Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital awarded five grants for high risk, high reward and interdisciplinary research

April 4, 2022

The New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) 2021 Exploration competition has awarded $25 million to support 102 research teams across Canada that bring diverse disciplines together in pursuit of breakthrough ideas and high-reward outcomes.

In addition, the NFRF Special Call on Innovative approaches to research in the pandemic context competition awarded an additional $20 million to 90 research teams.

The NFRF program, a federal research funding initiative, mobilizes cutting-edge interdisciplinary, international, and transformative research that strengthens Canadian innovation and benefits Canadians.

Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital, affiliated with uOttawa, were awarded two grants in the Exploration competition, and three grants in the Special Call competition. Each grant is worth around $250,000 and includes collaborators from multiple institutions.

The 2021 Exploration grants include: 

Pioneering a novel understanding of the physics of health, illness and aging

This project aims to help pioneer a novel understanding of human physiology and health rooted in non-equilibrium physics. The team will evaluate the hypothesis that health may be characterized by the presence of both robust entropy production at rest combined with the ability to further elevate it in response to exercise or heat stress. They’ll also test whether illness and aging are associated with reductions in either basilar or maximal entropy production, and investigate the association between vital sign variability and entropy production.

Principal Investigator: Andrew Seely
Co-Investigator: André Longtin, Kenny Glen
Collaborators: Leonid Martyushev

Driving innovation to improve periprosthetic joint infection care: a Single-Stage Multipurpose AntimicRobial implanT (SMART) design

Prosthetic joints infected with a slimy layer of bacteria are one of the most devastating and costly complications of joint replacement, affecting one to two percent of all knee and hip replacements. This project aims to develop a superior therapeutic modality for prosthetic joint infection using a Single-stage Multipurpose AntimicRobial implanT (SMART) device that will effectively eradicate the bacterial infection after a single intervention while preserving patient's function and mobility. Successful implementation will eliminate the current need for multiple operations and prolonged use of systemic antibiotics to control the bacterial infection.

Principal Investigators: Hesham Abdelbary, Daniel Coutu
Co-Investigator: Sylvain Moineau, Gaétan Laroche, Isabelle Catelas, Herna Vicktor, Paul Beaulé, Bill Cameron, Mazen Ibrahim
Collaborators: Marisa Azad, Bradley Cook, David Holdsworth, Nadia Sant, Franco Pagotto, Mariam Taha

The Special Call on Innovative approaches to research in the pandemic context competition include:

Decentralized, Remotely-Managed Pragmatic Clinical Trials Using The Rethinking Clinical Trials Platform (REaCT) and National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) to Improve Perioperative Care (REaCT-NSQIP-Remote)

During the pandemic, the need to reduce face-to-face interactions severely impacted clinical trials. To adapt to a shift in virtual care, the highly successful REaCT-NSQIP clinical trials platform has been redesigned so that consent, randomization, data capture, prescriptions, and follow-up are done remotely by the coordinating centre. As a proof of concept of this novel Canadian pragmatic trials infrastructure, this team will use the REaCT-NSQIP-Remote design to study whether preoperative oral antibiotics reduces surgical site infections after colon surgery.

Principal Investigator: Rebecca Auer
Co-Investigators: Dean Fergusson, Mark Clemons
Collaborators: Susan Marlin, Kathryn Suh, Husein Moloo, Sameer Apte, Timothy Jackson, Joel Weaver, Usmaan Hameed, Mataj Brar, Sami Chadi, Daniel Trottier, Fady Saleh

Feasibility of Advance Consent for ParticipaTION in Stroke Trials (ACTION)

In many emergency conditions such as acute stroke, patients who are eligible to participate in clinical trials often cannot provide their own consent to participate, meaning that they may be deprived of the chance to be enrolled, or their enrollment may be delayed while researchers attempt to find a substitute decision-maker to consent on their behalf. This team will explore using advance consent as a novel approach to enroll patients into acute stroke trials. Advance consent - in which patients are asked ahead of time to consent to participation in research should they ever become eligible in the future - is allowed under Canadian and American guidelines, but has never been tried in acute stroke trials.

Principal Investigator: Michel Shamy, Dar Dowlatshahi
Co-Investigators: Mark Fedyk, Michael Hill, Jeffrey Perry, Stuart Nicholls, Katie Dainty, Alexandre Poppe, Jaime Brehaut, Robert Fahed, Sophia Gocan
Collaborators: Susan Wulf, Henri Habib, Gary Boon, Brian Baker, Raphael Saginur, Patrice Lindsay

Creating a novel and accessible animal model of COVID-19 acute lung injury

This team has created a mouse model of COVD-19 lung injury that mimics many features of the clinical disease in humans, by using a relatively harmless vesicular stomatitis virus and arming it with the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. They will use this model to understand how the disease progresses. They will also create new viruses that express the spike protein of SAR-CoV-2 variants to help understand how the virulence and resulting lung damage differs between strains of the virus. Finally, they will test 'cell therapy' in this model to assess whether it may be effective in treating lung injury.

Principal Investigators: Manoj Lalu, Duncan Stewart
Co-Investigator: Carolina Ilkow

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa and supported by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

Media Contact
Amelia Buchanan
Senior Communication Specialist
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute