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U of M research projects receive support
Posted Friday, July 6, 2007 9:00 AM
 
Top photo, from left: Georg Stetefeld, Brian Mark, and Peter Loewen. Bottom photo, from right: Mostafa Fayek, Frank Hawthorne, and Norman Halden.

The University of Manitoba has been awarded $713,096 in new funding by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support two major research programs in the Faculty of Science and the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources.

One project is studying protein structures within cells so accurate drug therapies can be developed to treat diseases, while the second focuses on mineral formations to understand how various liquids act in the environment.

“This new funding will allow researchers at the University of Manitoba to turn their ideas into innovations that provide solutions to the challenges of our time,” says Dr. Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of CFI. “Investments like these have transformed Canada’s research landscape over the past decade and made the country a magnet for the highly skilled people upon which our future well-being depends.”

A project led by Peter Loewen, microbiology, the Canada Research Chair in protein chemistry, will focus on the structure and function of the proteins that play a key role in the promotion of both disease and health.

The project’s team, which includes Brian Mark, microbiology, and chemist Georg Stetefeld, Canada Research Chair in structural biology, is investigating five areas: drug mechanisms and how to best utilize them in a drug’s design, the structural biology of genetic diseases, catalytic mechanisms, the structure of special pathogens, and biopharmaceuticals. Their work will also improve our ability to anticipate, and so avoid, antibiotic drug resistance.

The second project is led by Norman Halden, geological sciences, and aimed at understanding the geological and environmental processes involved in mineral formation, which will help researchers interpret short- and long-term changes in Earth processes.

Halden’s team includes geological sciences faculty members Frank Hawthorne, Canada Research Chair in Crystallography and Mineralogy, and Mostafa Fayek, Canada Research Chair in Isotope and Environmental Geochemistry. They will be looking at the chemical partitioning between solids and fluids. Their work will shed much needed light on problems like the safe storage of nuclear waste and how to ameliorate acid mine drainage.

“These two projects have the potential to produce very real benefits in terms of human health and the health of our environment, and I am very pleased that CFI has selected them for this significant funding support,” says Joanne Keselman, vice-president (research) at the University of Manitoba. “CFI programs are highly competitive, and the success of these scientists underlines the fact that University of Manitoba researchers are among Canada’s best.”

The University of Manitoba awards are part of a $26 million CFI investment announced on July 3, 2007, to fund 136 projects at 40 institutions across Canada.

A total of $22 million was awarded under the Leaders Opportunities Fund, which is designed to assist Canadian universities in attracting and retaining outstanding faculty members and researchers. The remaining $4 million was awarded under the Infrastructure Operating Fund, an accompanying program that contributes to the incremental operating and maintenance costs of infrastructure projects funded by the CFI.

A complete list of the projects awarded today, ordered by university, can be found at: www.innovation.ca

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI’s mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians.

 
For more information, contact:
Chris Rutkowski
Media Relations Coordinator
Marketing Communications Office
rutkows@ms.umanitoba.ca
Phone: (204) 474-9514
Fax: (204) 474-7631