York Professor Ali Abdul-Sater earns Arthritis Society research grant

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The Arthritis Society, Canada’s largest charitable funder of arthritis research, announced a commitment of $2.7 million for cutting-edge research projects and named York University Assistant Professor Ali Abdul-Sater the recipient of one of three Stars Career Development Awards.

Five research grants announced Dec. 4 were awarded as part of the Arthritis Society’s annual strategic operating grant competition, and an additional three awards were funded through the newly launched Stars Career Development Awards program.

The new award is an innovative funding model where the Arthritis Society provides the first three years of funding and the researcher’s host institution commits an additional three years to give these investigators a solid foundation on which to establish their research career in arthritis.

Ali Abdul-Sater
Ali Abdul-Sater

Abdul-Sater, in York University’s Faculty of Health, is studying how a particular protein may put the brakes on joint inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). He was awarded $375,000 over three years to conduct his research.

RA is an inflammatory disease where the body’s immune system starts to attack the lining of the joints. Understanding more about how the body usually keeps inflammation in check, and how this goes wrong in RA, can help researchers design new treatments. Abdul-Sater is launching his arthritis research career by studying the protein TRAF1 that acts as a “brake” on inflammation, which may be a good target for future RA therapies.

By developing a new, unique model to study in the lab, Abdul-Sater will discover how this protein can be manipulated to effectively treat RA. New RA treatments could improve health outcomes and give patients more options.

“Arthritis is a huge problem, yet many researchers and clinicians don’t consider it when selecting where to specialize,” said Abdul-Sater. “Thanks to the Arthritis Society and its donors, that’s changing: I’m just one of many researchers who will get their start in this field through the Stars program. They are truly committed to making arthritis a priority.”

The investments made by the Arthritis Sociey in scientific research and discovery seek to understand the causes of arthritis, to develop innovative solutions that improve the quality of life for those living with arthritis and, most critically, to find a cure.

“Canada is increasingly becoming a hub for high-calibre arthritis research,” said Arthritis Society chief science officer Siân Bevan. “Through these grants and awards, our donors are giving researchers the opportunity to unlock the mysteries of arthritis and make material impacts in care.”

For the full list of 2018 research grant recipients, visit arthritis.ca/researchers/current-funding-opportunities/competition-results.