Research Grants

Evaluating the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids and senolytics to prevent, treat, and manage COVID-19 infection in adults with age-related co-morbidities

We propose to test whether senescing epithelial and fibroblast cells are more susceptible to infection and cytokine production following infection by SARS-CoV-2, and whether senolytics, senomorphics and several different Cannabis sativa extracts that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and senolytic properties, can affect infection rate and responses to this virus. Based on the results of in vitro cell and tissue assays and ex vivo studies, we will select the most promising compounds and/or combinations of compounds for establishing focused clinical trials for the purpose of treating populations most at risk, to prevent undue lethality in subsequent waves of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-2 variant epidemics or pandemics.

Robert Laprairie, and principal investigators Olga Kovalchuk (U Lethbridge) and Peter Ruben (Simon Fraser University).  

Exploring potential drug therapies for COVID-19

The Wasan Laboratory is currently working with VIDO-InterVac to perform in vitro testing on two small molecule drugs and a drug combination as a potential therapeutic for COVID-19.  Following confirmatory in vitro studies, we will look for partners to sponsor in vivo efficacy studies in an animal model of SARS-CoV2 infection at VIDO-InterVac.

Ellen Wasan, Kishor Wasan, Volker Gerdts

COVID-19 Basics/Diagnosis/Treatment and Related Research/Innovations in Saskatchewan

The grant aims to collect and mobilize existing knowledge/information on (1) COVID-19 basics, diagnosis, and treatment and (2) COVID-19-related research and innovations, particularly highlighting work in Saskatchewan. Once collected we will present the information/knowledge in both written and audio-visual formats that will cater to public (chidren and adults), health care professions, government and health authorities, industries, researchers, and students. We will access only reputable sources and hope that accurate information will equip everyone with knowledge and confidence to better address COVID-19. My specific role is to oversee a student hired by the grant to collect and present the research and innoations of repurposing drugs or developing new drugs and vaccines to combat COVID-19.

Abdul Salama (PharmD student), supervisor Jane Alcorn, principal investigator Daniel Chen (Engineering)

The impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on university students’ dietary intake and physical activity.

The experience of a pandemic may have widespread implications for people’s health, particularly vulnerable groups. Little is known about the impact of a pandemic on university students’ nutritional status and physical activity levels. University students already have less than optimal dietary intake and many experience food insecurity. Actions during a pandemic (e.g. food shortages, quarantines, curfews, reduced hours of operation, public transportation) may affect the ability of students to access adequate, nutritious food: thus, negatively affecting their dietary intake. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, examining the changes in students’ dietary intake is warranted because they represent a vulnerable segment of the population largely who may be disproportionately affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gordon Zello, Phil Chilibeck, Leandy Bertrand

Evaluating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on dietary and training habits in Paralympic Athletes

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may be significant on the training and dietary habits in elite Paralympic athletes. It is hypothesized that dietary intakes and training will be adversely affected during self-isolation. The study will inform the level by which diet and training are affected and results will be used for recommending modifications during isolation to prevent loss of physical conditioning.

Phil Chilibeck, Gordon Zello, Keely Shaw

Professional Services

The Medication Assessment Centre and the Medication Assessment Centre Interprofessional Opioid Pain Service are now offering virtual consultations (using secure videoconferencing technology or telephone) to anyone across the entire Province of Saskatchewan. The following services are available, at no charge to patients:

  1. Comprehensive medication assessments
  2. Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia
  3. Chronic pain management / opioid tapering (includes specialist physician on team)

medSask has received a grant from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation’s Research Connections COVID-19 Rapid Response Program. This funding will allow for additional efforts to be directed towards the development and delivery of the medSask drug shortage resources. Even before the pandemic, the number of drug shortages in Canada was increasing at an alarming rate, but at the beginning of April pharmacists were faced with more than 200 unique medication shortages. The medSask shortage resources provide supportive frameworks for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals making prescribing and therapeutic substitution decisions for shorted medications.

The Canadian Pharmacy Association has partnered with medSask to expedite the development and dissemination of the shortage resources. The Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan has matched the SHRF funding; medSask has also received financial support from the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association and the College of Saskatchewan Family Physicians to help support this critical initiative. 

Eat Well Saskatchewan was awarded a Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation’s COVID Rapid Response Grant entitled "A Formative Evaluation of Eat Well Saskatchewan Social Media Campaign to Enhance Food Security During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Saskatchewan".  The project includes a social media campaign to engage Saskatchewan residents to share strategies used to cope with food security challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. These food security stories along with evidence-based food and nutrition education posts related to COVID-19 will be shared on EWS social media accounts.