Supporting health through research and education.

Grant Recipients » 2018

The Manitoba Medical Service Foundation has been awarding Research Grants to researchers since 1971, and over $14.9 million has been donated to furthering this cause, with over $21 million provided in support of all awards.

Go to Previous Awards Annual Brochures to view previous year's awards. Contact the Administrative Assistant for information on awards prior to 2009.

Please Note: Institutional Costs are not eligible expenses for MMSF Grants and Awards funding.

Dr. Devi Atukorallaya – Zebrafish Ethmoid Bone Provides New Insights to Human Cleft Palate Development – $30,000

  • PhotoDr. Devi Atukorallaya

Award icon$30,000

Cleft lip is an opening in the lip, while cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. Caused by the abnormal fusion of the facial tissues, Cleft Lip and Palate (CLP) is a common birth defect. The exact mechanism of cleft formation is difficult to identify, but it can be influenced by many genes and environmental factors.

The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a popular laboratory animal. There are several advantages of using zebrafish to study human palate formation:

  1. The genes responsible for the early development of the head are found to be very similar among fish and humans.
  2. The entire life history of a fish can be studied in the laboratory.
  3. The human palate and roof of the zebrafish oral cavity are very similar.

It is important to identify the cell and gene activity during zebrafish palate fusion. In this project, I will use tissue-staining techniques to study the structure of the palate.

In humans, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) are groups of proteins that are required to form a normal palate. Using gene knockdown and rescue techniques, I will investigate the effect of BMP pathway gene activation and inhibition on zebrafish palate development.

This study will identify previously unknown cell and gene activity during zebrafish palatal bone formation. Data from this study will aid in early detection of CLP. Information on gene function during palate development will help in developing prenatal drugs to prevent CLP.

  • Dr. Devi Atukorallaya – PhD (Dentistry) Tokyo Medical and Dental University 2011; BDS (Dentistry) University of Peradeniya 2003

    Assistant Professor, Oral Biology, University of Manitoba

Dr. Luc Clair – Estimating the Relationship Between Cardiovascular Health and the Use of Neurodegenerative Pharmaceuticals – $30,000

  • PhotoDr. Luc Clair

Award icon$30,000

Heart disease is known to be associated with dementia. However, researchers are unsure if one causes the other. There are reasons to think that heart disease leads to dementia, though few studies have offered any evidence to support this claim. Finding proof would give doctors a starting point for treatment and prevention.

This study examines the relationship between heart health and the use of drugs to treat dementia. Assuming that people who take drugs for dementia also suffer from dementia (and are not taking the drugs for any other reason), we hope to see whether or not poor heart health causes dementia later in life.

We will use a unique dataset that follows people registered in the Manitoba Health Insurance Registry from 1996 to 2015. Using this dataset, we will look at the use of dementia drugs in two ways:

  1. The probability of taking a drug
  2. If a person took a drug, the number of pills they took

This way, we can see how heart disease affects the probability that a person will take drugs for dementia and how heart disease affects the dosage for people who take drugs for dementia.

  • Dr. Luc Clair – PhD (Economics) McMaster University 2017; MSc Arts (Economics) Memorial University of Newfoundland 2012; BSc Science (Pure Mathematics and Economics) Memorial University of Newfoundland 2008

    Assistant Professor, Economics, University of Winnipeg

    PI, Agriculture/Health Economics, Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine, St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre

Dr. Brett Houston – Reducing Transfusion While Preserving Canada’s Blood Supply: Use and Effectiveness of Tranexamic Acid in Major Non-Cardiac Surgeries at High Risk of Bleeding – $29,613

  • PhotoDr. Brett Houston

Award icon$29,613

Major surgery can be associated with significant bleeding, which may require a blood transfusion. Blood transfusions can cause transfusion reactions, infection and other medical complications. A medication called tranexamic acid is inexpensive and widely available, and it’s known to minimize bleeding and reduce the need for transfusion when given during cardiac surgery. Further studies are needed to determine whether tranexamic acid is as effective in other high-risk surgeries with similar rates of transfusion.

In preparation for an electronic, randomized controlled trial, we will complete five studies where we evaluate tranexamic acid in these high-risk surgeries. We will locally identify the surgeries that place patients at the highest risk of blood transfusion. We will then evaluate current tranexamic acid utilization patterns in these surgeries and study how effective tranexamic acid is in reducing transfusion. Lastly, we will involve patients and caregivers to prioritize patient-focused trial methods and novel ways of obtaining informed consent.

We will study all patients over 18 who have undergone non-cardiac surgery at three hospitals in Winnipeg (Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface General Hospital, and Concordia Hospital) between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016. Our patient and caregiver team will share their experiences from this period and give us their recommendations at key times during the study.

Routine use of tranexamic acid in the care of patients undergoing high risk surgery has the potential to reduce transfusions, improve patient outcomes and preserve Canada’s blood supply. This trial will also model a novel way of performing research in Manitoba, which will continue to improve health outcomes for years to come.

