The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) awarded more than $3 million in project grants to three BRC members in its most recent competition. According to CIHR's website, project grants are designed to support ideas with the greatest potential to advance health-related fundamental or applied knowledge, health research, health care, health systems, and/or health outcomes.

Alon Friedman, MD, PhD, Medical Neuroscience
Vascular pathology in traumatic brain injury
Dr. Alon Friedman and his team are investigating traumatic microvascular injury in the brain—and damage to the blood-brain barrier (BBB)—as potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets for long-term neurological and cognitive complications of traumatic brain injury. The new CIHR funding will allow them to test a new imaging approach for detecting, localizing and tracking BBB pathology and testing potential new neuroprotective and therapeutic agents.
Balwantray Chauhan, PhD, Ophthalmology & Visual Science
Changes in the retina and optic nerve in experimental glaucoma
In his ongoing work to better understand and monitor the progression of glaucoma, Dr. Bal Chauhan and his team will use novel techniques and their CIHR funding to learn how retinal ganglion cells change and die in experimental models of glaucoma, and how this deterioration affects visual function over time. Their findings will help guide clinicians in their efforts to monitor glaucoma in their patients.
Victor Rafuse, PhD, Medical Neuroscience
Deciphering the mechanisms underlying synaptic dysfunction at the neuromuscular junction in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Dr. Victor Rafuse and the team in his lab are shedding light on the mechanisms that cause motor neurons to withdraw from the neuromuscular junction (the location where motor neurons physically contact muscle cells and release a chemical that signals the muscles to contract) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Loss of these synaptic connections contributes to the death of motor neurons and accelerates the rate of paralysis in ALS. Dr. Rafuse and his team are using a variety of sophisticated models to identify potential targets for therapeutics that could stabilize these synaptic connections.
Restoring useful function to completely and permanently denervated skeletal muscles
With a second major CIHR project grant, Dr. Rafuse will continue his work to explore how the nervous system may be bypassed altogether to stimulate muscle cells directly with light. These studies will lay the foundation for using this new technology to restore meaningful movement, such as hand grasping or breathing, to individuals whose hand muscles or diaphragm were permanently paralyzed due to motor neuron death after a spinal cord injury.
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