Research reaps rewards
By Paul-Mark Rendon
Western will reap some of the rewards from a $14.5 million federal grant recently awarded to the Canadian Arthritis Network from the Network of Centres of Excellence program.
Western is one of 44 institutions which contribute to CAN, an organization which allows arthritis researchers from across the country to collaborate in an effort to find a cure for the debilitating disease.
The advantage of CAN is it brings researchers from a number of different disciplines together to focus on the disease, said Tony Cruz, CAN's program leader. "It was best to integrate knowledge to come up with new strategies."
Although Cruz said he was unsure how much of the money will be going to Western, he expects Western could see a good portion of the grant. "The University of Western Ontario plays a very important role in this group."
Andre Isabelle, acting director for the NCE, said the network is the result of a concerted effort to link researchers across the country. "The most important thing is that the network is really bringing together generators of knowledge."
Isabelle said a budget to allocate funds from the grant has not yet been created. A formal announcement of the grant will be made on tomorrow, she added.
Stephen Sims, professor at the department of physiology, echoed Isabelle's statement. Funds from the network will benefit a host of doctors at Western by giving them access to more resources for their research, while linking like-minded researchers across Canada, he said. "By getting together, we stand a much better chance of cracking the problem."
Cruz said CAN expects additional funds from industry and other associations following the announced government support. "This will be the beginning, we expect the funds to give CAN leverage to bring in other funds.
"Arthritis is a pretty important disease in terms of health care costs," he added.
Sims agreed the network raises the profile of the problem. Arthritis does not get the media attention that a disease such as AIDS receives, he added.
Suzanne Bernier, a professor of anatomy and cell biology, said although they were uncertain of exactly how much funding they would receive, the funding would allow the hiring of graduate and doctorate students to help with research.