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Four from SMH Awarded Ontario Early Researcher Awards

Toronto, August 18, 2011

By Steve Williams

Drs. Karen Burns, Claudia Dos Santos, Warren Lee and Tom Schweizer were awarded the Early Researcher Awards by Glenn Murray, the Ontario minister of research and innovation, at an event at Ryerson University on July 25. St. Michael's received more awards than any other research hospital in Ontario and, together with the Hospital, could net more than half a million dollars in investment.

"The award will enable me to hire undergraduate and graduate students who will perform the research," said Dr. Lee. "At the same time, these students will be exposed to cutting-edge translational research that has the potential to lead to new treatments for influenza."

Lee's work examines how blood vessel leaking can lead to death in flu patients. Other areas of research rewarded look at the use of breathing machines and health in critical care (Burns), repairing lung damage using biotechnology (Dos Santos) and how to prevent brain damage following certain types of strokes (Schweizer).

"The funds will be used to train the next generation of neuroscientists to use the ideas and methods of an integrative and multidisciplinary approach to better understand the importance of brain health and consequences of stroke," said Schweizer. "This award will be critical towards building a strong research team focused on improving the assessment and outcomes of stroke patients."

The Early Researcher Award (ERA) program helps promising, recently-appointed Ontario researchers build their research teams by offering up to $140,000. The government’s goal is to attract and retain the best and brightest research talent on the planet.

"We're proud of the exceptional work our researchers do," said Murray. "Their contributions are making the world a better place, starting right here with new ideas and jobs, which fuel job creation and economic growth."

In 2010, Dr. Katalin Szaszi was awarded an Early Researcher Award for her work in Kidney disease.