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2023-24 Align Grant #3 Funding Announcement

SHRF is proud to announce the recipients of the 2023-24 Align Grant funding, marking another step forward in our commitment to addressing Saskatchewan's diverse health needs. These grants, a vital component of our Connections Program, facilitate collaboration and innovation, ensuring our research remains relevant and impactful within Saskatchewan. - Patrick Odnokon, SHRF CEO

The Align Grant was first established in 2022 to provide funding to enable:

  • The development and engagement of robust interdisciplinary research teams and

  • The completion of activities that shape research to align with the context and needs of Saskatchewan.

As part of SHRF's Connections Program, the Align Grant provides funding for activities that increase research relevance, engage a diverse and connected research community in Saskatchewan and improve the quality and success of Saskatchewan applications to peer-reviewed funding competitions.

As the third and final series of Align Grants in 2023-24, the following projects represent interdisciplinary and diverse research that seeks to benefit the many facets of human health. SHRF is proud to fund 11 projects through an investment of $109,687. This call concludes the 2023-24 Align Grant, which funded 31 projects for $343,611.

2023-24 Align Grant #3 Recipients

Sarah Kostiuk | Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Michael MacFadden | Saskatchewan Health Authority

Leanne McLaughlin | Saskatchewan Health Authority

Tanya Pruden | Metis Nation Saskatchewan


Creating Successful Patient Partnerships in Healthcare Education

Project Summary

Patient-oriented care responds to diverse patient needs, but it is difficult to teach in practice because it looks different for each patient. Additionally, patients may not feel 'safe' in traditional educational spaces meant for health professionals. This team is working with patient partners to gain knowledge about how to make these educational spaces more inclusive, with the goal of a resource manual to guide educators in implementing patient-oriented care education.

Pamela Farthing | Saskatchewan Polytechnic


Helping Teenagers with Type 1 Diabetes and their Parents Cope with the Challenges of Diabetes Management

Project Summary

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) requires a lot of self-management, which is particularly difficult for teenagers and their parents. The team is building on a previously developed model for how teenagers with T1D and their parents can work together to manage T1D. Their goal is to develop an intervention strategy that works for Saskatchewan families.

Roslyn Compton | University of Saskatchewan

Marlene Moorman | Family Partner

Alison Craswell | University of the Sunshine Coast


Older Adults in Flux: Finding a Place to Call Home

Project Summary

Older adults can 'age in place' through supportive care in their home and improved transitions to long-term care or assisted living. Not all services are available to all older adults, depending on their specific needs and where they live. Supporting older adults through the transitions in care could be critical to supporting a sense of home, and the team will explore the experiences of older adults who have gone through such transitions to form the basis for a new model of care that improves the quality of life throughout aging.

Nnamdi Ndubuka | University of Saskatchewan


Assessing Community Readiness to identify evidence-based strategies to increase childhood vaccination rates among Northern Saskatchewan First Nations - A Community-Guided Approach

Project Summary

Minimum childhood vaccination rates are recommended to provide overall community safety and protection. In Northern Saskatchewan, vaccination rates vary, with some communities seeing rates below the 95% recommended by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. The Northern Intertribal Health Authority (NITHA), Prince Albert Grand Council, Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation and Waterhen Lake First Nation are working together in this project to understand potential barriers to childhood vaccination from the communities' perspective and build a relationship to work towards the goal of increasing childhood vaccination uptake.

Megan Clark | University of Saskatchewan

Stéphanie Madill | University of Saskatchewan


Peer health navigators for people who are trans and gender diverse: Working and learning together for sustainability.

Project Summary

The TRANS Research And Navigation Saskatchewan (TRANS) project, initiated in 2020, introduced peer health navigators to support trans and gender diverse individuals accessing affirming healthcare. Following a successful pilot, the navigator service continued with temporary support from multiple sources. This new project aims to ensure funding sustainability by engaging stakeholders and co-developing research questions with peer health navigators from Alberta and BC. This initiative seeks to strengthen navigator services across provinces through resource-sharing and different methods of service delivery.

