Ag-West Bio, Alzheimer Society of Canada, Atlantic Science Enterprise Centre, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, Barnstorm Agtech, Brain Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canadian Space Agency, Carleton University, CERVO Brain Research Centre, CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, Diamond Schmitt Architects, Diavik Diamond Mine, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, Dream Legacy Foundation, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Marine Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Global Institute for Food Security, Government of Canada, Government of Saskatchewan, Greenwave Innovations, Health Canada, HEC Montreal, Innovation Place, Ipsos, l'Association francophone pour le savoir (Acfas), Levitee Labs, LiveRx Research Group, McGill University, McKinsey & Company, Memorial University, Michael Smith Health Research BC, Ministry of Agriculture (Bangladesh), Ministry of Economy and Innovation, Mojow Autonomous Solutions, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital, National Research Council of Canada, Oragenics, Polytechnique Montreal, Pomerleau, Prairie Clean Energy, Prairies Economic Development Canada, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Rio Tinto, Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, Saskatchewan Minerals and Mining, Saskatchewan Research Council, Sprott School of Business, St. Paul’s Foundation, The Neuro, UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, and Women’s Brain Health Initiative



The Short Report – Dec. 22, 2021: Trudeau releases mandate letters, a promising brain diseases partnership, a national survey of young people’s attitudes towards science, and more

Cindy Graham
December 22, 2021


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has released 38 new mandate letters to Cabinet setting out expectations and priorities for ministers, including to Minister Jean-Yves Duclos (Health), Marie-Claude Bibeau (Agriculture and Agri-Food), François-Philippe Champagne (Innovation, Science and Industry), Jonathan Wilkinson (Natural Resources) and Joyce Murray (Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard). Full List of Mandate Letters


The Government of Canada is awarding more than $29 million towards the design and construction of the new Atlantic Science Enterprise Centre in Moncton, where scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the National Research Council and the Canadian Space Agency (virtually) will work together to protect Atlantic freshwater and coastal ecosystems. Diamond Schmitt Architects was awarded $23.6 million to deliver design services while Pomerleau was awarded a $5.8-million contract for initial construction management. GoC

A recent national survey reveals that young people (18–24) have confidence in science and use scientific information to guide their actions, but that they are navigating "an extremely complex and diverse information ecosystem where they are inevitably exposed to fake news and anti-science information, [which] presents an increasingly difficult challenge for science communicators and educators." The survey was conducted by the Canada Foundation for Innovation in partnership with l'Association francophone pour le savoir (Acfas) working with Ipsos polling firm. CFI


A new partnership between the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital (The Neuro at McGill University) and the CERVO Brain Research Centre of the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale has been awarded $7 million over three years from the Ministry of Economy and Innovation through its Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé to facilitate the discovery of biomarkers in brain diseases. The partnership will use artificial intelligence-based approaches to classify patients into distinct subgroups for appropriate clinical trials. The funding will be matched by private and philanthropic donors, bringing the total amount to more than $15 million in contributions. MUHC

Tampa-based biopharmaceutical developer Oragenics is extending its collaboration agreement with the National Research Council (NRC) to develop an Omicron-specific intranasal vaccine. The NRC-developed cell expression technology used by Oragenics was developed with support from NRC’s Pandemic Response Challenge program and will expedite the evaluation of an Omicron-specific Terra CoV-2 candidate in preclinical and clinical studies. Oragenics

Researchers at University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine led by Dr. Mari DeMarco have launched a first-in-Canada testing program to diagnoses Alzheimer’s disease by measuring biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The test is expected to assist with earlier and more accurate diagnosis. The project was supported by Health Canada, Brain Canada, Michael Smith Health Research BC, UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, Women’s Brain Health Initiative, St. Paul’s Foundation, and in collaboration with the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging. UBC

Levitee Labs (Vancouver) is partnering with the University of Calgary's LiveRx Research Group to test, treat and cure Hepatitis C (HCV) and address inequities in the current specialist referral-based care model. The collaboration will see Levitee Labs using the LiveRx model in clinics and pharmacies across Alberta to provide more HCV testing and treatment access for patients. Levitee


Carleton University's Sprott School of Business and philanthropic organization the Dream Legacy Foundation (North York) have been chosen to establish the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, the third pillar in the Government of Canada's Black Entrepreneurship Program. The Hub, created through a $5-million investment from the federal government, will be part of Carleton University’s recently formed incubator/accelerator Innovation Hub and will conduct research and collect data on Black entrepreneurship, identify barriers to success and provide opportunities to help Black entrepreneurs grow their business. Carleton U

A new program has been launched to help early-stage agri-food startup companies and domestic and international clients gain a foothold in Western Canada and access to the North American market. The new Global Agri-Food Advancement Partnership was founded by Ag-West Bio, the Global Institute for Food Security at the University of Saskatchewan, Innovation Place and the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre. It has the support of $1.5 million from Prairies Economic Development Canada and private investors to address the gaps in the agri-food innovation pipeline. USask

