Lakehead researchers receive over $1.4 million from CIHR

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 – Thunder Bay

Lakehead University researchers are receiving more than $1.4 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to improve the quality of people’s lives.

Dr. Michel Bédard will improve the lives of seniors, Dr. Vicki Kristman will help injured workers return to work faster and Dr. Eli Nix will improve the health of Northern Ontario’s Aboriginal people.

Dr. Bédard, a Professor in Lakehead’s Department of Health Sciences and Director of the Centre for Research on Safe Driving, is receiving a five-year CIHR Operating grant for $557,479 to develop a standardized process to assess senior drivers.

“There’s a need for a specialized assessment that will be faster and cheaper, allowing more people to be evaluated, and a process that is more transparent and has better evidence behind it to benefit seniors.

“We will use this process to identify areas where seniors can improve their driving instead of focusing only on taking away their licences, which will also make roads safer,” Dr. Bédard said, adding that this research wouldn’t be possible without the CIHR operating grant.

“It’s a fairly large project involving two sites (St. Joseph’s Care Group in Thunder Bay and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute) and several co-applicants,” Dr. Bédard added.

“We are pleased to partner with Lakehead University for this very important study,” said Tracy Buckler, President & CEO of St. Joseph’s Care Group.

“In a few years, a significant portion of our population will be over age sixty-five. The privilege of driving helps seniors remain independent and mobile. One of our priorities in Seniors’ Care is to create safe and independent environments. This research will ensure that senior drivers are fairly assessed so they can continue to safely drive for as long as possible,” Buckler said. 

Dr. Vicki Kristman, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, is receiving a three-year CIHR Operating grant of $331,223 to evaluate a supervisor training program that will increase return-to-work rates for injured workers.

Her study, called the Supervisor Training Program for Work Disability Prevention, aims to increase the opportunity for problem solving that will improve a supervisor’s response to prevent or decrease work disability, and improve return-to-work rates.

“This randomized controlled trial is being done in conjunction with the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto,” Dr. Kristman said.

“We will train selected clinical and maintenance supervisors from a large Toronto hospital. The goal is to improve communication between supervisors, employees, unions, and health care providers to decrease time away from work due to injury,” Dr. Kristman said.

“Providing supervisors with tools to improve their response to musculoskeletal and other workplace injuries may improve worker health and disability outcomes,” Dr. Kristman added. She also received a one-year CIHR grant worth $100,000 in March to develop the supervisor training program.

Dr. Eli Nix, a post-doctoral fellow at Lakehead’s Northern Ontario School of Medicine, is receiving a two-year CIHR Fellowship Award for $92,000 to examine why Aboriginal populations in Northern Ontario suffer from high rates of invasive bacterial infection caused by Haemophilus Influenzae Type A.

“We are studying the antibodies from volunteers to determine the level of natural immunity against the bacteria possessed by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people from our region.  We hope to lay the groundwork for the development of a vaccine against Haemophilus Influenzae Type A,” Dr. Nix said.

“Consistent with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine's social accountability mandate, many research projects at the School are addressing the health needs of the people and communities of Northern Ontario,” said Dr. Greg Ross, NOSM's Associate Dean of Research.

“I extend my sincere congratulations to Dr. Nix, both for his receipt of this highly competitive funding, but also for his commitment to undertaking research with Aboriginal communities in a way which is culturally competent and appropriate,” Dr. Ross added.

Lakehead University’s researchers continue to be recognized for their work by the CIHR and other important agencies.

“Our researchers are making important discoveries that will benefit people of all ages and from all walks of life,” said Dr. Umed Panu, Lakehead University’s Associate Vice-President of Research, Economic Development & Innovation.

“Without the support of the CIHR, many of our researchers would be unable to undertake this important work,” said Dr. Rodney Hanley, Lakehead’s Provost and Vice-President (Academic).


