University of Regina health researchers receive funding

News Release Release Date: August 14, 2014 9:40 a.m.

Researchers at the University of Regina have received provincial funding from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) under the Establishment Grant Program and Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award categories. The funding will help explore health issues affecting Saskatchewan residents.

Approximately $2 million will be dispersed over two and three-year terms, three of the Saskatchewan-based recipients are from the University of Regina; Dr. Josef Buttigieg (Faculty of Science), Dr. Bridget Klest (Faculty of Arts) and James Vlasblom (Faculty of Science) whom received a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award.

Klest received close to $120,000 over three years for her project entitled; "History of exposure to traumatic stress and healthcare experiences". Her research focuses on the relations between the history of experiencing traumatic events, perceptions of the healthcare system, and health. Klest says that understanding how trauma might affect how people interact with the healthcare system will help to figure out what she can do to improve the healthcare experiences of millions of people.

Buttigieg received $120,000 over three years for his project entitled; “Role of pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (pNEC) in lung physiology”. In the healthy individual the amount of blood entering the lung is perfectly matched to the amount of O2 available in the air. It is thought that these pNEC play a key role in this matching of oxygen supply to blood flow. Buttigieg’s study aims to better understand how these cells function in the healthy individual and what are the mechanisms that cause them to malfunction.

Vlasblom received $50,000 per year for two years for his project entitled; “Mapping the mammalian neurogenerative disease-associated protein-protein interactome” with his supervisor Dr. Mohan Babu. The study looks at mitochondria, double-membraned organelles contained within all eukaryotes, where they execute diverse physiological functions including energy production and programmed cell death. Their dysfunction is frequently associated with diseases, particularly neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s diseases though the causal mechanisms behind these disorders remain elusive. The project aims to reveal new insights into these disorders that can lead to the discovery of novel therapeutics, and to discover new links between mitochondrial defects and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The Establishment Grant Program assists university faculty who are new residents in Saskatchewan by establishing independent health research programs within the province and achieving research productivity necessary for obtaining major funding from national and other external agencies.

The Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program is intended to advance the research career development of the award holder and to enhance the research productivity of the supervising Saskatchewan faculty member. It also provides financial support for a period of postdoctoral research in health-related field under the supervision of an experienced, active researcher.

“The University of Regina’s top researchers are exploring diverse and innovative health research that will help to address issues within the province of Saskatchewan and seek solutions for our communities in which we live and work," says University of Regina Vice-President of Research, Dr. David Malloy. 

SHRF is a provincial agency that funds and facilitates health research in Saskatchewan. The agency works in partnership with other organizations to foster world-leading research. For more information and a full-listing of researchers and project titles, visit:


- 30 -