Media Release | Jan. 15, 2013

UBC receives $22.7M for research from the Canada Foundation for Innovation

University of British Columbia research in areas ranging from astronomy to cancer, quantum materials to plant evolution, received a $22.7M boost from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The grants announced today were part of the CFI’s Leading Edge Fund and New Initiatives Fund, which support infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment for innovative science. A total of $215 million was awarded for 75 projects at 34 institutions across Canada. UBC researchers are leading nine of the funded projects and collaborating in a number of other initiatives.

Almost $4.6 million will go towards building a digital radio telescope near Penticton, B.C. for the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) that will “listen” for comic sound waves and help scientists understand the recent accelerating expansion of the Universe and the nature of the mysterious “dark energy” which drives it.

“From the big question of the age of the Universe to the minute differences in single-cell genome, UBC researchers are leading our understanding of the world around us,” said John Hepburn, UBC Vice President Research and International. “The continued support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation will undoubtedly accelerate discovery and real-world applications of this new knowledge.”

“Research and innovation is a forceful driver of growth in our communities,” said Gilles G. Patry, president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. “Today’s funding will allow a talented group of researchers and students to create the solutions, products and ideas Canada needs to prosper.”

For the CFI announcement, visit here. See background below for a complete list of UBC projects.


BACKGROUND | Newly funded projects at UBC

Leading Edge Fund

Immune System Polymorphism and Host/Pathogen Interactions

Principal investigator: Prof. Leonard Foster, $2.1 million

Vaccines are the most cost-effective medicine on the planet since they eliminate all the costs associated with treating a disease. Building on its expertise and prior success, the UBC team will develop new vaccines against diseases such as tuberculosis and salmonellosis and find new approaches to treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria and inflammation.


A Digital Radio Telescope for CHIME: Three Dimensional Mapping of the Largest Volume of the Universe to Date

Principal investigator: Prof. Mark Halpern, $4.6 million

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity-Mapping Experiment (CHIME) will study the dark-energy-driven acceleration of the expansion of the Universe. A new telescope will be built in Penticton B.C. to measure the largest volume of the Universe ever surveyed.  CHIME will map out vast uncharted regions of the Universe and use these data to provide a history of the expansion of the Universe, thereby unveiling the physics of dark energy.


Envirotron for Plant Adaptation Research

Principal investigator: Prof. Loren Rieseberg, $1 million

By growing and studying plants in an envirotron – a facility for growing plants under precise environmental conditions – UBC researchers will learn how plants respond to heat and drought stress, higher atmospheric carbon dioxide, and increased pressure from pests, and to pinpoint the genes underlying variation in these responses. Such knowledge will enable matching of crop and tree genetic profiles with appropriate current and predicted climates, and help produce crops and trees that are more productive, resilient to environmental variation, and resistant to fungal and insect pests.


Genomic Approaches to Personalizing Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Principal investigator: Prof. Marco Marra, $5.7 million

The UBC-led team will determine if evidence-based personalized medicine is more effective than the current system of managing cancer treatment. Researchers will explore the implementation of personalized cancer genomic medicine to improve treatment efficiency and efficacy, reduce toxicity, and inform more rational deployment of the limited available cancer management resources.


Molecules to Human: Enhanced Phenotyping for Discovery, Prevention, and Treatment of Heart, Lung, and Blood Vessel Disease

Principal investigators: Profs. Darryl Knight and Gordon Francis,
$2.5 million

Diagnosed early, heart, lung and blood vessel disease can be prevented from becoming chronic illnesses. The UBC research team will investigate the mechanisms by which these diseases progress in order to catch their telltale signs and identify effective interventions and treatments in the face of Canada’s aging population.


Quantum Materials and Devices Foundry

Principal investigator: Prof. George Sawatzky, $1.7 million

Quantum materials manifest a wide range of astonishing electronic and magnetic phenomena that embody the central scientific questions challenging the field of condensed matter physics. Devices fabricated from quantum materials are driving technological advances that hold enormous potential to revolutionize consumer electronics, telecommunications, next-generation computing, alternative energy and medicine. The new investment will continue to build on UBC’s expertise and leadership in this fast evolving area.


Super Resolution Microscopy: Breaking the Diffraction Barrier

Principal investigator: Prof. Ivan Nabi ($1.4 million)

Super-resolution microscopy is a powerful tool to study molecules that control cell function and survival, which in turn helps researchers develop new therapies to treat diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The UBC team will build a pioneering instrument to enable super-resolution imaging deep within living tissue and organisms to understand how brain cells change during learning and memory and how these cells are affected by neurodegenerative disease.


Systems Analysis of Single Stem Cells

Principal investigator: Prof. Fabio Rossi ($3 million)

New infrastructure enabled by this grant will enable the UBC research team to apply the expanding power of genomics, proteomics and live-cell imaging to thousands of single cells at once, leading to an improved capability to predict drug responses and make personalized medicine a success. More immediate economic benefits are expected from the commercialization of new devices and reagents fuelled by the global expansion of this area of research.


New Initiatives Fund

Quantum Materials and Devices in the MicroKelvin Regime

Principal investigator: Prof. Joshua Folk ($659,400)

This New Initiatives Fund grant will help build the coldest experimental platform for electronics measurements in Canada – and more convenient measurement access to ultra low temperatures than anywhere else in the world. The facility will help UBC scientists better understand superconductivity and contribute to the realization of quantum materials in everyday lives.


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