posted on Nov. 29: Celebrating McMaster's Canada Research Chairs success

By Shelly Easton , November 29, 2001

The achievements of McMaster's 28 Canada Research Chairs were celebrated Thursday by one of the leaders of the federal government's innovation agenda.

Industry Minister Brian Tobin was on campus to announce the appointment of McMaster's two newest chairholders as part of a national announcement of the newest recipients at Canadian universities.

McMaster's newest Canada Research Chairs both hail from the Faculty of Science: John Brennan, an associate professor of bioanalytical chemistry and Cecile Fradin, an associate professor of physics & astronomy and biochemistry.

Both recipients received Tier 2 awards which means they are researchers whose peers acknowledge them as having the potential to be world leaders in their field. The appointments are for a five-year period and can be renewed once. (Click on McMaster Chairholder Profiles for information about all the University's chairholders.)

Tobin lauded the Canada Research Chairs program as one of integrity that emulates the highest standards, noting the awards aren't governed by appeasing political allies or constituents.

It's based on peer review, he said at the ceremony held at the Health Sciences Centre. It's based on excellence. These 28 chairs have competed against the best and the brightest.

The Canada Research Chairs initiative is a $900 million program created to establish 2,000 research chairs in Canadian universities by 2005.

Tobin and other government guests also toured the high through-put screening lab led by Gerry Wright, an associate professor of biochemistry and a Canada Research Chairholder.

Wright, an expert in antibiotic resistance research, told the gathering that funding from the research chairholders program and the Canada Foundation for Innovation have helped build his lab into the only one of its kind in Canada and one of few in an academic setting in the world.

The research money "has had an absolutely phenomenal change in the way we do science here," Wright said. "For those that remember the dark days of the early '90s, this change is absolutely stunning."
Wright said the Canada Research Chairs program has been "essential to retaining many of my colleagues" and the CFI funding means his lab now has state-of-the art robotics equipment and revitalized research space.

CFI president David Strangway ('01 honorary degree recipient) said McMaster's share of the corporation's budget for research infrastructure is $40 million to date. All CFI-approved projects are cost shared with the agency contributing 40 per cent and the institution contributing 60 per cent.

The two newest Canada Research Chairs, Brennan and Fradin, were awarded CFI funding for their research. Brennan's project received more than $165,000 for infrastructure for advanced molecular spectroscopy and development of protein microarrays. Fradin's research is supported with a $242,000 award for novel optical tools for the study of the dynamics of biological systems.

LAB TOUR: (L to R) Mamdouh Shoukri, vice-president research, McMaster President Peter George, Industry Minister Brian
Tobin and Stan Keyes, MP Hamilton West were given a tour of the new
new High-Throughput Screening (HTS) lab by manager Rebecca Hartlen.

Photo by Ron Scheffler