Penticton News

New funding feeds South Okanagan medical research

Penticton rheumatologist Dr. Michelle Teo is part of a local research team looking to help fibromyalgia patients deal with chronic pain.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

PENTICTON - A team of local medical researchers has attracted grant funding from the Canadian Rheumatology Association, boosting local efforts to establish a medical research fund to provide annual funding for medical research.

The Canadian Rheumatology Association awarded a $91,000 research grant on Nov. 21 to rheumatologist Dr. Michelle Teo and UBC Okanagan assistant professor Dr. Nelly Oelke. The money will allow the South Okanagan researchers to continue their efforts to study fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition affecting around two per cent of the population.

Community Foundation of the South Okanagan-Similkameen executive director Aaron McRann says the money was awarded after their researchers' successful initial efforts to fund their work through local sources.

Teo and Oelke launched a two-year pilot study in which people afflicted with fibromyalgia participated in a community-based, group intervention in 2014, culminating in a fibromyalgia and chronic pain symposium which drew an overflow crowd to the Shatford Centre. A lack of funding had halted research efforts until now.

The foundation would like to build on their success through the creation of a new research endowment fund that would provide annual grants for local medical research.

McRann says the creation of the fund should eventually lead to additional money coming in from outside sources to fund that research.

“The local researchers are really good, they just need the opportunity to continue the research instead of looking for grant money all the time,” he says.

He hopes local citizens will support the fund by providing local money to do local work.

“That always brings in more money from outside. We know from experience locals need to lead the way at first,” McRann says.

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