CFI Invests in U of G Research

January 21, 2011 - News Release

At the University of Guelph today, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced that it will invest more than $61 million in revolutionary research at 48 Canadian universities. U of G received more than $815,000 for five projects ranging from studying breast cancer invasion and bacterial processes to creating a population database to reducing injuries to better understanding evolution.

The announcement was made by Gilles Patry, CFI president and CEO. Gary Goodyear, minister of state (science and technology), attended the event along with U of G president Alastair Summerlee, current and past CFI award recipients, and industry partners.

“This is an investment in the talent and creative explorations at U of G that are key to helping uncover the roots of global problems and the solutions for those problems,” Summerlee said. “Many of the breakthroughs that have revolutionized the world started out as ideas in the minds of great researchers. Our goal is to use U of G knowledge and discoveries to change lives and improve life.”

Funding for the U of G projects, which involve seven faculty from five colleges, comes from CFI's Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF), intended to allow Canadian universities to attract and retain leading faculty and researchers. LOF recipients apply for matching funding from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

“It’s a great honour to be among the U of G researchers selected to receive financial support from the Government of Canada and CFI,” said Prof. Alicia Viloria-Petit, Department of Biomedical Sciences, who received $121,232 for her breast cancer research.

She studies how cancer cells move from a primary site to other sites in the body. Metastasis underlies about 90 per cent of cancer deaths.

“Understanding how breast cancer progresses might help in the design of more effective treatments,” Viloria-Petit said. “We believe our studies will contribute significant knowledge that could be applied to the design of improved therapies for the clinical management of metastatic disease.”

Economics professor Kris Inwood received nearly $375,000 for his “People in Motion” project. Working with history professor Graeme Morton and Prof. John Cranfield, Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, Inwood is using data mining and other computing techniques to prepare a Canadian database to understand how experience, family circumstance and even genetic heritage affect adult health, migration and social mobility. Taking a historical perspective on issues, challenges and implications will help us understand a wide range of public policy issues, Inwood said.

U of G’s other LOF recipients are the following:

- Prof. Cezar Khursigara, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, $124,993 to create a world-class imaging laboratory. Studying bacteria, including how they assemble themselves into mats or biofilms, will help in drug design.

- Prof. John Zettel, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, $125,000 for a motion platform to study walking, balance and posture, particularly in older adults. Falls are the leading cause of serious injury in older adults, and the second leading cause (after car accidents) of injury-related hospitalizations for all ages.

- Prof. Andrew McAdam, Department of Integrative Biology, $69,213 for a field data acquisition, integration and communication system. McAdam studies how animals adapt to natural and human-induced environmental changes.

The CFI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation intended to strengthen university research and training through partnerships with research institutions, governments, and the private and voluntary sectors. Since 1997, the foundation has allocated $5.3 billion to 131 research institutions.

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