Meanwhile, the Global Institute for Food Security opened a new regional office in Bangladesh to support GIFS’ research, training and development partnership with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, which was designed to promote sustainable food security in the country. It has also awarded the newly created Bangabandhu Research Chair in Food Security to Dr. Andrew Sharpe, GIFS’ director of genomics and bioinformatics. USask

The SCALE AI supercluster (Montreal) is contributing $2 million towards the creation of four new AI research chairs focused on applying artificial intelligence (AI) to different aspects of supply chains. The new chairs include the Scale AI Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence for Urban Mobility and Logistics at HEC Montréal held by Professor Carolina Osorio; the Scale AI Chair in Data Science for Retail at McGill University, held by Professor Maxime Cohen; the Scale AI Chair in Data-Driven Supply Chains at Polytechnique Montréal, held by Professor Thibaut Vidal and the Data-Driven Algorithms for Modern Supply Chains at the University of Toronto, held by Professor Elias Khalil. SCALE AI

Meanwhile, Scale AI recently announced its largest financing round of 2021 with 12 projects and $71 million in investments in artificial intelligence in projects that ranged from the supply chain for aviation parts to production planning for agriculture and forecasting for consumer products. Full list of Scale AI projects

The Government of Canada will invest nearly $4 million in more than 50 projects focused on improving freshwater quality by reducing harmful substances in freshwater and protecting freshwater ecosystem health. Funding is being delivered under the EcoAction Community Funding Program, which is accepting applications until Jan. 11, 2022, for projects beginning in the summer of 2022. GoC

The Government of Saskatchewan is investing $1.2 million to support R&D and commercialization in six innovators through the Saskatchewan Advantage Innovation Fund (SAIF) and Agtech Growth Fund (AGF). Innovators include Mojow Autonomous Solutions ($450,000 to develop computer vision and artificial intelligence in new autonomous tractors and retrofit existing tractors); Barnstorm Agtech ($350,000 to develop small, scalable autonomous tractors for swarm farming); Greenwave Innovations ($170,000 to develop an energy management platform for businesses to monitor electricity, water, and natural gas consumption in real-time); Saskatchewan Research Council ($24,000 to work with industry partners in direct steam generation); Prairie Clean Energy ($150,000 to develop manufacturing processes for production of flax straw pellets as industrial biomass fuel), and Saskatchewan Minerals and Mining ($75,000 to conduct research work to upgrade its sodium sulphate facility to produce sulphate of potash). Innovation Saskatchewan Full list of funding recipients


Dominic Barton, the outgoing Canadian ambassador to China, will be appointed the new chairman of global mining group Rio Tinto effective May 5th, 2022. He succeeds Simon Thompson, who served as Chair for four years and as a non-executive director since 2014. Barton has been Canada's ambassador to China since 2019. He spent over 30 years at McKinsey & Company, including nine as the Global Managing Partner and six as Asia Chairman. Rio Tinto

Meanwhile, Angela Bigg succeeds Richard Storrie as president and chief operating officer of Rio Tinto's Diavik Diamond Mine in Yellowknife. Bigg joined Diavik in November of 2017 as vice president, finance, and was previously manager of operations at Diavik. She began her career with Rio Tinto in 2005 and has worked in Mozambique, South Africa and Australia. Rio Tinto

Dr. Leah Cowen has been named the University of Toronto’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives. Cowen, a professor in the department of molecular genetics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, has served as U of T’s inaugural associate vice-president, research since March and will serve for a term that begins Jan. 1, 2022 and ends on June 30, 2026. She succeeds Ted Sargent, who is stepping down as vice president on Dec. 31 to take a new role at Northwestern University after a transition period that begins in early 2022. U of T

Dr. Indra Gupta and Dr. Louise Pilote will become deputy directors of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), effective January 4, 2022. Gupta is a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and division director for Pediatric Nephrology at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (Interim) as well as a senior scientist in the Child Health and Human Development Program at the RI-MUHC. She has been the Interim Director of Child Health Research and Interim Associate Director of the RI-MUHC since September 2018. Pilote, a professor of medicine at McGill University and holder of a James McGill chair, is a general internist, cardiovascular epidemiologist and an internationally recognized scientist studying sex and gender in cardiovascular disease as well as a senior scientist in the Cardiovascular Health Across the Lifespan Program at the RI-MUHC. She has held her RI-MUHC appointment since 1995. MUHC

Dr. Robert Shea has been appointed vice-president of the Fisheries and Marine Institute (Marine Institute) of Memorial University for a five-year renewable term, effective Jan. 1, 2022. Shea has been serving as its vice-president pro tempore since September 2021; he is the associate vice-president academic and student services at the Marine Institute and an associate professor in the Faculty of Education. MUNS

Robert Fox has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of OntarioMD, the subsidiary of the Ontario Medical Association responsible for helping physician practices implement digital health tools. Fox's appointment is effective January 10, 2022. The OntarioMD Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Robert Fox has been appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective January 10, 2022. He was responsible for digital transformation of health care delivery across Canada at TELUS HEALTH and Cisco Systems and was an executive at St. Michael's Hospital for 20 years. OntarioMD


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