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Arthritis Society Canada announces 12 training awards to advance understanding of arthritis

Awards are helping researchers create solutions to better prevent, diagnose and treat arthritis in Canada. 

Arthritis Society Canada proudly awards funding to 12 researchers in training, to advance arthritis prevention, treatment and diagnosis, with the support of donors. The training awards include seven PhD Salary Awards and five Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards.

Arthritis describes a group of over 100 diseases characterized by inflammation in the joints and sometimes other areas of the body. It is a complex, chronic disease that 6 million Canadians have, and it is a leading cause of disability and work limitations in Canada. While there have been significant advancements in arthritis research, the causes of arthritis and optimal treatment and management approaches are not fully understood. 

Sepideh Teghizadeh, a PhD student at Western University, is one of the 12 funded trainees answering pressing questions that could transform the lives of millions of Canadians. Teghizadeh, under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Grol and Dr. Frank Beier, is developing a gene therapy that enables joint cells to generate proteins targeting the drivers of inflammation in osteoarthritis. This work could change how we treat osteoarthritis, and with success, a single injection would block pain and slow down the development of osteoarthritis.

“These training awards exemplify Arthritis Society Canada’s commitment to empowering our nation’s brightest minds to establish their careers in arthritis research and help us understand the disease better,” says Dr. Siân Bevan, Chief Science Officer at Arthritis Society Canada. “This work is poised to change millions of lives in Canada as we uncover novel treatments and work towards finding a cure for arthritis.”

Every year, researchers undergo a competitive process for Arthritis Society Canada’s training awards. The gold-standard peer-review process, based on the input of scientists, clinicians and people with lived experience with arthritis, ensures that the most meritorious projects receive the support they need.  

Here is the full list of this year’s training award recipients:

PhD Salary Awards:

  • Saber Ghazizadeh Darband, McGill University Health Centre: Regenerative approaches to treat disc degeneration and back pain
  • Zhexuan (Steven) Jiang, University of British Columbia: Novel treatments for inflammatory arthritis
  • Joseph Khoury, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal: CD40 homodimer formation and its role in systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Dimitra Pouliopoulou, Western University: Development and testing of a remotely delivered, technology-enabled joint protection program for people living with hand osteoarthritis
  • Sepideh Taghizadeh, Western University: Anti-inflammatory gene therapy strategies to promote joint repair in a preclinical model of post-traumatic osteoarthritis
  • Jocelyn Thomas, University of Calgary: Moving towards the personalization of treatment choices in rheumatoid arthritis: Combining clinical modelling strategies to personalize risk estimates
  • Jean Vencic, Université de Sherbrooke: Investigating immune endophenotypes using single-cell RNA sequencing on patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards:

  • Dr. Yosuke Asano, University Health Network: Dysregulation of the RNF146 E3 ubiquitin ligase is associated with development of inflammatory arthritis through its substrate the adapter protein 3BP2
  • Dr. Alexandre Aubert, University of British Columbia: Granzyme B as a potential therapeutic target for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dr. Elodie Mareux, Université Laval: Exploring PlGF expression and signalling pathways: Towards novel targeted therapy for fibrosis in scleroderma
  • Dr. Codie Primeau, University of British Columbia - Arthritis Research Canada: Exploring thelived experiences of sexual and gender minority populations living with arthritis: A patient engagement aentered Approach
  • Dr. Brent Wakefield, Western University: Inflammation and activity-induced pain in knee osteoarthritis

About Arthritis
Arthritis affects 1 in 5 Canadians (1:4 women and 1:6 men) and is a leading cause of disability. Most people, however, underestimate its seriousness. Arthritis causes excruciating pain, restricts mobility and diminishes quality of life. It impacts people of all ages, including children and more than half of people living with the disease are under age 65.

About Arthritis Society Canada  
Fueled by the trust and support of our donors and volunteers, Arthritis Society Canada is Canada’s national health charity fighting arthritis with research, advocacy, innovation, information and support. We represent the six million Canadians living with arthritis today, and the millions more who are impacted or at risk. Without action now, the number of Canadians living with arthritis will grow to nine million by 2040. Arthritis Society Canada is accredited under Imagine Canada's Standards Program. For more information, visit

For more information or to arrange interviews:
Zehra Goawala
Senior Communications Manager, Arthritis Society Canada


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