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New CIHR grants fund research programs in HIV and hereditary cancer

August 28, 2017

By Lindsay Jolivet

Dr. Mona Loutfy
Dr. Mona Loutfy

Scientists at Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) received long-term support for their research programs during the latest grant competition run by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). In total, they received $5,732,000 in research funding for the next seven years.

Dr. Mona Loutfy received $3,780,000 in support of her Women and HIV Research Program. Dr. Loutfy conducts community-based research on issues that are important to the well-being and health of women who have or are at risk of HIV.

The new funding will support the creation of a new model of care that is women-centred, meaning focused on optimizing the overall health of women with HIV in Canada, particularly those at a higher risk, such as Indigenous women and transgender women. The funding will also support trainees and Dr. Loutfy’s research and advocacy in reproductive health for women with HIV, including disseminating the 2018 Canadian HIV Pregnancy Planning Guidelines.

Dr. Steven Narod received $1,952,000 in support of his world-renowned research program in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The new funding will support several research areas, including studies to estimate a woman’s risk of cancer more accurately. His team will continue to study a protein called osteoprotegerin (OPG) — previous research suggests OPG levels could predict breast cancer risk in BRCA1 mutation carriers.

Dr. Narod is also evaluating preventive methods for those at a high risk, including surgery and medication. Specifically, he will compare survival rates for high-risk women who opt for intensive screening with MRI versus preventive mastectomy.

Dr. Steven Narod
Dr. Steven Narod

Furthermore, his team is studying potential ways to detect cancer earlier, such as circulating tumour DNA to detect ovarian cancer in BRCA1 mutation carriers. Dr. Narod is also working to personalize treatment for women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. For example, he will assess if a combination of oophorectomy and cisplatinum chemotherapy improves breast cancer survival rates in BRCA1 mutation carriers.

CIHR funding is very competitive. Women’s College Hospital received two of the 43 Foundation Grants awarded in Ontario and 76 grants awarded across Canada.

The new funding continues a successful year for WCRI researchers, who received more than $2.4 million in new research funding through CIHR’s Project Grant program this spring.





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