A federal grant is helping to provide a University of Alberta researcher with the tools to find the reason why some unborn babies don’t get as much oxygen as they need in the womb.Dr. Sandra Davidge, who is also executive director of the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute, is looking to fill that gap of knowledge because low oxygen can lead to more complicated medical conditions.Her project was one of 10 U of A projects receiving $2.2 million from the federal government through the Canada Foundation for Innovations program. The projects range from ensuring food safety to reclaiming mining sites.Davidge said the grant will allow them to purchase a specialized imaging equipment that will allow them to look at how unborn babies are developing in the womb.“The gap is we don’t know which of those babies are having the lack of oxygen. You can look at blood flow but that doesn’t tell you oxygen delivery,” she said. “What we’re ultimately trying to do is treat the placenta. If we know which babies are susceptible then we can go in and while they’re still in the womb, be able to treat the placenta to improve placenta function that will actually ultimately have better growth and development for the fetus.”Davidge said a lack of oxygen to the fetus is one of the most common complications of pregnancy. Around 20 per cent of pregnant women experience some kind of complication.She said it will take years of research to find out the exact cause of the problem but having the equipment will allow them to move forward.“Imaging infrastructure changes a lot over time but we’re getting the most state-of-the-art,” she added. “The idea (engineering) is going to further optimize and adapt that technology. So we should be good for a number of years.”
Science and Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan announces $2.2 million in financial support for researchers at all stages of their careers on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Greg Southam /
The fund for Davidge’s research is part of a larger sum of more than $61 million that’s being spread out across 40 Canadian universities to cover 261 projects.Federal Science and Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan, who was in Edmonton Monday to make the announcement, said the funding is available right away for the projects to move forward.“We want to make sure that our researchers have the funding to do their research,” she said. “We want to put our researchers and students first and build the system around them.”