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Media: For more information, please contact Brandon Walker, Media Relations Officer, at (807) 343-8177 or

Lakehead University is a comprehensive university with a reputation for a multidisciplinary teaching approach that emphasizes collaborative learning and independent critical thinking. More than 8,700 students and 1,850 faculty and staff learn and work at campuses located in Orillia, and Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Lakehead University promotes innovative research that supports local and regional socio-economic needs. In Orillia, development continues on building a campus that meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) standards. For more information about Lakehead University, visit





Lakehead University CIHR Awards 2012-2013



Operating Grants


Michel Bédard, Department of Health Sciences, Development of a three-tiered, standardized process to assess senior drivers, $557,479 (five year grant).

Lynn Hunt, Knowledge User, the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre

Randy Middleton, Knowledge User, St. Joseph’s Care Group

Sacha Dubois, Co-applicant, St. Joseph’s Care Group

Hillel Finestone, Co-applicant, Bruyère Continuing Care

Sylvain Gagnon, Co-applicant, University of Ottawa

Carrie Gibbons, Co-applicant, St. Joseph’s Care Group

Shawn Marshall, Co-applicant Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Nadia Mullen, Co-applicant, Lakehead University

Gary Naglie, Co-applicant, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care

Janice Polgar, Co-applicant, University of Western Ontario

Bruce Weaver, Co-applicant, Lakehead University



Vicki Kristman, Department of Health Sciences, A supervisor training program for work disability prevention: a cluster randomized controlled trial, $331,223 (three year grant).

Benjamin Amick, Co-applicant, Institute for Work and Health

Cécile Boot, Co-applicant, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Co-applicant Institute for Health and Work

Patrick Loisel, Co-applicant, University of Toronto

William Shaw, Co-applicant, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety



Vicki Kristman, Department of Health Sciences, Priority Announcement:  Population Health Interventions, A supervisor training program for work disability prevention: a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial, $100,000 (one year grant).

Benjamin Amick, Co-applicant, Institute for Work and Health

Cécile Boot, Co-applicant, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Co-applicant Institute for Health and Work

Patrick Loisel, Co-applicant, University of Toronto

William Shaw, Co-applicant, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety



Planning Grant


Jaro Kotalik, Centre for Health Care Ethics, Priority Announcement, Ethics, Ethical Quality of Health Care: The Aboriginal Story, $16,805 (one year grant).



Dissemination Events - Priority Announcement:  First Nations, Inuit and Métis Health Grant


Mary Lou Kelley, School of Social Work, Translating Indigenous Knowledge into Palliative Care Policy and Practice: Creating a Dialogue between Four First Nations Communities, Health Care Decision-makers and Researchers, $24,909 (one year grant).

Bruce Minore, Co-applicant, Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research

Ian Newhouse, School of Kinesiology, Director, Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health

Holly Prince, Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health



CIHR Café Scientifiques


Michel Bédard, Department of Health Sciences, Research Findings on Driving and the Elderly:  Canadian Driving Research Initiative for Vehicular Safety in the Elderly (Candrive), $3,000 (one year grant).



CIHR Fellowship Awards


Eli Nix, Faculty of Medicine, West Campus, Priority Announcement (Research in First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit Health), Prevention of Invasive Haemophilus Influenzae Infection in Canadian Aboriginal Communities, $92,000 (two year award, stipend and research allowance), supervisor, Dr. Marina Ulanova, Faculty of Medicine, West Campus.


Katalin Modis, Regulation of vascular endothelial cell bioenergetics by H2S in health and under oxidative stress, $90,000 (two year award, stipend and research allowance), Supervisor, Dr. Rui Wang, Department of Biology.



Doctoral Award - Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships                                                                           

Ashley Untereiner, PhD Biotechnology, The interaction of H2S and PGC-lalpha on hepatic gluconeogenesis in diabetes, $81,667 (three year award), Supervisor:  Dr. Lily Wu.



Doctoral Research Award - Priority Announcement: IAPH Quantitative Research Award                                                            

Taslim Alani, PhD Clinical Psychology, Healing the Whole Self: Developing a Holistic Psychotherapy for First Nations Women with Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence, $108,000 (three year award), Supervisor:  Dr. Mirella Stroink.