McMaster receives more than $13.5 million for research
The three projects include a Centre for Microbial Chemical Biology; a Micro- and Nano-Systems Laboratory (MNS); and a Systems Biology Centre.
Mamdouh Shoukri, vice-president, research and international affairs, welcomed the latest investment of CFI funding saying, "our University has a fast-evolving research environment, characterized by vibrant research groups collaborating across departments, faculties and disciplines. These three projects exemplify McMaster's capacity to harness our existing research strengths and move into new areas in chemical biology, micro-and-nano systems, and systems biology in health and disease."
Gerry Wright, professor and chair, biochemistry and biomedical sciences, and Canada Research Chair in Molecular Studies of Antibiotics, is the project leader for the Centre for Microbial Chemical Biology.
"We will be creating a facility that doesn't exist anywhere in Canada. Chemical biology -- the science of applying the principles of chemistry to the study of biology -- is a relatively new field in Canada and McMaster is truly the leader. The centre represents a natural evolution of the investments made at Mac in chemical biology and infectious disease research."
The Centre for Microbial Chemical Biology will support cross-disciplinary research between scientists in the departments of biology, biochemistry and biomedical sciences, chemistry and geography and earth sciences, focusing on applications from health care -- primarily infectious diseases -- to the environment.
"The centre will also produce a database of chemical genetic interactions that will be freely accessible worldwide. Our goal is to run a series of basic science experiments on organisms that cause infection, take all of that info and put that raw data on a database. At the end of the day, our objective is to make a significant impact on how we can tackle infectious diseases," says Wright.
Dr. Andrew Macpherson, project leader for the new Systems Biology Centre, describes the award as an exciting opportuntity to build on the world-class achievements of McMaster's Intestinal Disease Research Programme (IDRP). The Centre will focus on the host-intestinal bacterial relationships in health and disease, spanning four departments (medicine, pathology & molecular medicine, biochemistry and biology).
"We have more bacteria in our intestines than we have cells in our body and we really are just walking bacterial cultures," said Macpherson, a Canada Research Chair in Mucosal Immunology.
"Our research has helped us to understand how the immune system and other body systems have adapted to bacteria, but we know almost nothing about how intestinal bacteria respond to all of the effects of our immune system.
"It's very much like having a high-powered telescope examining some far flung galaxy, looking outwards in one direction only. Now imagine that we have the opportunity to use a high-powered telescope from the vantage point of that galaxy to look back at earth, giving us the ability to see in both directions at once.
"The new Systems Biology Centre will provide us with the equipment and the expertise to 'see' and understand the finely balanced mutualism between humans and bacteria in health, and how this breaks down in intestinal diseases."
Jamal Deen, professor of electrical and computer engineering and Canada Research Chair in Information Technology, is the project leader for the proposed Micro- and Nano-Systems (MNS) laboratory, a research facility that combines dissimilar technologies to develop miniaturized, low-cost and easy-to-use prototypes for imaging and sensing.
The unique mix of semiconductors, DNA, nanowires and polymers will be integrated into "smart systems" that can be used for screening and monitoring in health care or sensing systems for detection of pathogens in water and food.
Deen notes that "this proposed integration and characterization facility, the long sought after goal of engineers and scientists to work with medical practitioners to develop innovative, miniaturized, sensitive and low-cost instruments for critical health care and environmental applications will become reality."
David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, says the new funding builds on McMaster's strengths and will further develop the University's research capacity.
"McMaster earned its reputation as one of the country's leading institutions on the strength of its people and research programs," says Sweet. "This investment in the University's research infrastructure will go a long way in creating further opportunities, developing the capacity and attracting and retaining leading researchers. It's great for the local economy and, on a national level, it will help Canada to remain competitive."
The Canada Foundation for Innovation announced funding for the following projects:
Centre for Microbial Chemical Biology
Systems Biology Centre of Host-intestinal Bacterial Relationships in Health and Disease
The announcement from the CFI represented a major investment of $422 million that will support 86 projects at 35 universities, colleges, research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions across the country.