The federal government is spending $378 million on medical research projects across the country, with $32 million going to teams at the University of Montreal.

One team at the school is working on a drug to combat a specific type of cancer: acute myeloid leukemia.

Katherine Borden, Ph.D., principal researcher at the Institute for Research and Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), said the funding will allow work to continue on understanding how certain genes -- called oncogenes -- cause a cell to grow out of control and become cancerous instead of dying.

"[It] gives us new ways to probe what this bad oncogene is doing and how is it subverting treatments and helping developing resistance at the cell-biological level, so what's going on in the cancer cell itself," said Borden.

She compared it to taking something apart in order to learn what was broken.

"It's kind of like a car. If you don't know how the engine works you can't fix it. So it's very much the same sort of outlook we take," said Borden.

Her team is focused on one particular protein and drugs that disrupt its function, with ongoing trials showing some success in preventing cancer from growing.

Across the country the federal government is funding 405 projects including research on preventing post-partum hemorrhaging and diagnosing prostate cancer..

Eighty-two of the grants went to researchers who have held a university position for less than five years.

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said she was always impressed at the humility of researchers concerning their work.