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Community Impact: A Closer Look at Scleroderma Ontario's 2024 Grant Recipients



At Scleroderma Ontario's year-end meeting in 2023, we had the privilege of approving the recipients for the 2024 Grants, and we are excited to share the news! These monetary grants are awarded to physicians, researchers, and organizations who prioritize scleroderma research, treatment, and diagnoses. This year's extraordinary recipients exemplify the missions of SSO and will enrich the quality of life for people living with scleroderma. We look forward to updates and hope the research will have meaningful outcomes for the community.


 

The 2024 Scleroderma Ontario grant recipients are as follows:


Dr. Kathy Siminovitch (U of T Mount Sinai):


We are pleased to announce Dr. Kathy Siminovitch of the University of Toronto Mount Sinai Hospital as a grant recipient. She will be receiving $46,000 from Scleroderma Ontario for her first year of research. The goal of her research is to improve the understanding of what causes systemic sclerosis (SSc) and find ways to diagnose and treat it early. She is trying to determine markers and marker tests that doctors can use to diagnose SSc, predict how the disease will progress, and decide on the best treatments. SSc does not have a specific cause. However, changes in our DNA due to environmental causes, called epigenetics, might be a big part of why it happens. Dr. Siminovitch is going to study these DNA changes in immune cells. Her aim is to find a way to tell the difference between the immune cells of people with SSc and those of people with healthy immune cells. This could help find markers that can be used to diagnose SSc and predict how the disease will progress.



Dr. Sindhu Johnson (Sick Kids Toronto):


We are delighted to announce Dr. Sindhu Johnson of Sick Kids Toronto as a Scleroderma Ontario grant recipient. She will be receiving a grant of $50,000 to continue her vital research. The goal of her research is to compare how scleroderma affects children in comparison to adults. The peak age of onset for patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) is between 20 and 50 years old. However, SSc may manifest in individuals who are younger. Individuals who are 16 years old or younger are diagnosed as having juvenile-onset systemic sclerosis (jSSc). Due to the fact that jSSc is so rare there is limited understanding of the difference between jSSc and adult SSc. Dr. Johnson will study the differences and similarities between juvenile on-set SSc and adult-onset SSc. The aim of the study is to better understand jSSc by comparing the survival rates, manifestations, autoantibodies, comorbidities, and treatments between the two groups.  


The Canadian Scleroderma Research Group (CSRG):

 


 Scleroderma Ontario has continued their partnership with The Canadian Scleroderma Research Group by providing them with a grant for $50,000. The CSRG aims to discover curative and innovative treatments for scleroderma to improve the quality of life for individuals affected by the disease. With this grant, the CSRG will be able to encourage the collection of a large amount of data and biospecimens from its original sites, bring on new sites, pay for shipping to their central data collection site at the University of Calgary, and create and maintain a system to keep track of these samples and the information that goes with them.


The Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network (SPIN)/Dr. Brett Thombs:


Scleroderma Ontario has also continued our partnership with The Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network and Dr. Brett D. Thombs by awarding them a grant for $50,000. SPIN, founded in 2011 by McGill University researcher

Dr. Brett Thombs, is a partnership of researchers, scleroderma clinicians, patient organizations, and patients, who work together to identify the needs of scleroderma patients and prioritize research in areas that are important to them. They help create, test, and share easy-to-use programs for patients that can make their lives better and help them feel more in control. With this grant, SPIN will complete research on how pain affects those living with scleroderma. They will create a tool to better

understand where the pain comes from, how it feels, and what makes it better or worse. They also aim to learn more about the oral health of people living with scleroderma, make a tool to better understand and measure the resilience of those living with the disease, and figure out the best way to share research results with patients.



Dr. Danielle Rice – Mental Health Toolkit


We are happy to announce Dr. Danielle Rice as a Scleroderma Ontario grant recipient for the development of a Mental Health Toolkit for individuals living with Scleroderma. In recognition of the profound impact Scleroderma can have on both physical and mental wellbeing, Scleroderma Ontario has awarded a $25,000 grant to further the progress of this vital project. The toolkit, designed to address the unique challenges faced by those living with Scleroderma, is complemented by engaging webinars. Covering topics such as Pain Management, these webinars are crafted based on insights from a survey initiated by Dr. Rice to understand the specific needs of the Scleroderma community. This collaborative effort underscores a commitment to enhancing the overall quality of life for individuals affected by Scleroderma and marks a significant step forward in bridging the gap between physical and mental health support for those living with Scleroderma.



We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the exceptional individuals and organizations named as our 2024 grant recipients. Their dedicated efforts in supporting our mission and the scleroderma community are truly commendable. A special thank you goes out to our incredible supporters whose generosity has enabled us to contribute to these vital projects. Your compassion has not only touched our hearts but has also significantly enhanced the lives of those facing scleroderma. Together, we were able to award over $220,000 in grants and we would like to thank everyone who contributed to making this possible.


Scleroderma Ontario Mission:

The Scleroderma Society of Ontario is committed to promoting increased public awareness, advancing patient wellness, and supporting research efforts to discover treatment options. For more information please visit hardword.ca





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