OTTAWA, July 29, 2015 — Six scientists from the University of Ottawa and its affiliated research institutes will share $1,275,705 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support ground-breaking research in areas ranging from cardiovascular, kidney and metabolic diseases and cancer to Antarctic permafrost and next-generation organic electronic systems.
This funding is made possible by the CFI John R. Evans Leaders Fund, which is designed to help universities attract and retain the best and brightest researchers from around the world by equipping them with cutting-edge research infrastructure.
The six scientists receiving the funding are:
Tommy Alain - Faculty of Medicine - CHEO Research Institute
Targeting the Translatome in Disease
Professor Alain will explore the underpinnings of mRNA translation and microRNA regulation in cancer and cardiovascular disease. This collaborative study aims to improve the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapies, oncolytic virus strategies, and microRNA-33 targeting in cardio-metabolic disorders. These novel approaches to health have the potential to substantially reduce the enormous societal and economic costs of these diseases in Canada.
Dylan Burger - Faculty of Medicine – The Ottawa Hospital
Extracellular vesicles in vascular and renal health and disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in Canada and is associated with immense costs to the health care system. Patients with chronic kidney disease are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Through extensive experience in extracellular vesicle research and the use of state-of-the-art equipment, Professor Dylan Burger will examine whether extracellular vesicles in urine can help identify early kidney disease and whether certain extracellular vesicles contribute to the development and progress of kidney and cardiovascular disease. This research will significantly advance our understanding of extracellular vesicles in both cardiovascular and kidney disease.
Julian Chan - Faculty of Science - Department of Chemistry
Design and Synthesis of Novel Organic Conductors
The Information Age, as we know it, would not have been possible without the discovery of the optoelectronic and magnetic materials that lie at the heart of modern technology. With the advent of organic molecules/polymers originating from biological sources, flexible lightweight and inexpensive “plastic electronics” can be made. Dr. Chan's research program aims to discover and develop novel conductive materials for organic electronics. Specifically, he seeks to design and synthesize organic materials with unique and useful electronic, optical, or magnetic properties, with the end goal of creating next-generation organic optoelectronic devices such as flexible transistors and solar cells.
Corrie daCosta - Faculty of Science - Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences
Development of improved ion channel drugs and engineering ion channels as biosensors
At its most basic level, our nervous system is an intricate circuit of specialized cells called neurons. These neurons convey information using electrical signals, which are caused by the controlled movement of charged ions across the neuronal membrane. This process relies on a class of proteins embedded in the neuronal membrane called ion channels – they are key components of our nervous system. Using state-of-the-art infrastructure, Professor daCosta will study the structure and function of ion channels to understand how current drugs alter ion channel function, and use this information to design new and improved drugs as well as to re-engineer ion channels for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes useful in both medicine and industry.
Morgan Fullerton – Faculty of Medicine - Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
Profiling the metabolic and immune exosomal secretome
Metabolic diseases, such as Type-2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease (CVD), account for almost half of mortality and morbidity in Canada. Immune cells are critical sensors of foreign invaders, but it is now clear that in metabolic diseases, long-term activation of immune cells can have adverse effects and, under metabolic stress, can permanently alter the cell’s metabolic programming, affecting immune function. Professor Fullerton aims to uncover disease mechanisms by studying the metabolic programming of these immune cells. Using a transformative equipment platform, he will help identify new strategies and targets, as well as improve primary health outcomes, for Canadians suffering from cardiovascular and other metabolic diseases.
Denis Lacelle - Faculty of Arts - Department of Geography
CryoLab for Arctic, Antarctic and Planetary Studies
Using state-of-the-art facilities, Professor Denis Lacelle will undertake cutting-edge investigations and advance high-quality and original research on rapidly changing polar environments, planetary exploration science, and technology for extreme environments. This proposed platform will enhance Canada’s role in providing innovative solutions and concrete information to northern communities, stakeholders, and policy makers, with the goal of mitigating the consequences of climate change.
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