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Innovators funded

April 14, 2014 — 

The Government of Canada announced today it has awarded $1,037,488 to four University of Manitoba research projects from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John E. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). The projects deal with finding strategies for converting carbon dioxide to a renewable resource, studying brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, a new Arctic marine facility for potential oil spill recovery, and study of Microwave Imaging (MWI) systems for biomedical and agricultural uses.

“Cutting-edge facilities found at universities across the country become hubs where communities of students, researchers and entrepreneurs inspire each other to innovate,” said Dr. Gilles Patry, President and CEO of the CFI. “Their collaborations are vital to enhance Canada’s position as a global leader in research and enterprise.”

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), previously named the Leaders Opportunity Fund, was launched in 2005 to help universities attract and retain top researchers.

“This new funding allows us to recruit and retain the dynamic expertise that drives our research enterprise at the University of Manitoba,” said Dr. Digvir S. Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International) and Distinguished Professor. “The need to find solutions to problems affecting our health and environment is critical for the future of our global society.”

The recipients and projects are:

David Herbert (chemistry), $160,000 to setup a laboratory for Organometallic Catalysis and Solar Fuels Research. Effective control of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere requires technologies to convert this quite unreactive molecule into something useful. Carbon dioxide has huge potential as a renewable carbon feedstock. Herbert’s research program will use catalysis, crystallography and electrochemistry to explore new ways to use carbon dioxide inspired by nature’s photosynthesis processes. He will focus on developing systems based on cheap, abundant metals to provide low energy pathways for the transformation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into value-added chemicals or fuels.

Michael Jackson and Tiina Kauppinen (pharmacology & therapeutics) receive $319,586 for an imaging and analysis platform to study brain injury and neurodegeneration. This research will enable the creation of new technologies that will be applied to develop new diagnostics and therapies to treat Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Jackson seeks to understand how calcium channels, implicated in neuronal cell death, are activated under conditions that mimic those prevailing in neurodegenerative disease. Kauppinen seeks to understand the role of microglia, brain immune cells, on disease and health, and establish the molecular mechanisms controlling microglial functions.

Zou Zou Kuzyk (geological sciences) receives $159,537 for a new research facility to fingerprint hydrocarbons in the Arctic marine environment, both natural and introduced. The facility will use state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation to obtain baseline data that are critical for determining the effectiveness of a clean-up, should an Arctic oil spill ever occur. These data must be collected before offshore drilling in the Canadian Arctic can begin and are thus of critical importance to the economy of the Arctic. This will also improve understanding of hydrocarbon degradation and natural recovery processes in Arctic marine environments, which will in turn help guide decision making about response strategies (e.g., priority areas for clean-up) in the event of a spill.

Joe LoVetri (electrical and computer engineering) receives $398,365 to support research on novel Microwave Imaging (MWI) systems, primarily for biomedical applications, but also for agricultural and industrial non-destructive evaluation. Biomedical imaging research will be focused on breast cancer detection and treatment monitoring. A feasibility study recently completed on a grain imaging application which uses MWI to detect moisture “hot-spots” in large grain storage bins showed the versatility of MWI for applications other than biomedical imaging.

About the Canada Foundation for Innovation

The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. For more information, visit

For further information, please contact Janine [dot] Harasymchuk [at] umanitoba [dot] ca , marketing communications office, Tel: 204-474-7300.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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