Chris McCulloch

CFI funds to boost matrix biology research

A $195,000 Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund has been awarded to professor Chris McCulloch, Canada Research Chair in Matrix Dynamics, which will help to fund the purchase of a specialized type of microscope (stimulated emission depletion microscope).

With the new imaging system, researchers at the Faculty, which include McCulloch, distinguished professor Boris Hinz and professor Morris Manolson, will be able to examine at “unprecedented levels of resolution” the extracellular matrix degradation of periodontal fibroblasts, lung fibroblasts and osteoclasts, says McCulloch — a largely misunderstood mechanism that underlies diseases of the extracellular matrix. In turn, researchers hope to better understand how inflammatory diseases affect and, consequently, break down the matrix in connective tissue diseases. Ultimately, the researchers hope the new imaging will lead to new drug targets and therapeutics to combat these destructive diseases.

Connective tissue diseases, which affect the extracellular matrix — ranging from arthritis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis to periodontitis — are very costly to society. These diseases affect more than 15.5M North Americans and cost approximately $35B in health care annually.