  • Dr. Brett Houston – MD (Medicine) University of Manitoba 2013; BSc (Med) (Medical Research) University of Manitoba 2013; BSc (Science) University of Manitoba 2009

    Hematology Fellow, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba

    Internal Medicine Resident, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto

    PhD (Candidate) Rady Faculty of Health Science, University of Manitoba

Dr. Maya Jeyaraman – Effectiveness of Interventions and Strategies to Reduce Emergency Department Wait Times: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis – $30,000 (MMSF $15,000 / WF $15, 000)

  • PhotoDr. Maya Jeyaraman

Award icon$30,000

In Canada and throughout the world, patients visiting emergency departments face prolonged wait times that frequently lead to patient dissatisfaction, patients leaving without treatment and sometimes even death.

Based on an international study, Canada has the highest percentage of patients waiting four hours or longer in emergency departments. Many interventions to reduce wait times in emergency departments have been reported by individual research studies, but an overall evaluation and summary of up-to-date evidence is lacking. Given the magnitude of the problem, it is crucial to pool the data from all relevant individual research studies and summarize up-to-date evidence on the effectiveness of the interventions.

We will conduct our proposed research based on standard guidelines described in the Cochrane handbook. We have a team of experts to guide and assist, and we’ll use appropriate methods to identify relevant studies, to screen studies based on eligibility criteria, to extract data and to assess the quality of included studies. We will engage patients and public with lived experience as active partners in various steps of our proposed research.

The results of our research have great potential to inform change in current practice that could significantly reduce wait times in emergency departments across Canada, improve the health of Canadians and transform the Canadian healthcare delivery system.

  • Dr. Maya Jeyaraman – PhD (Cardiovascular Sciences) University of Manitoba 2011; MSc (Cardiovascular Sciences) University of Manitoba 2003; MB (Medicine) Dr. MGR Medical University 1999; BS (Medicine) Dr. MGR Medical University 1999

    Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

    Review Manager, George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation, University of Manitoba

Dr. Kheira Jolin-Dahel – A Tool to Predict Cesarean Delivery in Rural First Nations Population – $30,000

  • PhotoDr. Kheira Jolin-Dahel

Award icon$30,000

Few rural communities, including First Nations communities, offer birthing services. Women living in these communities must travel to larger centres for delivery. However, there is overwhelming evidence that this can have negative effects. First Nations women are particularly impacted by this situation, as it fails to consider the importance of family support and cultural needs.

A clinical decision tool designed to predict the likelihood of normal delivery would greatly benefit patients and providers, promoting safety in communities where on-site birthing services are limited.

The intent of this study is to determine the applicability of a tool to predict cesarean delivery in low-risk pregnant women in a remote First Nations community. It will also assess cost implications of implementing local birthing services. A retrospective chart audit of all low-risk women from Cross Lake First Nation will determine appropriateness of the tool for rural/remote populations. It’ll also project costs associated with sending these women outside their community. Insights gained will be used to further develop and convert the clinical decision tool into a mobile app to increase accessibility and utility for clinical providers.

By creating a convenient and practical app to better predict birth outcomes, we hope to support the implementation of local low-risk birthing services in the Cross Lake community and across other rural/remote communities. Creation of an app will make this tool more widely available to health care providers.

  • Dr. Kheira Jolin-Dahel – Family Medicine Residency (Family Medicine) University of Manitoba 2015; MD (Medicine) University of Ottawa 2013; MSc (Neuroscience) University of Ottawa 2009; BSc (Biochemistry) University of Ottawa 2008

    Lecturer, Family Medicine, University of Manitoba

    Bilingual Stream Research Facilitator, Family Medicine, University of Manitoba

    Family Physician, Centre Medical Seine

Dr. Jason Kindrachuk – Characterizing the Molecular Mechanisms of Ebola Virus Persistence in a 3D Co-Culture Model of the Blood-Testis Barrier – $19,219

  • PhotoDr. Jason Kindrachuk

Award icon$19,219

The recent ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa was the largest in recorded history. Although largely confined to West Africa, incidental infections occurred outside of the region, including North America, prompting local and national public health alerts.

Long-term viral persistence in EVD survivors could result in incidental introductions of ebola virus (EBOV) to new geographic regions, including Canada, which raises important national and provincial public health concerns. The virus has been found in semen from EVD survivors after more than 500 days following recovery and in the absence of physiological symptoms of disease. Thus, sexual transmission of EBOV following recovery is a major public health concern.

Clinical trials with antivirals have suggested that drug treatment has no effect on reducing EBOV persistence within the male reproductive tract. This means we must identify the mechanisms by which EBOV infiltrates, and persists within, the reproductive tract so that therapies can be developed or tailored to reduce persistence.

This study aims to characterize the molecular mechanisms of EBOV persistence within the testes using an in-vitro model of the Blood-Testis Barrier. Here, we will characterize how the virus infiltrates this tissue barrier, the specific cells targeted by the virus and the viral life cycle within these infected cells. This study will explain the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon and will have important impacts for national public health strategies during future outbreaks, in particular post-outbreak surveillance and patient care strategies.

