One Banting and four Vanier scholarships total $590K for Faculty of Medicine researchers

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The exterior of Roger Guindon Hall.

“I would like to congratulate the new recipients of these prestigious research scholarships. This funding will allow these brilliant academics to continue their quest for new knowledge in their respective areas of scientific exploration.”

- Sylvain Charbonneau, vice-president, research, University of Ottawa

Over $1.6 million in funding will go to innovative research projects conducted at uOttawa, under the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships programs.

Of that sum, researchers at the Faculty of Medicine have been awarded a total of $590,000 in support of their work on cancer therapies, mechanisms of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, pathways of cognitive decline and mechanisms of cell stress.

“I would like to congratulate the new recipients of these prestigious research scholarships,” said Sylvain Charbonneau, vice-president, research. “This funding will allow these brilliant academics to continue their quest for new knowledge in their respective areas of scientific exploration.”

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Program

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Program provides funding to the very best postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the country's economic, social and research-based growth.

This Government of Canada initiative helps Canadian universities to attract and retain top-notch postdoctoral research talent, both nationally and internationally. This year’s recipients will be awarded $70,000 each annually for two years to continue their research and develop their potential as leaders in their respective fields.

One of the two recipients at the University of Ottawa is from the Faculty of Medicine:

MohammadTaha MohammadiAzad - Agency: CIHR
My project aims to combine oncolytic viruses and pharmacological targeting of the Hippo signaling pathway.  This combination therapy will likely increase treatment efficiency and dramatically reduce the chance of resistance. In this project, I will use patient-derived tumor cells to measure the efficiency of this combined therapeutic. In doing so, we hope to test a new therapeutic strategy for successful cancer treatment.

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS)

The Vanier CGS program, created in 2008 by the three federal research granting agencies, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), aims to encourage top-tier doctoral students to develop their academic excellence, research potential and leadership skills and thus contribute to the advancement of the humanities, social sciences, health sciences, natural sciences and engineering. The scholarships pay $50,000 annually over three years.

Four of the nine recipients at the University of Ottawa are from the Faculty of Medicine:

Loucia Chehade - Agency: CIHR
I'm studying a devastating paediatric neuromuscular disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).The focus of my project is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms contributing to motor neuron death in SMA such as immune organ defects and neuroinflammation. Understanding the functional consequences will hopefully offer guidance in the development of combinatorial therapies and highlight new important considerations to be taken in SMA patient care.

Bruna Cristina Falavinha - Agency: CIHR
Aberrant sphingolipid metabolism is linked to risk of dementia in Parkinson’s Disease (PD), PD with Dementia (PDD), and Dementia with Lewy Bodies, yet the critical metabolic pathways responsible for cognitive decline are still unknown. My research project consists in understanding how changes in sphingolipid metabolism contributes to cognitive decline while considering age, genetic modifications and sexual differences.

Truc To - Agency: NSERC
Autophagy, an important degradative process, is used by cells as a mechanism to cope with stresses. Dysregulation of stress-specific autophagy has been shown to be involved in multiple human pathologies such as cancer, cardiomyopathy, neurodegeneration, and Crohn’s Disease. However, to date no studies have attempted to compare the signaling requirements for autophagy induction upon distinct stresses such as nutrient starvation, DNA damage, or organelle dysfunction. My project will use the high throughput CRISPR (a genetic modification technique) analysis to identify and validate genes involved in the stress-specific autophagy regulation.

Chinonye Udechukwu - Agency: IRSC
My research project explores the potential of early-life dietary interventions to reduce the risk of stress-related mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety (the leading global causes of disability). Using a mouse model, I will specifically examine whether maternal consumption of a Mediterranean-style diet during pregnancy and lactation could prevent or mitigate the adverse effects of prenatal stress on (1) the development of offspring microbiota-gut-brain axis and (2) susceptibility of offspring to depression- and anxiety-like behaviours in adulthood.

Read about all of the University’s recipients on the Office of the Vice-President, Research (OVPR) website.


Photo of MohammadTaha MohammadiAzad

MohammadTaha MohammadiAzad

Photo collage of Loucia Chehade, Bruna Cristina Falavinha, Truc To and Chinonye Udechukwu

Left to right: Loucia Chehade, Bruna Cristina Falavinha, Truc To and Chinonye Udechukwu.


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