Congratulations to three IRCM researchers, Jennifer Estall, Mathieu Ferron and Marie Kmita, who stood out in the 2020 Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant competition, receiving a total of $ 2,413,575 over 5 years to develop highly promising research projects. These grants are another testimony to the excellent health research carried out within the IRCM.
The CIHR grants ’ objectives is to advance basic or clinical research in health, by identifying cutting-edge research ideas that present high potential for impact. These three projects were selected following a rigorous process led by a peer review committee:
- Jennifer Estall, Director of the Molecular Mechanisms of Diabetes Research Unit at IRCM, will receive an amount of $ 872,100 to study the Role of mitochondrial adaptation in fatty liver disease and associated liver cancer. This project will look at the causes of fatty liver disease, which is characterized by an accumulation of fat in the organ, accompanied by significant inflammation. This medical condition, which affects a third of the population in North America, increases the chances of liver failure and other diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions and cancer. In a context where little is known about the triggers of fatty liver disease, Jennifer Estall's team discovered that when PGC-1alpha protein is low in the liver, the organ loses some of its regenerative abilities, causing disease. In addition, a genetic variant of that same protein is believed to be associated with both the incidence and the severity of fatty liver disease. This CIHR-funded project will allow the team to explore these avenues to further understand these triggers of fatty liver disease and associated diseases.
- Mathieu Ferron, Director of the Molecular Physiology Research Unit at the IRCM, will receive a $ 795,600 grant for his project entitled Role of vitamin K-dependent gamma-carboxylation in beta cells and diabetes. While studies have shown that vitamin K deficiency could be involved in diabetes, the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. This is what Mathieu Ferron's team will seek to better understand, by studying the functions of vitamin K-dependant proteins in the beta cells of the pancreas and their potential link with the development of diabetes. The team will also investigate the interaction between vitamin K and the ability of beta cells to respond to stress. Then, as part of this study, the team will test in a preclinical model whether vitamin K can improve or prevent diabetes. A project that looks promising for better diabetes prevention.
- Marie Kmita, Director of the Genetics and Development Research Unit at IRCM, will receive $ 745,875 to study Hox genes in the development and evolution of distal limbs. The Hox family genes are essential for the proper development of the embryo, as evidenced by the many malformations associated with their mutation. With this funding, Marie Kmita's team will seek to understand the functions of Hox genes for limb development. More specifically, the team will study the molecular mechanisms by which the Hox13 genes govern the formation of fingers, the function of which is crucial for many activities of our daily life.
The IRCM community unites in wishing the best of success to Jennifer Estall, Mathieu Ferron and Marie Kmita, as well as to their teams.