More than $1.8M to equip cutting-edge labs

By Danelle D'Alvise, Research Communications, September 7, 2011

Designing automotive software that can predict and prevent failures before they
happen, discovering why some microbes in our bodies keep us healthy, while others
cause illness and disease, engineering drugs with the ability to get the right dosage, to
the right place in the body at the right time, understanding Earth's environmental
history to better predict future climate changes, and measuring the relationship
between physical activity and health in children - all are projects earmarked for funding
by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Five labs from across campus will be taking delivery of new equipment, thanks to the
CFI's Leaders Opportunity Fund - a program which invests in state-of-the-art facilities
and equipment to attract and retain today's best research talent. The equipment ranges
from large memory computers to instruments on the nanoscale, to a high precision
mass spectrometer, and from a facility to measure children's health to a high capacity
Biosafety Level 2 facility to culture and characterize microbial communities.

"This investment will help create the partnerships that will continue building McMaster's
research capacity in areas such as healthcare, the automotive industry, infectious
diseases and the environment," said Mo Elbestawi, vice-president research and
international affairs. "The vision behind these pioneering research projects illustrate
why McMaster is one of Canada's premier research Universities."

Perhaps the most important aspect of one of the projects, the new SoftAuto Lab, is that
Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) ranging from undergraduate interns to research
engineers and technicians will have access to state-of-the-art model-driven
development tools in current use in industry.

"The SoftAuto Lab will help HQP envision where automotive electronics might be a
decade from now. This will allow them to not only ask 'what if' questions, but to actually
try out their ideas," said project leader Mark Lawford, associate professor of computing
and software.

The SoftAuto Lab will build on McMaster's reputation as a world leader in software
certification.

IBM's Don Aldridge, industry executive, research notes that the amount of software - in
the order of 100 million lines of code - in today's automobiles necessitates certification
that the software will actually work in every possible situation.

"McMaster is leading the effort to address this, not only for automobiles, but for all
areas where computer technology intersects with mechanical systems - and that's a
huge task. The work at McMaster is 100 per cent consistent with IBM's efforts to create
a "smarter planet" and we're excited to be working with the world-class team at
McMaster," said Aldridge.

Mike Wallace, Member of Parliament for Burlington, commended McMaster on the
funding it was awarded and said "McMaster University is playing a key role in Canada's
science and technology strategy. The five projects awarded funding by the Canada
Foundation for Innovation exemplify the kind of research in innovation that will create
high quality jobs and allow Canada to compete globally."

The five projects awarded infrastructure funding will purchase equipment for:

Characterization and Testing of Smart Hydrogel Materials for Biomedicine
, a project led by Assistant Professor Todd Hoare, Department of Chemical
Engineering. The $119,611 award is for equipment to develop "smart" drug delivery
devices that will provide for dynamically-changing drug release according to patient
needs.

A Laboratory for Rare Stable Isotope Research that will use the
$240,000 funding award to purchase a mass spectrometer to analyze rare stable
isotopes and isotopologues. Project leader Sang-Tae Kim, an assistant professor in the
School of Geography & Earth Sciences, will establish an analytical facility in which
cutting-edge research on the Earth's past environmental history will help inform better
projections of Earth's future environmental variability.

Laboratory Support for Model Driven Engineering of Software for Automotive
Applications
, a first of its kind research lab (SoftAuto Lab) which will be
established in the new McMaster Automotive Resource Centre, located at the McMaster
Innovation Park. Project leader Mark Lawford will be joined on the project by his
computing and software colleagues Tom Maibaum, Canada Research Chair in Software
Engineering and Alan Wassyng, Director of the McMaster Centre for Software Certification (McSCert).

Michael Surette's Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research in Health
and Disease
, which will be a high capacity Biosafety Level 2 facility dedicated
to culturing, characterization and rapid molecular profiling of microbial communities of
the human microbiome. The lab received $727,419 for the novel research it will pursue,
including opportunities for improved disease management, identification of new
pathogens, development of new diagnostics and discerning how normal microbiota
contribute to health. Surette, Canada Research Chair Interdisciplinary Microbiome
Research, will collaborate with researchers from the Institute for Infectious Disease
Research and the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.

Brian Timmons' Pediatric Exercise and Environmental Testing and Flow
Cytometry Suite
will be furnished with equipment geared to studying the
physical activity-to-health connection in young children. The $350,975 funding award
will advance a broad agenda of child health. "My research program takes a lab bench to
park bench approach with the goal to generate the necessary knowledge on which to
build public health policies and standards of clinical care to promote active living during
the growing years," said the assistant professor of pediatrics.

"CFI investments provide vital infrastructure in communities across the country and
create opportunities for leveraging the work being undertaken by our enterprising
researchers," said Dr. Gilles G. Patry, CFI President and CEO. "Cutting-edge research
facilities are magnets that attract the best talent from around the world, allowing them
to work with business and train a new generation of Canadian researchers and
innovators."