More than $3M in Early Researcher Awards, research infrastructure funding

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Eleven recently-appointed faculty will get up to $100,000 to help build their research programs thanks to the Early Researcher Awards announced Friday.


Eleven recently-appointed faculty will get up to $100,000 to help build their research programs thanks to the Early Researcher Awards announced Friday.

The ERA program recognizes promising researchers and their potential to become world-class innovators.

The work of McMaster’s ERAs will impact public health, the environment and the economy.

“We are proud to invest in ground-breaking, world-class research right here in Hamilton,” said Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s Minister of Community and Social Services and who made the announcement Friday. “Our researchers are pivotal to building a dynamic and innovative business climate in Ontario, one that will draw investment and opportunity and build Ontario’s economic strength and competitive edge.”

Dozens of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates and technicians will have the opportunity to join the research teams of the eleven Early Researcher Award winners.

The ERA awardees represent five of McMaster’s six Faculties and will each be funded to a maximum of $140,000 by the provincial government, with matching funding of $50,000 from the University over the next five years.

Minister McMeekin also announced the recipients of the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure (ORF-RI) program, which provides research institutions with funding to help support infrastructure needs such as modern facilities and equipment. McMaster received $1,653,501 in funding for eight research projects.

“These talented researchers are blazing new trails in their fields. Whether its health, environmental or rehabilitation sciences, green technologies, or more efficient delivery of our health care services, they are creating new ways of thinking and new innovations in their areas of research,” says Mo Elbestawi, vice-president, research & international affairs. “This funding will give them the opportunity to expand their research teams, upgrade and augment their labs, and provide an enriched research-training environment for the next wave of young researchers.”

McMaster’s latest round of Early Researcher Awards and their research proposals are:

  • Thomas Adams, assistant professor, chemical engineering, whose work on sustainable energy conversion may be pivotal to positioning Ontario as a lead global exporter of nuclear energy products.
  • Dawn Bowdish, assistant professor, pathology & molecular medicine, whose research investigates the causes of bacterial pneumonia in the elderly
  • Dr. Benicio Frey, associate professor, psychiatry & behavioural neurosciences, whose work is focused on developing more accurate treatment for the 10 – 15 per cent of Canadians who suffer from depression
  • Kristin Hope, assistant professor, biochemistry and biomedical sciences, who is leading ground breaking research on improvements in blood stem cell transplants
  • Victor Kuperman, assistant professor, linguistics and languages, who is exploring the cognitive causes of inadequate reading comprehension and ways to incorporate this research into adult literacy programs
  • Nathan Magarvey, assistant professor, biochemistry & biomedical sciences, and Canada Research Chair in Natural Product Drug Discovery, who is leading the delivery of safer, more effective and targeted natural drug discoveries
  • Gillian Mulvale, assistant professor, health policy and management, whose work will help families and service providers deliver coordinated services for adolescents with mental illness.
  • Daria O’Reilly, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, who is exploring ways to spend resources more efficiently in the treatment of diabetes
  • Guillaume Paré, assistant professor, pathology and molecular medicine, and Canada Research Chair in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, whose work will help physicians identify diabetics who are at high risk of developing heart or kidney complications
  • Graham Scott, assistant professor, biology who is studying the respiratory systems of animals who are able to thrive in conditions of oxygen deprivation, and the environmental and clinical implications
  • Ada Tang, assistant professor, rehabilitation sciences, who is exploring ways in which to improve cardiovascular care and reduce healthcare costs in the province

The eight ORF-RI recipients, their research award and projects are:

• Biochemist Eric Brown, who has been awarded $290,000 in infrastructure to support his Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Microbial Chemical Biology. Multidrug resistant bacteria continue to be a health care burden in both hospital and community settings. Recognizing the need for new therapies, Brown’s proposed research program will uncover weaknesses in the survival strategies of bacteria for the design of truly novel antibacterial drugs.

• Biologist Marie Elliot, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Genomics,who has received $60,000 for the Control of Chromosome Dynamics and Genome Integrity. Cancer and infectious disease are two leading causes of premature death in Ontario. Elliot’s research team will explore how antibiotic production is influenced by regulatory factors, and examine how protein interactions and modifications stabilize our genetic material. The findings will allow them to identify new cancer therapeutic targets and develop new antibiotics.

Elkafi Hassini, associate professor of operations management and co-investigator Sourav Ray, associate professor, marketing, who have been awarded $173,561 for Infrastructure for Advanced Business Analytics: Creating and Analysing Big Data for Canadian Distribution Channel. A framework for using pan-supply chain big data analyses will be created to reduce distribution channel conflict among small and medium enterprises, thereby enhancing competitiveness through innovation in marketing and operations processes.

• Engineering physicist Rafael Kleiman, who has received $399,940 for his research program Time and Frequency Domain Hyperspectral Imaging for Photovoltaic Applications. Solar cell technology, deployed on a large scale, has the potential to substantially contribute to Ontario’s energy mix. This project will develop new techniques to directly image the defects and imperfections in solar cells that limit their efficiency, providing new tools to improve solar cell manufacturing processes.

• Civil engineering assistant professor Dimitrios Konstantinidis, who will generate critically needed knowledge on the earthquake behaviour of nonstructural components. This knowledge will facilitate the development of innovative technologies to protect nonstructural components from earthquake damage. Konstaninidis’ research program garnered $100,000 in funding for a Multi-Axis Dynamic Simulator for Testing Operational and Functional Components and Advanced Seismic Isolation Devices.

• Biologist Grant McClelland will be investigating the effects of multiple environmental and pollution-based stressors, such as temperature, salinity, pH, and chemical contaminants, upon aquatic animal development, behaviour and physiology. McClelland’s $270,000 award will provide infrastructure for A Facility for Multi-stressor Biology on Aquatic Organisms.

Gregory Steinberg, Canada Research Chair in Metabolism, Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes and associate professor, endocrinology has been awarded $60,000 for Infrastructure to Support Obesity and Metabolism Research. His project will test the effects of exercise, nutrition and genetics on adiposity in mice. Steinberg will also investigate the mechanisms mediating these effects by examining modifications that occur on proteins.

Ray Truant will be using his $300,000 funding for a High Content Analysis Nanoscope to Study Neurodegeneration and Discover New Compounds for Neurodegenerative Disease. Truant – an associate professor in the department of biochemistry – leads a research program whose goal is to discover new chemical family leads as potential new therapies for Huntington’s disease. By working at the single cell level at nanometer resolution, Truant can focus his efforts on determining the molecular trigger of this devastating disease.