Funding provided for local health research efforts

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Health research grants adding up to $345,000 overall to address local health challenges were handed out Thursday by WE-SPARK Health Institute and its funding partners.

The institute, which awarded 18 project grants to area researchers, is a partnership involving University of Windsor, Erie Shores HealthCare, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, St. Clair College, and Windsor Regional Hospital.

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“With each grant cycle, the number of new collaborators coming on board grows,” said Lisa Porter, director for WE-SPARK.

“And we’re beginning to see the outcomes of grants that were awarded since the program’s launch just over three years ago. These grants create jobs, address pressing problems and make Windsor-Essex competitive for national funding competitions.”

The 18 projects will involve over 116 researchers and trainees, along with thousands of participants.

“Securing funding is often the biggest challenge for early-career researchers,” said Vijendra Sharma, assistant professor in the biomedical sciences at the University of Windsor. “Fortunately, the WE-SPARK Igniting Discovery Grants empower emerging researchers to explore new avenues of knowledge and provide a source of recognition that boosts their confidence to pursue innovative ideas.”

The projects involved include further studies or research in the areas of diabetes, neonatal health, cancer, mental health, Alzheimer’s disease and others. The WE-SPARK grants awarded Thursday also help improve prospects for further future funding for each effort.

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“I am beyond excited to be awarded the WE-SPARK igniting discovery grant supported by the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation,” said Joanne Tay, one of the project recipients and an assistant professor at the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Nursing.

“With this award, I will be able to explore the processes of pediatric cancer care in Windsor-Essex region from the perspectives of youths living with cancer, their parents and healthcare providers. Gaps identified from this project may help to inform changes in service delivery of cancer care for children in southwestern Ontario.”

Among the funds awarded, $275,000 of the funds were raised during the Cheers to Hope fundraiser event held in April.

Projects will begin in September. An overall list can be found online at

Since the launch of the WE-SPARK Health Institute grants program in April 2020, a total of $1.4 million has been awarded for local projects.

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