U of G Receives $1 Million from CFI

December 16, 2009 - News Release

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced today it's investing more than $1 million in research at the University of Guelph. The eight Guelph projects it's supporting range from advancing understanding about cancer, the human brain and climate change to preventing violence against women.

“At U of G, our focus is on finding real solutions to real-life issues,” said Kevin Hall, vice-president (research). “This CFI support will provide the equipment and technology that are vital to our researchers’ ability to leverage their work into new knowledge and applications. It will also help train the next generation of innovators, attract new leading researchers and enrich the possibilities already available at Guelph.”

The U of G projects, which span four departments in three colleges, are being supported by CFI's Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF), which was created to allow Canadian universities to attract and retain leading faculty and researchers. LOF recipients also apply for matching funding from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. In total, today’s CFI announcement exceeds $59 million and supports 262 projects at 40 Canadian institutions.

“I’m thrilled,” said psychology professor Paula Barata, who received $85,460 to create a social psychology research facility where she’ll study the psychosocial factors that inhibit health promotion behaviour. “Obviously this will help me follow through with my research program.”

Barata will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to better understand women’s perspectives on programs designed to prevent violence against women and cervical cancer, specifically HPV testing, self-sampling and the HPV vaccine. The goal is to develop and evaluate intervention strategies to increase participation in cervical cancer prevention programs and help prevent violence against women.

Integrative biology professor Frederic Laberge said his LOF award is essential to his research. He will use his $124,571 grant to create an integrative neurophysiology laboratory where he will study the physiology and anatomy of the central nervous system of selected species of amphibians.

“My work in Guelph so far has consisted mostly of behavioural investigations,” he said. “This award will enable expansion to the study of the physiology of the nervous system. It will modernize our methods and enable an integrative approach to the study of the brain.”

His long-term goal is to describe the essential features of the brain that are involved in the control of behaviour in vertebrates.

Pathobiology professor Geoff Wood plans to purchase cutting-edge tools to study genes involved in cancer across multiple species with his $117,954 award. He hopes to ultimately discover genes and signalling pathways that are important for cancer development and progression.

"This equipment will be vital for conducting the kind of research that takes full advantage of the great sample resources in our department,” Wood said. He added that it will have a big impact on the type of sample analysis he conducts in the future. “Analyzing hundreds of tissue samples at once or many dozens of proteins in one drop of serum will allow for more robust data, as well as save time and reagents."

Other LOF projects and the lead researchers are:

• Prof. Cortland Griswold, Department of Integrative Biology, $126,866 for a high-performance computer facility to support research on multivariate trait variation evolution.

• Prof. Claire Jardine, Department of Pathobiology, $87,609 to support ecological studies of zoonotic diseases in wildlife reservoirs.

• Prof. Dmitriy Soldatov, Department of Chemistry, $165,694 for a single-crystal X-ray diffractometer that will enable structural characterization of crystalline samples down to atomic resolution.

• Prof. Merritt Turetsky, Department of Integrative Biology, $176,453 for an ecosystem analysis laboratory to evaluate the effects of climate change and disturbances on boreal ecosystems.

• Prof. Sarah Wootton, Department of Pathobiology, $120,711 for infrastructure to study oncogenic betaretroviruses to further understand how similar malignancies develop in humans and animals.

The CFI is an independent not-for-profit corporation established by the Canadian government in 1997. Its goal is to strengthen Canada's university research and training environment through partnerships with research institutions, the provinces and other levels of government, as well as the private and voluntary sectors.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338 or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or dhealey@uoguelph.ca.

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