MHI researchers receive $4.8M as grants for genetics and genomic medicine research projects

Support from Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Two research teams led by Dr. Christine Des Rosiers and Dr. John D. Rioux, both researchers at the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) and professors at the Universit- de Montr-al, have been awarded grants of $2.5 million and $2.3 million, respectively, to finance research projects on genetics and genomic medicine.

From among the roughly 70 applications submitted, the teams directed by Drs. Des Rosiers and Rioux are two of six across the country to be selected by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to receive the Emerging Team Grant - From Genes to Proteins, Cells, Tissues and Patients.

"The fact that two of our research teams were among the six in all of Canada to receive funding is a remarkable achievement, one that demonstrates and reinforces the MHI's leadership in the fields of biomarkers, integrative biology, metabolomics and personalized medicine," says Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, cardiologist, director of the MHI Research Centre, professor and holder of the research chair on atherosclerosis at the Faculty of Medicine at the Universit- de Montr-al.

New hope for patients with lactic acidosis

The research project led by Dr. Des Rosiers will focus on Leigh's syndrome, French-Canadian type, commonly called lactic acidosis. Often fatal before the age of five, this hereditary disease is most prevalent in the Charlevoix and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions of Quebec. The $2.5 million grant will serve to support basic and clinical research projects aimed at creating research tools and arriving at a better understanding of the disease, as well as developing diagnostic tests and therapeutic approaches.

"This grant represents a major victory for families affected by lactic acidosis," says Pierre Lavoie, president of the Association de l'Acidose Lactique (AAL), which acted as a key partner in securing the support. The team also includes researchers from the Universit- de Montr-al, the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montr-al, the Universit- du Qu-bec - Chicoutimi and McGill University.

Genetics of inflammatory diseases

The main objective of Dr. John D. Rioux's team is to use genetic discoveries to improve the diagnosis and treatment of common diseases. This project will focus on the biological pathway of the IL23R gene (which has been closely linked to inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis) with the objective of using it as a model for translating other genetic discoveries into clinical discoveries.

"Our genetics studies have shown that multiple genes in the IL23R pathway influence an individual's risk to developing chronic inflammatory diseases. Knowing more about how these genetic variations influence the development of these diseases should make it possible to develop powerful biomarkers and better therapeutic alternatives," says Dr. John D. Rioux. This project brings together a group of researchers from the MHI, the Universit- de Montr-al, the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center, H-pital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, as well as international collaborators from institutions including Harvard University and Oxford University.

This second CIHR grant of more than $2.3 million was provided in part by the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada, specifically from the Ross McMaster Memorial Fund and from a philanthropic family from Montreal.

Source: University of Montreal

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