Breathe New Life Award

Top It Up! For Respiratory Research

Ontario Thoracic Society (OTS) members, this is your chance to donate directly to support research. 100% of every dollar raised is directed towards additional funding of the OTS/OLA research program. Your contribution supports grants over and above the research budget provided by the Lung Health Foundation for the granting year.

Our Goal is to Annually Raise $50,000

The Grants-in-Aid awarded by the OTS have led to groundbreaking clinical, epidemiological and basic science research. Recipients include experienced and new investigators. Many researchers go on to compete successfully for grants from the CIHR and other funding agencies. Exciting results are highlighted each year in the OTS/ORCS Research Review.

To ensure your contribution is directed to TOP IT UP! For Respiratory Research, please donate online or complete the downloadable donation pledge form and return it with your contribution. The Lung Health Foundation also encourages OTS members to solicit funds on behalf of theTop It Up! campaign from colleagues, friends, corporations. All are welcome to donate. Please ensure that any additional contributions are clearly identified as TOP IT UP! donations. More than just supporting research, we are building and sustaining an academic community. Medical excellence starts with knowledge generated by current and future experts. Together we continue to nurture success. Donate to the TOP IT UP! For Respiratory Research campaign, to support the Breathe New Life Award. Join us in our quest for knowledge, excellence and innovative discoveries. We will report our progress to you in OTS communications.


‘Research in lung diseases have improved the health of thousands of Ontarians. Your support of the Top It Up Funds will ensure that Ontario researchers continue to lead the field and improve lung health.’

Recipients of the Breathe New Life Award


Benjamin Steinberg, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Anesthesia, Univeristy of Toronto
Staff anesthesiologist, Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Sickkids Hospital
Scientist-Track Investigator, Program in Neuroscience and Mental Health, Sickkids Hospital

Study: “The role of pyroptosis in pulmonary hypertension”

“The Grant-in-Aid Program provided by the Lung Health Foundation has been instrumental in enabling my young laboratory to embark on new and innovative research targeting pulmonary vascular disease. The support has afforded me the opportunity to generate the preliminary data necessary to be competitive in obtaining multi-year and peer-reviewed national funding from agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The support provided by the Grant-in-Aid program is enabling my laboratory to explore how a novel immune pathway contributes to the development and progression of pulmonary hypertension. By investigating this fundamental immune process we may identify immune-modulating therapeutic targets to help patients with this devastating disease.”


Bryan Heit, PhD.

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Western University

Study: Bacterial Modulation of Alveolar Macrophage Efferocytosis During Pneumonia

“The Grant-In-Aid Program by the Lung Health Foundation is a critical program that represents one of the only opportunities for younger investigators to launch new research programs targeting lung disease. This support allows labs such as mine to develop the experimental models and preliminary data needed to be competitive for multi-year funding from national agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The support provided to my lab by the Grant-in-Aid program has enabled us to launch a new research initiative aiming to understand how interactions between immune cells and pathogens drive patients to either recover or lose lung function following pneumonia. By untangling this interaction, we may be able to identify treatments to help ensure the full recovery of pneumonia patients.”


Sean Gill, PhD.

Assistant Professor, Departments of Medicine and Physiology & Pharmacology, Western University, Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute, Critical Illness Research Program

Study: Role of TIMPs in pulmonary microvascular endothelial cell activation and dysfunction in lung injury

“For new and young investigators like me, support from the Lung Health Foundation Grant-In-Aid Program is vital, especially in the current increasingly challenging research funding climate. This support allows the pursuit of new, innovative avenues of research and generation of important pilot data required to obtain multi-year, peer-reviewed funding from national agencies, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. I am extremely grateful for the support provided by the Grant-in-Aid program as it has enabled us to identify a novel mechanism regulating the leak of fluid into the lungs following lung injury and ensured that we are highly competitive in future peer-reviewed grant competitions.”


Dawn M.E. Bowdish, PhD.

Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair in Aging & Immunity, MG DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster Immunology Research Centre, McMaster Institute for Research on Aging

Study: The aging microbiome as a risk factor for developing pneumococcal pneumonia in mid- to late-life

“With this funding we hope to recruit a post-doctoral fellow from Europe to work on this ‘high-risk/high-reward’ project, that probably would never have been funded in more risk-averse funding schemes. We hope to make some really exciting discoveries on the role of the microbiome in causing immune aging and susceptibility to pneumonia thanks to this investment in our research!”


