Researchers at UBC Dentistry received $2.7M in CIHR funding as part of $43M to the university


On January 24, 2018, a total of $372 million was awarded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) nationally to support Canadian researchers to study the full spectrum of health issues affecting the lives of Canadians. Fifty-nine projects at UBC and its affiliated health authority research centres received $42.4million in research grant funding, of which close to $2.7 million will go to several researchers at the Faculty of Dentistry. Another Faculty researcher will benefit from a $495,000 grant to a multi-centre project led by McGill University.


Dr. Dieter Brömme

Dr. Dieter Brömme, professor and Canada Research Chair in Proteases and Diseases, and his team will receive $956,250 over five years to develop new drug strategies for preventing osteoporotic fractures. Current osteoporosis treatments have various shortcomings such as poor bone quality and several skeletal and non-skeletal side effects. His team will build on previous research to examine the shortcomings of promising inhibitors targeted at cathepsin K—a bone-degrading yet multifunctional enzyme that when totally blocked leads to undesirable side effects. They aim to develop potent, efficacious and side-effect-free osteoporosis drugs.



Dr. Hugh Kim

Dr. Hugh Kim, assistant professor and principal investigator at the UBC Centre for Blood Research, received $856,800 over five years to advance understanding of the role of platelets in inflammation, with a view to developing improved and less-invasive treatments for periodontal (gum) disease. His study will investigate platelet-specific molecules (cytokines) and determine whether shutting down the function of these molecules might help to prevent tissue damage caused by gum disease. This is a unique approach to studying this very common condition and will potentially benefit dental patients in Canada and worldwide.



Dr. Hannu S. Larjava

Dr. Lari Hӓkkinen

Drs. Hannu Larjava and Lari Häkkinen, both professors and periodontal disease researchers, received $879,750 over five years to study the function of epithelial alpha-v-beta-6 integrin in periodontal disease. Humans with this protein mutated and mice that are deficient in this molecule both develop periodontal disease. This integrin functions in the epithelial cells to reduce inflammation. However, there is a loss of this integrin in periodontal disease tissue, which is believed to promote inflammation and bone loss; thus, periodontal disease presents as acquired integrin deficiency. The investigators propose to determine the mechanisms through which the expression of this integrin is downregulated in periodontal disease tissue. Furthermore, they hope to develop new therapies to restore this integrin in diseased tissue, thus reducing inflammation and bone loss. Preliminary data obtained in the lab of these investigators have already shown that blocking one pathway that down-regulates alpha-v-beta-6 integrin expression leads to significant reduction of periodontal inflammation and bone loss in an experimental model.

Dr. Mario Brondani

Dr. Mario Brondani, associate professor and director of Dental Public Health, is part of a multi-centre project involving five Canadian universities to examine access to oral health care for those who are marginalized or have difficulties in accessing dental offices freely, specifically those who use wheelchairs. The project, led by Dr. Christophe Bedos from McGill University, received $495,000 over five years. Brondani will be part of a national research strategy focused on a few dental clinics previously identified across Canada as having a champion dental team with special interests and skills to meet the specific needs of people in wheelchairs. For the 4.4 million Canadians with disabilities, dental health is presently an almost unsolvable problem: although vulnerable to dental disease, these individuals often encounter insurmountable obstacles to receiving dental care. The project will involve participation with dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and patients.