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Ottawa researcher wins Muscular Dystrophy Canada- Stem Cell Network research award

July 12, 2005, Ottawa - Dr. Jeff Dilworth, a scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, has become the first recipient of the Muscular Dystrophy Canada-Stem Cell Network New Investigator Grant. The award carries a value of $100,000 over two years.

Dr. Dilworth was selected based on the originality and scientific excellence of his proposal to look at what makes embryonic stem cells become muscle cells at the genetic level. The hope is that by understanding which genes are turned on and off in muscle cells, stem cell science will move closer to the discovery of a therapy for muscular dystrophy and related diseases.

Upon winning the award, Dr. Dilworth, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, also becomes a Principal Investigator in Canada's Stem Cell Network, a national network of university- and hospital-based researchers.

"Stem cell research holds great promise in the fight against neuromuscular disorders. By their very nature, stem cells give us hope that we might rebuild muscles, nerves, and other tissues, said Wyn Chivers, National Executive Director of Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

"Dr. Dilworth uses his knowledge of muscle growth and development to study some of the ways by which stem cells could be coaxed into changing from simple, unshaped cells into new muscles. This process, called myogenesis, is regulated by a complex series of hormones and genetic triggers. By further understanding and learning to replicate these molecular signals in the laboratory we may also learn how to better grow new muscles in people," Chivers said.

"Muscular Dystrophy Canada, in partnership with the Stem Cell Network, hopes that by supporting Dr. Dilworth's promising research through our New Investigator Grant we might contribute to exciting new steps towards future clinical treatments of neruomuscular disorders with stem cells," Chivers said.

Dr. Dilworth recently came to Ottawa after completing post-doctoral research with Dr. Stephen Tapscott at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle. Prior to that, he pursued post-doctoral research with Dr. Pierre Chambon at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Strasbourg, France

"The Stem Cell Network is pleased to partner with Muscular Dystrophy Canada on this important initiative," said Dr. Sophie Chargé, the Network's Manager of Scientific Affairs and Training. "I think the award is very exciting because it allows us to bring new investigators to the Stem Cell Network who will be the leaders in Canadian stem cell research in the future. In addition to having financial support for two years, Dr. Dilworth will have an opportunity to collaborate with investigators across Canada, which is essential to establishing a lab at this early stage."

The New Investigator Grant takes effect immediately.


For information, contact:
Cathy Campbell
Stem Cell Network
(613) 562-5696

George Henderson
Muscular Dystrophy Canada
(416) 488-0030 ext. 158

The Stem Cell Network: The Stem Cell Network is a non-profit corporation, established in 2001 and headquartered at the University of Ottawa. The Network brings together more than 70 leading scientists, clinicians, engineers, and ethicists from universities and hospitals across Canada with a mandate to investigate the immense therapeutic potential of stem cells for the treatment of diseases currently incurable by conventional approaches. The Stem Cell Network is one of Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence funded through Industry Canada and its three granting councils. (

Since 1954, Muscular Dystrophy Canada has been committed to improving the quality of life for the tens of thousands of Canadians with neuromuscular disorders and funding leading research for the discovery of therapies and cures for neuromuscular disorders.

We strive to ensure that people with neuromuscular disorders lead full and engaged lives by providing services that increase mobility and encourage independence. We also aim to increase the awareness of neuromuscular disorders and their implications amongst Canadians to motivate changes in social policy at a national level. (

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