McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences



Spotlight put on osteoporosis research

By Susan Emigh
Published: April 20, 2009
Alexandra Papaioannou
Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, Professor, Department of Medicine, Director, Division of Geriatric Medicine, McMaster University

McMaster University has teamed up with Eli Lilly Canada and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) to put a world-class researcher on the track of the silent thief.

Osteoporosis, the debilitating disease of bone deterioration, has been called the "silent thief" as it occurs without symptoms.

Today the university announced a $2 million endowed chair has been established to investigate the best strategy for osteoporosis care, particularly for fall and fracture prevention, and to train the next generation of physician scientists to look for a cure.

Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, a geriatrician and specialist in osteoporosis, has been named the inaugural holder of the endowed Eli Lilly Canada Chair in Osteoporosis.  This position has been endowed by $1 million in research funds from Eli Lilly Canada Inc. along with matching funds from the Division of Rheumatology of the Department of Medicine, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

At the same time, it was announced Dr. Papaioannou also holds a five-year career award, the CIHR/ Eli Lilly Canada Research Chair in Osteoporosis, Falls and Fracture Prevention sponsored by the CIHR/Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D) research chair program. This position will enhance the work of the endowed chair. CIHR is the federal agency sponsoring peer-reviewed health research in Canada. Rx&D is the national association of Canada’s research-based pharmaceutical companies.  The CIHR/Rx&D career award is valued at $400,000 over five years.

Alexandra Papaioannou
From left: Dr. Rick Adachi, professor of medicine and head of the Division of Rheumatology, McMaster University with Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, professor of medicine. She is the inaugural Eli Lilly Canada Chair in Osteoporosis and holder of the CIHR/Eli Lilly Canada Research Chair in Osteoporosis, Falls and Fracture Prevention.

"With this announcement we are taking a leap forward in our journey of discovery in this disabling condition," said Peter George, President and Vice-Chancellor of McMaster University. "McMaster is proud to create this position in partnership with visionaries who also focus on innovation, and Dr. Papaioannou is a McMaster alumna with world class expertise."

Dr. Loren Grossman, Vice-President, Research and Development of Eli Lilly Canada said: "We are proud to support research excellence in osteoporosis in partnership with CIHR and Rx&D. The Chair in osteoporosis is part of Lilly’s commitment to develop answers to meet unmet medical needs. It is our hope that this research will help those living with this debilitating and life restricting disease."

"Our support for Dr. Papaioannou is a great example of our strategy of funding the best minds of Canadian research," observed Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.  "Her research into better ways to prevent and treat osteoporosis and bone fractures from falls offers great promise and I am sure that she will contribute significantly to the growing body of knowledge and expertise in this field, both in Canada and internationally."

"The CIHR-Rx&D Collaborative Research Program has invested $360 million since 2000 in research institutions across the country to improve the health and prosperity of all Canadians," said Russell Williams, President of Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies. "We take great pride in the fact that our community is partnering with CIHR and McMaster to support talented researchers in their exhaustive efforts to find new ways to prevent and treat devastating diseases like osteoporosis."

Osteoporosis leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture, and can cause chronic reduction of mobility and decreased independence. It is estimated to impact 1.4 million Canadians, including one in four women and one in eight men over 50.

The cost of treating osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related fractures is estimated to be $1.9 billion each year in Canada alone, including long term, hospital and chronic care.


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