Government of Canada Supports Scientific Research to Deepen Knowledge of H1N1 Flu Virus

WINNIPEG, Oct. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - The Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) today announced support for five new research projects designed to help further understand and address the H1N1 flu virus.

"Canada is a global leader in H1N1 flu virus research, including research with our international partners on a safe and effective H1N1 vaccine," said Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. "The scientific research we are funding today will help ensure that our knowledge, approach and planning remain among the best in the world."

The research announced today - a total $2.4 million over 2 years - is being funded through CIHR's Catalyst Grant program, which provides short-term funding for targeted health research activities. The projects were selected through a rigorous, independent peer review process following a call for applications issued in July 2009.

"In terms of research into the H1N1 flu virus, Canada and the international community have come a long way in a short time. However, important questions remain," said Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of CIHR. "The funding announced today will help ensure that Canada continues to contribute to the body of H1N1 knowledge in areas such as immunity and health care response."

The five research projects announced today are:

    -   Dr. Robert Fowler at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto
        will lead a team of researchers studying how to best manage health-
        care resources during a pandemic. His work will focus on determining
        who is most likely to get sick and how can institutions better
        prepare to help them.

    -   Dr. Allison McGeer from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and her team
        will be studying the impact of H1N1 on pregnant women. This will
        include looking at the best ways to reduce infection and why only
        some pregnant women develop complications.

    -   Dr. John Schrader from the University of British Columbia and his
        team will look into the rapid development of new drug therapies to
        treat patients with severe H1N1 infections.

    -   Dr. Satyendra Sharma from the University of Manitoba and his team
        will seek to determine why some patients with H1N1 go on to develop
        Serious Respiratory Illness. The team will closely study how the
        immune system fights the virus, and how this response differs in
        persons who develop severe illness after being infected with H1N1.
        The team will also track the long-term outcome of people who have
        developed Severe Respiratory Illness.

    -   Dr. Cécile Tremblay from the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de
        Montréal and her team will look at various immune responses to the
        vaccine with a view to develop immune-based preventative and
        therapeutic strategies for those at a higher risk of severe illness.

This research builds on the work being done by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the CIHR Influenza Research Network.

About the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to nearly 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada. www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca

For further information: Media inquiries: Josée Bellemare, Office of Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, (613) 957-0200; David Coulombe, CIHR Media Relations, Telephone: (613) 941-4563, Cell phone: (613) 808-7526