Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
June 25, 2002
Two more Canada Research Chairs for Guelph
The University of Guelph has been awarded two more prestigious Canada Research Chairs, Industry Minister Allan Rock announced today. The announcement brings the total number of Guelph’s funded research chairs to 11, worth approximately $16 million when federal and provincial infrastructure support is included. Guelph expects to have a total of 35 chairs funded over the next few years.
Guelph microbiology professor Terry Beveridge and environmental biology professor Christopher Hall will each receive $200,000 annually for seven years as Tier 1 research chairs. Tier 1 chairs are acknowledged by their peers as world leaders in their fields.
Beveridge will hold the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in the Structure, Physical Nature and Geobiology of Prokaryotes. Prokaryotic cells -- such as bacteria -- are essential to the Earth’s ability to biocycle elements like carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur, phosphorous and certain metals. In some instances, new fine-grained materials are formed and, interestingly, some deep surface bacteria have even learned how to respire or breathe iron oxides since no oxygen is present -- a situation that probably existed billions of years ago on the primitive Earth.
Hall will hold the Canada Research Chair in Recombinant Antibody Technology, creating ways to produce antibodies on a large scale from genetically modified tobacco. His research team aims to develop innovative agricultural, biotechnological and diagnostic products to protect the environment and improve human health and well-being.
“Professors Beveridge and Hall are representative of the depth of research talent that we have on our campus,” said Alan Wildeman, vice-president (research). “All of our CRC holders will benefit enormously because of their increased access to state-of-the-art research facilities and trainees. Both Beveridge and Hall will now be able to devote more of their attention to the innovative research they do.”
Beveridge is a leading figure in the emerging science of geomicrobiology, which studies how bacteria live in the deep recesses of the Earth. As a Canada Research Chair, he will use advanced microscopy techniques to examine the surface characteristics of bacteria and the multi-layered micro-environments that they form.
His research has numerous applications, including fighting infectious diseases, studying the global cycling of elements by bacteria, understanding how pathogens interact with and infect tissues and aiding in the design new vaccine and antibiotics. Some of his work even involves NASA and colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Search for Extraterrestrial life.
“The interdisciplinary nature of my work, which brings microbiology, geology, medicine, chemistry and physics together, makes for an exciting research laboratory filled with young, inquisitive experimentalists working in the life and physical sciences,” he said. “It is an honour to be selected as a Canadian Research Chair, especially since there are so many fine researchers at the University of Guelph.”
Beveridge is the author of more than 200 journal papers, 50 book chapters and reviews and 200 conference presentations. He is a fellow of the Austrian Academy of Science, the American Academy of Microbiology and the Royal Society of Canada, a recipient of the Culling Memorial Medal from the National Histotechnology Society of America and editor of several journals. He is director of the Ontario section of the Canadian Bacterial Disease Network, a National Centre of Excellence, and directs the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Guelph Regional Electron Microscope Facility at Guelph.
Hall is recognized for his significant achievements in understanding the mechanism and mode of action of herbicides and their fate and persistence in the environment -- research aided by developing antibodies that can detect small molecules such as agricultural chemicals. He is a recipient of the Weed Science Society of America Outstanding Research Award and has an extensive list of publications to his credit. Hall’s CRC work will establish a system for producing large volumes of high-quality antibodies in plants.
This fundamental research will provide antibodies for applications in environmental detection and monitoring, food safety, discovery of new lead chemistries, purification of nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals, and animal and human immunotherapy. Traditionally, such applications have relied on antibodies from animals – a source which is hampered by low yields, high costs and ethical concerns, he said.
Hall’s research is also supported by NSERC, the National Research Council (NRC), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF), as well as industrial partners Toxin Alert and SynX Pharma.
“This support is allowing us to collaborate with a team of outstanding scientists including Roger MacKenzie (NRC) and Jim Brandle (AAFC), experts in antibody engineering and molecular farming, respectively,” Hall said. “Our team goal is to establish Canada as a major centre for R & D related to recombinant antibody technology and a commercial source for high quality plantibodies for use in the environment and health industries."
“These Canada Research Chairs will enable Canadian universities to achieve the highest levels of research excellence and become world-class leaders in the global knowledge-based economy," Rock said. "Not only will we attract and retain excellent researchers, but Canadian students will be able to work alongside the best and the brightest Canada and the world have to offer."
Prof. Christopher Hall
Prof. Terry Beveridge