Manitoba agencies team up to provide major financial support for health research projects
|Drs. Marissa Becker, Bob Schroth, Shyamala Dakshinamurti and Rakesh Arora have all received awards from the Manitoba Research Council and the Manitoba Medical Services Foundation to carry out research in their respective fields.
BY BOB ARMSTRONG
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, January / February 2012
One is a doctor who works in the
intensive care unit at Children's Hospital.
Another is a dentist who spends a portion
of his time at a clinic teaching kids about
the benefits of oral health.
A third is a clinician who works in the
HIV Clinic at the Health Sciences Centre,
while a fourth is a cardiac surgeon who
co-founded a national organization to
help heart patients.
All four of these individuals may work
in different areas of the health-care
system. But they all have one thing in
common: a desire to improve the delivery
of care for Manitobans. That is one reason
why they have each received clinical
research professorships through a special
partnership between the Manitoba
Medical Service Foundation and the
Manitoba Health Research Council. The
awards are in the form of three-year
research grants totalling $170,000.
"The intention is to free up these
clinicians so they can do research," says
Dr. Greg Hammond, Executive Director
of the MMSF. The award buys time for
clinician-researchers to step away from
clinical work in order to focus on an
important scientific question.
Typically, recipients of the MHRC/MMSF
awards are in their first seven years of
their careers and have established their
own research specialties, says Hammond,
noting that receiving such an award at
that time can be particularly valuable.
Many recipients of the MHRC/MMSF
awards have built on their discoveries
and followed up with prestigious national
research awards. "We've been told that
these grants have given their careers a
real boost," says Hammond, noting that
having such a research funding program
available helps Manitoba compete for
talented and innovative scientists.
The awards are designated as F.W.
DuVal Clinical Research Professorships,
named for a long-time member of the
MMSF board, and John Henson Clinical
Research Professorships in Population
Medicine, named for a former vicepresident
of Manitoba Blue Cross.
A wide range of specialists have
received the awards over the years and
have used their time to investigate many
different medical questions. Having the
award for population medicine available
also supports research related to disease
prevention and the determinants of
health. "Quite often a clinician will
become interested not only in their own
patient but by the population that patient
represents," notes Hammond, who says
that Manitoba is an excellent place to do
population health research.
The awards provide a benefit to the
University of Manitoba, where recipients
teach the next generation of health-care
providers, and to Manitoba's hospitals
and their patients, which benefit from
new approaches and greater expertise.
"A lot of their excellent researchers are
also excellent clinicians. Sometimes
they're unique because they have a
special niche," he says.
The MMSF has its roots in Manitoba
Medical Service, a not-for-profit entity
founded in the 1940s to make health
insurance available to Manitobans. In
time, the insurance functions of the MMS
were overtaken by the development of
universal public health in Canada and the
establishment of Manitoba Blue Cross for
insurance of health services not covered
When MMS was dissolved in the 1970s,
its remaining funds - totalling $455,697
- were used to establish a foundation to
support medical research and education
in Manitoba. "The MMSF portfolio has
grown to be approximately $8.4 million,"
says Hammond. "Manitoba Blue Cross
continues to play an important role,
providing sound business advice, capital
contributions, research funding and
The Manitoba Health Research Council
- a provincially funded agency with a
mandate to support basic, clinical and
applied health research - joined forces
with the MMSF in 2009. Christina Weise,
Executive Director of the MHRC, says the
partnership has allowed for the expansion
of the clinical research professorship
program. "Thanks to this partnership, we
have been able to increase the number
and breadth of clinician scientists doing
important medical research in Manitoba,"
says Weise. This special report, sponsored
by the Manitoba Health Research Council,
highlights the work being done by four
MHRC/MMSF clinical professorship
Researcher tackles pulmonary hypertension in newborns.
||A healthy start
A prenatal dose of Vitamin D may enhance infant health.
Improving infectious disease treatment in vulnerable populations.
||Heart to heart
Study seeks to learn more about delirium in cardiac patients.
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the Jan. / Feb. 2012 issue of Wave