McMaster researchers receive $61 million from CIHR to advance health research

A group photo of seven researchers, university president David Farrar, MP Filomena Tassi and CIHR president Strong.

Seven McMaster-led research projects are receiving funding from the CIHR's Clinical Trials Fund, designed to enhance Canada’s clinical trials ecosystem from discovery to implementation.

Seven McMaster-led research projects have received a total of $61 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to advance medical research, training and innovation.

The announcement was made at McMaster by Filomena Tassi, MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas and minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, as part of CIHR’s Clinical Trials funding initiative.

The Clinical Trials Fund is designed to enhance Canada’s clinical trials ecosystem from discovery to implementation.

“To the successful applicants — congratulations. The research you are doing is advancing knowledge and leading to new treatments and better care for patients. The direct impact of these investments will also contribute to fulfilling our vision for a healthier future for all Canadians,” Tassi said.

The Pan-Canadian Accelerating Clinical Trials Consortium (ACT) — co-led by McMaster professor and Senior Scientist at the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), P.J. Devereaux — received $39 million to expand its clinical trial networks, support clinical trial units and improve collaboration and knowledge sharing, as well as the number, efficiency and quality of clinical trials in Canada.

Hosted at PHRI, ACT will build Canada’s clinical trial capacity and will support hundreds of researchers across the country, said Devereaux.

“Clinical trials are the most informed way of determining whether or not effects exist for drugs and interventions, and they’re a crucial part of how we advance health for Canadians. ACT and its 11 clinical trial units and 28 research networks from across the country will work to ensure that Canadians have access to participate in clinical trials that are relevant to their health,” he said.

“This work will serve to accelerate both the management and prevention of chronic diseases and our rapid response to health threats and pandemics.”

McMaster president David Farrar, congratulated the McMaster funding recipients and thanked the CIHR for this important investment in McMaster’s research enterprise.

“McMaster and our partner institutions have earned a global reputation as leaders in clinical trials. Our world-class researchers and facilities allow us to work “bench to bedside” — from basic science in the lab to validation in patients. It’s that approach that has earned McMaster and its partners nearly half of today’s national investment, with some $61 million supporting the work of seven research groups,” he said.

Associate professor of oncology, Sameer Parpia, received $2.5 million to establish a Canadawide biostatistics training platform that will provide participants with the technical skills and practical experience needed to become leaders in their field and ensure that clinical trials generate the highest-quality evidence to improve the health of Canadians.

Additionally, five McMaster research projects received a total of nearly $20 million to advance their research and fund their clinical trials.

  • Deborah Cook received $1.9 million for a clinical trial project related to stress ulcer prophylaxis in the critically ill.
  • Kim Lewis received $3.7 million for an international pragmatic randomized control trial focused on non-invasive ventilation in the critically ill.
  • Jason Roberts received $2.7 million for a project focused on developing treatment for patients with a genetic heart disorder, known as ARVC.
  • Bram Rochwerg received $3.4 million for a corticosteroid early and extended randomized controlled trial for patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure (AHRF), or acute breathing problems.
  • Fiona Smaill received $8.2 million for Phase 2 human trials to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of a next-generation COVID-19 vaccine delivered by inhaled aerosol.

Smaill’s work — part of Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats, based at McMaster — has the potential to lead to better protection against strains of SARS-CoV-2, including Omicron variants.

“If we can show the new inhaled vaccine is safe and effective, as we anticipate, the impact will be significant for human health, medical costs and better quality of life,” said Smaill, professor emeritus in the department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, who is leading the trials with Matthew Miller, Scientific Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, Zhou Xing, a professor of medicine, Brian Lichty, an associate professor of medicine, Mark Loeb, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine and Canada Research Chair in Infectious Diseases Research, and Imran Satia, assistant professor of respirology.

Karen Mossman, McMaster’s vice-president of research, commended the funding recipients for the quality and impact of their research, which will bring new and improved healthcare technologies and services to Canadians.

“Our researchers continue to produce evidence-based research to advance the health and well-being of Canadians and citizens around the world and have helped McMaster and Canada earn a global reputation as leaders in clinical trials,” she said.

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