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First Grants Awarded as Part of $1 M Investment in Respiratory Health Research


Last April, the partnership between Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) and The Lung Association, Saskatchewan (LAS), was strengthened with a $1 million-dollar commitment to respiratory health research over the next five years. Now the first projects have been awarded as a result of that commitment through the 2019-20 Collaborative Innovation Development grant program.


Two recipients of this partner funding will be working to shed light on issues related to respiratory health.

Dr. Donna Goodridge from the University of Saskatchewan and her team will be looking at the influence of health literacy and self-efficacy on treatment acceptance and adherence in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep-disordered breathing, which can cause serious physical, cognitive and emotional problems if left untreated. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) has documented effectiveness as the primary therapy for OSA. In spite of the availability of this therapy, up to 30% of patients fail to accept CPAP and another 34% fail to adhere to the prescribed treatment.


While some of the reasons for failure to accept and/or adhere to CPAP have been studied, little is known about how health literacy – access, understanding and use of information to make wise health care decisions – influences choices for people with OSA.


Drs. Nicole Hansmeier and Tzu-Chiao Chao from the University of Regina and their team will look at the molecular effects of second-hand cannabis exposure.

The legalization of cannabis in Canada has provided many opportunities, but also comes with significant challenges and uncertainties. In order to deploy fair and meaningful policies and regulations, it is important to accurately and objectively investigate the impact of cannabis and its use on public health and safety.


Currently, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis, is measured in blood, saliva or urine as a means to test cannabis consumption. However, the presence of THC is an insufficient indicator of impairment, as it can reside in the body for longer than its actual biological effects. This research will improve the ability to assess cannabis-related impairment.


This project aims to identify biomarkers indicative of active impairment and investigate the impact of delivery, such as oral consumption or inhalation of cannabis smoke and aerosols on the biological effects of cannabis. This will lay the foundation for the development of an innovative cannabis-testing method to detect real impairment and in the long run, improve road and work safety.


“These projects represent two areas of research that are a priority for The Lung Association,” says new President and CEO, Erin Kuan. “We know continued research is needed on the health impacts of cannabis use. We also believe that patients and caregivers play key roles in self-managing respiratory disease to live as well as possible. By partnering with SHRF, we are supporting vital research that will harness innovation to improve lung health one breath at a time.”


“SHRF’s health research investments have a proven track record of impact when it comes to finding home-grown solutions for Saskatchewan’s health challenges,” says SHRF CEO, Patrick Odnokon. “Our partnership with The Lung Association, Saskatchewan, allows us to further that impact in the area lung health. We know these projects will lead to health benefits for the people of our province.”


This investment is just the beginning as the two organizations continue to work together to support health research in the areas of Indigenous people’s health, respiratory disease control and management, patient-caregiver education, cannabis, sleep apnea and other areas related to lung health.


About SHRF – 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, 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.


About LAS – The Lung Association is the leading organization in Canada working to promote lung health and prevent and manage lung disease. This is done by funding vital research and pushing for innovative ways to help people manage their health. The Lung Association of Saskatchewan’s role is to improve respiratory health and the overall quality of life through programs, education, research, training, treatment and prevention of lung disease.


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For more information:

Trent Litzenberger, Vice President – Community Care/RESPTREC, LAS

Trent.Litzenberger@sk.lung.ca or 306-343-9511


Nikki Desjardins, Communications and Outreach Officer, SHRF

ndesjardins@shrf.ca or 306-975-1693


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