University of Calgary

University of Calgary projects receive $1.3 million boost

UToday HomeDecember 12, 2012

The University of Calgary received $1.3 million in funding from one of Canada’s top funding bodies, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

“We greatly appreciate and value the support we receive through our partnership with CFI,” said Ed McCauley, vice-president (research) at the University of Calgary. “This funding recognizes the quality of our people and the important research being done here, and will be a huge boost to our goal of becoming one of Canada’s top five research universities by 2016.”

Joe Harrison, a new Canada Research Chair in biofilm microbiology and genomics in the Department of Biological Sciences in the Faculty of Science, has been awarded $272,828 – toward a total of $687,084 – for his research into how bacteria in biofilms establish chronic infections. The funding, which will help devise new treatment strategies, will assist him to study biofilms in the airways of people with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects 70,000 people worldwide—most of whom eventually lose their lives to chronic infections.

Christopher Cully, assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Canada Research Chair in Space Physics at the University of Calgary, received $275,970 – toward a total of $689,925 – to develop better instruments for monitoring the space environment. The funding will help Cully and his team understand what accelerates and transports particles in near-Earth space by using an international array of satellites and ground-based instruments. By studying the Earth's radiation belts, which pose a hazard to spacecrafts such as communication satellites, Cully hopes to clarify how energy flows to better understand and predict magnetic storms that can damage and destroy sensitive electronics on satellites.

Bernard Guest, assistant professor in the Department of Geoscience in the Faculty of Science, received $508,793 to help fund a $1.2 million Center for the Pure and Applied Thermochronology project (CPAT), Canada’s first state-of-the-art low temperature thermochronology laboratory. This center will help energy industries understand and explore the thermal histories of oil and gas bearing deposits in Canada’s far northern basins as well as Alberta’s oil sands deposits. CPAT data will also spur advances in the understanding of major physiographic features like the Rocky Mountains. Being unique in Canada, CPAT will serve as a nationwide centre for thermal history research, drawing scientists from across the country to the University of Calgary.

Andrea Protzner, an assistant professor focusing on neuropsychology in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts, has been awarded $95,070 to support her research into healthy and pathological brain networks. Protzner will direct the funds toward building an electroencephalography laboratory that will allow her to characterize differences in brain function between healthy people and patients with depression or epilepsy. This research will improve treatment for those suffering from depression and help epilepsy patients make more informed decisions when faced with curative brain surgery.

Aaron Goodarzi and his team received close to $150,000 for the Human DNA Repair and Chromatin Dynamics High Resolution Imaging Laboratory established at the University of Calgary in the fall of 2012. The team, which is part of the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute, will study molecular mechanisms of DNA repair following DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or errors in DNA replication. This lab will enable cutting-edge research into the relationship between genomic instability, DNA repair and cancer formation/radiation sensitivity. As well, this facility will enable Goodarzi to screen patients for hypersensitivity to radiation or radiomimetic chemotherapy in advance of treatment, using simple skin biopsy samples and the visualization of DNA repair activity using high-resolution microscopes.

“CFI investments equip researchers with the tools they need to think big and turn discoveries into innovative products and processes that benefit their communities,” said Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the CFI. “The research done by the University of Calgary is a perfect example where the right infrastructure will allow talented researchers to develop world-class technology that will create solutions to some of Canada’s greatest challenges.”

The announcement, made public this fall, was part of a total of $34 million to support 210 projects at 41 institutions across Canada through CFI’s Leader’s Opportunity Fund. It is expected that another round of funding will be announced in early 2013.