UAlberta researchers lead the way nationally in maternal, reproductive, child and youth health

Researchers earn prestigious CIHR New Investigator grants in Maternal, Reproductive, Child and Youth Health.

Breanne Fisher - 15 January 2018

University of Alberta researchers earn CIHR New Investigator grants in Maternal, Reproductive, Child and Youth Health. Of only 24 national research awards, five UAlberta-based researchers and members of the Women and Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI) were given the opportunity to carry out their innovative work in these areas.

Total funding for the five projects will be $1.1 million over the next three years. This funding will impact the health outcomes of women and children in Alberta-an area of health research that continues to be underrepresented.

New drugs that will protect the brain in children with malaria

Every two minutes, a child's life is taken because of the devastating consequences of malaria.

For those that do survive, many are left with severe neurocognitive impairments related to language, attention, memory and other cognitive-based skills that burden them for the rest of their lives.

Michael Hawkes, an assistant professor in the U of A's Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, will be using his CIHR grant to study new anticancer drugs that can be repurposed to protect the brain of children with cerebral malaria.

The implications of Hawkes' research globally, particularly in Africa, could be staggering-according to recent data from the World Health Organization, Africa is home to 90 per cent cases of malaria worldwide and 91 per cent of total deaths from malaria.

"This grant will allow me to continue translational bench-to-bedside research for new treatments for malaria," said Hawkes. "New treatments to reduce deaths and disability could have long-term impact for the large number in children in Africa who continue to catch malaria."

Other funded projects from UAlberta Women and Children's Health Research Institute members

Hawkes' project is just one of five aimed at improving the health of women and children. Others from the University of Alberta include:

"These grants will facilitate continued research excellence in maternal and child health-improving the health of women and children not only today, but for generations to come," said Sandra Davidge, executive director of the Women and Children's Health Research Institute.

Partnering with innovation

These projects were possible thanks to fund matching from the Women and Children's Health Research Institute through the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation along with partnering faculties and departments within the University of Alberta. This shared commitment to improving health outcomes for women and children propels Edmonton forward as a national leader in health-care innovation.