March 8, 2004

McMaster University receives major research boost from Canada Foundation for Innovation

More than $16M awarded for six projects worth $41M

McMaster Image

Gianluigi Botton, David Andrews, Hugh Couchman, Doug Boreham, Adam Hitchcock, and Xiaolin Wu are the recipients of $16.3 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for six major research initiatives.

Hamilton, ON - McMaster researchers are celebrating a new era of discovery with the award of $16.3 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for six major research initiatives.

The funding will enable McMaster researchers to acquire state-of-the art instruments to lead further research in the areas of nanotechnology, functional genomics, radiation biology, natural and synthetic polymers, digital cinema and high-performance computing.

“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 will contribute, for example, to a better understanding of how diverse materials are constructed and operate at super small levels, how genes function in cancer and infectious diseases and the effects of low-dose radiation. Funding for the computational science project known as SHARCNET is support for a fundamental science that will help researchers in several areas.

“In all of these endeavours our researchers are either leading or establishing the first facilities of their kind in Canada. They are focused on world-class research leading to new discoveries, technologies, cures and treatments in the areas of molecular biology, manufacturing and materials and information technology. This CFI support is integral to our ability to forge new paths in these areas.”

To date, McMaster has received $89 million from CFI to support research activity, which will generate or translate into more than $200 million in funding for research projects at the University.

The total cost for these six projects is $41 million, with CFI contributing a maximum of 40 per cent of the total. The remaining project costs are funded primarily from matching grants from the Ontario Innovation Trust, the provincial body that funds research infrastructure and contributions from McMaster.

McMaster projects funded in this competition:

• Materials science engineer Gianluigi Botton, Canada Research Chair in Microscopy of Nanoscale Materials, will receive $7.08 million to set up a $17.8 million national ultrahigh-resolution electron microscopy facility for nanoscale materials research. The microscope, the most advanced electron microscope in the world, will allow scientists to probe the structure, chemical bonding and electronic structure of materials with atomic resolution. This facility is the shared vision of almost 90 researchers across Canada and is a key component to the national nanoscience strategy.

• Biochemist David Andrews and his research group will use the $4.4 million award to set up a $10.9 million centre for functional genomics and chemical genetics to study the molecular and biological function of genes. Andrews, Canada Research Chair in Membrane Biogenesis, will use new technologies to identify and uncover the function of genes implicated in cancer, cardiovascular pathologies and infectious diseases and to provide leads for drug discoveries. This initiative will build on projects already underway in molecular medicine and health and biomolecular interactions and increase the capacity of the unique high-throughput screening lab already in place.

• Physics & astronomy professor Hugh Couchman is scientific director of SHARCNET – the Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network, which is a collaboration of 14 universities, colleges and research institutes in southern Ontario, using high-performance computing for research. McMaster received $3.6 million from CFI for the $9.1 million University contribution to SHARCNET 2. The award will go towards increasing computer hardware, storage, network and support so the initiative continues in the international vanguard. The high-performance computing network enables complex research across fields including bioinformatics, biocomputation, physics, astrophysics, chemistry, finance, engineering, medical applications, high performance and grid computing and large scale visualization.

• Medical physicist Doug Boreham and his team will use the $469,572 award to build Canada’s first biological microbeam to conduct unique low dose radiation research. The $1.1 million microbeam will deliver single or multiple charge ions into a precise target within a cell and will put McMaster researchers and their collaborators at the forefront of global radiation biology research on very low dose radiation health effects.

Adam Hitchcock, Canadian Light Source - Canada Research Chair for Materials Analysis, was awarded $364,466 for the $950,688 initiative to develop and build a next generation soft x-ray scanning transmission x-ray microscope and buy an optical microscope to study natural and synthetic polymer systems.

• Engineer Xiaolin Wu received $353,651 for a $1 million project to investigate digital cinema by acquiring and building an engineering prototype of a high-resolution video recording system, a digital movie projector and accessories and a cinematic content creation and management system.

“We can say with conviction that Canada is becoming a place where world-class researchers want to be," said CFI president David Strangway. “This CFI investment will further develop Canada's global reputation as a place where outstanding research and training is being conducted.”

Prime Minister Paul Martin was with Strangway in Ottawa this morning to announce a total of $585.9 million to support 126 projects at 57 Canadian universities, colleges, hospitals and other non-profit research institutions. These investments were approved by the CFI Board of Directors and are awarded through two funds: $450.7 million under the Innovation Fund enabling institutions to strengthen their research infrastructure in all areas of research, including the social sciences and humanities; and $135.2 million under the Infrastructure Operating Fund which assists universities with the incremental operating and maintenance costs associated with new infrastructure projects.

A complete list of Innovation Fund projects by university can be found at

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.