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Celebrating Research and Life

The University of Winnipeg Foundation


Dr. Renée Douville has been chosen as the inaugural recipient of The Dr. Beni M. Sahai Fund for Cell and Molecular Biology for Advancement in Medical Research. 

Renee Douville and her research team

Left to right: Jennifer Ferguson, lab technician; Dr. Renée Douville, Principal Investigator; Michael Jonasson, lab member  

This annual research grant is funded by the generous bequest of $100,000.00 from Dr. Beni Sahai, to foster academic collaboration; strengthen community; and build a family legacy. Dr. Sahai was a Senior Scientist at Cadham Provincial Laboratory and a Professor of Biology at The University of Winnipeg when he passed away in 2012. In support of his work in virology, he drew on tools from Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and other disciplines wherever these would advance the goal of understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms related to immune response and human disease.

Dr. Beni SahaiDr. Sahai was a mentor and teacher to countless students over the course of his professional life and passionately shared his philosophy of Interdisciplinary cooperation in the advancement of science and health research.

This fund was set up in his final days with help from The University of Winnipeg Foundation, the Sahai Family and UWinnipeg’s Faculty of Science.

Dr. Sahai advocated the importance of health research as a combined effort between disciplines for the greater good of society. He believed academic institutions should connect with the community to make a lasting difference. He and his family saw UWinnipeg as a thriving prototype of these principles. The Sahai’s daughter Amy is now a student at The University of Winnipeg within the Faculty of Science.

“We are very pleased with the selection of Dr. Douville,” says Vandana Sahai, Dr. Sahai’s wife, “her passion for student mentorship and developments in health research is a true reflection of what Beni and our family wanted to support with this grant.”

Dr. Douville, a Biology Professor at UWinnipeg, was unanimously selected by an interdisciplinary committee of peers from Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics.

“Dr. Douville is an exceptional researcher.” says Dr. James Currie, Dean of Science, “We are ecstatic to recognize and support her innovative work with this forward-thinking, prestigious grant.” 

Dr. Douville receives $3,500.00 to hire Biology Honor student, Michael Jonasson, to assist in research relating to the cellular mechanisms surrounding schizophrenia, ALS and other diseases. “The Dr. Beni Sahai fund will allow Michael the opportunity to expand the boundaries of his Honour’s Thesis project.” says Dr. Douville, “Our laboratory now has the resources to perform several advanced confocal microscopy assays to address whether a newly identified viral protein is toxic to human brain cells.”