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Researchers in Newfoundland awarded with $5M in funding


St John’s, NF – Researchers at Memorial University have received $5,073,122 from Newfoundland’s provincial Industrial Research and Innovation Fund (IRIF). The 20 research projects have a total value of more than $26 million.

“Research is a core function of Memorial University. It is essential to our growth as a major university in Canada, and our ability to attract the best minds,” said Dr Christopher Loomis, vice-president, Memorial University’s Office of Research. “Funding from the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund has transformed our ability to attract new federal and private sector investments in support of research and our graduate students.”

Some of the projects awarded with funding include:

1) Dr Paul Snelgrove, of the Ocean Sciences Centre and Canada Research Chair in Boreal and Cold Ocean Systems, has received over $1.1 million towards two research projects.

He has received $1,002,517 towards a $9 million national oceans network. The network will be a partnership of Canadian universities and levels of government and mobilize science capacities to respond to research challenges and knowledge gaps in ocean environments. It will also address a need for scientific criteria for conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity resources.

An additional $97,988 towards a $633,313 project has been provided to Dr Snelgrove to help investigate biodiversity loss and the deterioration of oceans. For 10 years, Dr Snelgrove’s research has focused on acquiring an improved understanding of marine ecosystems leading to better management practices and predictions while providing a more comprehensive perspective on the North Atlantic shelf ecosystem.

2) Dr Maria Matthews, of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, has received $31,840 towards a $78,541 project to create a medical practice registry and facilitate research on physician retention and its impact on communities, medical organizations, and patients.
3) Dr Jackie Vanderluit, of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, has received $169,428 towards a $338,856 project to study the role of cell survival genes in promoting neural regeneration.

The long-term objective of this research is to help the brain heal itself. Currently, low numbers of stem cells in the brain limit their ability to restore brain function following an injury. The goal of this project is to develop a strategy to expand the number of stem cells within the brain and manipulate them to generate new nerve cells to replace those lost due to neurodegenerative diseases or after acute injuries such as a stroke.

4) Dr John Weber, of Memorial University’s School of Pharmacy, has received $163,409 towards a $433,067 project to establish a laboratory to undertake two areas of research. The first initiative will include examining the effects of pathological states on Purkinje neurons in the cerebellum, which are vital for proper motor coordination and motor learning. His research will also focus on the analysis of extracts from locally grown nutraceuticals for their potential neuroprotective effects against traumatic injury, ischemia, and aging.

5) Dr John McGuire, of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, has received $142,383 towards a $284,767 project to offset endothelial dysfunction in hypertension.

6) Dr Christopher Loomis, vice-president, Memorial University’s Office of Research, has received $650,000 towards a $1,465,000 project entitled ACCELERATE Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador’s Graduate Research Internship Program. The multi-disciplinary research program will support collaborative projects involving graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, supervising professors, and industry partners. Interns will undertake research projects on-site with partners using advanced research tools and techniques to address research issues arising within those organizations.

7) Dr Steve Butt, of Memorial University’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, has received $650,000 towards a $3.7 million project on advanced exploration drilling technology. The objective of the five-year project will be to develop and commercialize a vibration-assisted rotary drilling (VARD) tool.

8) Dr Brian Veitch, of Memorial University’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, has received $500,000 towards a $3,352,605 project studying small craft simulation backbone technology development. The project will develop the framework for virtual marine technology (VMT) to introduce market-ready prototypes for small craft simulation training.

9) Dr Bing Chen, of Memorial University’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, has received $234,600 towards a $562,277 project to help establish a northern region persistent organic pollution control laboratory.

10) Dr Patrick Parfrey, of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, has received $270,800 towards a $3,270,800 project developing a Newfoundland and Labrador inter-disciplinary research centre in human genetics. The project is important to the development of inter-disciplinary teams of researchers, and has the potential to transform clinical research in the province. The goal of the project is to initiate a database management program and eventually the creation of an inter-disciplinary research centre in human genetics.

11) Dr Francesca Kerton, of Memorial University’s department of chemistry, has received $238,602 towards a $516,478 to establish a laboratory for green chemistry research. Dr Kerton and her team will perform synthetic and catalytic experiments enabling the development of new techniques, catalysts, materials, and chemical products. The proposed facilities address the need for key equipment, instrumentation and infrastructure to meet international standards in the new and growing field of green chemistry.

12) Dr Aimee Surprenant, of Memorial University’s department of psychology, has received $212,537 towards a $382,565 cognitive aging and memory laboratory.

13) Dr David Pike, of Memorial University’s department of mathematics and statistics, has received $185,710 towards a $460,712 project examining large-memory computational problems in mathematics and statistics. Dr Pike’s research will encompass research activities in graph and network theory, fluid dynamics, and statistics. Its applications extend from ecological resource management to the stability of offshore drilling structures to improved disease treatment and prevention strategies.

14) Dr Thomas Chapman, of Memorial University’s department of biology, has received $137,463 towards a $359,492 project to help establish an insect behaviour/molecular biology research laboratory. The new laboratory will collaborate with laboratories in Italy and Sweden. Funding will also allow Dr Chapman to purchase dissecting microscopes to identify, control and record insect behaviour; equipment for the visualization of DNA; computers to store large amounts of genetic data; and an ultra cold freezer for storing specimens – many of which have been collected in Australia.

15) Dr Robert Greenwood, of Memorial University’s Harris Centre, has received $129,090 towards a $372,180 project examining the social dynamics of economic performance in cities.

16) Dr Ivan Saika-Voivod, of Memorial University’s department of physics, has received $97,339 towards a $247,684 project for computer simulation of liquids and soft materials, and biomaterials. The research will focus on crystal and glass formation in a variety of systems. The goal is to further understanding of the basic physics behind these processes, and to apply this knowledge to areas such as better bone implants or manipulation of viruses.

17) Dr Paul Marino, of Memorial University’s department of biology, has received $55,868 towards a $126,491 project. Dr Marino will develop facilities to study the importance of visual and olfactory signals in fly attraction. The research may lead to the identification of attractants for various families of flies – some of whi
ch may prove to be biting flies and carriers of disease.

18) Dr Ann Dorward, Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, has received $55,431 towards a $132,361 project that focuses on the mouse as a model system for reproductive cancer research. Mouse models offer such advantages for research as the implementation of specific breeding strategies, the opportunity to introduce genetic or epigenetic modifications, and the ability to perform therapeutic testing.

19) Dr Kenneth Kao, of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, has received $54,584 towards a $109,169 project to investigate Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS) which affects one in 50,000 live births producing a range of head and facial anomalies thought to be linked to a single gene called “Treacle.” Dr Kao’s has found that a newly discovered gene influences the treacle gene and is investigating how these genes interact, how the syndrome arises, and how it may be avoided or treated.