Lab Canada

$44M awarded to Alberta researchers

Edmonton, AB -Alberta’s universities will share almost $44 million in awards for research into developing new treatments for diabetics, burn victims and lung disease patients, improving GPS accuracy and adding value to Alberta’s traditional crops.

“Education and science lie at the heart of our future prosperity,” said Doug Horner, minister of advanced education and technology. “These continued research awards help attract and retain the best and brightest researchers and, in turn, help improve the competitiveness of our industries. Our researchers are paving the way to bring about new products, services and treatments that can lead to a better quality of life for Albertans.”

For 2009, Alberta Science and Research Investments Program awards provide up to 40% of total project costs to 18 initiatives in priority areas of bioindustries, energy and the environment, and health. The projects will also receive $66 million from other sources, including the federal government and private sector partners.

The Alberta Science and Research Investments Program projects 2009-10 are as follows:

Dr Martin Connors, Athabasca University, total project cost: $1,852,864. Athabasca University Geophysical Observatory Upgrades of Research Infrastructure – The infrastructure will enhance the Athabasca University Geophysical Observatory and in turn strengthen and expand the observatory’s international collaborations with the world’s leading space scientists. The research observatory will study the radiation belts that surround the planet, the northern lights, and their relation to a mechanism called “substorms” which may interrupt electrical power grids on the earth. Funding: $712,261

Dr Gregory Korbutt, University of Alberta, total project cost: $26,509,863. Cell and Tissue Innovative Research Centre – The funding will support the development of a specialized centre capable of producing clinical grade cells and tissues to treat a wide variety of chronic and acute diseases and injuries. The centre will focus on developing insulin-producing cells for the treatment of diabetes, skin treatment for burn victims, and new treatments for lung disease. This facility will enhance and accelerate the possibility of developing commercial and clinical applications in Alberta. Funding: $10,603,945

Dr Randall Weselake, University of Alberta, total project cost: $5,830,110. Instrumentation for Molecular Breeding for Specialty Oils – The award will support the development of specialty oilseed crops, such as canola and flax for the production of enhanced oils for human health and nutrition. The integration of plant biotechnology and nutritional science will optimize the impact of the research. The project will strike a balance between scientific push and industrial pull to add value to Alberta’s traditional crops. Funding: $2,329,057

Dr Rick Chalaturnyk, University of Alberta, total project cost: $4,078,511. Geomechanical/Reservoir Experimental Facility – The facility will provide the tools to gain critical knowledge of the behavior of oil sands, shale, and carbonates during thermal recovery processes. Research outcomes will support the technology for carbon storage projects and support the sustainable, safe development of Alberta’s unconventional hydrocarbon resources, including coal gasification. Funding: $1,630,061

Dr Aksel Hallin, University of Alberta, total project cost: $3,774,593. Alberta Particle Astrophysics Experiments at SNOLAB: SNO+ and DEAP/CLEAN – The project will keep Canada and Alberta at the international forefront of neutrino and dark matter physics. This is a national research project, with strong international ties, to measure properties of particles that are critical to the formation and evolution of the universe. While the research is fundamental, there is long-term potential for contributions to understanding basic energy generation in the sun, which impacts our climate systems and models. Funding: $1,509,837

Dr Susan Brown, University of Alberta, total project cost: $2,640,786. The Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory – The infrastructure will create a virtual online ‘lab’ that will transform the study of Canadian writing by facilitating data sharing and analysis, networking, and collaboration for scholars worldwide, and establish a major open-access resource on Canadian writers and writing. It will enhance Alberta’s information and communication technology infrastructure by providing a model for geographically distributed teams to work effectively to create high-quality knowledge resources for research, policy development, and industry collaboration. Funding: $1,049,608

Dr Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, University of Alberta, total project cost: $1,816,200. ENVIRO-NET: Sensing our Changing Environment – The ENVIRO-NET infrastructure will provide unique research opportunities in sensor design, networking and communication, data mining, storage, retrieval, management, and analysis. The infrastructure will use integration of carbon flux measurement instruments and advanced GPS applications aimed at monitoring the response of boreal forests to industrial development and other climate change indicators. The infrastructure will position the University of Alberta as one of the key players worldwide in the design and implementation of wireless sensor networks for environmental monitoring and assessment. Funding: $726,480

Dr Robert Creaser, University of Alberta, total project cost: $1,292,627. Ultraclean Isotope Analysis Facility for Innovative Geochronology – Dr Creaser and his research team are world leaders in isotope geochemistry. The infrastructure provides the needed tools for innovative geochronology research in areas relating to energy and natural resources. The Isotope Analysis Facility will enable researchers to provide the scientific underpinning which guides industry in their efforts to explore and make use of mineral and petroleum resources. Funding: $517,051

