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Preparing for a pandemic


CIHR to fund McGill research on infection patterns, health-care worker angles
What clues does history hold as to how a pandemic might spread and be contained in today’s small world? What happens to health-care workers when reporting to work puts them on the front line of what could be a deadly virus? Two McGill University research projects are among the 26 to be funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) within its Institute of Infection and Immunity’s Pandemic Preparedness Strategic Research Initiative.

Dr. David Buckeridge and his team from the Clinical and Health Informatics Research Group in McGill’s Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health will study data from previous flu epidemics to learn more about how infections spread through populations and the best way of controlling the risk of infection in different populations. He will receive an average annual operating amount of $69,897 over two years plus $5,500 for equipment.

Dr. Andre Dascal, an Associate Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University and Senior Infectious Disease Physician and microbiologist at the Jewish General Hospital, a McGill University Teaching Hospital, will study the ability and willingness of health-care workers to report to work during an influenza pandemic. He will receive an average annual operating grant of $68,173 as well as $20,143 for equipment.

The CIHR will provide $4 million to fund 26 grants for health research into projects such as vaccine development, epidemic control and the mental health of health-care practitioners in the event of a pandemic. On the international front, funding of $1 million will be provided to support the Global Action Plan for Pandemic Influenza Vaccines.

Epidemics often move quickly through a population because certain susceptible groups help to spread the disease. Children, for example, often play a key role in influenza epidemics, while other groups, such as people with chronic disease or people living in crowded conditions, may also play an important role in spreading the flu. To control a pandemic effectively, public health authorities will have to target these groups strategically.

On the Web: Canadian Institutes of Health Research


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