The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced today it has awarded $2,197,648 to eight University of Manitoba researchers from the Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF). The projects range from advancing knowledge about Arctic climate change to the control and prevention of infectious diseases to improving cereal crop yields.
“Canadians from coast to coast to coast can be assured that Canada’s research community is bringing its talents to bear on the problems that matter to them,” said Gilles G. Patry, Canada Foundation for Innovation president and chief executive officer. “This round of investment illustrates the value of research and innovation in building stronger, healthier and more prosperous communities.”
The University of Manitoba recipients are: Belay Ayele, Kangmin Duan, Jean-Eric Ghia, Robert Gulden, Richard Keijzer, Kirk McManus, Søren Rysgaard and John Wilkins.
“These funds will support these eight innovators and explorers in their quest for new knowledge,” said Digvir S. Jayas, vice-president (research and international) at the University of Manitoba. “Their success in the LOF competition recognizes their research expertise and will ensure it continues to grow.”
The recipients and projects are:
Belay Ayele, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, received $158,619 to set up a facility for cereal functional metabolomics (the systematic study of plant metabolite profiles). Ayele will establish an internationally competitive research program in cereal functional genomics capable of generating innovative metabolomics strategies to facilitate the discovery of genes for improving yield and quality of cereal crops.
Kangmin Duan, Faculty of Dentistry, received $242,479 to establish the Molecular Oral Microbiology Laboratory for Cell-cell Interaction and Antimicrobial Research. Infectious disease is a leading cause of human death, and drug resistance among pathogens is increasingly making antibiotics, the once successful “wonder drugs” ineffective. This new laboratory will increase our understanding of the genetics and biochemistry of bacterial pathogenesis and antibiotic resistance, ultimately improving the control and prevention of infectious diseases.
Jean-Eric Ghia, Faculty of Medicine, received $159,726 to research the neuroendocrine control of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic recurring intestinal disorder represented mainly by ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Approximately 200,000 Canadians live with IBD every day. This research program seeks to address the interrelationships between the brain, the endocrine system and the immune system in IBD and expand the breadth of the University of Manitoba’s IBD Clinical and Research Centre, one of the world’s foremost clinical research programs in IBD.
Robert Gulden, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, received $131,269 to set up a Field Root Study Lab and Root-Microbe Analysis Lab to study the life of weeds, below the ground, and how they contribute to and stabilize soil in agricultural systems. Weeds are an important part of the cropping system, despite attempts to eliminate them through intensive herbicide use. As contributors to the soil microbial diversity, clearly not all weeds are bad, therefore a different approach to weeds and their management is required.
Richard Keijzer, Faculty of Medicine and Manitoba Institute of Child Health, received $159,987 to establish a Prenatal Therapeutic Intervention Research Facility to treat congential anomalies in utero (before the baby is born) using nanomaterials in order to improve the odds of survival and quality of life for these babies and their parents. An example of one congenital condition that will be investigated is congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), an inborn hole in the diaphragm. Every year approximately 50 babies are born with this anomaly in Canada.
Kirk McManus, Faculty of Medicine, received $160,000 to purchase state-of-the-art instrumentation that will advance the field of colorectal cancer research. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Canada. McManus’ research will explore the basis for abnormal chromosome numbers found in colorectal cancers, seeking to identify genes required for chromosome stability in humans and develop new therapies that will be transferrable to other tumour types, including breast, lymphoma and lung.
Søren Rysgaard, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Arctic Geomicrobiology and Climate Change in the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources received $799, 399 to study the geomicrobial transformations as they occur in the Arctic sea ice and sediments, including the regeneration of nutrients required by and for the health of the Arctic marine systems. A three-pronged approach to the studies will be undertaken using the Sea-ice Environmental Research Facility at the University of Manitoba, Arctic field work, and modelling studies. What is learned will have broad economic and environmental impact and will be applied to environmental assessment and resource development in the Arctic and its resultant impact on Indigenous peoples of the region.
John Wilkins, Faculty of Medicine and Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and Systems Biology, received $386,202 to purchase a highly specialized mass spectrometer which will be integrated with protein functionality in biology and medicine. This new equipment is key to further research advances in the area of kidney transplantation aimed at increasing survival rates, inflammatory diseases and cancer, and genetically engineering to enhance biofuel production. The research will have economic, health and environmental significance to all Canadians.
About the Canada Foundation for Innovation:
The CFI gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation, and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. For more information, visit www.innovation.ca
To arrange an interview with one of the recipients, please contact Melni Ghattora, research communications & marketing officer, University of Manitoba, Tel: 204-474-9020.