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New round of Canada research chairs announced


Toronto, ON October 23, 2003 Allan Rock, minister of industry, praised the work of university researchers today as he announced funding for 118 new Canada research chairs. A special ceremony took place at the University of Toronto to mark the $900-million program’s 1000th Chair appointment.

“Today, more than 1000 chairs in universities across Canada are helping make the quality of life of Canadians better every day,” said Minister Rock. “Thanks to the research of all the chairs, Canada is closer than ever to its goal of becoming one of the top five countries in the world for research and development performance — a priority in the Government of Canada’s innovation strategy.”

“This is an important milestone for the Canada research chairs program because it not only demonstrates the commitment of our government to supporting world-class research, but as well, the dedication of our researchers who continue to push the boundaries of our knowledge even further,” said Dr Rey Pagtakhan, minister of veterans affairs and secretary of state (science, research and development).

This announcement at the University of Toronto featured Dr Molly Shoichet, Canada research chair in tissue engineering, who showcased her promising new developments in nerve regeneration for people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Rick Hansen, president and CEO of the Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation, was a special guest at the ceremony.

“Advancements in research reinforce the growing possibilities for a cure for SCI,” said Mr Hansen. “It is our hope that discoveries, like that of Dr Shoichet, will lead to improved standards of treatment and care, and more effective therapies to improve the quality of life of people living with SCI.”

The work of the Canada research chairholders continues to strengthen Canada’s research and development capabilities. For example Professor Timothy Caufield, Canada research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta, is examining the booming fields of biotechnology and genetics with a view to develop sound legal and ethical policy. And history was made whenDr Louise Taillefer, Canada research chair in quantum materials at the Universit du Qubec Sherbrooke, disproved a 150-year-old law of physics. The Wiedemann-Franz law predicts that at low temperatures metals should conduct both heat and electricity well.

Dr Taillfer’s pivotal discovery now means we’re one step closer to something previously unimaginable superconductivity at room temperature. And the in-depth analyses of educational environments undertaken by Dr J Douglas Willms, Canada research chair in human development at the University of New Brunswick, will assist both educators and parents in maximizing the learning potential of today’s youth.

Of the 118 new chairs, 26 or 22% are women and 66 or 55% are either expatriates or international researchers coming to Canada. Sixty-one universities across the country have received Canada research chairs.

Today’s investment includes $102.2 million from the Canada Research Chairs Program and $15.6 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to provide infrastructure support to Canada research chairholders.

“Our partnership with the chairs program is helping to attract some of the very best researchers from around the world to universities and communities across the country,” said Dr David Strangway, president and CEO of the CFI. “Their research and discoveries are helping to further improve the quality of life for all Canadians.”