Kerri Schellenberg | University of Saskatchewan

Alexandra King | University of Saskatchewan

Malcolm King | University of Saskatchewan

Gerald Pfeffer | University of Calgary


Best Practice Recommendations for Spinobulbar Muscular Atrophy

Project Summary

Spinobulbar Muscular Atrophy (SBMA) is a genetic disease primarily affecting motor nerves in males, leading to progressive weakness in various functions. The team, including Indigenous researchers, has discovered the highest reported prevalence of SBMA among Indigenous people in Saskatchewan. Supported by individuals with lived experience and an Elder, this project will develop Best Practice Recommendations for SBMA, with the goal of improving diagnosis and outcomes.

Natasha Hubbard Murdoch | University of Saskatchewan

Steven Hall | University of Saskatchewan


Navigating the Healthcare System as a 2SLGBTQ+ Caregiver to an Older Adult

Project Summary

This community action research focuses on supporting Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (2SLGBTQ+) caregivers of older adults, recognizing the unique challenges they face within a predominantly heteronormative healthcare system. The project aims to co-design a practical support intervention tailored to the needs of 2SLGBTQ+ caregivers. This research is crucial for addressing the distinct challenges of 2SLGBTQ+ caregivers and fostering more inclusive and supportive care for older adults in this community.

Maarten Voordouw | University of Saskatchewan


Does Borrelia burgdorferi influence the bacterial microbiome in the mouse skin

Project Summary

The risk of Lyme disease in Saskatchewan is relatively low, but the species of tick responsible for Lyme disease has been growing in new areas of Canada. This project will explore Lyme disease's effect on the skin of infected hosts. While bacteria that cause Lyme disease are difficult to detect at the bite site, it causes a reaction that resembles atopic dermatitis or eczema by altering the skin's natural skin bacteria. Studying the alterations could establish a new diagnostic method using the skin's natural bacteria.

Linda Martin | Saskatchewan Polytechnic


Assessing the Need for Recreation Therapy Services for Students with High and Complex Needs within the School System.

Project Summary

This research project will assess the needs of grade school students with high and complex needs within the school system that may be addressed through recreation therapy. High and complex needs could include mental health, social behavioural, and trauma symptoms, intellectual, physical, developmental, and learning disabilities. Recreation therapy in schools is not seen anywhere else in Saskatchewan, and this project will take advantage of a current recreation

Austen Smith | University of Regina

Lorin Elias | University of Saskatchewan


Rapid Eye Movement Behaviour Disorder and Asymmetry of Symptom Onset in Parkinson's Disease

Project Summary

Parkinson's disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disease, affects around 4000 individuals in Saskatchewan and has seen increased disability and mortality over the past 25 years. This chronic condition manifests in both motor and non-motor symptoms, including cognitive impairments like dementia and sleep disturbances. While there is a known connection between motor and non-motor symptoms in the brain, it's not fully understood. The research aims to inform better diagnosis and treatment strategies for Parkinson's by assessing the prevalence and severity of sleep disorders, particularly rapid eye movement behaviour disorder, and its relation to the side of symptom onset in Saskatchewan patients.

Natasha Gallant | University of Regina


Integrating Dementia-Friendly Time into Best Practices for Dementia Care

Project Summary

Quality of life for those living with dementia is an important aspect of care, given the current limitations of treatment for dementia. Dementia-friendly initiatives aim to create inclusive environments but often overlook the importance of time in accessibility. People living with dementia may not retain the same concept of time and schedule seen in many services. Many spaces also emphasize the importance of being on time and efficiently, which may not be accessible for those living with dementia. The goal of this research in Saskatchewan is to integrate "dementia-friendly time" into dementia care practices, ensuring those affected feel supported and included.


The Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) is the provincial funding agency that funds, supports and promotes the impact of health research that matters to Saskatchewan. SHRF collaborates with stakeholders to contribute to the growth of a high-performing health system, a culture of innovation and the improved health of citizens by strengthening research capacity and competitiveness, increasing the investment in health research in Saskatchewan and aligning research with the needs of our stakeholders.

Inquiries about SHRF's Align Grant may be directed to Karen Tilsley, Director of Programs and Partnerships, at 

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