Funding helps U of R researchers address province’s health challenges

News Release Release Date: June 29, 2021 10:00 a.m.

Four University of Regina researchers have received funding from the Saskatchewan Health and Research Foundation (SHRF) to improve health outcomes for the people of this province.

Dr. Michael Dubnewick’s research project will help identify culturally-relevant ways to support Indigenous youth as wellness leaders in their communities.

“The goal of my new research project will be to delve into the leadership experiences of Indigenous youth in the Growing Young Movers after-school program as they navigate their identities as wellness leaders,” says Dubnewick, assistant professor in the University of Regina’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “This will help us to understand the strengths of the Indigenous youth I’m working with, and find out what it means for them to live as wellness leaders.”

His $119,787 Establishment Grant will allow him to focus on the experiences of 10 Indigenous youth who co-facilitate the Growing Young Movers after-school program run out of Regina’s mâmawêyatitân centre– a place that offers integrated services in one central location to build and enhance the community. Mâmawêyatitân centre brings people together to connect, learn, play, develop skills, and to celebrate culture. Mâmawêyatitân is a Cree word meaning “let’s be all together.”

“The result of sharing their stories of living as wellness leaders will result in youth-created public art-walk installations meant to disrupt the deficit-based stories being told about the community by asking the audience to engage with the counter story the youth are actually living and telling around what wellness means in their lives,” says Dubnewick.

Dr. Cameron Mang, assistant professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, received $119,947 for his research to help to improve walking function and support positive change in the central nervous system for people living with MS.

“The prevalence of MS in Canada, and particularly in Saskatchewan, is among the highest in the world,” says Mang. “It’s commonly diagnosed during young adulthood and causes increased physical and cognitive disability over time. There’s no cure, but specialized rehabilitation and exercise strategies may help to address challenges with walking, balance, and other aspects of movement.”

Mang’s team will conduct a clinical trial comparing the effects of task-oriented exercise and generalized resistance and aerobic exercise on walking function and changes in the central nervous system in people with progressive MS.

Dr. Omar El-Halfawy, Canada Research Chair in Chemogenomics and Antimicrobial Research, received $120,000 to uncover the microbial weapons unleashed by superbugs during infection that make them resistant to antibiotics.

“Infectious diseases are a major threat to Canadians' health with a considerable social and economic burden. This is even more pronounced within Indigenous communities in remote and isolated areas across Saskatchewan and Canada,” says El-Halfawy.

Rather than work under standardized lab conditions – which don’t adequately represent the infection situation, El-Halfawy’s research will explore the microbial responses to antibiotics under conditions mimicking infection. The goal is to discover novel therapeutics that disarm microbes from these weapons.

“This research will contribute to local and global efforts to fight antimicrobial resistance and alleviate the burden of infectious diseases in Saskatchewan,” says El-Halfawy.

Dr. Natasha Gallant’s research findings could lead to better chronic disease management in Saskatchewan and across Canada.

“This project will help us to discover if providing group psychological therapy to individuals living with chronic diseases–such as cancer, diabetes, and heart failure–will reduce the depression, anxiety, and other psychological distress they often face,” explains Gallant, an assistant professor in the psychology department.

Gallant received a $116,410 SHRF Establishment Grant to determine if therapy focused on helping individuals learn new ways to think and act in response to uncomfortable emotions will be as effective for people living with a chronic diseases as it has been for those living with mental disorders.

“We’ll deliver our therapy in a group setting, which is cost-effective and allows patients to meet others also living with chronic disease.”

The objective of the SHRF Establishment Grants is to assist early-career researchers in Saskatchewan in establishing an autonomous program of health research addressing Saskatchewan health challenges and achieving the research productivity necessary for obtaining major funding from national and other external agencies.  


About the University of Regina

The University of Regina—with campuses located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota and Nakoda nations and the homeland of the Métis—is a comprehensive, mid-sized university that traces its roots back to the creation of Regina College in 1911. Today, more than 16,600 students study within the University's 10 faculties, 25 academic departments/schools, 18 research centres and institutes, and three federated colleges (Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College). The University of Regina has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, master, and doctoral degrees.


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