Research Leaders Funded

June 5th, 2013 · No Comments · News Release, Research

The Government of Canada announced today it has awarded $2,008,479 to nine University of Manitoba research projects from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF). The projects range from finding strategies to support to family caregivers to studying the effects of Type 2 diabetes on the cardiovascular system to advancing knowledge about Arctic climate change.

“CFI funding provides the vital equipment and labs our enterprising researchers need to push the boundaries of science,” says Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the CFI. “Cutting-edge facilities are magnets that attract the best research talent from around the world and act as key training grounds for a new generation of Canadian innovators.”

“These funds provide the means to advance researchers who are experts in their fields or new researchers who have promising investigations ahead of them,” said Digvir S. Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba. “The potential impacts to society are many and are an investment that will benefit Manitobans.”

The recipients and projects are:

Christopher Anderson (pharmacology and therapeutics/St-Boniface Hospital Research) $396,472 for a multi-photon imaging centre. Anderson, a leading Canadian neuroscientist, studies the intricate intercellular signaling mechanisms in the brain responsible for coupling brain energy demand with blood supply. This process is defective in numerous brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s-type disease. The multi-photon imager will allow stepwise molecular mapping of cell function in live animals and will be the hub of a multidisciplinary suite of approaches to fuel discovery for the benefit of Canadians faced with neurodegenerative disorders.

Harold Aukema and Rotimi Aluko (human nutritional sciences) $387,258 to determine the roles of novel bioactive molecules in nutritional effects on renal health and hypertension. Kidney disease and hypertension are interrelated disorders affecting over 5 million Canadians at present. The infrastructure provided will enable the investigation of functional foods and nutraceuticals as alternatives or adjuncts to the current treatment strategies.

Mark Belmonte (biological sciences) $157,341 to develop an RNA profile (transcriptome) of canola seeds. This research aims to improve the agricultural performance of canola and stimulate the economy through important fundamental research into the molecular mechanisms underlying canola seed development. The use of novel molecular technologies that will be used could promote the development of new bio-products in other Brassica cultivars and potentially improve our knowledge of stress and pathogen-resistance in important crop plants.

Vernon Dolinsky (pharmacology and therapeutics/Manitoba Institute for Child Health) $160,000 for a high-frequency ultrasound diagnostic and prenatal therapy platform. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is the fastest growing disease in Canada. The prevalence of T2D among youth has increased over 10-fold in the past two decades, with this diagnosis resulting in a significantly greater incidence of cardiovascular complications for these youth. The ultrasound infrastructure will enable the study of the effects of T2D on the cardiovascular system, leading to a better understanding of the biological mechanisms that cause cardiovascular complications in diabetic youth.

Cheryl Glazebrook (kinesiology and recreation management) ) $87,936 for her research program focused on understanding multisensory and motor integration with a goal of improving motor skill performance. Glazebrook will add a second Optotrak 3D Investigator motion analysis system to her lab and a remote eye-tracking system to study coordinated movements of typically developing individuals and those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The precision of the systems will allow scientists to extract detailed information about how a person interacts with their environment using their sensory, motor, and cognitive functions.

Emmanuel Ho (pharmacy) $129,741 to establish a microbicide development and characterization laboratory. In the absence of an effective HIV vaccine, this infrastructure will allow Ho to develop novel therapeutic strategies that can be applied topically vaginally or rectally for the prevention/reduction of sexually transmitted infections.

Michelle Lobchuk (nursing/St-Boniface Hospital Research) $188,784 for development of a caregiver research environment (CARE), a naturalistic setting for empathic communication. Family caregivers are at risk for chronic disease according to the American Psychological Association. Four to five million Canadians provide care for aging, disabled, ill or dying family members. With an expected demand for care to rise by 85 per cent in the coming decade, it’s expected that the stressors on family caregivers will only expand. Lobchuk’s CARE project will be housed at Grace Hospital and bring together Faculty of Nursing and Medicine researchers from the U of M, as well as clinicians, nursing and medical students/residents, nurse practitioners, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and visiting scholars, to study empathic communication. This project will support and strengthen inter-professional partnerships that focus on testing innovative empathy-related training interventions for immediate impact. The need to provide sustained, optimal patient care while minimizing stress to family caregivers is essential.

C.J. Mundy and Jens Ehn (environment and geography/Centre for Earth Observation Science) $319,992 for an Arctic biogeochemical optics laboratory (ABOL) which will conduct high-resolution process studies in sea ice covered environments. The impacts of global climate change are most pronounced in the Arctic through sensitive feedbacks associated with the formation and melt of sea ice. ABOL will be located within the newly opened Nellie Cournoyea Arctic Research Facility in the university’s Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources. Detailed investigations focused on predicting the 4D (time and space) functioning of ice-covered Arctic marine, estuarine and riverine systems will be undertaken.

Joerg Stetefeld (chemistry, microbiology, and biochemistry and medical genetics) $180,955 for an analytical ultracentrifuge, a powerful biomolecular research tool. A goal of biomolecular research is to understand how proteins perform their biological functions in cells. This new ultracentrifuge is crucial to this goal. Stetefeld will be focusing on the structure and function of proteins with central roles in plants, human disease and biotechnology. Insights realized will be applied to better drug design, an understanding of cell-cell communication and to the design of better herbicides and biofuel agents.


About the Canada Foundation for Innovation

The Canada Foundation for Innovation 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


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