CFI Awards in the Faculty of Science

Posted 22 December 2009

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced on December 16, 2009 it has awarded $4,172,493 to University of Manitoba researchers who are working on a variety of projects, enabling them to improve our knowledge of the world and continue to lead in their field. Researchers in the Faculty of Science received a $1.2 million of the award money.

"The investments being announced today at the University of Manitoba will further enhance our country's reputation as a destination of choice for outstanding researchers," said Eliot Phillipson, President and CEO of the CFI. "They will make our universities even more competitive when it comes to attracting the best and brightest researchers from around the world."

The contributions were provided under the Leaders Opportunity Fund, which supports infrastructure at Canadian institutions to attract and retain leading researchers. The University of Manitoba recipients in the Faculty of Science are: Seán Cadogan, Francis Lin, Sean McKenna, John Page, Hélène Perreault and Johan van Lierop.

"I congratulate all of our recipients, who are accomplished researchers in their field as well as passionate about their field of study," said Digvir S. Jayas, Vice-President (Research) at the University of Manitoba. "I look forward to learning about their findings as they expand their efforts with this new funding."

Seán Cadogan and Johan van Lierop, Physics and Astronomy, received $244,298 for small angle x-ray scattering and x-ray diffraction equipment to be used in their nanomagnetism research. Their work is expected to develop new inroads into controlled nanomagnetism that will help drive advances in such areas as hard-drives and MRAM, new transformer materials, the coming revolution in 'green' magnetic refrigeration; and translate to new ways to administer drugs via magnetic nanoparticles.

Francis Lin, Physics and Astronomy, received $157,368 for an inverted fluorescence microscope system to analyze immune cell migration in vitroand in living tissues, and a flow cytometer for investigating the signaling mechanisms of immune cell trafficking. This equipment at this world-class lab will help Lin conduct research aimed at better understanding the immune system and developing new therapeutic approaches for disorders such as autoimmune diseases and cancers.

Sean McKenna, Chemistry, received $159,922 to establish a centre to examine how human cells respond to viral infection. Diseases linked to viral infections are a widespread challenge to the health of Manitobans. Human cells possess intricate defense mechanisms designed to sense foreign molecules characteristic of viral infection and mount a multi-pronged immune response. McKenna will focus his research efforts on understanding the structural biology of proteins that sense foreign viral nucleic acid molecules. This centre is the only of its kind in Manitoba.

John Page, Physics and Astonomy, and Martin Scanlon, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, received $399,525 for ultrasound technology to study how waves travel through complex media where traditional imaging techniques often fail. Understanding wave transport in such materials is key to our health and well-being, since it allows us to detect defects in complex structures like concrete bridges, probe the properties of food products needed to sustain healthy living, and non-invasively detect disease. The funding will be used to purchase a versatile ultrasonic transducer-array system - which will be unique in Canada - and enable new imaging methods to be developed for probing complex structures and materials.

Hélène Perreault, Chemistry, received $325,546 to upgrade a laboratory dedicated to the study of post-transitional modifications, which are processes that are fundamental in controlling the functions and activities of proteins. A better understanding of the modifications that proteins undergo is integral to increasing our knowledge of how disease occurs. This funding will help purchase a mass spectrometer to enable characterization of proteins used in several applications, including cancer treatment, vaccine production, anemia control and the development of rapid diagnostic tests.

For a complete list of the projects awarded today, go to www.innovation.ca. The Canadian Foundation for Innovation is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. Since its creation in 1997, the CFI has committed almost $5.2 billion in support of more than 6,300 projects at 130 institutions in 65 municipalities across Canada.