You Are Here: Home > About Us > News Releases

Arthritis Society invests $2.7 million to further arthritis research in Canada

Focus on scientists early in their careers will help build Canada’s arthritis research capacity

TORONTO – December 4, 2018 – Today the Arthritis Society, Canada’s largest charitable funder of arthritis research, announced a commitment of $2.7 million for cutting-edge research projects and essential support to establish early career scientists over the next three years.

Five research grants were awarded as part of the Arthritis Society’s annual strategic operating grant competition. In addition, three awards were funded through the newly launched Stars Career Development Award program – an innovative funding model where the Arthritis Society provides the first three years of funding and the researcher’s host institution commits an additional three years to give these investigators a solid foundation on which to establish their research career in arthritis.

Today’s announcement builds on previous investments this year, from PhD and postdoctoral training awards to funding for Arthritis Centres across the country, and our ongoing commitments to existing research projects and capacity building programs, bringing our overall research investment this year to over $4 million. Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we are currently supporting over 70 lead researchers at 30 institutions in seven provinces – research that has the potential to help the over six million Canadians who live with arthritis.

“Canada is increasingly becoming a hub for high-calibre arthritis research,” said Arthritis Society chief science officer Dr. Siân Bevan. “Through these grants and awards, our donors are giving researchers the opportunity to unlock the mysteries of arthritis and make material impacts in care.”

Dr. Ali Abdul-Sater is one of the recipients of the new Stars Career Development Award. The assistant professor at York University’s Faculty of Health is studying how a particular protein may put the brakes on joint inflammation. “Arthritis is a huge problem, yet many researchers and clinicians don’t consider it when selecting where to specialize”, said Dr. Abdul-Sater. “Thanks to the Arthritis Society and its donors, that’s changing: I’m just one of many researchers who will get their start in this field through the Stars program. They are truly committed to making arthritis a priority.”

“Solutions for arthritis are within reach – it’s not a question of if, but when,” Dr. Bevan explained. “The more support we receive, the more research we can fund, and the sooner we can deliver results that free people from the devastating effects that arthritis has on their lives.”

To support more arthritis research, visit


Stars Career Development Award – Rheumatoid arthritis
Dr. Ali Abdul-Sater, York University: Learning how to put the brakes on rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease where the body’s immune system starts to attack the lining of the joints. Understanding more about how the body usually keeps inflammation in check, and how this goes wrong in RA, can help researchers design new treatments. Dr. Ali Abdul-Sater is launching his arthritis research career by studying a protein, TRAF1, that acts as a “brake” on inflammation, which may be a good target for future RA therapies. By developing a new, unique mouse model to study in the lab, Dr. Abdul-Sater will discover how this protein can be manipulated to effectively treat RA. New RA treatments could improve health outcomes and give patients more options.

Strategic Operating Grant - Osteoarthritis
Dr. Eric Bohm, University of Manitoba: Replacing both knees due to severe osteoarthritis – one at a time, or both together?

For some people with osteoarthritis (OA), joint replacements are the only option to relieve the pain and restore mobility. When both knees need to be replaced, it’s not yet clear whether it’s better for the patient to replace them both at the same time in one operation, or to stage the two replacements a few months apart. Both approaches have pros and cons with respect to how the patient recovers from surgery. Dr. Eric Bohm is leading a clinical trial across Canada to compare the two approaches in terms of recovery times, pain relief, joint function, patient satisfaction, and time off work. The results will be used to help patients make informed choices about what surgical approach is best for them.

Strategic Operating Grant – Childhood arthritis
Dr. Susanne Benseler, University of Calgary: Quality of life in childhood arthritis: How do we measure up?

Understanding the impact of childhood arthritis on quality of life, and how this changes with treatment, is a crucial factor for considering how to make the most of limited healthcare resources and improving childhood arthritis care in Canada. Current methods for measuring quality of life have not been tested in children with arthritis, or in children under eight years old. Dr. Susanne Benseler is collecting quality of life data from the families of young children with arthritis using a survey tool to test if this approach captures the pain of childhood arthritis and its impacts on life in a meaningful way. This will improve how quality of life is measured in children with arthritis, providing an approach that could become the standard in research and clinical practice.

For the full list of 2018 research grant recipients, visit:


The investments we make in scientific research and discovery seek to understand the causes of arthritis, to develop innovative solutions that improve the quality of life for those living with arthritis and most critically, to find a cure. We hold ourselves to a high standard when selecting which research projects have the potential to generate the most impact in solving the unanswered challenges of arthritis. Through the process of an open call grant review, we invite talented scientists to submit their research proposals for consideration by a panel of subject matter experts in discovery research and clinical care, as well as people who have lived experience with arthritis.


The Arthritis Society is a national health charity, fueled by donors and volunteers, with a vision to live in a world where people are free from the devastating effects that arthritis has on lives. Begun in 1948 with one very clear goal – to alleviate the suffering of people crippled by arthritis – that same volunteer-led passion carries on today in communities across Canada. Through the trust and support of our donors and sponsors, the Arthritis Society is Canada’s largest charitable source of investments in cutting-edge arthritis research, proactive advocacy and innovative solutions that will deliver better health outcomes for people affected by arthritis. For more information and to make a donation, visit

- 30 -

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Alicia D’Aguiar
Communications specialist
Arthritis Society
416-979-7228 x3354

  Back to News