Bone and Joint initiative gets funding ‘leg up’

Researchers at Western’s Bone and Joint Institute looking to treat – and even regenerate – soft connective tissues like ligaments and cartilage received a major financial boost today as the interuniversity CONNECT training program was awarded $1.65 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) initiative.

The funding announcement from the Government of Canada was made today in Toronto by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), as part of a $28-million investment in job-related training for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

In all 17 programs, participants will learn to combine research knowledge and experience with the personal and professional skills needed in the workplace.

CONNECT aims to establish a world-leading training program for designing novel treatment strategies for soft connective tissue injuries by bringing together new research teams with the required multidisciplinary expertise required to develop, commercialize and deliver these effective therapies for clinical use.

The trainees in the CONNECT program will be integrated into four collaborative teams focused on the development of bioengineering approaches for ligament, articular cartilage, intervertebral disc and adipose tissue (fat) regeneration.

Each team consists of five to seven principal investigators from Western, Queen’s, Calgary and/or Toronto, as well as four to five trainees.

Led by Brian Amsden at Queen’s, Western’s Lauren Flynn and Calgary’s Walter Herzog are program co-directors. Flynn is an associate professor with a joint appointment in Engineering and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Other researchers affiliated with Western’s Bone and Joint Institute involved in CONNECT include Frank Beier, Elizabeth Gillies and Cheryle Séguin, while Dr. Alan Getgood will serve as a clinical collaborator and Jeff Dixon will represent Western on the Training Program Committee.