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Jul 18, 2019

From Butterflies to Brain Function
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009 10:38 AM
Dr. Jeffrey Marcus, whose research involves butterflies, was one of three new Canada Research Chairs announced today.
Three new Canada Research Chairs announced and three renewed

The butterfly fluttering around your backyard this past summer might have
provided a pleasant distraction from your gardening. But for biological sciences
researcher Dr. Jeffrey Marcus this pretty insect offers incredible insight.

With support from new government funding, the University of Manitoba associate professor is studying the origins, organization and evolution of butterfly
colour patterns. The latest Canada Research Chair in Phylogenomics, Marcus
develops new methods for mapping and manipulating genomes, which includes
creating the world’s first genetically modified butterflies.

Marcus is one of three new Canada Research Chairs from the University of Manitoba. Chairholders are research leaders or rising stars in natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, or social sciences and humanities.

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) today in Ottawa announced funding for the new Chairs, in addition to renewed support for three others.

“Canada’s government is investing in science and technology to strengthen the economy, improve Canadians’ quality of life and create the jobs of tomorrow - today,” said Goodyear. “The Canada Research Chairs Program helps attract and retain the best researchers from the country and around the world to Canadian universities, which has direct benefits for our communities.”

These six awards – worth a combined $4.8 million plus infrastructure support – have a big impact not only within specialized research fields but on the greater population who benefit from the discoveries coming out of the University of Manitoba, said Vice-President (Research) Dr. Digvir S. Jayas.

“We congratulate these remarkable scientists and scholars,” Jayas said. “These awards represent a significant vote of confidence in their abilities and are further testament that the University of Manitoba is home to outstanding researchers.”

The other two new CRCs are Dr. Peter Eck and Dr. Zahra Moussavi. Eck, Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics, investigates whether
genetic variations in cellular membrane transporter proteins, such as Vitamin C
and organic cation carriers, cause functional changes that lead to diseases. These proteins are found in the small intestine and kidney, making them accessible to dietary interventions. Eck aims to refine nutritional recommendations based on
individual genotypes. The goals of his research are to prevent or treat dietaryrelated diseases by personalized nutritional intervention.

Human anatomy, signal processing and electronics merge together in Moussavi’s research. As Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering, she aims to apply engineering skills to medical problems to develop non-invasive diagnostic and treatment technologies. Her research on respiratory sound analysis has resulted in a new technology for acoustic sleep apnea screening. She is also investigating human spatiotemporal perception in order to diagnosis and treat/rehabilitate patients with Alzheimer’s at its early stages.

Dr. Fikret Berkes, Dr. Hao Ding and Dr. Phillip Gardiner had their CRCs

Dr. Berkes, Canada Research Chair in Community-Based Resource Management, is researching the conditions under which the ‘tragedy of the commons’ may be avoided, and natural resources used sustainably and equitably. He has played an international leadership role in the areas of commons theory, linked social-ecological systems and resilience, and has served as the leader of a
number of research groups.

Ding, Canada Research Chair in Genetic Modelling, is treading on new ground
in understanding the world of gene function. He focuses on applying mouse models to determine the gene function during the development and in the pathogenesis of human genetic diseases. In the past, Ding made important discoveries regarding the functions of several genes thought to have a significant role in normal development and that may be the cause of certain human
conditions such as cleft palate and brain tumors.

Gardiner, Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Health Studies, is working to improve our understanding of how physical activity, inactivity, and aging change the nervous and neuromuscular systems. The fundamental knowledge gained from his work will be important to professionals applying
physical activity to people with neural and neuromuscular deficits.

Ding, Eck, Marcus and Moussavi were each awarded $500,000 Tier 2 chairs over five years. Gardiner and Berkes each received a $1.4 million Tier 1 chair over seven years.

The new CRCs also received $125,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The foundation is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure.

The University of Manitoba now has 48 Canada Research Chairs.
For more information, contact:
Katie Chalmers-Brooks
Research Communications Officer
Office of the Vice-President (Research)
Phone: (204) 474-7184
Fax: (204) 261-0325