Drs. Donna Senger and Fiona Schulte Receive Funding from CIHR
CIHR Fall 219 Project Grant Results Announced
Dr. Donna Senger (Department of Oncology) was awarded two CIHR Project Grants from the Fall 2019 competition, while Dr. Fiona Schulte (Department of Oncology) was approved for bridge funding through an Early Career Researcher Patient Oriented Research priority award. Dr. Senger’s and Dr. Schulte’s grants together represent 15.6% of CSM’s total funding for this round and 16.7% of the 18 grants (16 full and 2 bridge grants).
One of Dr. Senger’s funded studies focuses on the role of the innate immune system in initial host defense. As she describes, the recruitment of immune cells to sites of infection, immune reaction or injury is complex and requires a multistep adhesion cascade between the leukocytes (white blood cells) and the endothelial cells that line the vasculature. She and her team will further explore the activity of a specific molecule known as DPEP1, which they discovered acts as a physical adhesion receptor for neutrophils within the liver and lung blood vessels. They propose that DPEP1 represents a novel target for anti-inflammatory therapy for diseases of the lungs where acute and chronic inflammation is involved in the pathogenesis.
Dr. Senger’s second funded study builds on her work in DPEP1 to study why different cancers tend to spread to different places in the body. She and her team will address some very important questions related to cancer metastasis, a major unmet clinical need in cancer control. Using a series of biochemical, genetic, pharmacological, intravital imaging and in vivo pre-clinical approaches, they will determine the molecular means that cancer cells are recruited to specific organs. Second, they will determine how the recruitment of innate immune cells into the tumor microenvironment impact metastatic growth in specific organs. Third, they will determine if there are specific ways to harness these steps in the metastatic process for therapeutic gain.
Dr. Schulte’s bridge grant will fund some of her work in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer that affects the white blood cells and is the most common cancer affecting children. Survivors of ALL experience social difficulties, but it is not well understood why these survivors may have social difficulties and which factors increase the risk or might be protective against ALL. The goal of her study is to identify some of the risk factors that might be contributing to social difficulties in survivors of pediatric ALL.