The Short Report - Dec. 1, 2021: Canadian Nuclear Labs announces project team for Chalk River research centre, CFI's Innovation Fund competition, Mitacs & SSHRC awards, and more

Cindy Graham
November 30, 2021


The Canada Foundation for Innovation has launched its annual Innovation Fund competition to support research infrastructure projects at universities, colleges, research institutes and research hospitals across the country. CFI will invest up to $400 million in research infrastructure funding in this year's competition and cover up to 40 percent of a project’s eligible infrastructure costs. They will also provide up to $120 million for operating and maintenance costs through its Infrastructure Operating Fund. The deadline to submit a notice of intent for the competition is Feb. 23, 2022. – CFI

The Government of Alberta is investing $27 million over the next four years to boost research capacity and innovation at the University of Alberta (U of A) through Alberta's Research Capacity Program, which supports institutions and researchers in acquiring small equipment and large research infrastructure. The contribution will be matched by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which announced more than half a billion dollars in infrastructure funding last spring to support researchers across Canada. The U of A projects include more than $6 million for equipment to assess the effects of space radiation on Earth’s climate (Ian Mann, Science); $5 million to upgrade equipment to better define the chemical characteristics of new materials (Dennis Hall, Science); nearly $4 million to upgrade infrastructure to help develop new treatments for diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (David Westaway, Medicine & Dentistry); and $3.6 million to purchase a scanning tunnelling microscope to study the atomic structure of materials (Frank Hegmann, Science). – U of A

Canadian Nuclear Labs (CNL) now has an integrated project delivery (IPD) team for the design and construction phase of its new laboratory research complex, the Advanced Nuclear Materials Research Centre (ANMRC). The centre is part of the 10-year transformation of the Chalk River campus funded through a $1.2-billion investment from site owner Atomic Energy of Canada on behalf of the Government of Canada and includes revitalization of essential site infrastructure and investing in new science facilities. The IPD team leading the construction includes CNL and local branches or organizations including Chandos Construction, Bird Construction, M. Sullivan & Son, Eclipse Automation, J2PG Consultants, Merrick & Company, Modern Niagara, MSE, Plan Group and Siemens. – CNL

Meanwhile, CNL has issued a call for proposals for a new health stream through its Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI) to accelerate the development of targeted radiopharmaceuticals in Canada through collaborations related to health sciences, radiobiology and medical isotope development. – CNL


The University of Calgary's Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases has received funding for two projects centred on research and treatment of Crohn's disease (CD) from the Helmsley Charitable Trust (New York). The first project, led by Dr. Cathy Lu, will receive more than $1.5 million to work on identifying the protein signatures that tell the intestinal walls of Crohn's patients to grow scar tissue, causing them to narrow. The second study, worth nearly $1 million and led by Dr. Derek McKay, will focus on using the body's own immune system to treat CD. – UCalgary

The Weston Family Foundation is awarding a $12-million research grant to McMaster University's Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) that will introduce brain imaging and microbiome analyses to investigate cognitive aging over time. Researchers working on the six-year Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Initiative will examine how lifestyle, medical, psychosocial, economic and environmental factors as well as microbiome changes correlate with healthy aging outcomes to inform the development of screening and prevention strategies. – CLSA

The Government of Ontario is investing more than $6 million to support research led by the Occupational Cancer Research Centre. The research will help scientists identify and track occurrences of workplace cancer and exposure to harmful substances, research the causes of workplace cancer, and ultimately help improve the recognition of occupational illnesses in the province. – Government of Ontario

A phase 3 clinical trial of dapsone, an anti-inflammatory drug shown to prevent and treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as reduce mortality from 40 percent to 0 percent in a small, randomized clinical trial, has been launched in the United States under the supervision of Dr. Jean Bourbeau, senior scientist in the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and director of the McConnell Centre for Innovative Medicine. McGill University Health Centre Foundation is a financial partner and current lead investor in the project. – MUHC


The Government of Ontario is accepting applications for its new Digital and Data Innovation Fellowship Program with placements beginning in February 2022. Fellows will consist of private sector professionals nominated to solve challenges across four areas: The Courts Digital Transformation Initiative at the Ministry of the Attorney General; The Service Modernization Project at the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry; The Digital Identity Program at the Ontario Digital Service, and The Compliance Modernization Project at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Deadline for applications is Dec. 10, 2021. – Government of Ontario

