit of the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center, has received $343,201 from the CFI; $343,201 from the Government of Quebec and $223,205 from the private sector for a total of $909,607. He will advance nutrigenomics research a science that explores the relationship between genes and nutrition.

"Daily food intake provides the necessary energy to fuel our bodies. However, these nutrients can produce complimentary tasks as they interact with our genes," says Dr. Levy. "Nutrigenomics is a new research avenue that promises to reduce the impact of cardiovascular diseases and other disorders by charting healthier eating habits that reduce the vulnerability of people who are genetically predisposed. Nutrigenomics will couple prevention and nutrition to decrease medical interventions."

Nanosuspensions to improve pharmaceuticals

Dr. Grgoire Leclair, a professor at the Universit de Montral's Faculty of Pharmacy, has received $156,208 in CFI support; $156,209 from the Government of Quebec and $78,104 from the private sector for a total of $ 390,520. He will investigate ways to improve pharmaceuticals using a nanosuspension platform technology, which involves the production of drug particles that are one millionth of a millimetre.

"Nanosuspension production is a water-based process that does not involve the use of organic solvents. It allows the formulation of drugs that could otherwise not be absorbed by the digestive system," says Dr. Leclair. "Using a nanosuspension-based formulation, medications can be swallowed, inhaled, injected or applied topically. This CFI funding will allow the Universit de Montral to develop new platform technologies to improve the formulation of existing medications and accelerate the development of new chemically complex drugs."

Preventing kidney diseases

Dr. Shao-Ling Zhang, a researcher at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Universit de Montral's research centre (CRCHUM) and the Universit de Montral's Faculty of Medicine, and Dr. John S.D. Chan, a Universit de Montral researcher and chief of the Laboratory of molecular nephrology and endocrinology at the CRCHUM, received $223,405 from the CFI, $223,406 from the Government of Quebec and $119,218 from the private sector to investigate how to prevent kidney diseases in newborns.

"While maternal diabetes is strongly associated with major renal anomalies, it also appears to program offspring for other problems later in life, such as hypertension, kidney disease, and metabolic syndrome, a phenomenon called 'perinatal programming'," says Dr. Zhang. Adds Dr. Chan, "There is an urgent need to identify these genes in foetal kidney development and prevent subsequent chronic kidney and cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. The CFI infrastructure will prove essential in our bench-to-beside research to improve Canadian healthcare."

CFI support to propel research

The CFI announced a total of $26,712,283 in new funds to support 117 projects at 29 institutions across Canada following a rigorous merit-review process. The CFI supports cutting-edge research infrastructure that helps stimulate various sectors of our economy associated with such capital projects. It is estimated that every dollar invested directly in research yields over $7 in economic benefits including spinoff jobs.

"The investments announced today at the Universit de Montral and its affiliated institutions will further enhance our country's reputation as a destination of choice for outstanding researchers," says Dr. Eliot Phillipson, CFI president and CEO.


Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
University of Montreal

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