Dr. Nikolas Knowles, a professor who joined the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences in 2022, has received a $100,000 grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). He is one of 13 recipients at the University of Waterloo.

JELF grants offer researchers the opportunity to acquire infrastructure to undertake innovative research. Knowles’ project, Development of a Comprehensive Laboratory for Evaluation of Tissue Mechanics, aims to improve our understanding of osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis that affects millions of people worldwide. The grant will fund an electrodynamic testing frame that allows for the advanced mechanical testing of tissues.

“The unique capabilities of this equipment, combined with our unique collaborations within the School of Anatomy, will allow us to test joint tissues under conditions that mimic those in the human body,” Knowles said. “This information will be used to better understand the early stages of osteoarthritis and help to develop models for improved diagnosis and therapeutic management of the disease.”

The new funding will help develop better and more accurate models of osteoarthritis across the spectrum of the disease. “Osteoarthritis is increasing at an alarming rate, but our ability to capture changes to the joint before they become permanent is limited,” Knowles said. “By improving models of early OA that incorporate parameters from all joint tissues, we aim to improve early diagnostics to slow or prevent joint changes before they become permanent.”

JELF applicants must be recognized leaders or have demonstrated the potential for excellence in their proposed research fields and are embarking on research or technology development that is innovative and of high quality.