Enhancing Diversity in Research

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Four UHN trainees receive awards to support their transition to independent research careers.
Posted On: March 01, 2024
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UHN's inaugural CIHR REDI Award recipients. (L-R, clockwise): Drs. Sumaiyah Rehman, Laura Whittall-Garcia, Ying Meng, and Diana Morales Castro.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has announced the recipients of the Research Excellence, Diversity, and Independence (REDI) Early Career Transition Award.

The REDI award is designed to increase diversity among science and medicine faculties by helping research trainees from underrepresented groups successfully transition into faculty positions.

Four UHN trainees have been awarded funding from Phase 1 of the competition, known as the ‘mentored phase’. These trainees will annually receive $20,000 in research allowance and a $70,000 stipend for up to three years, as well as access to mentorship and career development opportunities.

Congratulations to UHN’s REDI Award recipients:

● Dr. Laura Whittall-Garcia, Postdoctoral Researcher at Schroeder Arthritis Institute (mentored by Dr. Joan Wither). Dr. Whittall-Garcia’s research applies an advanced technique called imaging mass cytometry to develop predictive tests for kidney disease in people with systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease associated with widespread inflammation and tissue damage.

● Dr. Diana Morales Castro, Clinical Fellow at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute (mentored by Dr. Eddy Fan). Dr. Morales Castro’s research combines pharmacology, anesthesiology, and critical care medicine to evaluate how the long-term use of sedative drugs affects people with acute respiratory distress syndrome. The goal of her research is to optimize sedation among hospitalized patients while decreasing sedation-related complications.

● Dr. Ying Meng, Postdoctoral Researcher at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (mentored by Dr. Gelareh Zadeh). Dr. Meng’s research focuses on applying therapeutic ultrasound in treating a syndrome called neurofibromatosis type 1, which is characterized by the development of tumours in the nervous system and increased risk of cancer. Dr. Meng is developing a blood-based test, aided by focused ultrasound to detect precancerous and cancerous tumours that could promote early detection and intervention.

● Dr. Sumaiyah Rehman, Scientific Associate at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (mentored by Dr. Catherine O'Brien). Dr. Rehman’s research examines how tumour cells evade death by chemotherapies and targeted agents, causing disease relapse and metastasis. The insights gained from this research will enable the development of improved diagnostic and prognostic tests and strategies to prevent relapse and metastasis.

In a few years, these researchers will be eligible to apply for Phase 2 funding, known as the ‘independent phase’. If awarded, they will receive salary support, operational funding, and faculty mentorship to support their transition to independent research positions.

Congratulations to all awardees!

To see the full announcement, click here.