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Kelowna researchers awarded

The researchers, with UBCO, join 47 other researchers working in fields of health research

Five Kelowna-based researchers have received research awards from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research that will help them further their research into the treatment and prevention of type two diabetes; health promotion for people with spinal cord injury; and the relationship between sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease.

The five researchers, with UBC Okanagan, join 47 other researchers working in diverse fields of health research who were selected for funding in MSFHR’s 2017 Scholar and Research Trainee competitions,according to the Foundation for Health Research.

MSFHR Scholar awards, worth up to $90,000 per year over a maximum term of five years, are designed to help early-career researchers launch independent research careers and build strong research programs. MSFHR Research Trainee awards, worth up to $47,000 per year for a maximum of three years, enable career development for health researchers in the training phase of their research career, according to the foundation.

– Dr. Corliss Bean and Dr. Elena Ivanova, both 2017 MSFHR research trainees, are working on projects related to the Small Steps for Big Changes program, a lifestyle counseling program offered in partnership with the YMCA of the Okanagan for men and women who are living with prediabetes.

Bean will interview participants before, during, and after their participation in the program to understand what supports need to be in place to encourage people to complete the program.

Ivanova will be evaluating the program itself to see if it is meeting its goals and if the workshop facilitators have the tools they need to present the information effectively.

– Dr. Jonathan Little, a 2017 MSFHR Scholar, is also researching type 2 diabetes. His research is being done in partnership with Pharmasave stores across BC and will explore if a low-carb diet can reduce the need for glucose-lowering medications and/or insulin in people with type two diabetes.

Community pharmacists at Pharmasave locations around the province will support the project by monitoring participants’ blood sugar levels and adjusting medication doses.

– Dr. Heather Gainforth, a 2017 MSFHR Scholar, wants to ensure that people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) have access to health promotion information that will benefit them. To do that, she’s proposing a program that will work with SCI communities to improve research partnerships between researchers, clinicians, and people with lived experience of SCI to ensure research is used in practice.

– 2017 MSFHR Scholar Dr. Glen Foster is exploring the connection between sleep apnea and conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. Sleep apnea deprives the body of oxygen for short periods of time and Dr. Foster wants to understand how and if that lack of oxygen (hypoxia) contributes to cardiac diseases and to explore possible treatments for sleep apnea.

A complete list of the 2017 scholars, research trainees and their research projects is available on the MSFHR website.