Congratulations to PHO scientists on recent national funding award competition


28 July 2016

Several PHO scientists have been awarded grant funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to lead important public health research.

Dr. Jennie Johnstone, infection prevention and control physician, was awarded a $1.3-million grant to study the effect of probiotics in preventing health care-associated infections in critically ill patients. Her three-year project grant is for an international, multi-centre, randomized controlled trial in which critically ill patients will be given a probiotic to determine whether it reduces outcomes such as ventilator-associated pneumonia, Clostridium difficile, antimicrobial use, length of stay in hospital, and death.

 “My hope is that the results of this trial will impact global practice and have policy implications. It’s exciting to investigate new strategies that may lead to fewer infections, improved patient outcomes, and less antimicrobial use,” said Johnstone.

Additionally, Dr. Laura Rosella, scientist, was awarded a foundation scheme grant through her appointment at the University of Toronto. Her grant, worth almost $1.2-million, will use large, linked databases of health, social, and cost-related information to develop new resources and tools to inform health system planning. The foundation grant is designed to provide long-term support for the pursuit of innovative, high-impact programs of research.

Dr. Hong Chen and Dr. Jeff Kwong, scientists, are co-principal investigators on a grant to study whether cardiovascular medication mitigates the adverse human health effects of air pollution. Dr. Beate Sander, scientist, Dr. Gerald Evans, consultant physician, and Dr. Samir Patel, clinical microbiologist, are co-principal investigators on a grant to study the health and economic burden of Lyme Disease. Both grants, worth $100,000 each, are considered bridge funding to cover the first year of their work, allowing them to initiate their projects and re-apply for continued funding.

Many PHO staff members were also listed as co-applicants to these and other CIHR awards. “As co-applicants, these researchers will continue to advance their own programs of research while demonstrating PHO’s commitment to collaborating with leading experts at many organizations,” said Dr. John McLaughlin, Chief Science Officer.

“PHO has done very well in this prestigious competition, with three of six applications funded, which surpasses the national average of 13 per cent success,” said McLaughlin. “In addition to being excellent news and an investment for individual researchers and their projects, taken together, these awards add significantly to the investment in public health-relevant research in Ontario.”

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Updated 28 July 2016