Supporting cutting-edge research

Supporting cutting-edge research

By Chris Moffatt Armes

February 9, 2016


A fourth-year Pharmacokinetics course inspired Mark Ormiston (Sc’02) to change his research focus from chemical engineering to health sciences. Fourteen years later, he has returned to Queen’s as the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Regenerative Cardiovascular Medicine.

Queen's University 2016 Canada Research Chairs. Top row - newly named Chairs (from L to R): Mark Ormiston (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Medicine and Surgery), Heather Castleden (Public Health Sciences/Geography & Planning) and Robert Colautti (Biology). Bottom row - renewed Chairs (from L to R): David Lillicrap (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Ian Janssen (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies)​, John McGarry (Political Studies)

Dr. Ormiston joins Heather Castleden (Public Health Sciences/Geography & Planning) and Robert Colautti (Biology) as the three newest Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs (CRC) at Queen’s University. Tier 2 Chair Ian Janssen and Tier 1 Chairs David Lillicrap and John McGarry have also seen their positions renewed.

Dr. Ormiston (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Medicine and Surgery) studies cell-based therapies and cardiovascular immunology – the impact of immune cells on cardiovascular diseases. His research centers mostly on Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. Taking elements of cardiovascular science, immunology and stem cell biology, he hopes to create new therapies and gain a greater understanding of disease processes. He is looking most forward to working alongside Dr. Stephen Archer and his fellow researchers in the Queen's CardioPulmonary Unit (Q-CPU)

“For somebody doing my kind of work, working with a world leader like Stephen Archer and my colleagues here, having all of the equipment we have at our disposal, as well as a center that’s geared towards integrating science and patient-based activities, it was a perfect situation,” says Dr. Ormiston.

Heather Castleden – For the past 15 years, Dr. Castleden has engaged in community-based, participatory research, mainly in partnership with indigenous peoples from across Canada. Her research focuses on issues of social and environmental justice and health equity priorities identified by indigenous communities, as well as the systemic barriers and institutional structures between the settler and indigenous populations that create upstream challenges for reconciliation.

“I feel there is an awful lot of responsibility that comes with a Chair by this title, given the current context of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and its Calls to Action,” says Dr. Castleden, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities. “I hope to use the Chair to contribute towards those calls to action in as many ways as possible.”

Robert Colautti – The newly-named NSERC Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Rapid Evolution, Dr. Colautti explores the comparably new field of rapid evolution – evolution perceptible on short timescales. His research focuses on evolution that occurs in response to biological invasions and other forms of global change. Using next-generation sequencing technology, Dr. Colautti looks to explore how ecological changes drive evolution and how evolution feeds back to drive ecological dynamics.

“It’s certainly an honour to receive the Canada Research Chair,” says Dr. Colautti. “It’s a good motivating factor, as a new researcher, to receive the encouragement that this field interesting and important area of research. This position, and the associated Canada Foundation for Innovation funding that we have received, will have a big impact on the kinds of research that we will be able to do.”

David Lillicrap (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) –  For the past 25 years, the CIHR Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Molecular Hemostasis has been focused on the molecular basis of the common inherited bleeding disorders, hemophilia and von Willebrand disease. During the tenure of his Canada Research Chair, his group has achieved a number of research accomplishments including the establishment of a national reference laboratory for the genetic diagnosis of inherited bleeding diseases.

John McGarry (Political Studies) –  The SSHRC Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Nationalism and Democracy is concerned with how governing institutions can be designed so they accommodate rival ethnic communities, including in countries affected by civil war. Currently, Dr. McGarry is working on Cyprus where he is advising the United Nations on negotiations to reunify the island.

Ian Janssen (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies) –  The CIHR Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Obesity is currently examining the role physical activity has on children’s health. The research will use new technology to determine how much activity children get in different contexts including playing outdoors, playing organized sports or physical education class.

Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair.

“By supporting talented researchers and excellence, the CRC program facilitates cutting-edge research and advances Canada as a world leader in discovery and innovation,” says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research).  “Our success in garnering three new chairs and three renewals is demonstrative of Queen’s leadership in research areas that address some of the most challenging and complex problems facing the world today.”

The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program has stood at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development since 2000. The CRC program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Canadian universities both nominate Canada Research Chairs and administer their funds.

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.

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