Dr Christopher Herd, University of Alberta, total project cost: $434,005. Subzero Facility for Processing and Analysis of Hydrocarbons in Pristine Planetary Samples – A unique facility will be built in Alberta so that researchers may store, process, and handle pristine astromaterials, including meteorites. The facility will protect the valuable samples from any further earth-based contamination that they could receive. This new facility will also support the work of Dr John Shaw, NSERC Industrial Chair in Petroleum Thermodynamics at the University of Alberta. Funding: $173,602

Dr Jonathan Veinot, University of Alberta, total project cost: $4,047,255. Enhancing the Science: Polarized Photons and Improved Endstations for the SGM and PGM at the Canadian Light Source – The Canadian Light Source award brings an already productive photon tool to the leading edge of light source imaging. The tool will enable researchers to view various materials, nanostructures, catalysts, and biological tissues. Research conducted at the facility is interdisciplinary and will impact many sectors, including agriculture, health, information and commuincations technology, materials, mining, oil and gas, and pharmaceutical sciences. Funding: $150,943

Dr P-Y Ben Jar, University of Alberta, total project cost: $108,584. New Control System for MTS Hydraulic Testing Machine – Part of Canada Foundation for Innovation Leading Edge Fund Application: Centre for Industrial Application of Microcellular Plastics – The centre will develop innovative products and processing technologies for microcellular plastics, a new generation of materials that exhibit superior mechanical performance and significantly improve their sound and thermal insulation properties. Researchers at the University of Alberta will provide fatigue resistance testing and evaluation of the new microcellular plastics. Funding: $43,433

Dr Edward McCauley, University of Calgary, total project cost: $29,506,447. Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets – The research facility will integrate engineering, chemical, and biological expertise with a
full-scale research approach to address wastewater treatment and environmental water issues in Alberta. This initiative is an innovative collaboration with the City of Calgary’s Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, through which scientists will investigate and demonstrate new technologies to treat contaminants and minimize their impacts on aquatic ecosystems and public health. Funding: $10,373,152

Dr Eric Donovan, University of Calgary, total project cost: $24,343,381. The Resolute Bay Incoherent Scatter Radar: A Space Science Initiative in Nunavut – The award will build a world-leading facility for direct ionospheric observations in Canada’s North which will operate synergistically with a facility in the U.S. Arctic. The facility will enable researchers to study the significant effects of space weather on satellite and aircraft communication and navigation systems and its longer term effects on the environment and climate change. The project provides the Calgary region with commercialization opportunities in global navigation satellite systems, GPS accuracy, and new technologies to rapidly access remote data. Funding: $7,128,810

Dr Karan Kaler, University of Calgary, total project cost: $3,813,875. emSYSCAN: Embedded Systems Canada – emSYSCAN is a national embedded computerized systems initiative. The infrastructure will allow researchers to meet the challenge of the global shift from discrete chip-based electronics products to those that implement complete systems on a single computer chip. The network enables prototype development and provides access to a library of system components and computer-aided design tools through secure internet communication links. The research is closely linked to industry to enable rapid commercial deployment of new applications in the fields of information and computer technology, medicine, and biotechnology. Funding: $1,525,551

Dr Douglas Zochodne, University of Calgary, total project cost: $3,240,933. Regeneration Unit in Neurobiology – The focus of this award is to provide the neurobiology research team with the tools required to apply innovative approaches to study the possibility of regeneration after major nerve and spinal cord injuries. The facilities will be amongst the best in the world and, in the hands of this strong team, will accelerate the development of new treatments for people with nerve and spinal cord injuries. Funding: $1,296,372

Dr Richard Frayne, University of Calgary, total project cost: $3,043,418. Rapid and Secured Communication Network for Exchange of Medical Images in the Canadian Atherosclerosis Imaging Network – This is one of the leading national collaborative networks in Canada. The research infrastructure will create a rapid and secure communication network, state-of-the-art image management and analysis software, and innovative imaging technologies. This technology will enable the sharing of clinical and research data across the country to improve the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Funding: $1,217,367

Dr David Hogan, University of Calgary, total project cost: $957,552. Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging – The equipment purchased will help develop an important source of long-term information that will be used to answer basic research, clinical, and population health questions. The award provides the equipment to collect health measurements from patient participants and the computational resources to share the data securely across this national network of researchers. The high quality of the data will allow researchers to address complex population health and policy questions related to an aging population that were otherwise not feasible. Funding: $383,021

Dr Robert Sutherland, University of Lethbridge, total project cost: $8,108,014. Southern Alberta Group for Epigenetic Studies – Epigenetic Regulation of Cell Memory and Stress Responses – Epigenetics is the study of changes in appearance or gene expression that are not related to changes in the DNA sequence. This award will bring together researchers in the institution’s areas of strength (neuroscience and molecular biology) to lead in this emerging area of research. The project will enable scientists to make major new discoveries related to improved understanding and treatment of human disease (e.g., cancer, Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s), new biofuel models, and environmental toxicology, to name a few. Funding: $2,816,548