Tanya Dahms (seated) and research associate Taranum Sultana (standing), who was instrumental in securing the SHRF grant, in a University of Regina lab.

1 Fungal infections, relatively common worldwide, are associated with high death rates in hospital patients with compromised immune systems. Patients who receive medication by catheter are at increased risk for the most common fungal infection, invasive candidiasis caused by Candida species.

Recently, biochemistry professor Tanya Dahms received a $50,000 Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) 2018-19 Collaborative Innovation Development Grant to initiate a new project.

Dahms says the grant will galvanize a group of researchers to find new anti-fungal combinations intended to help prevent and treat fungal infections. “Currently only a limited number of anti-fungal drugs remain effective in the fight against the global rise of invasive fungal infections among immunocompromised patients.”

The research team includes University of Regina associate professor Mohan Babu, research associate Taranum Sultana, master’s student Fatema Zohora, PhD candidate Ali Molaeitabari, Saskatchewan Health Authority medical microbiologist Dr. Jessica Minion, and Canada Research Chair Malcolm Whiteway from Concordia University.

The team will study monoterpenoids, a class of plant derivatives that have strong anti-fungal properties. By analyzing the impact that these plant derivatives have on Candida species, both alone and in combination with classic antifungals, the researchers will determine potential clinical use (such as catheter coatings) and how to increase their effectiveness, while finding combinations that reduce fungal resistance.

2 Computer scientist Malek Mouhoub and postdoctoral fellow Munira Faysal Al-Ageili recently received $90,000 Mitacs Accelerate funding for their project, Communication Aid for Non-English Speaking Newcomers.

Computer scientist Malek Mouhoub and postdoctoral fellow Munira Faysal Al-Ageili at the University of Regina with their app and an array of pictograms.

(Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

“Working with the United Way, the Regina Public Library, and the Regina Region Local Immigration Partnership, we’ll examine how pictograms (simplified pictures that appear on information signage) and other visual symbols can be used to develop a communication aid to help Arabic-speaking Syrian refugees and recent immigrants learn English,” says Mouhoub.

PictoPages, the software being used in the project, was funded by the George Reed Foundation. It was developed to assist people with acquired or developmental verbal communication limitations and includes text, recorded speech, and symbols.

“Our app will assist with communication between newcomers and the organizations providing settlement services."

“We will focus on developing the app for people with limited to no English skills, limited resources, and a range of educational backgrounds,” says Al-Ageili.

Taking a user-centred design approach, the researchers will work with the technology and the language learners in real-world settings to better understand the users’ communication requirements, while continually adapting and modifying the concept and software.

“Our app will assist with communication between newcomers and the organizations providing settlement services. It will also provide them with the basic communication help they may need out in the community,” says Al-Ageili. “We anticipate that the app will also increase their confidence in communicating with others, reduce their need for assistance from the supporting community organizations, and may even help them to obtain employment.”

3 Exposure to potentially traumatic tragedies can be a frequent part of the work life of Canadian public safety personnel, and we need to understand how the often hazardous and volatile environments in which they work can impact their mental well-being. But building this understanding takes research, and research requires funding.

(l to r) R. Nicholas Carleton, Amber Fletcher, and Alec Couros

(Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

On February 8, 2019 the Government of Canada announced a $2.95 million commitment to support 22 research projects through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) Catalyst Grants competition.

“Public safety personnel put themselves in harm’s way to protect Canadians, putting them disproportionately at risk of post-traumatic stress injuries. Our country must do more to protect the mental well-being of public safety officers on the job. The initiatives highlighted today will help address gaps in PTSI research and inform long-term plans to support the mental health and well-being of our public safety personnel,” said the Honourable Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety and emergency preparedness.

 The University of Regina’s Gordon Asmundson, Ronald Camp, R. Nicholas Carleton, Alec Couros, Amber Fletcher, and David Malloy will undertake research on 12 of the funded projects. 

The federal government, having identified PTSIs among our nation’s public safety personnel as a priority in Budget 2018, also invested $20 million over five years to support the CIHR – CIPSRT National Research Consortium for Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries among Public Safety Personnel. For its part, the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT), which operates under the governance of the Collaborative Centre for Justice and Safety (CCJS) at the University of Regina, serves as the Consortium’s Knowledge Exchange Hub. 

“With PTSI research happening throughout the country, the Knowledge Exchange Hub acts as a central repository, as well as the body that synthesizes, translates, and exchanges PTSI research,” says Steve Palmer, executive director of CCJS and CIPSRT.  

All of the researchers involved in the 22 projects, who work at 17 research institutions across Canada, will become part of the CIHR – CIPSRT National Research Consortium. Their research will help to build the Knowledge Exchange Hub.

“The Knowledge Exchange Hub at CIPSRT means that, ultimately, a storehouse of vital evidence-based research will be at the fingertips of Canadians. Researchers, policy-makers, public safety personnel, leaders, and their families, as well as the public will have one place to find and share key evidence-based research, improving the ability of Canadians to create the policies, programs, and treatments that will improve the mental well-being and resilience of our nation’s public safety personnel, as well their families and those in leadership,” says Palmer.

Do you want to support University of Regina research like this? Visit our site to donate now, or email marc.butikofer@uregina.ca.