University of Calgary

University research gets $1.8 million boost from federal government

UToday HomeJune 5, 2013

Daniel Muruve, along with Hallgrimur Benediktsson, of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases will receive $324,355 to help them gain a better understanding of kidney diseases at a molecular level.Daniel Muruve, along with Hallgrimur Benediktsson, of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases will receive $324,355 to help them gain a better understanding of kidney diseases at a molecular level. Photo by Todd O'KeefeFinding better treatments for kidney disease is one of eight projects at the University of Calgary receiving new funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Other research topics funded today focus on mental health addictions, virtual team effectiveness, mini-detection sensors, stem cells, pain in animals and humans, coronary artery disease, and environmental stress on fish.

“The investments being announced today at the University of Calgary will further enhance our country’s reputation as a destination of choice for outstanding researchers,” said Dr. Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the CFI. “They will make our universities even more competitive when it comes to attracting the best and brightest researchers from around the world.”

Dr. Daniel Muruve and Dr. Hallgrimur Benediktsson at the University of Calgary’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases are receiving $324,355 to help them gain a better understanding of kidney diseases at a molecular level in the hopes of developing more personalized and specific treatments for patients.

According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, an estimated 2.6 million Canadians have kidney disease or are at risk. The leading cause of kidney failure in new patients is diabetes followed by high blood pressure.

“Kidney disease is a term used to classify a wide variety of different diseases that are incompletely understood and poorly classified,” says Muruve. “Similar to cancer, where researchers are pioneering molecular disease classification and personalized medicine, we plan to apply a similar approach to better understand kidney disease and its subtypes. Eventually this will lead to specific and effective treatments for our patients and better outcomes.”

In partnership with Alberta Health Services and Calgary Laboratory Services, funding for this project will allow Muruve, Benediktsson and their team to develop the infrastructure and databases necessary to perform leading-edge analysis of kidney biopsy tissues that are routinely collected in Calgary and Southern Alberta as part of patient care.

“We are proud of our researchers and would like to thank the federal government for this new funding, which will help translate our discoveries into benefits for our communities and for society,” says Anne Katzenberg, associate vice-president (research). “These projects build upon our current strengths and will help the University of Calgary along the path to achieving path its Eyes High goal to become one of Canada's top five research universities."

Researchers receiving Canada Foundation for Innovation (Leaders Opportunity Fund):

Knowledge transfer and utilization of evidence-based psychosocial treatments
Keith Dobson, David Hodgins, Candace Konnert, Faculty of Arts – $151,363
The development of the Research and Dissemination of Evidence-Based Treatments (R-DEBT) facility, led by internationally renowned researchers Keith Dobson, PhD., David Hodgins, PhD., and Candace Konnert, PhD., will support research examining the factors affecting access to psychosocial treatments for mental disorders. The new facility, unique to North America, will include an innovative research lab outfitted to facilitate exploring knowledge transfer for and the use of evidence-based psychological treatments. The project will significantly enhance research on both established and emerging treatments for mental health and addictions and will expand the University of Calgary’s focus on mental health to include adult populations.

The virtual team performance, innovation and collaboration laboratory
Tom O’Neill, Kibeom Lee, Faculty of Arts – $170,000
Tom O’Neill, PhD., and Kibeom Lee, PhD., have received funding to build a pioneering laboratory space to model how virtual teams collaborate through communication technologies, and conduct research into team behavior and the impact of psychological attributes of team members. This novel space, the only one of its kind in Canada, will develop ways to improve virtual team effectiveness through training, personnel selection, employee development, and team design. This timely and relevant research will help to further the University of Calgary’s focus on understanding human dynamics in a changing world.

Integrated Photonics
Orly Yadid-Pecht, Kartikeya Murari, Schulich School of Engineering$100,000
Orly Yadid-Pecht, PhD., and Kartikeya Murari, PhD., will design and test sensory systems with better performance and functionality by designing light sources and optical filters that can be compactly integrated with microchips. This will enable the miniaturization of instruments that are currently only available in the laboratory due to their size. This ability to deliver smaller, more efficient and affordable detection sensory systems has such future applications as the early detection of skin cancer in a clinic, and the increased ability for gas detection at an oil drilling site. Silicon Photonics technology extends the efforts for compact lab-on-a-chip system design, applies to biomedical, environmental and instrumentation research and helps support the collaborative culture being fostered at the University of Calgary. Such sensory systems are able to interrogate, measure, and provide data and knowledge to other systems and end users.

Bioreactor derived induced pluripotent stem cells for diagnostic and therapeutic application
Derrick Rancourt, Ina Dobrinski, Brenda Gerull, Faculty of Medicine – $167,304
Stem cells are a valuable resource in identifying novel treatments for someone suffering from a degenerative disease, such as osteoarthritis or cardiovascular disease. Through the CFI funding of cell culture suites and bioreactors systems, Derrick Rancourt, PhD., and his co-investigators Dr. Ina Dobrinski, also of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Brenda Gerull will explore new ways to improve the management of degenerative disease by targeting and refining how stems cells are generated and used. This research will help the University of Calgary to maintain its emphasis on biomedical engineering and help extend our understanding of infections, inflammations and chronic diseases in a changing environment.

Laboratory for Novel Vascular Anti-inflammatory Therapies
Ed O’Brien, Justin MacDonald, Faculty of Medicine – $393,727
Working together in the Laboratory for Novel Vascular Anti-inflammatory Therapies, Dr. Ed O’Brien and Justin MacDonald, PhD., will explore the processes involved in the development and treatment of inflammatory vascular diseases like atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. The CFI-funded equipment provides capabilities for the development of a core pathology facility and a proteomics platform that will aid in the discovery of important mechanisms of disease as well as novel therapies for blood vessel disease. This project builds upon the University of Calgary’s excellence in the area of cardiovascular research, and expands the potential for translational research and commercialization.

A biobank for the molecular classification of kidney disease
Daniel Muruve, Hallgrimur Benediktsson, Faculty of Medicine – $324,355
With patient treatment and advancing health and wellness as an ultimate outcome, Dr. Daniel Muruve and Dr. Hallgrimur Benediktsson will create a biobank for the molecular classification of kidney disease. This comprehensive equipment and technology seamlessly links basic science and pathology to clinical databases with an aim to advance the understanding and classification of acute and chronic kidney disease. The result: one of the largest kidney biopsy repositories and renal pathology image libraries in Canada, and possibly the world. The biobank will provide efficient, fast research translation necessary to address classifying kidney disease while supporting new research avenues and innovative collaborations.

Dissecting chronic pain and opioid analgesia: From genes and cells to behaving animals
Tuan Trang, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine – $210,000
Canadians who suffer from chronic pain experience a dramatic decline in their quality of life. Dr. Tuan Trang’s leading research in chronic pain is set to explore behavioral testing and pain sensory modalities in genes, proteins and entire animals. Aligning with the University of Calgary’s focus on brain and mental health research, Trang’s research will reveal insights into the biological understanding of pain in animals and humans. This equipment will build an internationally competitive pain research lab that will advance both the productively and application of the technology.

A state-of-the-art facility for assessing environmental stress and fish health
Mathilakth (Matt) Vijayan, Faculty of Science – $331,227
Matt Vijayan’s, PhD, research program assessing environmental stress and fish health will develop biosensors to predict long-term and population damage due to pollutants. The new lab, supporting Vijayan’s Tier I Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Environmental Physiology and Toxicology, is both unique in Canada and at the forefront of environmental science research. This CFI funding will allow Vijayan to carry out unprecedented research in mechanistic toxicology and environmental genomics as it relates to wastewater treatment and its impact on fish health.


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