Wilfrid Laurier University associate professor Diane Gregory is the recipient of the prestigious Early Researcher Award from Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation.
“Diane’s innovative approach to solving problems that affect the lives of millions of Canadians is being recognized by the province of Ontario,” says Rob Gordon, vice-president: Research. “This funding will significantly contribute to growing Diane’s research efforts in innovative ways, and supporting her commitment to student-engaged research.”
Gregory, who studies spine biomechanics and is an expert on low-back pain, injury and prevention – especially in the workplace, joined Laurier’s Department of Kinesiology in 2011.
This research project, which received nearly $200,000 from the province, will examine two modes of how the spine can become injured or how it responds to injury.
“One side will focus on the mechanical components of the spine, looking at how it twists or bends and how it becomes injured,” says Gregory. “The other side takes a more novel approach, assessing the physiological reaction to spine injury. We’re looking at how inflammation effects the quality of the spine and if it makes people more susceptible to further injury.”
Previous research has looked at the healing experience weeks after inflammation, but not during inflammation.
“This research has the potential to make big impact in rehabilitation practices in a work or sports environment,” says Gregory.
Gregory runs two labs for students: a lab focused on tissue mechanics and a more applied lab.
“I love seeing my students succeed and I like finding out answers to questions,” says Gregory. “The vast majority of individuals have back pain, it’s a really complex system that is very susceptible to injury, which continues to motivate and excite me as a researcher and mentor.”
Established in 2005, the Early Researcher Awards program helps to attract and retain top talent in the province and help promising researchers build their teams. Since 2013, Ontario has committed investments of more than $621 million towards 1,092 research projects through the Ontario Research Fund and Early Researcher Awards programs.