Advancing Canada’s research infrastructure

Two major national research facilities affiliated with Queen’s University have been awarded $120 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Research facilities supported by Queen’s University are receiving more than $120 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Major Science Initiatives (MSI) Fund. SNOLAB and the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) are among 19 research infrastructure projects awarded $628 million to support state-of-the-art facilities of national importance and drive innovative research in Canada. Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne made the announcement on-site today at SNOLAB, an internationally renowned research facility studying neutrinos and dark matter two kilometres underground.

"Through this investment, we're supporting our world-class research facilities that drive innovation and the researchers who are making important discoveries across the country," says the Hon. François-Philippe Champagne. "We're making sure that Canada is equipped to support the next generation of researchers who will tackle the world's most pressing issues and who will advance our society for all to thrive."

Participating in the event was also Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research) and Arthur McDonald, Emeritus Professor (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy). Dr. Ross served as emcee for the announcement and highlighted the two Queen’s-affiliated projects. As Director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (which later became SNOLAB), Dr. McDonald was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2015 for his discovery that neutrinos have mass during a decades-long experiment conducted at SNOLAB. They accompanied the Minister, local Members of Parliament, and the SNOLAB administration on a tour of the world-leading facility.  

Going underground to discover who we are and where we came from


Queen's Art of Research photo: Window on a Window to the Universe by Mark Chen (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy), SNOLAB

SNOLAB is receiving $102 million, this funding announcement’s second largest investment, to support its ultra-clean facility located in the Vale Creighton mine near Sudbury, Ontario. A research consortium bringing together Queen’s University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, University of Alberta, and the Université de Montréal, SNOLAB is at the forefront of unravelling the mysteries of the universe as one of only two laboratories in the world with low radiation backgrounds to support cutting edge measurements. In 2015, Queen’s researcher Arthur McDonald was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for changing our fundamental understanding of neutrinos with the decade-spanning Sudbury Neutrino Observatory experiment at SNOLAB. The research facility continues to support ground-breaking astroparticle research with experiments to further knowledge on neutrinos, our galactic building blocks, and dark matter, the obscure particles making up 85 per cent of matter in the universe. The renewed federal funding will ensure SNOLAB is able to attract and host world-leading research and position Canada at the forefront of technological advancements.

Enabling practice-changing research and improving survival


Queen's Art of Research photo: Immunofluorescence Stain by Shakeel Virk and Lee Boudreau, CCTG Tissue Bank

The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) based at Queen’s will receive close to $20 million to support its research network testing innovations in cancer treatments. CCTG operations and statistic centre is the largest research group at Queen’s, with over 140 faculty and staff, 85 member hospitals and cancer centres across Canada working with a global network of 20,000 investigators and clinical trial staff. Since 1980, CCTG has supported more than 600 cancer trials to test anti-cancer and supportive therapies worldwide, enrolling 100,000 patients from 40 countries. CCTG trials have resulted in better treatments and improved lives of patients in Canada and internationally. The operations and statistical centre is the only Canadian research facility with expertise and infrastructure capable of supporting the entire range of cancer trial proposals aimed at improving the survival and quality of life of cancer patients. Additionally, its patient engagement model has been shared extensively nationally and internationally to change practice and lead trial innovations. The renewed funding will be critical to support CCTG’s advancements in precision medicine, immunotherapy, and symptom control trials, and correlative analyses – ensuring that world class research continues to test innovative cancer treatments with the potential for global impact. The group’s continued efforts will lead to innovative therapies, improved understanding of cancer resistance, and will reduce the burden of cancer treatments for Canadians.

"Thanks to ongoing MSI investments, the Canadian Cancer Trials Group and SNOLAB provide Canadian and international researchers with access to leading-edge infrastructure, helping to advance cancer treatment and care and elucidating the mysteries of the universe," says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). "As host and administrative hub, Queen’s plays a key leadership role in ensuring the ongoing success of these major research facilities."

To learn more about the Major Science Initiatives Fund and other funded projects, visit the CFI’s website.

Note: This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette.