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Arthritis Society Canada announces 21 new research awards

Osteoarthritis causes knee pain for millions of Canadians. But are we missing the bigger picture when investigating pain in the knee?  

PhD candidate Samantha Leech of the University of Calgary will be exploring the role of the brain in knee osteoarthritis pain. The research will look into how some patients continue to experience unexplainable knee pain even after undergoing a total knee replacement to treat knee osteoarthritis. Changes in the brain may be responsible for this persistent pain.   

Arthritis Society Canada is proud to support Samantha’s project through a PhD salary award. She is one of 21 new recipients of research training awards made possible through donor support. The list of awards includes 13 PhD salary awards and eight post-doctoral fellowships, totalling a commitment of nearly $1 million over three years, made possible by the generosity of Arthritis Society Canada donors. 

“Research is key to one day finding a cure to extinguish the fire of arthritis. Investing in these bright minds during their training will hopefully inspire them to focus on arthritis research throughout their careers,” said Dr. Siân Bevan, Chief Science Officer at Arthritis Society Canada. “We’re committed to building a strong and growing community of researchers focused on unlocking new treatments and finding a cure.” 

Arthritis Society Canada awards research funding through a competitive process that draws on the input of scientists, clinicians and people with lived experience of arthritis. This gold-standard peer review process ensures the best, most scientifically meritorious projects receive the support they need.  

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

PhD Salary Awards 

  • Nada Abughazaleh, University of Calgary: Preventing osteoarthritis through diet and exercise.  

  • Lauren Banh, University Health Network: A new model of knee osteoarthritis to support drug discovery. 

  • Shaghayegh Foroozan Boroojeni, University Health Network: Understanding gut inflammation in spondyloarthritis. 

  • Ermina Hadzic, Western University: Mig6: A potential key to osteoarthritis. 

  • Carson Halliwell, Dalhousie University: “Will I get osteoarthritis in my other knee too?”: Impact of extended walking. 

  • Luke Johnson, University of British Columbia: Hip shape and cartilage damage in teens and young adults – a path to early osteoarthritis. 

  • Samantha Leech, University of Calgary: "It’s all in your head”: The role of the brain in knee osteoarthritis pain. 

  • Raghava Neelapala, McMaster University: Explaining pain in people with early knee osteoarthritis. 

  • Addison Pacheco, University Health Network: Regulatory immune cells in spondyloarthritis: Have the good guys gone bad? 

  • Matthew Ruder, McMaster University: Wearable sensors to support personalized treatment for osteoarthritis. 

  • Pakeezah Saadat, University of Toronto: Patient-centric health outcomes in osteoarthritis clinical research. 

  • Archita Srinath, University Health Network: Exploring a potential new therapeutic target in ankylosing spondylitis. 

  • Lauren Straatman, Western University: Early changes in the injured wrist at risk of osteoarthritis. 

Postdoctoral Fellowship 

  • Dr. Michelle Barraclough, University Health Network: Differences in how the brain works for people with lupus “brain fog.”

  • Dr. John Daly, University of British Columbia: Cellular sugars and rheumatoid arthritis. 

  • Dr. Alexandra Ladouceur, Jewish General Hospital: Understanding inflammatory arthritis induced by cancer treatment. 

  • Dr. John Nguyen, University of Saskatchewan: Testing a novel therapy for scleroderma. 

  • Dr. Lise Rabiller, McGill University: Studying a new pain sensor in osteoarthritis. 

  • Dr. Navita Sharma, University Health Network: A new therapeutic target in psoriatic arthritis. 

  • Dr. Fataneh Tavasolian, University Health Network: Learning more about what causes ankylosing spondylitis. 

  • Dr. James Young, University Health Network: Comparing education and exercise versus surgery for Canadians with osteoarthritis. 

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