Transformative research at University of Ottawa nets $28.5 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation

Posted on Friday, May 29, 2015

OTTAWA, May 29, 2015  —  A group of scientists from the University of Ottawa and its affiliated institutes, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), will share $28,511,215 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to support cutting-edge research in  areas ranging from pediatric diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, and stem cells to photonics and chemistry.

“This announcement is further proof that the University of Ottawa is setting the pace for top research-intensive institutions in the country,” said Allan Rock, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Ottawa. “We are host to the best and brightest: researchers who not only transform our world for the better, but also create a new standard of living for future generations. This funding will enable these exceptional people to pursue their research in cutting-edge facilities for the benefit of Canadians.”

The research funding, which was announced earlier today by the federal government and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), is part of the Innovation Fund, which supports world-leading research infrastructure projects that are needed for Canada to be a global leader in innovation. A total of $333 million was given to institutions across Canada. The University of Ottawa is the institution with the second highest funding amount in the country.

The five uOttawa recipients of Innovation Fund awards are:

Kym Boycott - Faculty of Medicine - Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Research Program for Rare Pediatric Diseases (RaPiD)

Rare diseases are defined as diseases that affect a small percentage of the population, namely less than 1 in 2,000 people. Although individually rare, there are over 7,000 rare diseases and they affect more than half a million Canadian children. Many of these diseases appear early in life, and about 30% of children afflicted with a rare disease will die before they reach their fifth birthday. To prevent rare diseases or develop cures, researchers must first determine the causes of these diseases.  Building upon established, nation-wide research networks, and bringing together world-class expertise from partner universities across the country, Dr. Kym Boycott, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, and Senior Scientist at CHEO Research Institute will establish the RaPiD.  The program aims to develop new diagnostic tools and better prevention and intervention strategies to change the way we care for infants, children and youth affected by rare diseases.

Paul Corkum – Faculty of Science – Department of Physics
Coherent X-Ray Photonics: A Technology Unifying Materials, Imaging and Ultrafast Science

Coherence gives laser beams their valued properties: high directionality; the small size to which they can be focussed; their highly precise colour; and their very short duration, when required. By extending these properties to X-rays, laser-based coherent soft X-rays will enable the internationally acclaimed attosecond science group at the University of Ottawa to image (i.e. photograph) the “nano-world”. This research brings together materials science, imaging and ultrafast science to explore coherent soft X-ray methods that may lead to the shortest controlled events that science has produced to date. Researchers will use these short X-ray flashes to initiate fast processes in matter and to “photograph” how the material responds. This work will lead to major advances in the production of more reliable and powerful soft X-ray sources, positioning Canada at the forefront of coherent X-ray science.

David Park – Faculty of Medicine – uOttawa Brain and Mind Research Institute
Deciphering brain network disruptions in neurological disorders: A pivotal step in therapeutic intervention

Abnormal activity in brain circuits can cause a variety of neurological conditions and disrupt the neuronal outputs that control behaviour. Dr. David Park, a trailblazer in the study of Parkinson’s disease and director of the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute, believes that more effective therapeutic strategies for conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and depression are urgently needed. Along with a team of leading scientists at the University of Ottawa, as well as clinician scientists from The Ottawa Hospital and Royal Ottawa Hospital, Dr. Park will investigate how network dynamics are affected in these neurological conditions and determine how potential therapeutic strategies could affect network output and behaviour.

Michael Rudnicki – Faculty of Medicine – Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Stem Cell Epigenetics and Therapeutics

The University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute have made great strides in building a unique and internationally renowned multidisciplinary  Regenerative Medicine Program, which includes the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research and the Sinclair Centre for Regenerative Medicine. Building on this success, Dr. Rudnicki, who is Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute  and a pioneer in muscle stem cell biology, will conduct fundamental research into the molecular mechanisms that govern stem cell function and use this knowledge to develop powerful new regenerative medicine therapies for a variety of conditions for which current treatment options are limited or simply inadequate. With additional infrastructure, this project will address key challenges impeding the successful clinical application of stem cell research and will ensure that Ottawa continues to be at the forefront of regenerative medicine research for cardiovascular disease, neuromuscular disease, and other degenerative diseases.

Juan (Tito) Scaiano – Faculty of Science – Department of Chemistry
Advanced Materials: From Designer Molecules to Transformative Devices

New materials are changing the way we live in many ways, ranging from the health sciences, to new ways of converting and storing energy, to materials for solar energy applications, to materials with unprecedented mechanical, electrical or optical properties. Juan Scaiano, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Applied Photochemistry, will establish a Centre for Advanced Materials Research in the newly opened Advanced Research Complex. This Centre will explore new materials that could lead to tissue regeneration and cryopreservation based on nanotechnologies, on-chip devices for new quantum computing, plasmatic materials allowing new disease diagnostics and unprecedented therapies, as well as materials that will improve organ imaging. Together with strengths in catalysis and photonics, the Centre will position the University of Ottawa as one of the most advanced and exciting locations for materials research in Canada.

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