July 26, 2011



McMaster receives more than $5.6-million for research in water, health and sustainability


Hamilton, Ont. July 26, 2011Researchers at McMaster University have received more than $5.6-million from the province for three major projects: to develop systems to detect bacteria levels at public beaches, improve how electronic health-care data is shared and address the challenges of sustainability in manufacturing.


Scientists and engineers at McMaster University, led by biology professor Herb Schellhorn, have developed a research strategy to create an inexpensive remote device capable of sensing microbial and chemical contamination in water, and transmitting the information through wireless networks to alert public officials of problems.


"Improving our ability to monitor water resources is a key public health concern that requires effective interaction between governments, universities and industry,” says Schellhorn. “Our project represents an important interaction between these partners that will facilitate the development of new diagnostic tools to help identify and remedy water contamination problems. This funding helps ensure our research team, together with our industrial project partners, can investigate and develop new technologies in the next five years."


The sensor project has been awarded $2.8-million from the provincial government, announced today by Ted McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, and Sophia Aggelonitis, Minister of Revenue, Minister Responsible for Seniors and MPP for Hamilton Mountain.


"Hamilton is a city of ideas, generating world-class research and driving economic growth. We are fortunate to have leading researchers in our community who are dedicated to building a stronger city and a better world," said Aggelonitis.


The province’s investments in McMaster come from the Ontario Research Fund - Research Excellence (ORF-RE) program.


Radiologist David Koff will be leading a project team to develop technologies for accelerating how large data sets – diagnostic and medical images such as x-rays, ultrasounds and MRIs – are shared among health-care providers. The research will ensure that the images associated with a patient’s medical history are shared seamlessly and securely.


Chemical engineer Christopher Swartz, director of the McMaster Advanced Control Consortium (MACC) will lead an initiative to provide new mathematical models and technology to Canadian companies, focusing on sustainable process operations which are efficient, reliable, safe, use low amounts of raw materials and energy, and produce benign waste.


Each of the three projects holds important potential benefits, says Mo Elbestawi, vice-president, Research and International Affairs.


“Our engineering project is forging new paradigms in the manufacturing industry by focusing on process operations coupled with process design – all with a view to enhancing sustainability and benefiting our environment,” says Elbestawi. “The Medical Imaging Informatics Research Centre at McMaster will help transform health care by image-enabling
electronic health records and the MacWater project will develop and commercialize inexpensive, next generation sensing systems to monitor water quality – an ongoing global concern.”


"We're proud of the exceptional work our McMaster researchers do. Their contributions are making the world a better place, starting right here with new ideas and jobs in our community," said McMeekin.


Today’s announcement also included recognition of the University’s most recent Early Researcher Award (ERA) recipients: kinesiologist Gianni Parise, biologist Joanna Wilson and music cognition professor Michael Schutz. The ERA program helps promising, recently-appointed Ontario researchers build their research teams.


Parise’s research team will investigate whether fitness programs for bone marrow donors can improve transplant success; Wilson will lead her research lab in a study to determine the impact of pharmaceuticals released into our rivers and lakes on the reproduction, development and physiology of fish; and Schutz will use live music to explore audio-visual integration among autistic children. The ERA provides $100,000 to the researchers over five years, with a further $50,000 match from the University.


McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 140,000 alumni in 128 countries.




For more information, please contact:


Michelle Donovan
Public Relations Manager
McMaster University
905-525-9140, ext. 22869


Wade Hemsworth
Public Relations Manager
McMaster University
905-525-9140, ext. 27988