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Headshot of Dr. Mark Ormiston

Dr. Mark Ormiston receives Project Grant program funding from CIHR

The following excerpt was first published by Queen's Health Sciences here.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) recently announced results for their Fall 2021 Project Grant competition. The Project Grant program aims to identify ideas with great potential to advance basic and applied health research. Queen’s Health Sciences’ (QHS) researchers David Reed (Medicine), Mark Ormiston (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), and Imaan Bayoumi (Family Medicine) received a total of $1.7 million in support to advance their programs, which are addressing relevant public health challenges. 

“Congratulations to these outstanding Queen’s researchers who have been funded through the competitive CIHR Project Grants program,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). “I am excited to watch these projects unfold and realize benefit to Canadians and global citizens by advancing our understanding of human health and development.” 

The molecular processes involved in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) are the object of study for Dr. Ormiston, a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Regenerative Cardiovascular Medicine, whose five-year research project received $750,275. In this disease, which targets young females and is sometimes fatal, loss of lung blood vessels leads to increase heart stress. Dr. Ormiston and his team have previously shown that immune cells known as Natural Killer cells are impaired in PAH patients – an impairment that might be driven by a protein called Transforming Growth Factor-b (TGFb). 

To confirm the role of TGFb in developing PAH, the team will investigate lung vascular development and the progression of lung vascular diseases in pre-clinical models modified to produce Natural Killer cells that are insensitive to TGFb. With this program, Dr. Ormiston expects to further understand the molecular processes by which immune cells can contribute to vessel remodeling in the lung and open new avenues for drug development.