Canada Foundation for Innovation

Canada Foundation for Innovation
Canada Research Chairs

Canada Research Chairs

September 10, 2007 12:00 ET

Canada's New Government Invests $109.5 Million to Fund 126 Canada Research Chairs

Researchers to focus on health and economy

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Sept. 10, 2007) - The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Secretary of State (Small Business and Tourism), on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs Program, announced today in Calgary an investment of $109.5 million to fund the appointment or renewal of 126 Canada Research Chairs. The investment includes $10.5 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to fund research infrastructure essential to the work being done by 62 of the Chairs.

"Building a larger base of scientific expertise and enhancing Canada's international reputation for research excellence are key elements of Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage, our government's new Science and Technology Strategy," said the Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Secretary of State (Small Business and Tourism), on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Canada Research Chairs Program. "Our government recognizes the importance of doing more to help transform and commercialize scientific and technological innovations. This in turn will help create better jobs, increase economic growth and improve our quality of life."

The national announcement spotlights Sarah McFarlane, who has held the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neurobiology at the University of Calgary since 2002. Dr. McFarlane's work relates to the development of the retina, particularly the retinal ganglion cell, the visual system's principal output cell. Her ultimate objective is to enable the regeneration of these cells after damage from disease or injury. She is affiliated with the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute, which brings together a large, diverse group of medical experts and trainees, all in pursuit of a common goal: the discovery and development of new, improved ways to prevent, detect, and treat neurological and mental health conditions.

"The Canada Research Chairs Program helps Canadian universities build their research capacity to world-class standards," said Chad Gaffield, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and of the Canada Research Chairs Program's steering committee. "This program gathers brilliant minds, many of them representing the next generation of research, and sets them to work on major social, cultural and economic questions."

The 126 chairholders appointed and renewed today will conduct research in many areas that will directly benefit Canadians.

Thomas Quinn, for example, is the Canada Research Chair in Soft Tissue Biophysics at McGill University. He is exploring how cells in soft tissues work. His research is leading to new biomedical technologies for the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of diseases involving many different tissues. Quinn's results will create powerful new ways to deal with soft-tissue diseases, and may revolutionize our approach to cell culture and cell-based therapies in an even wider range of tissues.

At the University of Toronto, Andrea Jurisicova will hold the Canada Research Chair in Molecular and Reproductive Medicine. Her team is investigating genes that may be linked to female infertility, so that we can better understand why in vitro fertilization sometimes fails. Her work will improve the genetic counselling and DNA screening provided to infertile parents, sparing many of them the devastation of repeated in vitro fertilization failure.

Jamie Peck, the newly appointed Canada Research Chair in Urban and Regional Political Economy at the University of British Columbia, is evaluating the rise and diffusion of market-oriented or neoliberal policies in the areas of employment, welfare, and urban economic development. His work will shed light on the new ways policy is being developed at local, national and international levels, helping us understand how these policies are developed and diffused. Understanding the shape policy will take in coming decades is crucial to the future of Canada and the world.

"The CFI's collaboration with the Canada Research Chairs Program has been instrumental in attracting first-class investigators to Canadian institutions," said Dr. Eliot Phillipson, President and CEO of the CFI. "Providing bright minds with cutting edge tools is integral to keeping Canada competitive on the global stage."

Note to editors: The Canada Research Chairs Program is designed to attract the best talent from Canada and around the world, helping universities achieve research excellence in natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities. Chairholders improve Canadians' depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthen the country's international competitiveness, and help train the next generation of highly skilled people.

Since its launch in 2000, the Chairs program has created 1,848 research professorships at 70 universities across Canada. Of these positions, 552 have been filled by researchers recruited from abroad, including 250 Canadian expatriates. When fully implemented, the program will support 2,000 Chairs across the country. Applications to renew a chairholder's appointment undergo the same rigorous peer review used to evaluate the initial nomination.

The CFI is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI's mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and other non-profit research institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians. For a complete listing of CFI contributions, please visit www.innovation.ca.

For more information on this announcement, including detailed research profiles for each chairholder, visit our website at www.chairs.gc.ca.

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