Gordon Asmundson was awarded $399,700 for his COVID-19 research. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Research Funding Opportunity

In response to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, CIHR launched this grant to contribute to the global response to the pandemic. The following University of Regina researchers responded to the urgent call and received CIHR funding.

Psychology professor Gordon Asmundson was awarded $399,700 for his COVID-19 work, including to support the launch of www.coronaphobia.org, a website for individuals facing stress and anxiety related to COVID-19.

Visitors to the website can take a confidential self-assessment to see where they score in terms of COVID-related distress or depression and anxiety when compared to the general population. Once completed, they can see where they score on an interactive COVID Stress Scale and get tailored recommendations for how to best look after their mental health based on their results.

The site also has a list of available mental health resources for the public and for professionals.

Mohan Babu in a lab looking at a petrie dish
Mohan Babu received $937,950 to tackle the therapeutic and diagnostic gaps associated with the coronavirus. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

Mohan Babu, an associate professor of biochemistry, received $937,950 to tackle the therapeutic and diagnostic gaps associated with the novel coronavirus.

“This CIHR funding is an important step towards helping a team of dedicated scientists to effectively and rapidly detect and contain the virus,” says Babu, who is collaborating with scientists and researchers across the country.

“These peptides don’t prevent someone from contracting SARS-CoV-2, but they could prevent the virus from entering or replicating in the body.”

Babu says his research is focused on peptide therapeutics, which, using certain molecules called peptide inhibitors, can block the virus from entering the human host.

“These peptides don’t prevent someone from contracting SARS-CoV-2, but they could prevent the virus from entering or replicating in the body.”

Current diagnostics can be unreliable with asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic people – something that can be seen right now with the rise of community transmission numbers.

“The most common way we test for COVID-19 is to use an invasive nasal swab, but this technique doesn’t always provide an accurate diagnosis,” explains Babu. “But our saliva also contains SARS-CoV-2-specific biomarkers. Part of our research is to continue to work on developing testing for the virus through saliva – which could provide results within minutes.”

Babu received an additional $200,000 from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for equipment needed to do this important work.

Lisa Milne, assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work, received $47,342 for her project Translating Knowledge for Child Welfare Organizations Across the Prairies: Managing the Impacts of COVID-19 on the Mental Health of Children, Families, and Workers.

Read more about Milne’s project in this issue of Discourse.

Lisa Milne received $47,342 in CIHR funding.
Lisa Milne received $47,342 in CIHR funding.

CIHR Project Grant

Elizabeth Cooper at the Walking with our Angels teepee camp waiting for a sunrise pipe ceremony to start is support of suicide prevention.
Elizabeth Cooper at the Walking with our Angels teepee camp waiting for a sunrise pipe ceremony to start is support of suicide prevention.

Lifestyle choices that bring positive outcomes in men’s lives can be found in many activities, particularly when they take place within a supportive community. The conversations that happen while fixing a car, camping on the land, playing hockey, or creating music videos can make a difference in men’s lives, and young, Indigenous men are no exception.

Creating opportunities for young Indigenous men to talk about health and mental wellness in order to promote healthy lifestyles is the goal of a University of Regina research project.

“We know very little about the health of Indigenous men in Canada,” says project lead Elizabeth Cooper, assistant professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “By bringing together Indigenous men between the ages 18-34, and having them connect while engaging in strength-based activities, they will be able to explore mental wellness and healthy behaviours in a supportive environment and work towards meaningful changes in their communities.”

In July, Cooper received $119,911 from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. Now, with an additional $673,200 in funding from CIHR, she is able to expand the project to include more participants.