Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

February 27, 2001

U of G receives $1-million gift to support soybean research

The University of Guelph announced today that it has received a $1-million gift from Peter Hannam, an Ontario Agricultural College alumnus and former owner of First Line Seeds Ltd., to support soybean research.

The University also formally launched the Hannam Soybean Utilization Fund (HSUF), which will be used to award annual research grants to faculty and students to promote new and innovative uses for soybeans.

“This gift demonstrates the Hannam family’s dedication to soybean research and development, their commitment to the prosperous future of the agri-food industry in Ontario, and their partnership with the University of Guelph,” said president Mordechai Rozanski. “We are profoundly grateful for the Hannams’ faith in our University’s research capability. This is a tremendous example of an alumnus giving back to U of G so that our students and faculty can continue to conduct innovative research.”

“I’ve always been impressed by the creativity of students and researchers and feel fortunate to be in a position to give something back to an institution that has provided me with a lot of support, both as a student and an alumnus,” said Hannam.

According to Hannam, at no time has research been as important to the Ontario soybean industry as it is now. “Soybeans are very well- suited to growing in Ontario and have lots of potential for new uses,” he said.

The first grant recipients from the HSUF are professors Bruce Holub, Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences; Peter Pauls, Plant Agriculture; and Allen Hills of U of G’s Kemptville College. Holub’s award of $50,000 will fund research of an enzyme in soybeans that can slow down the progression of kidney disease. Holub said the funding is an important part of his research efforts to develop a cure for Polycystic Kidney Disease. “This award from the Hannam Soybean Utilization Fund will hopefully allow us to create a natural, nutritional and nutraceutical supplement which can further retard the progression of this disease over and above what is offered currently in the health care system using conventional medical strategies,” he said.

Pauls, who received $25,000, will conduct research on a line of soybeans for soymilk that don’t taste “beany,” and Hills, another $25,000 recipient, will study marketing soy bio-diesel fuel, an organic renewable alternative to fossil fuels.

“The breadth and importance of the three successful proposals are an indication of Guelph’s nationally recognized strengths in human health and the environment,” said Rozanski. “Guelph conducts more health-related research than any other Canadian university without a medical school. We expect that our scientists and students will continue to push boundaries and that they will follow Peter Hannam’s example and lead us to innovative uses for soybeans that we can’t even imagine now.”

Rozanski added that when Hannam was an OAC student in the 1960s, he was told that soybeans would never be grown in this part of Ontario because the season was too short. “Fortunately for today’s Ontario soybean industry, Peter took that as a challenge,” he said. “His hard work, determination and applied research led to the development of new soybean varieties and market opportunities. He helped blaze a trail that has turned soybeans into the largest cash crop in Ontario.”

The HSUF is administered by a 10-member advisory board chaired by the dean of OAC as well as faculty members from the departments of food science and plant agriculture, the school of engineering, and the Office of Research. The group will review grant applications on a regular basis, and approximately $100,000 to $150,000 will be available each year for 10 years to support research.

First Line Seeds is a founding sponsor of Project SOY (Soybean Opportunities for Youth), a contest that encourages students to create new uses for soybeans. Project SOY participants who would like to develop their inventions on a commercial scale will be encouraged to apply to the HSUF for support.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 3338.

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