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$16-million boost for research

CFI's successful Innovation Fund applicants (from top to bottom, left to right): Stephen Archer, Cathy Crudden, Ian McWalter, Mark Chen. 

Over $16 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) 2015 Innovation Fund will support research projects in dark matter, cardiology, chemistry and nanotechnologies.

“Thanks to the grants from the CFI’s Innovation Fund, four researchers from Queen’s and their teams will be able to take their research activities to the next level and advance their leading-edge research,” says Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss. “Our success with this funding highlights Queen’s as one of the most research-intensive institutions in Canada.”

Mark Chen’s (Physics) $1,853,263 grant means upgraded capabilities for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and SNO+, a detector for neutrinos, making SNO+ the world’s most sensitive instrument for researching these subatomic particles.

The secret behind SNO+ power is tellurium, an element used in the detector. The CFI Innovation Fund grant will allow for advances in the purification of tellurium.

“An upgraded SNO+ detector highly increases the potential for a transformative discovery in particle astrophysics which would cement Canada’s position as a global leader in this field,” says Dr. Chen, the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics, a Professor in the Department of Physics at Queen’s, and the director of the SNO+ project. “We’re also looking forward to engaging with Canadian companies in the high-purity chemical process industry, as well as training highly qualified personnel in areas such as materials purification, nuclear technology and the processing of large data sets.”

SNO+ is an international collaboration of over 110 scientists from 20 institutions in five countries and is based at the SNOLAB laboratory in Sudbury, Ont.

Three more researchers have also received significant funding through the Innovation Fund.

Stephen Archer (Cardiology, $3,830,497) – This CFI funding was awarded to Dr. Archer, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Mitochondrial Dynamics and Translational Medicine and Head of the Department of Medicine, and his team in the Queen’s Cardiopulmonary Unit (Q-CPU). This international team will work to ensure a better quality of life for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) – the obstruction of lung arteries, which can lead to fatal right heart failure. Q-CPU investigators are striving to discover and test new treatments for this heart and lung disease. They have a track record of moving discoveries from Bench to Bedside, including performing some of the early work demonstrating the safety and utility of sildenafil (Viagra®) in the treatment of PAH and the use of dichloroacetate to treat PAH and cancer. The team at Queen’s includes, the CCR Group, led by Dr. Don Maurice, and a talented group of respirologists, epidemiologists, cardiologists, hematologists and neurologists. With its corporate and knowledge translation partners, Q-CPU will support comprehensive understanding of PAH from molecules to populations, identify new therapeutic targets and test new therapies for PAH and right heart failure. Q-CPU is supported by a network of PAH centers in three countries, with sites in Edmonton, Salt Lake City, Sao Paulo, Minneapolis, Ottawa and Kingston. The proposed research will enhance the health of Canadians by creating innovative new clinical therapies for PAH through the development and evaluation of experimental therapeutics, the study of pharmaco-epidemiology, health services utilization and epidemiology of PAH. Q-CPU will be housed in a state of the art 8,000-square-foot facility within the Biosciences Complex.

Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry, $3,514,102) - Dr. Crudden and her team have developed robust organic coatings for various surfaces that permits interfacing metals with biological species, repels both water- and oil-based contaminants, and protects surfaces from degradation, making this a highly practical technology across a variety of industries. The CFI funding will enable the basic research and commercial applications of this new technology that will include protecting smart phones from fingerprints, power lines from ice buildup, and engine parts from friction-induced wear. There are also significant potential applications in medical diagnostics, biosensing and chemotherapy as the coating can be modified to interface with antibodies, proteins and viruses.

Dr. Crudden will lead a team of top national and international researchers to conduct research that will have a direct impact in the areas of automotive manufacturing, alternative energy, microelectronics, micropatterning, medical diagnostics, biosensing, and non-toxic chemotherapy.

Ian McWalter (CMC Microsystems at Innovation Park, $7,700,873) – The CFI funding will provide Dr. McWalter and his team working with the platform for Advanced Design Leading to Manufacturing in Micro-Nano Technologies, or ADEPT, with commercial tools for research in the design, development and application of sophisticated microsystems and nanotechnologies.

Follow this link for more information on the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions within Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in science, engineering and health.