June 29, 2004

McMaster University receives $420,081 in CFI funding to support four researchers

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McMaster researchers (clockwise from top left) Reuven Dukas, Gail Gauvreau, Sujata Persad, and Grant McClelland received a combined $420,081 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Hamilton, ON - Researchers at McMaster University will discover new ways of treating cancer and respiratory illnesses and gain a greater understanding of how people learn and how the body responds to exercise, thanks to a $420,081 investment from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) New Opportunity Fund.

“Our researchers continue to have great success in a highly competitive process,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, vice president research & international affairs. “The research we’re doing at McMaster is leading edge and CFI support is an integral part of our research enterprise.”

“These CFI investments will provide world-class facilities and cutting edge tools for Canadian researchers examining complex issues that are of critical importance to the province of Ontario and the rest of Canada,” said Carmen Charette, Interim President and CEO of the CFI. “It will also enable outstanding researchers to provide the training and mentoring required by the next generation."

McMaster projects funded in this competition:

• Psychologist Reuven Dukas will receive $120,000 to set up a cognitive ecology laboratory to study the effect of learning on lifetime performance. Novel experimental protocols established by Dukas allow him to examine the effect of learning on performance throughout life and factors that determine how much an animal can learn. Recent research on fly learning has provided the foundation for the development of drugs to treat memory disorders in humans. Dukas’ research with fruit flies and bees is expected to result in a better understanding of performance and learning ability with implications towards economic, health and quality of life policies in human society.

Gail Gauvreau, assistant professor of respirology in the department of medicine, examines the molecular mechanisms of allergic airway inflammation and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There is currently a need to understand the relationship between airflow limitation, inflammatory mechanisms, and molecular pathways that may be regulated to prevent the progression of airway disease. The $80,000 Gauvreau received from CFI will allow her purchase the infrastructure needed to apply widely accepted molecular techniques to tissue samples collected from clinical studies. Her research will provide insight to novel molecular targets for therapeutic intervention.

Grant McClelland in the department of biology will receive $120,000 for equipment to research exercise performance. McClelland will examine the regulation of metabolism in response to environmental stress and exercise, with an emphasis on the role of lipids (fats). By combining lipid biochemistry and molecular physiology, McClelland will gain a unique, integrative view of fat metabolism and how it is regulated in the face of environmental and energetic stresses. This research will generate information pertinent to the understanding of fat metabolism and will be important for the treatment of obesity related diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

• Assistant professor of biochemistry Sujata Persad will receive $100,081 for research aimed at understanding mechanisms that allow cancer tumor cells to behave in an invasive manner. Persad’s research is centered on understanding and identifying how key signaling pathways promote the initiation and progression to an invasive type of human cancers. The identified signaling pathways and/or molecules may be targeted in molecular therapeutics to regress the progression of cancer. The CFI infrastructure funding will provide a sophisticated research facility, thereby facilitating investigations whose ultimate goal is to aid in alleviating the suffering of patients with cancer.

The CFI’s New Opportunities Fund (NOF) enables eligible universities to provide research infrastructure for newly-recruited faculty members, in their first full-time academic appointment in Canadian degree-granting institutions, so that these researchers can undertake leading-edge research.

A complete list of New Opportunities Fund projects, by university, can be found at: www.innovation.ca.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation created in 1997 by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI’s mandate is to strengthen the ability of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and other non-profit institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that will benefit Canadians.

McMaster University, one of Canada's leading research-intensive universities, has world-renowned faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities. McMaster's culture of innovation fosters a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University has a student population of more than 20,000 and more than 112,000 alumni in 128 countries around the world.