Michelle Kho, PT, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University; Clinician Scientist, Department of Physiotherapy, St. Joseph’s Healthcare; Canada Research Chair in Critical Care Rehabilitation and Knowledge Translation

Study CYCLE Pilot: A Pilot Randomized Study of Early Cycle Ergometry versus Routine Physiotherapy in Mechanically Ventilated Patients

“I am grateful for the support from the OTS. This funding will help us collect critical feasinility data on early in-bed cycling with critically ill mechanically ventialted patients in several Ontario intensive care units. It will help accelerate the final design of our multi-centre RCT and prepare us to be competitive in future peer-review grant competitions.”


Jonathan Draper, Ph.D

Scientist, Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (SCC-RI), Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine; Assistant Professor, Pathology and Molecular Medicine & Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

Study: Modelling pulmonary fibrosis with human induced pluripotent stem cells

“The OTS award provides vital support for my group as we develop new strategies for modeling pulmonary fibrosis. This funding is crucial support for the bench science and clinical collaborations that will enable us to generate patient specific stem cell lines that we use to grow pulmonary tissues in a dish.”

Dr. Draper’s Website


Padmaja Subbarao, MD, MSc (Epid)

Clinician-Scientist & Respirologist, The Hospital for Sick Children. Assistant Professor, Paediatrics, University of Toronto

Study: Development of novel clinical tests to diagnose and monitor asthma in preschool children.

“Support from the OTS has allowed me to generate important information on the utility of a new pulmonary function tool in preschool acute asthma, this critical data is necessary for us to develop novel clinically useful tests to improve our management of wheezing disorders in children.”


An-Wen Chan, MD, DPhil, FRCPC

Assistant Professor and Phelan Scientist, Women’s College Research Institute, University of Toronto Study: Burden of Cancer after lung transplantation

“Support from OTS is invaluable at this early stage of my career. The funding enables me to launch a population-based research program to improve cancer-related outcomes in lung transplant recipients . As a new investigator, this award will help me to establish a track record of extramural support and publications to be competitive for multi-year grants.”

Dr. Chan’s Website


Clodagh Ryan MB, MD, FRCPC

Assistant Professor and Respirologist, University of Toronto

Study: Spatial and temporal patterns of cerebrovascular response to hypercapnic stimuli in subjects with, and without, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

“This award from the OTS has been crucial to my continuing career as a clinician researcher.  It has enabled me to pursue new and exciting avenues of research to help identify those with obstructive sleep apnea who are at increased risk of stroke.  Without this award this research would not be possible.”

Dr. Ryan’s  Website


Warren Lee, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Assistant Professor, Respirologist and Intensivist, University of Toronto

Study: Influenza infection of human endothelium leads to a microvascular leak: cellular and molecular mechanisms

“Starting out in a new field of research is difficult. The OTS gave me confidence and the funding that showed that I am on the right track. The support from OTS is allowing me to obtain great preliminary data and to put together a manuscript. Needless to say, this award puts me in a good position to compete for funds from the CIHR and other agencies.”


Andrew Leask, PhD

Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario

Study: Protein kinase C epsilon: a novel target for anti-fibrotic drug intervention?

“The award from the OTS will allow me to continue my work to find a cure for lung fibrosis. With this funding, I will continue to pioneer the concept that cell adhesion may be a good target for antifibrotic drug intervention in scleroderma. Working together with a postdoctoral fellow – we will continue novel studies in our search for a new treatment for lung fibrosis.”


Richard Horner, PhD

Professor of Medicine and Physiology, University of Toronto; Canada Research Chair in Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology; Director, Toronto CIHR Team Research and Training Program in Sleep and Biological Rhythms.

Study: Mechanisms Underlying Opioid-Induced Suppression of Breathing

“Support from OTS enabled my laboratory to establish a new line of research in mechanisms underlying opioid-induced depression of breathing, a significant clinical concern. This initiative is a major new direction in my career as a scientist, providing the critical support necessary to further important breakthroughs in respiratory research”



Chung Wai Chow, MD, FRCPC,

PhD.Respirologist, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

Study: The Role of Syk and Ezrin in HRV Endocytosis and Signalling

“When I started out, the theory I had was novel. Without the OTS, I would not have had the resources to test my idea. OTS allowed me to publish the first paper on the topic. This was critical to my success at one of the most competitive cycles of the CIHR applications in 2007-2008”


David Hwang, MD, FRCPC

Pathologist, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

Study: Role of the Pulmonary Microflora in Human Lung Transplantation

“My project was funded despite being ‘risky’.  I was a new investigator proposing a new field of research in lung disease.  Since then, the field has really blossomed, and we have been able to establish a multidisciplinary CIHR Emerging Team that is continuing and expanding on this work.  The support I received through the OTS came at a critical time and helped position us to capture opportunities that might otherwise have been closed to us.”