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Connaught Fund announces Innovation Award, Summer Institute winners


Toronto, ON – The University of Toronto’s Connaught Committee has announced the recipients of its 2011-12 Innovation Award and Summer Institute competitions, recognizing research excellence in projects as varied as plastic solar cells, ‘extreme’ astronomical devices to detect earth-like planets outside our solar system and the potential of music to promote healing.

Founded in 1972, the Connaught Fund was created from the sale of Connaught Laboratories, which first mass-produced insulin, the Nobel award-winning discovery of U of T professors Frederick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip and JJR Mcleod. Since then, the university says it has awarded more than $120 million to its researchers for work that will have a transformative impact. Today, the fund invests approximately $3 million annually in emerging and established scholars.

Two projects received the Summer Institute Award, which brings together international graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and other researchers to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and creative new research methods:

– Tim Bressmann of speech-language pathology received $141,300 to run three intensive one-week programs over the next three years in “Imaging methods in speech and swallowing research” and

– James Graham of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics received $50,000 for the “Extreme Astronomical Instrumentation Summer Institute,” to be held once.

Eleven researchers received Connaught Innovation Awards of between $40,000 and $80,000 each to help with technology development, commercialization and knowledge transfer. They are:

– Stewart Aitchison of electrical and computer engineering and the Institute for Optical Sciences for “Development of a portable cytometer for global health”;

– Timothy Bender of chemical engineering and applied chemistry and the Institute for Optical Sciences for “Precommercialization of novel compositions of matter: multifunctional organic materials for organic solar cells (electronically conductive and light absorbing boron subphthalocyanines)”;

– Constantin Christopoulos of civil engineering for “Development of cast steel yielding bracing systems for the enhanced seismic protection of infrastructure”;

– Michael Glogauer of Dentistry for “Colourimetric Rinse Test to Screen for Periodontal (Gum) Disease”;

– Eugenia Kumacheva of chemistry for “A microfluidic method for studies of gasliquid Reactions”;

– Howard Lipshitz of molecular genetics for “Synthetic antibodies against RNAbinding proteins for research and diagnostics”;

– Milos Popovic of the Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering for “System and therapeutic intervention for restoration of voluntary upper limb function in individuals with severe paralysis following stroke or spinal cord injury”;

– Dwight Seferos of chemistry and the Institute for Optical Sciences for “Synthesis of Materials of Interest for Plastic Solar Cells”;

– Molly Shoichet of chemical engineering and applied chemistry and the Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering for “Injectable hydrogel for local delivery to the brain”;

– Yu Sun of mechanical engineering and the Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering for “Development of a highspeed, lowcost ektacytometer for mechanical characterization of RBCs (red blood cells)”; and

– Shahrokh Valaee of electrical and computer engineering for “Dynamic RSS radio map learning and generation for location estimation.”

Reported by Jenny Hall, University of Toronto