  • Dr. Jason Kindrachuk – PhD (Biochemistry) University of Saskatchewan 2007; BSc (Biochemistry) University of Saskatchewan 2001

    Assistant Professor, Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba

    Canada Research Chair, Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba

Dr. Kendra Rieger – The Experience of Mindfulness-Based Expressive Arts Among Patients with Cancer – $25,000 (MMSF $12,500 / WF $12, 500)

  • PhotoDr. Kendra Rieger

Award icon$25,000

When a person receives a cancer diagnosis, their life changes in an instant. In addition to facing the troubling symptoms and challenges of treatment, over one third of patients also experience emotional distress. While the focus on physical treatment is essential for survival, addressing patients’ often over-looked psychosocial needs is crucial to their well-being. These overwhelming concerns can affect patients’ mental and physical health. How does a person survive, adjust, live well and even heal in the context of the challenges of cancer? We need innovative patient support programs to meet these fundamental needs.

This research project aims to understand patients’ experiences of one such intervention – a mindfulness-based expressive arts group. Through combining two well-recognized therapies (mindfulness and expressive arts therapy), this innovation holds promise to improve the health and well-being of patients. It may help patients acknowledge uncertainty, make sense of their cancer experiences, decrease worries about the future and transform their illness perspectives. Although some researchers have examined outcomes, no one has developed a theoretical understanding of how, why, and when a mindfulness-based expressive arts group is effective from the patients’ viewpoint. This study will explore cancer patients’ experiences of a mindfulness-based expressive arts group to understand how this intervention fosters health and well-being. We will share our findings through publications, art exhibits, and a digital story. The findings will provide “how-to” information to clinicians working in oncology so that they can refine, implement, and evaluate mindfulness-based, expressive-arts programming in their own settings.

  • Dr. Kendra Rieger –PhD (Nursing) University of Manitoba 2017; BN (Nursing) University of Manitoba 2005; Diploma in Nursing, Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing 1989

    Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Manitoba

Dr. Trisha Scribbans – Towards Restoring Scapular Position and Motion with Shoulder Pain: Mapping Muscle Activation in the Trapezius – $30,000

  • PhotoDr. Trisha Scribbans

Award icon$30,000

Between 2012 and 2016, eight per cent of all compensation claims from workplace injuries resulting in lost work time in Manitoba were due to shoulder injuries. While alterations in the position and motion of the shoulder blade are a risk factor for future shoulder injury, we lack a complete understanding of the muscle activation present with normal and abnormal shoulder blade position and movement.

This project will determine the amount of muscle activation present within muscles (upper, middle and lower trapezius) necessary for shoulder blade stabilization and movement in individuals with and without altered shoulder blade position and motion.

We’ll do this by measuring the amount of electrical activity within the trapezius using a high number of sensors to enable a more complete description of the muscle activation present compared to previous investigations. Participants will raise their shoulder up, back, down and in front of them while we measure the level of activity within the muscles. This will determine if differences are present between individuals with and without altered shoulder blade position/motion.

This information will improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying differences in shoulder position/motion. This will contribute to the development of targeted rehabilitation and preventative strategies capable of correcting altered muscle activation patterns and altered shoulder position and movement. Collectively, these outcomes will improve the diagnosis, rehabilitation and prevention of altered shoulder motion resulting in improved shoulder blade stability/motion and a reduced risk of injury and pain.

  • Dr. Trisha Scribbans – PhD (Kinesiology/Exercise Physiology) Queens University 2016; MSc (Anatomical Sciences) Queens University 2011; BSc (Hons) (Applied Health Sciences/Athletic Therapy) Sheridan College 2009; Diploma (Massage Therapy) Kine-Concept Institute Maritimes 2004

    Assistant Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba

    Director, Education and Research Foundation, Canadian Athletic Therapists Association

    Research Affiliate, Health, Leisure and Human Performance Research Institute, University of Manitoba

Dr. Tabrez Siddiqui – Investigation of a Novel Regulatory Mechanism for Neuronal Synaptic Circuit Development – $34,900

  • PhotoDr. Tabrez Siddiqui

Award icon$34,900

Autism manifests as a range of behavioral, social, communication and cognitive deficiencies. Studies performed on brains of autistic individuals as well as rodent models of autism have shown that nerve cell connections known as synapses are disrupted in this disorder.

Synapses are the elementary units of communication in the brain that develop through intricate cross-talk among proteins. We have discovered key interactions between two classes of autism-associated synaptic proteins required for formation of connections between nerve cells.

The primary goal of this research is to understand how these two different families of proteins together contribute to and control the establishment of synaptic connectivity. This research will provide novel insights into the causes of autism and associated disorders.

  • Dr. Tabrez Siddiqui – PhD (Neurobiology) Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry 2006; MSc (Molecular Biology) Georg-August University 2003; BSc (Hons) (Biochemistry) Aligarh Muslim University 2000

    Assistant Professor, Physiology and Pathophysiology, University of Manitoba

    Principal Investigator, Neuroscience Research Program, Kleysen Institute for Advanced Medicine, Health Sciences Centre

Continue reading the next page: Previous Awards Annual Brochures