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Press Release

Lymphedema research gets $5-million boost

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Sept. 24, 2013) - Alberta researchers will be able to explore the lymphatic system thanks to a $5 million donation from Dianne and Irving Kipnes. The gift will be used toward the development of a Lymphatic Imaging Suite, education development, and support for recruitment of new researchers.

"The University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine and the Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases are proud to partner with Dianne and Irving Kipnes in support of their gift towards lymphedema research and education," says University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon. "Their generous $5 million support will enable the University of Calgary to establish a collaborative program exploring research into this condition."

Lymphedema is a chronic infection often associated with excessive swelling because the lymphatic system fails to drain fluid, cells and proteins away from tissues within the body. It is often a complication arising from the treatment of various cancers and melanoma.

Dianne and Irving Kipnes felt compelled to make a gift stemming from their own personal experience. "Anyone who has struggled with surviving cancer knows that the road to recovery can be long and challenging, and to unexpectedly cope with lymphedema can be devastating. But as many cancer survivors discover, this can happen," says Dianne Kipnes, who was diagnosed with lymphedema after her own cancer treatment.

"We believe this gift will have enormous implications in understanding the workings of the lymphatic system through research and ultimately helping many people coping with chronic diseases live healthier lives. The Dianne and Irving Kipnes Foundation is fortunate to be able to invest in this initiative in Calgary and Edmonton, which is unique to Canada."

Lymphedema is a common, yet disabling, condition affecting about four to five million people in North America. If left untreated, there is a risk of loss of limb function as well as the onset of chronic infections. With few dedicated clinics and expertise in this area, there is a need for further research, education and increased awareness in order to improve care delivery for lymphedema patients.

"Everyone has experienced swelling at one point or another. Usually it is quickly resolved once the cause is treated. There are cases however where swelling doesn't go away and this affliction becomes chronic. In these situations such as lymphedema, the lymphatic system doesn't play its role and despite its prevalent functions, the lymphatic system has been studied very little," says Pierre-Yves von der Weid, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology and member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the University of Calgary.

"The first step to improving treatments and outcomes for patients suffering from lymphedema is to better understand the complex biology of the lymphatic system. In that regard, research is pivotal. As we expand our knowledge we can develop new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches," he says.

About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation's most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction to become one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

For more information, visit Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary and in our media centre at

The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases

The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases was named in 2008 in honour of Joan Snyder and her parents, who she credits with teaching her the value of philanthropy. It is a group of more than 104 clinicians, clinician-scientists and basic scientists who are impacting and changing the lives of people suffering from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, sepsis, inflammatory bowel disease, and cystic fibrosis.

Media Contact: University of Calgary
Marta Cyperling
Media Relations Manager, Faculty of Medicine
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