Arthritis Society awards funding to Kim Lab for platelet research


Dr. Hugh Kim

Dr. Hugh Kim, associate professor in the Department of Oral Biological & Medical Sciences, is a dental clinician–scientist focused on research in the area of biochemical signalling mechanisms that regulate platelet function. He is specifically interested in chronic inflammation, a central feature of gum disease and many other conditions including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and cancer. Researchers are beginning to learn about how blood platelets, which are often known for their role in blood clotting, contribute to inflammation.

Two projects under Dr. Kim’s supervision have received funding from the Arthritis Society. Dr. Manoj Paul, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kim Lab, received a three-year $60,000 postdoctoral fellowship from the Arthritis Society for his project titled “Pro-Inflammatory Platelet Signalling in Juvenile Arthritis.” Childhood arthritis is a devastating disease that can cause severe pain and disrupt growth. But predicting which children are at risk of more severe forms of the disease is an ongoing challenge. Paul is studying how a molecular signal released from platelets contributes to tissue damage in childhood arthritis and whether blood levels of these molecules are linked to disease severity.

Enoli de Silva, a biochemistry doctoral student in the Kim Lab, received a three-year $31,500 PhD salary award from the Arthritis Society for her project titled “The Role of Platelet Signalling in Inflammatory Arthritis.” Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic and painful inflammatory disease that reduces life expectancy and quality of life. De Silva’s study is looking at whether blocking a molecular signal from platelets can dampen inflammation. She, like Paul, is also studying how the blood levels of these molecules may be linked to RA severity.

New insights from these two studies could help improve diagnosis and lead to new treatments for both juvenile arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.