Ontario Genomics has launched a report identifying opportunities to diversify Canada's food production using cellular agriculture, an emerging technology that relies on engineering biology to create food products and materials in new and sustainable ways. The report says Canada is well-positioned to capitalize on an up to $12.5 billion emerging food innovation sector over the next decade. – Ontario Genomics

Canada’s Semiconductor Council has released an action plan that aims to make Canada a leader in the global semiconductor market. As the global chip shortage continues, the Roadmap to 2050: Canada’s Semiconductor Action Plan lays out short, medium, and long-term recommendations for what's needed to make Canada a developer, manufacturer, and global supplier. – Canada's Semiconductor Council

The Canadian Space Agency has issued a request for proposals to engage space exploration "topical teams" that can produce a report identifying the discipline-scientific priorities, opportunities and steps needed for future space exploration missions, and which updates 2016's Canadian Space Exploration: Science and Space Health Priorities for the Next Decade and Beyond report. – CSA


Dr. Dan Breznitz has won the inaugural Balsillie Prize for Public Policy for his book, Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World. The award was announced by the Writers’ Trust of Canada on November 23, 2021. Breznitz serves as the Munk Chair of Innovation Studies and co-director of the Innovation Policy Lab; and co-directs the program on Innovation, Equity and Future of Prosperity as a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. – U of T

Mitacs Awards

Mitacs award winners were celebrated for their work in innovation and research at the 2021 Mitacs Awards ceremony in Ottawa last week. They include the following:

Prisca Bustamante - Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre; Outstanding Innovation - PhD for developing the world's first non-invasive blood screening test for uveal melanoma, the most common eye cancer found in adults.

Sophie Charron - University of Toronto; Outstanding Innovation - International for uncovering new historical information about the important political and cultural role of queens in 14th century Central Europe.

Dr. Lisa "Diz" Glithero - Dalhousie University; Outstanding Innovation - Postdoctoral in recognition of her role in developing the world's first-ever national ocean literacy strategy, positioning Canada as a global leader in the effort to promote and sustain ocean health.

Dr. Seyyedarash Haddadi - UBC Okanagan School of Engineering; the Mitacs & NRC-IRAP Award for Commercialization for his work to create a 99 percent effective antimicrobial fabric coating that prevents transmission of COVID-19.

Adam Schachner - Polytechnique Montreal; Outstanding Innovation - Master's for creating a first-of-its-kind vibration simulator that mimics what it's like to use a cockpit touchscreen under turbulence.

Dr. Moneca Sinclaire - University of Manitoba; Outstanding Innovation - Indigenous for her work to roll out a first-of-its-kind mobile app that empowers Indigenous communities to own their own data.

Dr. Raymond Spiteri - University of Saskatchewan; Exceptional Leadership - Professor, in recognition of facilitating more than 16 research collaborations with industry including development of a virtual shopping avatar that mirrors different body types and uses heat maps to help online shoppers visualize how clothes will fit.

The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) — a Canadian-led group of pharmaceutical companies, clinicians and academian— received the award for Outstanding Innovation - Industry for their open science approach to new drug discovery.


SSHRC Impact Awards

Winners of this year's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Impact Awards, which celebrate the most accomplished social sciences and humanities researchers in Canada, include the following:

Dr. Lynne Viola - the University of Toronto; the Gold Medal, SSHRC’s highest research honour, for contributions to the study of 20th century Russian history and Stalinism.

Dr. Maïka Sondarjee - University of Montréal; the Talent Award for highlighting the importance of including local populations in development policymaking in international organizations, on how feminist theories are marginalized in international relations, and on the white saviour complex in international development.

Dr. André Blais - the Université de Montréal; the Insight Award for bringing valuable new insight on how citizens interact with their democratic institutions.

Dr. Carole Lévesque - the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS); accepted the Connection Award on behalf of the team behind the DIALOG Network, recognized for transforming research practice by bridging the gap between Indigenous knowledge keepers and academics.

Dr. Rashid Sumaila - the University of British Columbia; the Partnership Award on behalf of the OceanCanada Partnership.



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