Early Researcher Awards recognize promise of six innovative thinkers

August 17, 2009

    McMaster's six Early Researcher Award (ERA) winners were recognized today by The Honourable John Milloy, Minister of Research and Innovation and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. Photo by Laura McGhie.
McMaster's six Early Researcher Award (ERA) winners were recognized today by The Honourable John Milloy, Minister of Research and Innovation and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, who was on campus to present professors Sarah Dickson, Marie Elliot, Ben Evans, Bhagwati Gupta, Duncan O'Dell and Valerie Taylor with their awards.

While their research involves that which is infinitesimal, the provincial government has identified their research programs as the "next big ideas", investing $140,000 in each researcher to help them build their teams of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates and technicians. Each award is matched with $50,000 from the University.

"Today we are investing in the bright ideas and bright future of 338 up-and-coming researchers across Ontario. The McGuinty government understands that when we invest in our research talent, we are investing in the future of our health care, the environment and the economy," said Minister Milloy.

"These gifted scientists are engaged in research that will impact the public's health, the environment and our economy," said Mo Elbestawi, McMaster vice-president, research and international affairs. "They are attracting the next wave of young researchers - dozens of which will come through McMaster's doors over the next five years to continue our tradition of research excellence."

ERA recipient Bhagwati Gupta, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology, took the podium to thank Minister Milloy and spoke about the research he does with nematodes (worms).

"The simplicity of these tiny worms can be appreciated by the fact that they contain less than 1,000 cells yet utilize many of the same proteins and molecules as humans," he said. "This allows us to gain rapid understanding of disease-related proteins and facilitates identification of drug candidates in worms in a rapid and cost-effective manner. Such discovery accelerates clinical trials in humans by allowing scientists to focus on only relevant drugs and saving valuable time and lives."

Through the province's Early Researcher Awards program, $11.5 million is being invested in 82 research projects across Ontario.

For more on McMaster's ERA winners and their projects, click here.