University of Calgary

CFI funding

June 18, 2009
June 18, 2009

Major funding announced for new Arctic space imaging station
and nerve regeneration research

Two U of C projects receive $11 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation

The University of Calgary has received $11 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The awards, announced this morning in Ottawa, are designed to enhance the country’s capacity in promising new areas of research and technology as well as enhance already successful initiatives. This investment is highly regarded by the University of Calgary.

“The Leading Edge and New Initiatives funds from CFI allow our researchers to pursue innovative projects that further our knowledge in key areas, such as neurobiology related to biomedical engineering and space science in the North,” said Dr. Rose Goldstein, vice-president (research). “They show a real commitment to our researchers and our university.”

Funding for these projects was part of a major $666,128,376 investment announced today by the CFI to support 133 projects at 41 institutions across the country.

Powerful atmospheric radar will be Canadian Arctic's largest

Space physicist Eric Donovan received nearly $10 million from the CFI’s New Initiatives Fund. The money will help build a space science research station in the North, located in Resolute Bay, Nunavut. Called The Resolute Bay Incoherent Scatter Radar, or RISR, the leading-edge technology will be only the third of its kind in the world and will image the ionosphere and study the interface between the Earth’s atmosphere and space, sometimes referred to as the Edge of Space.

The completed U.S. face in the foreground with the partially assembled Canadian structure in the background. / Photo: Mike Greff
The completed U.S. face in the foreground with the partially assembled Canadian structure in the background. / Photo: Mike Greffen
“This radar station will enable cutting-edge research for decades to come. It will push back the boundaries of human knowledge,” said Donovan.  “Its research will help us devise strategies to mitigate ionospheric effects on satellite and aircraft communication and navigation systems as well as some of the environmental implications, such as the role of space weather on climate change.”

The Resolute Bay Incoherent Scatter Radar station will be one of the largest research installations in the Canadian Arctic, said Russ Taylor, director of the Institute for Space Imaging Science (ISIS) and the head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the U of C.

“It will be a flagship facility of the Institute for Space Imaging Science which will help transform our knowledge of the effects of space on the Earth's atmosphere and on Arctic navigation systems.  The Canadian face of RISR will be built using cutting-edge radio and communications technologies - an area in which ISIS is a world leader,” Taylor said.

CFI funding will support not only the radar at Resolute Bay but also complementary scientific instruments, such as All Sky Imagers to photograph the aurora and leading edge GPS receivers, which will be deployed at Cambridge Bay, Taloyoak and Qikiqtarjuag.

Regenerating the wiring cable between our brain and body

Dr. Doug Zochodne of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) in the Faculty of Medicine has been awarded $1.3 million from the CFI’s Leading Edge Fund (LEF) for the Regeneration Unit in Neurobiology (RUN). The funds will support the creation of a suite a laboratories for specialized laser microscopy and nerve function analysis in the Faculty of Medicine’s Health Sciences Centre.

Zochodne researches the regeneration of axons – the wiring cable links between our conscious brain and the body it controls. Without axons there is no movement, no sensation. Axons are, however, delicate wires that are easily broken but not repaired by simple rejoining. Once snapped, the disconnected axon rapidly degenerates. Axons must be regrown or regenerated to re-establish connections.

The CFI’s funding announcement today allows Zochodne and colleagues to further study the regeneration of axons with an eye towards the development of new treatment approaches for people affected by neurological injury or disease.

“This is incredibly exciting news. If successful, new ways to promote the regeneration of spinal cord axons will be identified, which may eventually allow quadriplegic patients to walk. The regeneration of peripheral nerve axons may also allow an ALS patient to reverse progressive paralysis, or allow a diabetic patient with nerve damage to feel their feet again,” said Zochodne, co-leader of the HBI’s Regeneration node and professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences.

“This new infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology will allow our outstanding scientists and physicians to develop new therapies and biomedical engineering solutions for reconnecting broken and damaged nerve fibres – a huge unmet medical need in clinical neuroscience,” said Samuel Weiss, director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI’s mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians.

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