UBC gets $1.7M in health research grants

The University of British Columbia has received $1.7 million in federal grants to fund research that promises to improve prostate surgery, heart stents, methods of reducing of scar tissue and drug monitoring.

The University of British Columbia has received $1.7 million in federal grants to fund research that promises to improve prostate surgery, heart stents, methods of reducing of scar tissue and drug monitoring.

The funding comes from the Collaborative Health Research Projects Program administered by NSERC, the federal granting agency for science and engineering research.

It was announced Thursday by Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology, and Stockwell Day, president of the Treasury Board and minister for the Asia-Pacific gateway, during a visit to the UBC campus in Vancouver.

The grants will fund research into:

  • Improvements to image-based guidance for a type of robot-assisted surgery to remove the prostate, known as robot-assisted radical prostatectomy. Research will improve guidance tools by developing ultrasound imaging technology to use during surgery.
  • "Smart" stents for wireless monitoring of vascular disease. The stents will work as radiofrequency wireless sensors to allow doctors to use a portable reader to monitor the patient's heart for signs of re-narrowing of the arteries or any complications of the stent.
  • Ways of reducing scar tissue from wounds and burns. Researchers plan to assemble a wound dressing for burn patients, strips for closed wounds and a type of suture that uses nanofibres to prevent proteins thought to slow or stop the process of healing burn wounds.
  • A microneedle-based painless drug monitoring system using interstitial fluid. Researchers hope to develop a painless way to monitor drugs without the need for blood samples.

The federal government also announced a $1.6-million program to help young researchers at UBC upgrade their skills.

The four research grants were announced as part of a $13-million investment at 12 universities across the country.